By on December 1, 2010

Though an upcoming 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 might suggest otherwise, Hyundai intends to lead the industry in fuel economy. As recently as 2005 this would have seemed a pipe dream. That year’s Hyundai Sonata automatic managed fuel economy ratings of only 19/27 MPG from the EPA (2008+ system), well below the 21/31 achieved by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The 2011 Sonata does far better: 22/35. But the glory, of course, goes to hybrids, and so the Sonata will soon be available in hybrid form. The projected EPA numbers: 36/40. Is Toyota’s hybrid leadership in danger?

By arriving late to the hybrid party, Hyundai had ample opportunity to learn from others’ failures. One lesson: car buyers expect a hybrid to look different. Hyundai’s solution: graft an exceedingly ugly nose, complete with an XXL hexagonal lower grille, onto the Sonata. LED tail lamps take the other end of the car up a notch. Exhaust is the opposite of green, so the pipe is concealed. The exterior tweaks aren’t solely for aesthetics: they also reduce the drag coefficient from an already Volt-beating 0.28 to a Prius-tying 0.25.

The interior is standard stylish Sonata, with a few notable exceptions. An “eco guide” replaces the tach. The trip computer receives a mild upgrade. The optional leather upholstery gains perforations. The optional sunroof gains a rear panel—an odd choice since this should reduce efficiency by adding weight and increasing the load on the AC. And a surprise: the HVAC airflow control is properly three pieces rather than one, so it provides the function as well as the form of the Volvo control that clearly inspired it. As in other hybrids, trunk space takes a hit, dropping from 16.4 to 10.7 cubic feet.

For their hybrids, Ford and Nissan followed the Toyota HSD model. Hyundai has taken a different route. Where HSD employs a planetary gearset CVT, Hyundai retains the regular Sonata’s six-speed automatic—but not quite all of it. Unlike in the late, unlamented Honda Accord Hybrid, which similarly sandwiched a (much weaker) electric motor between a conventional gas engine and a conventional automatic transmission, there’s no torque converter. Instead, the electric motor handles transitions to and from a dead stop. The Sonata Hybrid’s engine also receives one substantial modification. As in the HSG, the 2.4-liter four runs through an Atkinson cycle to virtually lengthen the ignition stroke and so squeeze a bit more energy out of each cycle. The cost of closing the intake valves part way through the compression stroke: 29 peak horsepower (now 169).

The innovation that makes this unique powertrain possible: a clutch between the engine and electric motor. The Honda Accord Hybrid’s engine could not be declutched from the rest of the powertrain, so that car could not run on electric power alone and had to retain the inefficiencies of a torque converter. By declutching the engine, the Sonata Hybrid can (allegedly) cruise up to 62 MPH on electric power alone.

Finally, Hyundai opted for a lithium-polymer battery rather than the NiMH batteries employed by the others. The lithium-polymer batter is more compact and lighter. Partly as a result the Sonata Hybrid weighs only 3,457 pounds, over 200 less than the Camry and Fusion. Downsides? Hyundai isn’t suggesting any, but the newer technology is less proven and can’t be cheap.

How does it behave? Total gas-plus-electric power output is a little higher at the peak, and notably higher at low rpm, where the 40-horsepower electric motor contributes 151 pound-feet of twist. So, like its direct competitors, the Sonata Hybrid feels plenty quick. The drivetrain sometimes plays a touch rough at low speeds—perhaps the clutch engaging and disengaging—but otherwise behaves well. The conventional automatic feels so much more normal than a CVT—it can even be manually shifted—that the deleted tach is actually missed.

So what’s not to love? Fuel economy. I barely touched 40 in a largely highway stint. When did 40 become disappointing? When the 274-horsepower Sonata 2.0T achieved the same. In suburban driving, I managed “only” 31.3 despite a very light foot. The 36 promised by the EPA numbers wasn’t happening. And while electric-only operation might be possible up to 62 MPH, it doesn’t actually happen unless you’re extremely light on the gas. A tailwind and/or a downhill slope might also be required. The Toyota-type system seems to have a clear advantage in city and suburban driving. In these conditions the Ford Fusion Hybrid tops the Sonata by about 10 MPG. Drive the Sonata Hybrid aggressively, and suburban fuel economy falls below 20. A Ford Fusion Hybrid still managed 27 when subjected to my lead foot.

