2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review – Who said hybrids have to look ugly?

Tuesday July 5th, 2011 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: AKramer

Jeweled projector-lens headlights with LED accents

Driving Impressions

One of the first things you’ll notice while driving the Sonata Hybrid is that she sits quite low to the ground, almost sports car low. This is primarily to enhance aerodynamics, but unfortunately it makes it easy to scrape the front lip on curbs or steep driveways.

The suspension is tuned a bit firmer than you might expect for a hybrid sedan, which means less body roll when cornering, but it does pitch back and forth a bit, especially over dips and bumps. Tackling a windy road also reveals a steering feel that is a bit numb and doesn’t communicate much about what the front wheels are doing.

LED taillights

While the hybrid system is very seamless when driven lazily, once you start to hurry things get a bit unglued. If you stand on the gas while in EV mode, there is a brief delay, and then the thrust from the engine comes on abruptly, sometimes so much so that you’ll chirp the tires. The brake pedal is also a bit mushy and the low rolling resistance tires start to squeal when cornering even moderately hard.

All of this is really beside the point, given that few drivers buy a hybrid sedan for the handling. For everyday driving, the Sonata Hybrid works perfectly fine, but we do hope Hyundai can take a bit more of the sportiness we witnessed in the regular Sonata and put it in the hybrid version.

Interior/Exterior

Luckily the Sonata Hybrid does inherit the Sonata’s spacious, comfortable interior. Build quality is very good and the car has a lot of equipment for the money. Even the base model includes such features as dual automatic climate control, power driver seat with power lumbar support, and an integrated Bluetooth handsfree phone system.

Hyundai Sonata hybrid interior

Our tester came with the Hybrid Premium Package, which costs a cool 5 grand, but gives you leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, heated front and rear seats, touchscreen Navigation, and Infinity premium audio system. Our only real criticism of the interior is the choice of colors, which was a rather drab gray on gray. A bit more contrast in the color scheme would highlight the otherwise excellent interior design.

The outside of our test car couldn’t have been more eye-catching. From the striking Blue Sky Metallic paint, to the unique alloy wheels and dramatic gaping front grill, which is unique to the hybrid model, our test car attracted quite a bit of attention wherever we went. Although some might find the Sonata’s fluid, sculpted shape to be a bit too artistic, you can’t help but marvel at how far Hyundai has come, in terms of design, in just the past few years.
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