For 2011, Hyundai completely redesigned the Sonata, adding both value – with their base model four-cylinder-powered GLS – and power – with their 2.0T turbocharged model. Now Hyundai is releasing the next new mode in their model lineup: ecology, with the all-new Sonata Hybrid, Hyundai’s first ever hybrid model. To better compete in the marketplace, the Sontata’s eco model and its all-new hybrid powertrain is enhanced by an exterior and interior that look as if they’ve been plucked from a vehicle twice the price. To us, this is a hybrid that exudes a sense of class missing from the mid-size sedan playing field.
What's to Like
The slightly redesigned exterior and interior exclusive to the hybrid model adds a sense of differentiation from other Sonatas in the lineup. Vastly improved fuel economy and a more luxurious look and feel in an ‘eco’ package is a big win. The Sonata comes with a number of standard features not seen on a most of the competition. The 10-year/100,000-mile warranty is the best in the business.
What's Not to Like
The Hybrid’s future tech look and feel may alienate some of Hyundai’s core buyers. The Hybrid is a lot louder than the turbo or base model – eco friendly, low rolling resistance tires will do that. Gas mileage is good, not great, when compared to the Insight or Prius .
DriverSide Driving Impressions
Hybrids are a lesson in enjoying the drive, no matter what the speed. With a hybrid, you just press on the gas, watch your speed and aim to attain the best mileage you can; the Sonata Hybrid doesn’t do much to quash the common belief that hybrids aren’t sporty. The car’s all-new hybrid powertrain does the best job it can to push the Hybrid down the highway, through mountains and across the city, all in an eco fashion - just don’t expect too much of spirited driving experience compared to the all-new turbo model. The ride is neutral, without much of the fussiness of the most other hybrids, and for that we thank a real six-speed transmission, as opposed to a CVT. The Sonata Hybrid, according to Hyundai, can drive on its all-electric power at speeds of up to 62 mph, which is a neat feature, and very different than what the competition offers. If you manage to temper your inner leadfoot, you’ll find both drivability and mpgs will be rewarding. This hybrid actually feels like a real car.
Engine and Drivetrain
For this model, Hyundai debuts their first ever hybrid engine. Hyundai’s powerplant of choice is their Theta II 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine recalibrated to run on an Atkinson Cycle. The 169 horsepower engine is combined with a 40-horsepower electric motor. Hyundai says the tag-team is good for a combined 20...