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2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 2 reviews
When you’re late to the party, you’d better bring extra beer. Of course that’s not an option for Hyundai, what with DWI rules and all, so they decided to do us one better. For 2013, the Sonata Hybrid shows up a bit late but arrives with more power, more space, increased efficiency—and it even costs less.
Sure, $200 isn’t much, but it’s better than going the opposite way, especially when you’re getting so much more in 2013 compared with last year. The hybrid drivetrain has been completely revamped here, starting with the same 2.4-liter gasoline engine and 6-speed automatic and moving on to improved parts from there.
The big news is in the new battery pack: a lithium-polymer unit delivering 47kW as opposed to the 34kW pack from last year, and this one is smaller and lighter as well. Four and a half pounds have been shaved here, and 1.4 cubic feet of trunk space has been saved. No, these aren’t leaps and bounds, but small steps do add up. Case in point, the trunk now offers 12.1 cubic feet in total. The electric motor jumps up as well, going from 30 to 35kW, and even the starter motor is larger, getting a bump from 8.5 to 10.5kW.
This brings the expected gains in efficiency—up to 36 mpg city/40 highway—and another unexpected benefit. Hyundai says the cumulative effect of all this improvement is less wear on the transmission, which directly affects that aspect of hybrid ownership that dearly needs attention: longevity. Thankfully, that new battery pack still comes with a lifetime warranty, so at least your charging fears can be assuaged.
The Sonata Hybrid also gets tweaks to its software for improved driving-pattern recognition that allow you to utilize all-electric power more efficiently. Some gentle massaging to the outside provides improved aerodynamics as well, dropping the Sonata’s drag coefficient down to a limbo-low 0.24. That’s a figure you’d be hard-pressed to find outside of a sports car—and most of those even find it a difficult bar to reach.
This would all be impressive enough, but Hyundai delivers all this and drops the price, too. It’s not much, but it’s enough to undercut competitors like the Fusion and Camry hybrids, neither of which comes with a lifetime battery warranty.
For those who want the best bang for their hybrid buck, the Base Sonata Hybrid comes with keyless entry, heated front seats, Bluetooth and 16-inch alloy wheels Hyundai wants us to refer to as “Eco-spoke.” You’ll also get Hyundai’s Blue Link Telematics system—the manufacturer’s voice-activated multimedia navigation system.
The Limited trim adds leather to the wheel, seats and shift knob, increases wheels to 17 inches and tacks on an HD radio and backup camera. For those who really want to stand out, a panoramic sunroof can be added as well as a standalone option.
It’s certainly not the most impressive hybrid on the road, but perhaps it’s trying the hardest? Small gains certainly add up, but when you’re not even managing a combined rating of 40 mpg, even those small steps might not be enough. Looks like Hyundai might need to pick up some beer after all.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.