About the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
The lower cost results from the approach Hyundai uses in regards to the electric portion of the powertrain. Usually, with hybrid designs, manufacturers use a nickel-metal hydride battery with the electric motor. Hyundai takes a simple and thus unique approach to adding an electric motor to the Sonata. The electric sits in between the gas motor and transmission. Hyundai breaks from standard practice by using a lithium-polymer battery pack. This saves on production costs and adds less weight than the nickel-metal hydride. The company spent less in research and development, since the design is more of an adaptation than a full redesign. Less research and development cost to recoup means a lower retail price.
The Sonata Hybrid earns credit for being a respectable first effort by Hyundai to enter a rather crowded family hybrid sedan market. The lower cost makes it well worth looking into, but few automatically recommend it. Buyers should take a look at the other entries in this class, since it has so much to offer, and the Sonata Hybrid is still a young design that hasn’t proven itself over a longer period of time. Hyundai seeks to compete with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion with this model. All of these models compete worthily with the Sonata.Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Features
Most worthy of note, the Sonata Hybrid’s exterior features more than just cosmetic differences from the regular Sonata. Most body parts, add-ons, and the rims have been altered to increase the aerodynamic qualities of the hybrid. Lower wind drag means greater efficiency, and efficiency is vital to a hybrid. Hyundai claims that the aerodynamic improvements in the Sonata body design for the hybrid model lowers the drag coefficient to 0.25, making it the same as the Toyota Prius.
The Sonata Hybrid offers only one trim level with two optional packages. The base model starts out with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, and foglights. The Ultimate package adds exterior features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, and a rearview camera.
Under the hood sits a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that uses a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 166 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 30kW electric motor. Together they produce a peak of 206 horsepower and 193 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control sends power to the front wheels.
The hybrid has mostly the same interior as the regular Sonata. A few changes result from the hybrid nature of this vehicle. The obligatory hybrid display both monitors the gasoline-electric powertrain, and instructs the driver on how to drive in a more fuel-efficient manner. Other than that, the hybrid offers less rear-seat headroom due to the aerodynamic body design. Also indicative of its hybrid nature is the decreased trunk space to make room for the electric motor battery. The standard Sonata provides 16.4 cubic feet of space compared to the 10.7 cubic feet in the hybrid’s trunk.
The base model comes with many standard features including keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, Bluetooth, satellite radio, BlueLink telematics, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and USB/auxiliary audio input jacks. The optional Leather package upgrade adds leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Ultimate package boasts everything from the Leather package plus a touchscreen navigation system and an upgraded nine-speaker Infinity sound system with HD radio.
Because of the six-speed automatic transmission, as opposed to the (CVT) or continuously variable transmission that often comes in hybrids, the driving experience remains similar to that of a non-hybrid. The model requires little adjustment on the part of the driver, save for fuel economy tactics.
The Sonata Hybrid is class competitive with fuel economy ratings of 35/40 mpg city/highway.
Safety ratings also compare well to cars in the class, which aim to please families.
Overall, most drivers will appreciate the high power and generally more agreeable driving experience for a hybrid.Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Evolution
Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system comes standard in the 2012 model, and the Limited trim gains a three-piece panoramic moonroof. The seven-inch touchscreen navigation system with HD Radio marks another new addition.