Better driving aids might help, or would at least be more entertaining. Toyota, Ford, and others have been providing ever more precise and detailed feedback to help drivers adjust their driving style to maximize efficiency. In contrast, the Sonata Hybrid’s “eco guide” is little better than the MPG gauge BMW has been offering for decades. A vine that grows and loses leaves against a background that changes color, both based on your driving style, can be summoned up, but it’s as useless here as it is elsewhere. Sought but not found: some indication of the limits of the regenerative braking system, beyond which the conventional brake rotors cut in to convert kinetic energy into heat.

With curb weight up just a couple hundred pounds, and with the steering electrically-assisted in both cases, the Sonata Hybrid steers and handles much like the regular Sonata. Meaning better than average, and bordering on fun to drive, but not as taut as the Fusion Hybrid. With the optional 17-inch wheels the ride is more jittery than the Sonata Limited’s. The likely culprit: while the tire size is the same, 215/55VR17, the Limited wore Hankook H431s while the Hybrid is shod with Kumho Solus KH25s. Even so, the ride-handling balance could be the best in the segment, with sharper handling than the Camry and a smoother ride than the Fusion.

Taken by itself, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a very good, even excellent car. But, even more than most hybrids, it makes little rational sense. Despite the lofty promise made by the EPA city figure, the hybrid system doesn’t seem to improve fuel economy nearly as much as the Toyota-type system in city and suburban driving. It fares better on the highway—40 MPG for a roomy, semi-lux sedan is certainly admirable—but must then contend with the regular Sonata, which does nearly as well, even with the 274-horsepower turbocharged engine. Pricing for the Hybrid hasn’t yet been announced. If Hyundai charges $2,500 or less extra for the hybrid bits, which will be cut in half by a $1,300 tax credit, and the technology turns you on more than the front end turns you off, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, the regular Sonata is a better bet.

Hyundai made this vehicle available for review at a ride-and-drive event.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data.

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60 Comments on “Review: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Hyundai’s problem (if we can even call it that) is having already outstanding fuel economy in their fleet.
     
    I see this one going away after a year or two. Sounds like a proof-of-concept exercise to me. With 85%+ of the same fuel economy from much simpler and arguably greener gas engines, there’s not much point beyond some short-term bragging rights…but who knows, maybe Hyundai is just sandbagging us for some major improvement down the line. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      I agree that Hyundai’s gasoline direct injection (GDI) technology gives their fleet good fuel economy.  Question: Is it technically possible to add GDI to an atkinson cycle engine to improve the hybrid vehicle’s fuel efficiency even further?  I presume it’d be necessary to add some additional sort of intake valve to each cylinder to accomplish the Atkinson function while retaining the GDI nozzles to actually inject the fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Yota, the Sonata Hybrid’s engine is, in fact, a direct-injection engine with the Atkinson cycle. The only fundamental diff’s between an Atkinson engine and anything else is the profile of the intake cam lobes (and the pistons, in order to raise the compression ratio to take advantage of it), and none of that has any bearing on whether the engine is direct-injection or otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Hybrids help in CAFE numbers more than just raw MPG. They are figured differently. It’s the same with Flex Fuel cars. That is why so many automakers offer flex fuel vehicles.

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    The side and back views are reminiscent of the Lexus HS250h, which I’m guessing is the target of this car (along with the Prius & Camry Hybrid).  Use of a traditional automatic transmission plus clutch to disengage the engine is a clever way to avoid paying royalties to Toyota to use their HSD while providing electric-only and electric+gas modes.  I wonder if Hyundai will release a luxury version of this car (e.g. a hybrid Azera)?  Or, does the Hybrid Sonata have high-end interior materials and the ability to be luxed up with premium options?

  • avatar
    don1967

    With this model Hyundai seems to be proving something I’ve long suspected; that there is no economic case for hybrids given a well-engineered ICE alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Not true in all situations. In heavy traffic that we see in places like Boston,  there’s a substantial difference between hybrid mileage and conventional ICE mileage that’s not reflected in the EPA numbers. For example I had a rental altima in 5 miles of stop and go traffic north of Boston once. I averaged about 6 mpg for the 5 miles. My Prius usually registers about 50 in the same situations. Brakes last longer as well. If you maximize the use of the regen brakes extends the life of the conventional brakes. On the Prius, we’re well past the point where we’d usually replace the brakes. I’d agree that in most situations that hybrids don’t make economic sense, but in other situations they do.

      • 0 avatar
        Morkus

        Brake life is about 95% dependent on driving style/habits.

