Drive Away 2Day

2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid : Current Models

Despite what you might have heard, not every U.S. government agency is big enough to insert itself into every aspect of our lives. Witness the EPA, which does not test every make, model, and engine combination for which it publishes ratings. Instead, it sets up procedures and guidelines for automakers to certify that their cars meet emissions regulations and achieve certain fuel-economy results. It’s kind of an honor system, but the EPA does test 15 to 20 percent of new models (as of our 2009 visit to its Ann Arbor labs) and performs occasional spot checks, and that’s how Hyundai and Kia recently were caught fluffing the mpg estimates on a large number of their models. Since the last time we reviewed Hyundai’s Sonata hybrid, the company has been forced to admit that “procedural errors” had inflated its EPA fuel-economy estimates.

As a result of the EPA ruling, Hyundai’s vaunted and heavily advertised 40-mpg club shrank from nearly a half-dozen models to…zero. Under renewed EPA scrutiny to adhere to correct test procedures, not only did the 2011–12 Sonata hybrid fall off the 40-mpg membership roster, but so did versions of the Elantra, Accent, and Veloster. Naturally, Hyundai set about the task of making its cars more—and verifiably—efficient.

The first “rebooted” model to surface is the 2013 Sonata hybrid, which saves some corporate face with its official 40-mpg EPA highway estimate. Our band of enthusiastic drivers achieved 33 mpg piloting the 2013 Sonata hybrid in mixed driving, but that was a worthy improvement over the 27-mpg average we saw in our test of a 2011 model.

Bigger Is Better
The updates for the 2013 model are significant. Hyundai installed a lithium-polymer battery that’s 38 percent larger and more energy dense than before. The hybrid control system was reprogrammed to allow it to dip deeper into the battery’s charge before switching over to the gas engine, thereby spending more time in HEV electric-only mode.

The electric motor is more powerful for 2013, increasing from 30 to 35 kW, enabling the car to whir up to 75 mph using only electrons under light-load conditions. Despite paring back total system output from 206 to 199 horsepower, the larger battery and motor bring a heaping helping of fresh torque—overall twist increases from 193 lb-ft to 235—that notably impacts the Sonata hybrid’s acceleration performance. In our testing, the 0-to-60 time of the 2013 model improved by nearly a second and a half, from 9.5 to 8.1 seconds, putting it close to the 7.9-second 0-to-60 performance of the nonhybrid 2.4-liter Sonata. It also smokes the 2013 Fusion hybrid’s 9.1-second dash, although the Hyundai still trails the 7.3-second Camry hybrid.

The 2013 Sonata hybrid’s acceleration and fuel-economy improvements are quantifiable and worth mentioning, but the car’s better-integrated drivability makes a significant difference. We already liked the smooth electric drive-off feel and the fact that the Sonata hybrid forgoes the usual wheezy CVT for a more-pleasing six-speed step-gear automatic, but Hyundai really hit the books to work out the kinks and smooth transitions between electric and gas-engine hybrid modes. The clutch that takes the place of the torque converter engages more quickly; its interval, according to Hyundai powertrain director John Juriga, decreased from 1.0 to 0.7 second. The goal was for good response with no untoward delays or bumpy transitions.

Lost in Translation
That’s not to say it’s all hearts and roses with the 2013 model. This Sonata still suffers from old-style hybrid behavior in steering and braking, exhibiting tendencies that have disappeared from most modern gas-electrics. The electric steering feels artificially heavy at highway speeds, zombielike on-center, and absolutely devoid of any tactile communication from the tire contact patches. The brakes do a Jekyll and Hyde, with tepid initial response during the regenerative mode and then a grabby, stuck-on-fly-paper feel with the handoff to the mechanical binders. Smooth modulation and predicting braking distances take intense concentration and a bit of luck to achieve.

Then there are the Sonata’s Kumho Solus low-rolling-resistance tires, which give up their grip easily and often. With a 70-to-0 stopping distance of 194 feet, the 2013 Sonata hybrid needed 25 more feet—or about one-and-a-half car lengths—of tarmac to stop than did a nonhybrid 2012 Sonata 2.4 SE. Ditto in lateral grip, where the hybrid could only manage 0.73 g to the conventional Sonata’s stickier 0.82. The car still understeers like crazy. You pay for increased fuel efficiency with the hybrid’s ability to stop and turn.

Inside, the Sonata hybrid is the same quiet, pleasant place it has always been. Materials and switchgear are a cut above, the seats are comfortable, and storage space is generous. Drivers can amuse themselves on long slogs employing hypermiling techniques to improve their score on the car’s eco guide meter—ours was 117, although we weren’t sure what unit of measure (rubles, simoleons, baby belugas?) it was using. Keeping the green EV mode telltale lit as much as possible provides useful biofeedback as to how much time you’re spending in electric-only mode. And although the 2013 car’s hybrid battery has larger capacity, Hyundai was able to repackage it to regain 1.4 cubic feet of trunk space, another plus.

Like most Hyundais, the Sonata hybrid comes well equipped at a base price of $26,445. Opting for the $4900 Limited trim adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, perforated leather upholstery, heated rear seats, an eight-way power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, metal doorsill plates, seven-inch touch-screen navigation, a 400-watt nine-speaker premium audio system with HD radio, and a backup camera. Our test car also had a $1000 panoramic sunroof, $110 carpeted floor mats, and a $35 (!) iPod cable.

Hyundai sells about 20,000 Sonata hybrids a year and is protecting that share with an improved battery warranty, introduced for 2012, that covers the lithium-polymer pack for lifetime use by the original owner. All other hybrid components carry the regular, generous 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, which is transferable.

The 2013 Sonata hybrid shows how quickly Hyundai can move to address criticism, with improved efficiency, packaging, and acceleration, but addressing the EPA’s concerns clearly (and understandably) trumped delivering driving pleasure. Whereas the EPA doesn’t test every model, we do, and even though this Sonata is bounds better than before, there still exist better—and better-sorted—hybrid mid-size sedans.


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Sources : 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Photo | 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Article | 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Photo 2 | 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Interior Photo | 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Photo 3 | 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Interior Photo 2 | 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Rear Photo

3 comments:

  1. The spotty and stunning exterior always an attractive factor to the clients. I think the new models have stunning look for the exterior and comfort factor for the interior. Thanks for sharing these new model to us.

  2. Hmm,
    I love that 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid but I am thinking to buy second hand car, So do you think that 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is also available in Hyundai sonata hybrid for sale in Oklahoma .

  3. No idea if it's still available, but given that it is a 2013 model it's safe to assume that you can stumble upon a similarly dated model now or in the future. If you're looking for secondhand, remember that the condition is not always obvious; sometimes uber-low costs are good but be wary.

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