June 15, 2011

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - Up Close

A few months ago I spent a week driving a Nissan Altima Hybrid. That really gave me an opportunity to experience the car in all sorts of driving conditions, from heavy traffic of the Beltway around Washington D.C. to the rural roads of northern Maryland. A month after that I saw the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid at the Seattle Auto Show. Not exactly a  Prius but a stunning car with lots of potential and a really competitive price.

Update 10/16/11: I have added a post about my first road trip on the Sonata for those interested.

Click on the images to enlarge

Although still in short supply, the Sonata Hybrid is finally here so this past weekend I took the plunge and brought one home. It is hard to believe how much technology is packed into these cars especially at this price point (on the base model). I am looking forward to see how it withstand the punishment of the daily grind.

Very pleasing dashboard design

The taillight's unique pattern set it apart from other Sonata models.

Those sharp edges on the rear bumper is one of the many "tricks" that help it slice through the air with a drag coefficient of 0.25. I remember when we all thought the 0.30 of the 1983 Audi 100 was outstanding!

Daily drivers look "new" only for a brief period of time after they leave the dealer and I am sure this one won't be the exception so here are a few photos of some details that make it interesting. Better do it now before it gets worn out ;-)

The batteries might be smaller and lighter but they still take quite a bite out of trunk space. It does look a bit more spacious than the Altima (shown below).

No spare here! Just a can of sealant, a tire inflator and an optional roadside emergency kit. Hope I never have to use any of it. I think I will just call Roadside Assistance instead. :-)

The LED band on the headlamps make for a distinctive look but it is just an accent as the High beam (lower left) running at a lower intensity double as Daytime Running Lights (DRL).

Deeply recessed instrument panel provide quite a bit of information about the hybrid drive train.
Altima's instruments for comparison below:

Engine bay is a sea of plastic.

Engine seems pretty easy to service.
Starting battery is tucked away in the trunk.

Starter/Generator is a key component to make it all work seamlessly.

A pretty simple suspension setup with a McPherson strut. A little different from the double wishbones on my Passat. Probably the last time this wheel well will be this clean

Nice and shiny at least for a little while...

Under tray continues all the way to the rear axle helping to make the car more aerodynamic.


  1. Thank you for doing this while it's still clean. Mine got dirty before I thought about it.

  2. I thought it would be fun to check it out before it started getting scars and grime from daily use :-)