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Sleek and surefooted, miserly and mid-priced, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, now in its second year of production, is a solid choice in a midsize family sedan. Seating for 5 is complemented by over 10.5 cubic feet of trunk space, and a revolutionary hybrid powertrain arrangement is bolstered by a new lightweight battery for even more fuel-saving potential and niftier handling attributes.
Standard appearance features and creature comforts, you ask? Start with 16-inch alloy wheels, premium cloth upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat and full power accessories, including heated power-adjustable outside mirrors. Then there’s the dashboard-mounted hybrid performance display that’s complemented by cruise control and telescoping tilt-wheel steering, not to mention Hyundai’s touted Blue Link infotainment and directions service (standard for 2012) incorporating Bluetooth hands-free technology. Simulated alloy cabin accents, meanwhile, as well as dual-zone climate control helps keep folks soothed as they enjoy the 104-watt single-CD player with its 6 speakers, satellite radio, auxiliary iPod interface and USB connection.
Option choices begin with the newly offered Leather Package, starring leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and Homelink remote garage door opener. The Ultimate Package, meantime, adds a power sunroof, 17-inch upgraded wheels, a rear-view camera, a touchscreen navigation suite and 400 watts of premium Infinity audio, as well as the Leather Package components. Upgraded floor mats, splash guards and cargo organizers, meantime, all remain standalone options.
A variable-valve-timed (VVT) 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder gasoline engine combines with a 40-hp electric motor to give the 2012 Sonata Hybrid a total of 206 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. Regenerative braking and auto engine stop/start help the four-banger recharge the svelte lithium polymer battery, while mileage is claimed by Hyundai to be some 34 mpg city/39 highway. Be advised that, though the Korean automaker touts its spiffy hybrid as accelerating up to 62 mph on electric power alone, tests by various reviewers dispute this.
In any case, standard safety features include 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front and rear head airbags, front side-mounted airbags and front head restraint whiplash protection. Daytime running lights and front fog/driving lights also come delivered, as do automated Blue Link post-crash alerts. Finally, turn-signal-integrated mirrors and a remote antitheft alarm finish up the list of notable standard safety equipment aboard the Sonata Hybrid.