Regardless of its age — about 40 years old in car years — the Sonata Hybrid still looks pretty modern, with its distinctive front fascia that shows off LED-trimmed headlamps and a wavy front grill. The LED taillights and aerodynamic rims are the only details that scream "hybrid." Though it remains relatively up to date, we do expect Hyundai to reveal a redesigned Sonata line for 2015, including the hybrid model.
The interior is very well-appointed, and only LCD gauges and "Blue Efficiency" button on the steering wheel clue you in that this is indeed a hybrid model. A quick press of this "Blue Efficiency" button, and the Sonata Hybrid awakens from its efficient — boring — mode. The hybrid system is attached to a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that pumps out 159 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid system chimes in with an extra 47 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. In all, this system puts down a respectable 200 horsepower, but don’t expect the mid-3,000-pound, midsize cruiser to pin you to your seat.
After some seat time in the Lexus ES Hybrid , we are a little spoiled, but we have to remind you that you get what you pay for. The Sonata checks in around $30,000, and it delivers a premium look and feel. Taking into consideration that hybrid cars tend receive a 20 to 30 percent premium over their gasoline counterparts, the Sonata Hybrid is a relative bargain.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
After five years in the same duds, the Sonata remains relatively modern looking. It is sleek and still sexy enough to draw in some customers. But, it is starting to show some age, and there are simply way too many duplicates cruising around the streets these days.
Fortunately, rumor has it that Hyundai is testing a revised 2015 model as we speak.
The cabin is relatively well-equipped for a hybrid model priced in this range. Could it be a little nicer? Sure, but at an increased price. The cabin is also plenty roomy for the wholes family, but the hybrid batteries do eat up a little luggage space in the trunk, dropping it to just 12.1 cubic feet — 4.3 cubic feet less than the gasoline model.
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
Hyundai has come a long way over the years, but the hybrid technology is tricky business and there is room for improvement. At just 199 horsepower, the Sonata Hybrid is no speed demon, hitting 60 mph in the mid-eight-second range. Where this midsize sedan earns its stripes is from its 36 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 38 mpg combined ratings.
The engine is strong, but the power delivery is either smooth at hyper slow mode or way too strong if you punch the pedal. For example, if you want to launch off the line, the wheels slip, then the traction control kicks in and kills the fun, then power suddenly kicks back in. It’s definitely not a pleasant experience.
Then again, if you plan on keeping it in grandma mode all the time, then you’ll be just fine.
Another flaw that we came across behind the Sonata Hybrid’s wheel was the feel of the brake pedal. With its regenerative braking system in tow, slowing down the car feels a little awkward at first. We’re sure that this is pretty easy to overcome after a few weeks with the vehicle, but it may turn off some buyers on the initial test drive.
The steering system is vastly improved compared to the old-generation Sonata, but it does tend to push the wheel toward its center position a little too much for our taste. This really takes away from the steering feedback, but then again, this isn’t a sports car.
The base 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid checks in at an easy-to-swallow $25,650, but the model we tested — the Limited trim — bases at $30,550. Our model came with a few options that drove the price up a few thousand dollars.
At $30,000 the Sonata is a very intriguing option, considering the massive markup on most hybrid models. It comes relatively well-quipped in its base format, and the Limited model that we drove adds in even more features that many buyers may not expect at this price point.
The Sonata Hybrid appeals to buyers on a budget looking for high fuel efficiency on highway (40mpg) as well as city (36mpg). If you can afford it, the Lexus ES Hybrid offers a better-rounded hybrid system. But If you are really looking for the best of both world, high efficiency and good driving experience, start looking into diesel powered vehicles. They offer similar gas mileage as hybrids with a more traditional driving experience.
- Exterior look clean and cool
- Premium fit and finish on the inside
- Great price for a hybrid
- Hybrid integration can be improved
- Brakes feel very unnatural
- Smoother power delivery is a must in the future