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2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited Review By John Heilig

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2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited Hybrid

By John Heilig

2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited a car that’s close to ideal.

Reviewed Vehicle : 2013 Hyundai Sonata

Model: 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
Engine: 2.4-liter Atkinson Cycle I4
Horsepower/Torque: 159 hp @ 5,500 rpm/154 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm (199 combined hp)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 110.0 in.
Length x Width x Height: 189.8 x 72.2 x 57.7 in.
Tires: P215/55R17
Cargo: 12.1 cu. ft.
Economy: 36 mpg city/40 mpg highway/37.0 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 12.1 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,457-3,578 lbs.
Sticker: $32,490 (includes $795 inland freight and handling, $1,145 in options)

The Bottom Line: Here’s a car that’s close to ideal. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has good size, good on-road performance, comfort and economy. And I love the styling.

By definition you would expect the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to be economical, and in our test it was, delivering an overall average of 37.0 mpg. This isn’t phenomenal, but it’ a lot better than 27 mpg, or even 17 mpg.

What I expected, but what isn’t necessarily in the definition of the car, was exceedingly good road manners. We took the Sonata Hybrid on a long trip that involved interstate driving primarily. At our destination we dealt with rush hour traffic, hills and winding roads. The Sonata did exactly what we wanted. It was a comfortable and pleasant car to drive and ride in.

The Sonata itself has been a winner for Hyundai, and a lot of the positives are due to the styling. The side sculpting and overall styling are, to my eye, outstanding. The Sonata is a car that always draws a second look, even if you’ve seen a hundred of them already.

With the Hybrid, there is some differentiation. The grille, rear end styling and headlight styling are different, as is the badging.

What Hyundai has done to increase the appeal of the Hybrid is to answer one of the major complaints that keeps people away from hybrids – battery cost and replacement. We all know that the major component of a hybrid is the battery system. It weighs a lot and is the component that allows a small internal combustion engine because the electric motor delivers torque at low engine speeds.

Well, Hyundai offers an industry-exclusive hybrid lifetime battery warranty on the Sonata Hybrid. It’s easy to pooh-pooh this as an advertising gimmick, but Hyundai discovered when it increased drivetrain warranties that the extra cost was minimal. They have confidence in their drivetrains and batteries. Other hybrid manufacturers have 100,000-mile warranties on their batteries.

Among the changes from the 2012 Sonata Hybrid are an internal combustion engine that has lower ICE power (159 vs. 166 hp), but more Electric Motor Power (35 vs. 30 kw) this gives owners a slightly lower net power (199 vs. 206). But with these changes fuel economy is increased from 34/39 to 38/40, and the difference in power is imperceptible.

There’s also a 1.4 cubic feet increase in cargo capacity to 12.1 cubic feet. This is important, and the trunk will now hold a golf bag. The rear seats don’t fold to increase cargo capacity, but there is a small pass through for long, narrow objects.

Part of the reason for good road manners is comfortable front seats. During our rush hour stop (mostly) and go driving the seats made it tolerable. The front seats have enough side support to hold you in. The front seats are heated, although we didn’t need the heat.

The Sonata also has a good sound system that made travel more comfortable. One minor problem is that a special coble is required to hook up an iPod. The FM/AM/XM and CD provided good sound quality.

The rear seats are flatter than the fronts (they’re basically a bench), but the fold-down arm rest helps hold you in. The electric motor batteries are located behind the rear seats, which is why they don’t fold to increase cargo capacity. Rear seat knee and leg room is good.

In each door is room for a water bottle to supplement the two cup holders in the center console. There are small cubbies mall over the interior, including bottoms to the door pulls that make them good holding places for the keys. In liked the adjustable shoulder belts that can be moved higher or lower.

With proximity lock and unlock, all you have to do is have the key in your pocket when you approach the car and you can unlock the door.

There is an extra charge to get the Hybrid over the standard 4 or even turbo four-cylinder Sonata. I’ve driven them all and would gladly drive them again. They’re all solid vehicles. The Hybrid definitely has a strong claim to be your hybrid sedan of choice.

2013 The Auto Page