        I have a heavily modded RX8 that used to average a new set of tires every 5 months. After over 100k I am still on the original rotors and have only replace the front pads twice and the rears once.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      The Chicago Transit Authority has almost 500 hybrid buses in its fleet and with millions of miles of experience, they have found that fuel economy is about 40% better with no increase in maintenance costs.  The cost difference pays itself off in fuel savings within a year or two.
       
      City driving is a clear win for hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      The thing to keep in mind about hopelessly jammed urban driving is you don’t actually go very far.  6 mpg sounds terrible but an hour later you’ve only burned a gallon.  Saving 80% of that – or 100% in a Leaf for that matter – is relatively great and absolutely trivial.
       
      For a hybrid to pay off you have to drive in traffic but more importantly you have to drive a lot.  Leaving it parked 160 hours a week won’t do it.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      I can accept that hybrid buses and other high-mileage urban-cycle fleet vehicles might experience a net saving due to the regenerative braking technology.  But for the average, mixed-duty hybrid commuter driving 15-20k per year?  Meh.  Especially when the lower-cost alternative is such a high achiever, as it is with the base Sonata.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Sure, if you cherry pick a terrible hybrid system in a converted (non-dedicated) hybrid model you can find the very best ICEs will come close. Put a from the ground up hybrid up against even the best ICE though and it’s no contest at all. How many conventional ICEs pull 50+ mpg in the city on the new EPA cycle in a 3000+ lb car?

      Either way it’s pretty damned easy to recoup the cost of even a pretty expensive hybrid system over the lifespan of the car. Most cars nowadays last well over 10 years, and the hybrid systems are all warrantied for 8 years at the very least. Even given a 10,000 mile a year usage instead of the higher numbers you mentioned, it’s easy to recoup the cost when gasoline is $4 a gallon ($4.09 where I live) since the MAJORITY of miles driven in the US are city miles (this is why the EPA cycle more heavily weights the city mileage for the combined mileage rating). For example the Camry Hybrid is most similarly equipped as a Camry XLE but it’s only $325 more expensive. The XLE does have the nicer JBL sound system, which is a $1010 ($898 invoice) feature when optioned on the LE, so adjusting for content differences and even rounding up would mean a $1500 difference in content between the Hybrid and XLE. The Hybrid gets 31mpg in the city, and the XLE gets 22mpg in the city. If you drive 7000 miles a year in the city you are thus burning 318 gallons of gas with the XLE, but only 225 gallons of gas in the hybrid. That means that the XLE burns almost 50% more gas per year. Since there’s a 93 (about 100) gallon difference here, you’re spending $4*93=$372 extra every year, so for people who keep their cars long term this is easily recouped with only 7000 city miles-it also gets better mileage on the highway so if you drive 10,000 miles a year you’d actually save a little more than that. Let’s say you had dumped the $1500 in a ridiculously high yielding CD that gave 4% per year (right now nobody pays nearly that much though) and we ignore the fact that you have to pay capital gains taxes, it would only have become $2220 over 10 years. However, your gas savings would be $372*10 or $3720 over 10 years. Also, it’s likely that the hybrid models retain higher resale values. Additionally, you gain the benefit of reduced financial risk with the hybrid-meaning that if they institute a gas tax like they’re suggesting, or if gasoline goes to $6 a gallon, you’re much better protected having purchased the hybrid.

      Of course, on the down side, the hybrid has less trunk space. But really, if you really wanted more cargo space you’d just buy a Prius or Prius V and save even more money on gas, making this entire comparison even more silly. I’m just using the worst (for the hybrid) case scenario here to show that even a half-assed converted HSD hybrid driven only 7000 miles a year in a city would manage to more than break even on the initial outlay. The best case scenarios arise when you compare something like the Prius v against other vehicles with similar cargo capacity (Honda CR-V for example). Because then you’re comparing 21/28mpg vs 42/38mpg, so anybody who drives in the city will literally be spending 50% less money on gas.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    While I may not necessarily ever buy a hybrid version of any car it’s looking like my next used car might be a Hyundai. They’ve started making nice looking machines that are built in the states to boot. I’m not sure of all of them, but I keep seeing the commercials where they are touting one of their US American plants.

    • 0 avatar
      YYYYguy

      and also TTAC is turning into one large Hyundai commercial.  :)   Lots of love around these parts.

