2019 BMW i3 vs. 2019 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The i3 has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the i3 and the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available crash mitigating brakes.

Warranty

The i3’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s (12 vs. 7 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Hyundai doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the i3’s reliability 23 points higher than the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 2 places higher in reliability than Hyundai.

Fuel Economy and Range

The i3 REx’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 126 miles, over 4 times as far as the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s 29-mile range.

Tires and Wheels

The i3s’ 195/50R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 17-inch wheels are available on the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid. The i3 offers optional 20-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 3.2 feet tighter than the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s (32.4 feet vs. 35.6 feet). The i3s’ turning circle is 1.8 feet tighter than the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s (33.8 feet vs. 35.6 feet).

Chassis

The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 550 to 850 pounds less than the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid.

The i3s is 2 feet, 9 inches shorter than the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The i3 has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid (15.1 vs. 9.9 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the i3’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s useful trunk space.

The i3’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Hyundai. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 43% lower rating, Hyundai is ranked 22nd.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the i3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the i3 has a standard rear wiper. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

The i3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the BMW i3 and the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the i3 third among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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