The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has been on sale in America for about 18 months, and shares its drive train and some design elements with the KIA Optima Hybrid. The two cars combine to occupy second place (in America) in hybrid sales to Toyota’s Prius. The Hyundai has more conventional styling than a Prius, and in fact is a rather attractive sedan. I received one for testing last week; an Onyx black unit with a gray leather interior.
The M.S.R.P. for my 2013 test unit was $32,490, freight included, and it was the top-of-the-line Limited model. The only options on the loaded Limited were a panoramic sunroof package ($1,000), carpeted floor mats ($110), and an Ipod cable ($35). Standard equipment on this model included heated front and rear seats, the leather (seating, steering wheel, and shift knob), 400-watt Infinity 8-speaker stereo, backup camera, navigation with 7” screen, power driver’s seat and 17” alloy wheels. Also on hand was tilt/telescope steering column, satellite radio, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, pushbutton starter, keyless entry, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, and heated mirrors with lighted signal stripes.
The hybrid power setup in the Sonata starts with a 2.4 liter, Atkinson cycle four cylinder gas engine (159 hp/154 lb. ft.) and adds a permanent-magnet AC electric motor (47 hp/151 lb. ft.). Combined horsepower of the drive train is thus 199 horsepower, and the car accelerates from zero to 60 in 8.4 seconds. A six speed automatic transmission with a manual mode delivers power to the front wheel drive sedan. EPA mileage ratings for the Sonata are 36 city/40 highway, 37 overall, and the fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of regular gasoline (range!).
As I mentioned, the Limited Hyundai is rather good-looking, with bold chrome strips on all four sides, chrome door handles, racy lighting on all corners, and two-toned gray alloy 17” wheels fitted with P215/55R17 Kumho Solus KH25 all season radials. The Onyx black paint had some metallic in the finish, and the panoramic sun roof was evident from outside the car.
My wife and I drove around quite a bit in the Hyundai, and the ride was great. Wind noise was minimal, and passing and accelerating from a light was a snap. One thing that was quite balky was the gas gauge, which barely moved in a downward direction.
Weight of the Sonata is 3,645 lbs., not much for a hybrid. The company uses a 47 KW lithium-polymer battery pack (warrantied for life), something normally found employed in a plug-in vehicle. Thus, it is in the trunk; yet the trunk holds 16.4 cubic feet of luggage. Wheelbase of the car is 110”, length is 189.8”, width is 72.2”, and the height is 57.7”. With the battery in the trunk, the passenger volume is maintained at 103.8 cubic feet, like the Hyundai gas-powered sedan.
At the asking price of $32,490, I feel the Sonata Hybrid deserves a hard look from a perspective hybrid car shopper. It’s attractive, roomy, fuel efficient, and well-appointed.