    • 0 avatar
      caljn

      Yes, there has been much Hyundai love at TTAC of late…(and way too many stories on China) but I remain unconvinced.
      The Japanese big 3, with their individual, subjective faults from those on this site, are in my opinion still are far better bet than the corresponding lower priced Hyundai offering.  Head to head, the Hyundai version withers.
      Though I have driven a few in rental form they seem pleasant enough, but also feel unsubstantial and have loud interiors.  I don’t know what it would take for me to walk into a dealer and write a check.  But keep the Hyundai stories coming!  Like a sword of Damocles, they will keep the others competitive.

  • avatar
    dwford

    On my daily route (3 miles city with lots of stoplights, followed by 8 miles of highway, twice a day), my Sonata SE 2.4 regularly gets in the 28 mpg range overall, with my best effort of trying getting me a 30 mpg overall for a full tank. Even not trying at all, I can get around 27 mpg overall – the car seems to refuse to get worse than that. So it looks to me like the Hybrid would get me in the 33-35 mpg overall range for my commute. If we use 28mpg average for the regular Sonata and 33mpg average for the Hybrid:

    12,000 miles/28mpg=429 gallonsx$3=#1286
    12,000 miles/33mpg=363x$3=$1090

    So the Hybrid will save about $200 per year. How much does it cost?

    The usual hybrids don’t pay you back logic still applies….

    • 0 avatar
      That guy

      You’re leaving out one key element, resale value.  You’ll get most of the up-front premium back when you go to trade the car in.  Plus, for some reason, hybrids are almost always more reliable than their conventional counterparts.

    • 0 avatar

      Hybrids aren’t always more reliable–the Saturn VUE Green Line was notoriously unreliable.
      Looking forward to finding out how problem-free (or not) this one is.
      About our Car Reliability Survey:
      http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Yeah, but even the regular Vue was no great shakes, either.
       
      I think the point is, though, the the “collective wisdom” about hybrids being complex and, thusly, prone to more problems has been proven false.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      That Guy: Which would you rather have 5 years from now: a regular Sonata with 75k, or a Hybrid Sonata with 75k and unknown battery life remaining and unkown potential electrical issues? Hyundai is covering the hybrid system for the 100k powertrain warranty – for the original owners, but anyone who buys one used over 60k and/or not from a Hyundai dealer is SOL on that 100k powertrain warranty.

      We had an 80k Honda Accord Hybrid come in a few months ago. The battery life indicator said that the battery was almost gone. We wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.

      Hybrids are a new car purchase. I wouldn’t expect a lower rate of depreciation on them vs a regular car.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIncognito

        Hyundai projects their Lithium polymer battery backs should retain 90% of their capacity at 300,000 miles of average driving. They’re a lot more durable than the NiMH batteries.

        Hybrids have had consistently higher residual values than their gas counterparts. This isn’t theoretical any more.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      KISS principle applies. At the end of 5 years, I’d prefer to be owning the simplest possible version of a given vehicle. No hybrid, manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      dwford,
      Using your numbers, I come to a different result.  If you save $200/year, and vehicles last about 17 years, then a premium of ~$2,500 after tax is appropriate, depending on your cost of capital.
       

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Speculation about hybrids’ high resale value is, um, speculative at this point.   But history suggests that novelty products associated with specific historical events (oil bubble and global warming hysteria in this case) rarely age well except as future collectibles.  The added long-term maintenance cost of hybrid vehicles is just another nail in their coffin.
       
      As for reliability, it isn’t hard to believe that the data for hybrids is positively skewed by a “halo effect”, given the level of emotional and financial commitment by their owners.  And then there’s driving style… when was the last time you say a Prius doing smokey burnouts?

  • avatar
    That guy

    The Sonata Hybrid looked great on paper, but it sounds like the Fusion Hybrid is still the best of the midsize hybrid sedans in the real world.  Perhaps the Hyundai system just needs a little fine tuning and tweaking, Ford and Toyota have been building hybrids for a good amount of time now.  

    • 0 avatar

      The Fusion gets better fuel economy in most driving, and has a really nifty LCD display, but looks cheaper and feels rough around the edges.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      You noted the Sonata Hybrid feels rough at low speeds.  An additional area where the Fusion Hybrid seems to trump all competitors is how smooth it is transitioning from electric to gasoline+electric power – most people can’t even feel the shift unless they are trying very hard to notice it.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The mileage results seem to jive with other pre-release reviews of this car, and all of them have been underwhelming.
     
