Social media Social media Social media Social media Social media

Review: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, as reviewed on DeniseMcCluggage.comFirst, last and in between: If you’re looking at hybrids this hybrid must be on your look-at list. Must.

Now some details. The Korean car maker did not take an easy way to offering electric assist to a gasoline engine and thus earn the right to scribble ‘hybrid’ on the handsome flanks of its midsize award winner. No way. Lots of engineering savvy, innovation and collaboration between stylists and engineers have produced what I think is even a better looking Sonata and one that claims it can score 36-40 mpg.

(Parenthetically, my take on mileage figures: they’re to be treated as an index for casual comparison between cars. Altitude, weather and most of all the driver’s mind set and weight of right foot are among the variables that determine actual mileage.)

The engine, a 2.4 liter four-cylinder, converted as in most hybrids to the Atkinson cycle is joined by a 40 HP electric engine. The combination is good for some 200 HP and 193 ‚‘torques.’ A unique feature here — the engine and the motor are separated by a clutch so it is easier to drive on electric power only at higher speeds than in most hybrids.

The Sonata Hybrid, unlike its hybrid rivals on the market, uses a LiPo battery. Not a folkloric Asian princess that I like to fancy is in the trunk, but a lithium-polymer battery. That’s instead of the customary nickel metal hydride. Hyundai spent more and got more. LiPo is lighter, takes less space, and generates less heat. Still it deducts 5.7 cubic feet of trunk space from the 16.4 in the regular Sonata.

In my experience the hybrid version of an existing model has a frugality about it that reminds me of a maiden auntie’s apartment. Not so the Sonata. The admired interior is little different and the refreshed exterior is actually trimmer, sleeker and more aerodynamic (an impressive coefficient of drag of .25.) The new cave-dark hexagonal-shaped grille houses a working flap inside — at slow speeds open for cooling, at high speeds closed to reduce drag. I think the hybrid’s grille looks a ton more sophisticated than the bling-bling grin of the traditional Sonata. And the side sculpting and squarer tail section are winners too. And the handsome 17” wheels. (An option I think.)

How does it drive? First, sing along with me: “Praise be no CVT”. Although a continuously variable transmission may make economy points few delight the heart of driver-drivers. The six-speed automatic in the hybrid is fine, thanks. The steering feel is not my favorite with its ultra-strong centering force and other attributes of drive-by-wire systems I don’t find attractive. But I must have become used to it because it stopped bothering me. And other pleasant characteristics won me over.

The off-the-line torque of an electric assist is both grin producing and counterproductive, assuming economy is your intent. But, hey, why should jackrabbits have the fun starts? They say 0-60 is in the 9 second range but in the real world 0-30 is more important. And the perception of quickness will suffice, really. You’ll find that here.

I still prefer a diesel for my torque and range but I will be suggesting this hybrid to anyone seeking one. To see the Sonata Hybrid in motion try And read more detailed reviews on the web.

Car ReviewsNew Cars

Share this with others!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Posterous
  • Tumblr
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks

Thanks for your fresh perspective. What make the Optima a great drivers car has brought the criticism that it fails as a hybrid. The M35H is another example of a sharp handling and braking hybrid.
I’m very interested in the Sky Active platform especially the rumors of a diesel with 300 pounds of torque in a Mazda 6 and if the stars align a six speed manual. That’s a sedan I want to drive every day.

Posted by Matthew Lockard on September 12, 2011






Enter your comments:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter this word:



Previous McBlog: Splash/Dash. Make that: Nope/Hope.     |     Next McBlog: Bob Lutz and the New World Order.




The website of The First Lady of Racing, Denise McCluggage.

developed by array design studio