North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Z_CNHI News Service

September 4, 2013

Fuel economy, price make Hyundai Sonata hybrid a good value

The Sonata Hybrid has been on the move this year with improved fuel economy and design tweaks, but is it enough in the crowded segment to make a difference?

Hyundai hopes so, and has invested in a more powerful and lighter lithium polymer battery that boosts output by nearly 40 percent while taking up less trunk space.

The Korean company says polymer was chosen because its lifespan exceeds the industry 10 year/100,000 norm and, as such, offers an exclusive lifetime battery warranty.

Like other gasoline-powered sedans that have added a hybrid, the Sonata has been a success in its sixth generation in the U.S. after its debut overseas in 1985. It takes aim at the more efficient Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry hybrids.

Along with its 270-volt battery, the Sonata is equipped with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle hybrid engine that together produce up to 199 horsepower to propel its six-speed automatic transmission.

The interior is roomy, nearly upscale and is available in a well-equipped trim level with lots of standard features you would likely pay extra for, including push-button start, Bluetooth technology, dual zone climate control and satellite radio.

Sonata hybrids are available as a Base model for around $25,000 and Limited for $30,000. The test car I drove for a week was the latter model, additionally equipped with a $1,000 panoramic sunroof that opens to the heavens for all five passenger seats.

For the extra dollars, the Limited adds leather seats, larger wheels, navigation, 7-inch touch screen, rearview camera and an upgraded Infinity audio package with nine speakers.

Seating is comfortable but could use some extra bolster support for front seats and seatbacks where padding is a little thin. The dashboard layout is modern with just the right amount of graphic gauges and easy access buttons to keep tabs on what's going on inside the cabin and under the hood.

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