    Still, it seems a nice vehicle: nicer than the Fusion and less relaxed-fit than the Camry.  I also like the look vis a vis the “normal” Sonata.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I can’t help thinking that with the same body modifications, some weight reductions, low resistance tire choices and may be a slightly smaller engine, the same economy could have been achieved without the added complexity of the hybrid drive train.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      On the highway?  Yes.  In the city?  No chance in hell.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      psarhjinian: Maybe not in the city cycle but I can’t help thinking that for the price of the hybrid premium (2-4K) you can buy a lot of light materials (Aluminum is about $1/pound) and in conjunction with a smaller 1.6T GDI engine it would have probably yielded good combined results while being less complex, cheaper and free from potential battery replacements.
       
      I guess I am just skeptical that the hybrid premium in price, complexity and manufacturing effort is worth it.

  • avatar

    Great Review MIKE.

    ” A vine that grows and loses leaves against a background that changes color, both based on your driving style, can be summoned up, but it’s as useless here as it is elsewhere”

    Gee where have I seen that before?  Sounds like some company is stealing from FORD.

    As for “Lithium Polymer batteries”…LiPoly has a higher energy density than Lithium Ion (it can store more energy), but, LiPoly wears out quicker than Lithium Ion batteries.  That’s the reason Apple iPad’s have a battery replacement plan for $100 – its because the Lipoly battery inside is doomed to fail despite its awesome 10 hour life.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Apple rates the iPad battery at 80% battery life after 1000 cycles. 8 hours of battery life is still pretty useful.
       
      All batteries will fail, given a sufficient period of time.. but if it takes 3 years to drop to 80% battery life, and another 3 years to drop to 60% battery life (capacity loss is typically linear) .. that’s effectively the life of the device for most people.
       

    • 0 avatar
      MrIncognito

      Hyundai is projecting 90% performance at 300,000 miles (http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/reviews/hybrid-electric/2011-hyundai-sonata-hybrid-test-drive).

      The type of polymer and ion matters, you can’t just group them together because they’re constructed similarly.

      A battery replacement plan, like insurance on electronic purchases, is a waste of money.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think the ONLY use-case for Hybrids is mostly real city driving. And for that they are PERFECT. Otherwise, you are just dragging a whole bunch of extra wieght and complication around. What I would like to see are more appropriately powered commuter-mobiles. All these cars are ludicrously over-powered for thier lives of mostly crawling in gridlock.

    I find it amusing that most people seem to think they “need” 200+hp in thier cars, yet when I am driving around town in my 77hp ’79 MB 300TD that wieghts 3700lbs with my fat ass in the driver’s seat I leave 90+% of the other traffic in the dust at every traffic light. And it rolls along at 80mph like it owns the road.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Otherwise, you are just dragging a whole bunch of extra wieght and complication around

      Not quite true: both the Fusion and Camry get better highway mileage because of low-grade assist, but the benefit is much less, you’re right there.  It’s also not really that complicated—a few motors, a transmission and some software—and they seem to be less mechanically stressed and better “managed”.

      Hybrid power works by increasing efficiency, and the highway cruise is already a more efficient state.  That’s not to say hybrid don’t help that by assisting a little on cruising, assisting a lot on passing and capturing energy from downhills and braking.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Given that the 300TDs were lucky to get to 60mph in 20 seconds, I have to wonder what kind of traffic it is that you’re “leaving in the dust”.
       
      Perhaps they’re staying back to avoid the fumes.

  • avatar

    Michael, am I reading the photo correctly, that the test example only had 38 miles on it at the time you took that pic? Or is that the trip odo?

    A brand-new engine/system could definitely explain the lackluster mileage, at least in part… right?

  • avatar
    James2

    Has Hyundai explained any technical reasons (added cooling?) as the reason for the gaping maw of a grille? It makes an Audi grille look demure by comparison.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Mike, how would you compare the dynamics to the Altima hybrid?  The Sonata’s mileage seems low.  I get 33 mpg out of my hybrid in my 42 mile slug into NYC.  And I am not light footed, that’s for sure.  In this type of commute ( about 50%) of it in stop and go the hybrid really makes sense.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’ve never thought Hyundai should get into the ‘me-too’ hybrid business.  Their cars are already efficient, offering good value.

