The next generation Hyundai Sonata Hybrid sedan is absolutely amazing.

With a base price starting at $26,000, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid delivers big in performance, safety and luxury — all while achieving an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 44 mpg.

While classified as a mid-size hybrid sedan, this vehicle really should be considered for inclusion in the luxury — or at least near luxury segment.

Available in Hybrid and Hybrid Limited trim levels, the 2016 model is absolutely loaded with premium amenities and safety features typically found on luxury models.

A very, very short list of features include hands-free Smart Trunk, driver memory seat, rear window sunshades, heated steering wheel, LED interior lights, ventilated front seats, Smart Cruise Control featuring full stop capability, iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity with phonebook transfer and voice recognition, 8.0-inch navigation system with downloadable apps and Infinity premium audio system with next-generation Blue Link telematics.

Performance comes from the hybrid powertrain, which delivers a combined output of 193 horsepower by utilizing the 2.0-liter GDI I-4 engine with the 38kW electric motor.

Mated to a new six-speed electronic automatic transmission, fuel economy has been improved by 10 percent over the previous generation, with an EPA rating of 40 mpg city, 44 mpg highway and combined rating of 42 mpg.

Like all hybrid vehicles, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline to power the engine. The batteries for the electric motor are constantly being recharged by the vehicle’s motion, primarily through regenerative braking.

Unlike electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles never need to be plugged in — just refuel them at a service station.

I was also impressed by the Sonata Hybrid’s spacious interior. There is an abundance of room for both front- and rear-seat passengers, making it an ideal vehicle for long road trips.

It also features a segment leading 13.3 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk, providing lots of room for groceries or luggage for those times when you have the opportunity to hit the road.

When it comes to safety, the Sonata Hybrid comes with seven airbags including a new driver’s knee airbag, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management system, traction control system, anti-lock brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system with individual tire pressure display and a rearview camera, available HID headlamps, forward collision warning system, blind spot detection system with rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist and lane departure warning system, to list but a few.

For those in the market for an exceptional mid-size sedan that has it all, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

5- seat mid-size hybrid sedan  

Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

Hybrid, Hybrid Limited

PRICE RANGE:

$26,000-$36,000

ENGINE:

2.0 I4 and 38kW electric motor producing a combined 193 horsepower

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed automatic

EPA: 40 mpg city, 44 mpg highway

FUEL: Regular unleaded

STABILITY CONTROL:

Electronic stability control with traction control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 191.1 inches

WHEELBASE: 110.4 in.

WIDTH: 73.4 inches

HEIGHT: 57.9 inches

WEIGHT: 3497-3560 lbs.

TRACK: 63.5/63.8

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 15.85 gallons

TIRES: 16-, or 17-inch

CARGO: 13.3 cubic feet.