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Riding the Eco Wave – BMW i3/Hyundai Sonata

The comfort, control and – of course – fuel economy of two of the latest green vehicles.

The i3 easily maneuvers through city streets.

(Photo: © BMW of North America, LLC.)

The BMW i3 is a compact, four-door electric car. It comes in a base model with a 170-horsepower engine, or a sportier, 184-horsepower i3s model, both of which can be optioned with a range extender, a small gas engine that adds 60 miles to the electric motor.

When fully charged, the i3 can travel about 120 miles. Recharging the battery from a 240-volt outlet takes five to seven hours. The electric motor provides good acceleration, and the handling is surprisingly good, but the ride over choppy roads gets tiring. With its small size and tight steering, it’s a great car to maneuver through city streets and cruises well at highway speeds.

The cabin is open and airy, with plenty of head and legroom. The car also has BMW’s iDrive voice navigation and entertainment system.

The vehicle has several safety features. My car had optional smart cruise control, which added forward collision warning and pedestrian detection.

The biggest problem is that at its price, the i3 competes with electric vehicles that offer longer range. If you can live with a shorter range, there are very few vehicles that have the stylish look of the i3. John Paul

Base Price: $44,450

MPG: 129 city, 106 highway

The redesigned Sonata has a bold new look.

(Photo:© Hyundai Motor America)

Crash Test: N/A

In 2018, Hyundai’s midsize Sonata hybrid sedan received a significant refresh. The goal was to give the Sonata a bolder look and sharpen its handling, and Hyundai succeeded on both counts.

The roomy cabin is exceptionally good looking, with a thoughtfully designed dash, comfortable and supportive seats, upscale materials and excellent visibility.

Thanks to its strong acceleration and smooth ride, the Sonata hybrid shines as a long-distance cruiser. Precise steering and a smooth-shifting six-speed transmission make it a pleasure to drive around town. Its suspension, now a bit firmer, handily dispenses with pavement irregularities, with minimal noise entering the cabin. Fuel economy is excellent: 42 mpg overall.

The base model comes nicely equipped with dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and ignition, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Many advanced safety features are also standard, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist. John Lehrer

Base Price: $26,500

MPG: 40 city, 46 highway

Crash Test: 5 stars

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews online. AAA.com/TestDrive

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