    Nobody faults Hyundai for not offering a pickup truck in the US; if they never produced a hybrid, nobody would care.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “The exterior tweaks aren’t solely for aesthetic purposes…”

    Based on the looks of things, I’d say they’re not for aesthetic purposes whatsoever…

    Oh, and sub-20 in mixed driving? What the hell? I drive my (230hp, 6.9-second) 9-5 around town like I’m in a gymkhana, damn near 100% of the time, with (traction-permitting) maximum throttle off of every available stop light, and still can’t get mixed driving under 22. If I wasn’t careful, I’d spend more money on tires than gas! Bizarre.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    KISS principle applies. At the end of 5 years, I’d prefer to be owning the simplest possible version of a given vehicle. No hybrid, manual transmission.

    I knew a person got burned by a Mini CVT, when the tranny was gone, Mini only offer her a brand new CVT tranny, no rebuilts avail. Thats only happen in BC Canada i hope.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I am driving around town in my 77hp ’79 MB 300TD that wieghts 3700lbs with my fat ass in the driver’s seat I leave 90+% of the other traffic in the dust at every traffic light. And it rolls along at 80mph like it owns the road.

    I drive a 300sd purported to pump out 120HP, I dont think I can win any stop light grand prix, once it had been rolling 40-50 km then is not bad, but from a stand still , my 420sel did lots better she does go thru benzene like nothing. No worse than a middle aged person on water pills Water pills make u pee like no tomollo The benzenes coming out of the tank could match that.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Using your numbers, I come to a different result.  If you save $200/year, and vehicles last about 17 years, then a premium of ~$2,500 after tax is appropriate, depending on your cost of capital.

    let alone owning a car for as long as 7 yrs!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I couldn’t get past the face! What is it with so many vehicles looking like a large sea animal desperately sucking up everything in front of it? Lincoln and many other have the same problem.
    This massive mouth design paradigm has got to go :(.
     

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Dismissing CR’s anything Toyota or Honda hybrid is super uber reliable and nothing could possibly go wrong theory, I wouldn’t touch a hybrid anything that is used with out of warranty miles. Most shops won’t even touch them, I have seen batteries fail during the warranty so wouldn’t want to be the sucker paying some 2-2500 for a replacement on top of the used vehicle price. And I do recall the stellar Prius having fire issues eraly on along with more recent brake recalls so problems can exist and a hybrid is more complicated than a conventional car with the controversial CVT trannys, the regenerative braking, the electric steering, the electrical system and batteries and a generally higher level of electronic components needed. There is definately more to go wrong in a hybrid than a normal gas engined car, especially when they age.

  • avatar
    Salahuddin

    I’m all set to buy a Sonata Hybrid, however, I was told yesterday that when the air conditioning or the heater fans are running the car switches to gas. If this is so then sitting in traffic in Georgia would make any savings negligible. Is there enlightenment out there?

  • avatar
    Cleveland_Bob

    I own a 2011 Hyundai Sonata hybrid. I live in Ohio. The AC on does not force the engine to run on gas only. I have experienced better mileage than the reviewer. 40+ in city and 45+ on highway.

  • avatar
    bernienaiman

    I HATE MY HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID. WORST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE.

    I recently bought a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid from Shortline Hyundai in Aurora, CO.
    I have taken the car back at least 6 times. The car was advertised as delivering up to 35 mpg in town driving and 45 highway mpg. The most I have gotten is 24.7 mpg in town.

    Prior to owning this car, I had a TOYOTA Hybrid that consistently delivered 30+ mpg in town driving. I used regular gas as recommended and never concerned my self with where I bought the gas.

    I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY NON HYBRID USERS THAT THEY GET BETTER MILEAGE THAN I DO.

    • 0 avatar
      Morkus

      Didn’t you test drive it before purchasing?

      Mileage numbers are easy to verify if your dealer will loan you the car for an hour. If they wont, go to another dealer.

  • avatar
    Morkus

    Just wanted to say I test drove this car expecting much more. I babied it and was barely able to get 40mpg. That was on a mostly flat stretch of road averging @50mph.

    I was also unimpressed with the ride, especially compared to the base Sonata rentals that I usually get.

  • avatar
    nicki69

    DO NOT BUY THIS CAR!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    nicki69

    We purchased ours in May and it has been in the shop 6 times, a total of now 33 days. It constantly shuts itself down, whether you are stopped or driving 45mph. YES shuts it’s self down! No breaks, no steering no nothing. They have replaced the wiring, the “hammock” for the hybrid system, the hybrid computer system, did a computer soft wear reboot and now replacing the hybrid connector kit. We have been told by several other owners that they are having the same issues.
    We have hired a lemon law attorney who has taken the case to get all of our money back.


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