Innovative Sonata hybrid with excellent value for money

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June 5 – If you want a sporty mid-size sedan that won’t break the bank, gets around 45 miles per gallon with plenty of tech extras, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid may be just the ticket. It compares favorably to Camry and Accord hybrids and looks no different than non-hybrid Sonatas.

Pros: Great curb appeal, chic interior available, fun to drive

Cons: AWD not offered, not fast, noisy highway travel

Although mostly a carryover from last year’s model, Hyundai has toyed with some non-hybrid trim levels. Hybrids are available in Blue, SEL and Limited trims with prices ranging from $20 to $30 higher, all dressed.

Our Limited tester was impressive with a long list of standard features and only two options—an extra $400 with Calypso Red paint and $169 for carpeted floor mats. This is important as some rivals charge for their high-tech options. That said, the segment-leading Toyota Camry and Honda Accord hybrids are worthy contenders and outperform Sonata in several categories.

We found driving performance to be adequate in town and on the highway. The hybrids are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine and a 39-kilowatt synchronous motor and a 270-volt lithium-ion polymer battery for a combined output of 192 horsepower.

There’s adequate passing power with live camera feeds on the right and left lanes handy to make changing lanes safer

Sonata’s conventional brakes are a plus over many hybrids that incorporate regenerative braking systems. Another plus is a six-speed automatic transmission that offers better performance and quicker downshifts than the continuously variable transmissions found in many rivals.

In our independent tests, the Sonata hit 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in 8.6 seconds, about average for this segment. The available Sport mode is the preferred choice for the extra oomph needed from time to time.

Our observed fuel economy mirrored EPA results with a combined 47 miles per gallon. Keep in mind that the higher the pedal pressure, the lower the mpg. During maneuvers on our test track, the Sonata retuned around 36 mpg. Enough said.

Sonata has a nifty solar roof panel that charges the battery and is supposed to go around 700 miles a year with normal driving.

Interior cabin amenities are top notch on the Limited trim and include full leather, brake hold, heated and ventilated seats and a premium Bose audio system with 12 speakers and a subwoofer. An upgraded 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.25-inch touchless navigation and infotainment screen look futuristic.

The Limited also includes two great features – a digital key that replaces the key fob and allows your Android smartphone to take its place, eliminating the need to carry the key fob and a smart remote park assist that parks the Sonata when you are outside your car using the key fob.

We recommend testing the Sonata with segment leaders before making your purchase decision. Hyundai offers an excellent warranty package that includes three years of free maintenance, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot assist, lane-keeping and rear cross-traffic assist, and adaptive cruise control stop and go.

Contact freelance automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at [email protected]

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