Vehicle Overview from Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Overview
Korean automaker Hyundai will debut its first hybrid model with the 2011 Sonata Hybrid. Despite being years late to the hybrid party, the new Sonata will feature a full hybrid that uses advanced lithium-polymer battery technology. Going on sale this fall, the Sonata Hybrid (as well as its related sibling, the Kia Optima Hybrid) will likely be a competitive equal to established hybrid family sedans like the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid. The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will be equipped with a 169-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and a 40-hp electric motor. Total combined output is said to be 209 hp. While the EPA has yet to release official fuel economy numbers on the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the automaker pegs it at 37 mpg in city driving and 39 mpg on the highway. For comparison, the EPA says the 2010 Camry Hybrid returns 33 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway. The Korean automaker is bragging that it has leapfrogged the competition with the Sonata Hybrid's lithium-polymer battery. The Camry Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid use the more established nickel-metal hydride battery technology. For a comparably sized battery pack, lithium-polymer promises lighter weight, a longer life and additional electrical power storage capability, thereby improving the Sonata Hybrid's electric-mode operations. Hyundai has also been touting the looks of the Sonata Hybrid, saying it is "a hybrid in a tuxedo," which offers more differentiation from its domestic and Japanese competitors. The Sonata Hybrid's design elements include a hexagonal grille, bigger airdam and aero side sills, different headlights and taillights, as well as exclusive paint colors. In the cabin, a hybrid technology display is featured on a 4.2-inch LCD screen set between the odometer and tachometer. Presumably, the regular Sonata's strengths will also carry over, including its comfortable and handsome cabin and larger-than-average trunk. One downside could be the car's mediocre headroom, particularly in the backseat. We'll know more once we obtain a new 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for testing. Check back later this year for a full review with complete buying advice and driving impressions.