By on March 31, 2010

Hyundai’s just-unveiled Sonata Hybrid is the latest step in the Korean brand’s assault on the American automotive landscape, and it looks to have been a good one. No licensed bits from Toyota here, in fact Hyundai’s new powertrain does away with Toyota’s powersplit-CVT concept, simply replacing the torque converter on its automatic transmission with a starter-generator motor and a high-efficiency oil pump. Ok, maybe not simply.

Hyundai claims the design is lighter and more robust than the competition (the Sonata Hybrid is 236 lbs lighter than Fusion Hybrid), allows it to operate in EV mode up to 62  MPH, and offers more “balanced” efficiency gains in city and highway mileage. With efficiency gains from aero work [“because only Hybrids deserve improved aerodynamics,” glowers Sajeev in his notes], Hyundai projects the Sonata Hybrid will do 37 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Whether those numbers hold up in the real world is one of the many questions we’d like answered by some time in the driver’s seat. All we know for now is that the styling seems to be the best compromise so far between the Prius, Volt and Insight’s “just-crawled-out-of-a-wind-tunnel” look and the “let’s just slap some badges on it” school of hybrid design.

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27 Comments on “New York: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid...”

  • avatar

    I figured the aero/styling tweaks were to make it look like a hybrid (ie smug factor).

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Front-end: Chrysler Concorde
      Side: E-class lines?

      Not bad.. (Still think the new Maxima is gorgeous, and would be prettier if they blacked out that grill)

  • avatar

    I actually like the styling on the front end better than the non-hybrid model. I’ll admit that I’ve yet to see the new one in person so I’m only going by the photos posted here and elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      My thoughts exactly. Some will decry it as being too bold and adventurous. But honestly, I like bold and adventurous! Whoever thought that a hybrid that looks like the Prius would sell as well as it has in in the past decade? It’s all about differentiation and on top of the side dual-streaks, the front grille does a lot to provide distinction.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto here. They’re taking all the fun out of hybrid-bashing.

  • avatar

    Very Peugeot 407, and not in a bad way.

    • 0 avatar
      Martin Schwoerer

      Very 407: yes.
      Not in a bad way: no.

      Peugeot has just kicked the “big-mouth strikes again” habit; why is Hyundai emulating it?

      Peugeot could justify it with class-leading pedestrian protection. But by now, car makers have found more subtle ways of making a car’s front round and blunt.

      I think the Sonata’s look is a mish-mash of several styling themes from 2008 that are unfresh now, and will look dated and embarrassing within three years’ time.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The official pace car of the Hoover Vacuum Company.

  • avatar

    Wow, that’s one angry looking Chrysler Sebring!!!

  • avatar

    The styling on this one looks reminiscent of newer French cars. It’ll definitely look distinctive.

    Is it just me or is the video completely silent?

  • avatar

    Someone at my company has a new Sonata, and it looks better in the metal, but so far I prefer the front clip of the hybrid.

    All told, it’s an attractive vehicle that’s distinctive enough to be memorable, yet it doesn’t remind you that the goggles do nothing.

  • avatar

    I don’t know why they don’t just get rid of the vestigial upper grille (which looks okay on the lower i models, but not here where it goes from being a nose to being a monobrow!) and simply attach their logo to the bassmouth below.

    Would probably improve the car’s already impressive coefficient of drag.

  • avatar

    So it sounds like Hyundai’s Hybrid system is closer to the parallel-hybrid system of Honda’s IMA rather then Toyota’s parallel+serial-hybrid THS or Ford’s Fusion.

    The unique point of the Hyundai is that it has Li-po batteries rather then NiMH batteries in pretty much every other battery out right now. Hyundai claims around 50 lbs weight saving because of this battery.

    Its interesting being that everyone else seems to be moving forward with Li-ion batteries which have larger capacity then Li-po, but Li-ion are known to be more volatile and dangerous. We’ll see how this plays out. If we start seeing exploding Volts and Leafs we know Hyundai made the right choice.

  • avatar

    What is UP with the generic ‘mean headlight’ designs of all the cars? Every company is using the same basic front end design, slap sides, and tail light design. When will a company break free of this sameness?

  • avatar

    I like it. And most cars, in my opinion, have some distinctiveness that may be described as unique – even if it’s uniquely bland.

    I could care less what others think about what I drive – whether a BMW is uppity, a Porsche haughty, or a hybrid political. Life’s too short…

  • avatar

    It will be interesting to see how this does in the flesh, but the numbers are impressive so far on the hybrid. I read this today though about a 2.0 turbo they have.

    Any news on that? I know it has a light weight to it, but I am wondering what they cut out to get those numbers. I am assuming there isn’t a lot of sound deadening material in the vehicle, but I am curious to see how this one does with some road tests.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I remember from the news conference, they said part of the weight savings came from not having to design the car to take a V6. Another savings came from a lighter weight transmission.

  • avatar

    Hyundai is making some pretty damn impressive/ aggressive moves.

    I’m shocked to hear so soon that the Sonata is getting a Twin turbo 264HP engine (probably from the Genesis Coupe), and I’m certain the Sonata is going to make major gains over the Camcords.

    Unfortunately, i have to err on the size of the Camry. Its got way more interior space.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you sure about the interior space?

      Sonata has more passenger volume and cargo volume.

      Also, a twin scroll turbo is not a twin turbo.

    • 0 avatar


      I’m 10% sure about the interior space. I even took pictures of the inside.

      the rear seat is very narrow because of the low roofline and the seat cushion extending well past the swing center of the door, and the front seat is nowhere near as spacious as the Camry’s.

      Numbers don’t mean everything. I think they fudge their numbers honestly.

    • 0 avatar

      here i come to nit-pick the day! it’s a single turbo 2.0ltr making 274hp.
      it is related to the mill in the Genesis Coupe but with direct injection, a different turbo and more boost.

  • avatar

    Equus announcement will be coming today – Thursday.

  • avatar

    “Whether those numbers hold up in the real world is one of the many questions we’d like answered by some time in the driver’s seat”

    Let’s hope it does better than the Equinox!

    I actually prefer this to the standard Sonata, whose chrome grille is a bit too slasher-pic.

  • avatar

    There’s already a few people in my neighborhood with the new Sonata. I’d imagine the hybrid version might replace a few of the Camry hybrids floating around. I’ve yet to see a single Fusion hybrid aside from the dealer.

    Front end looks like a compacted Elantra Touring. I’m liking their styling, while it maybe a mish-mash of other cars’ looks, at least they make it look GOOD.

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