2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Review Roundup

2012 hyundai sonata hybrid reviews

photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Shopping for a 2012 hybrid car and thinking about the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2012 Sonata Hybrid is a midsize sedan that competes in the family car category with the Ford Fusion and the Toyota Camry. It features a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine and Hyundai’s Blue Drive fully parallel hybrid system.  The powertrain generates 206 horsepower and achieves an EPA fuel economy rating of 40 MPG on the highway.  The car was introduced in the 2011 model year. The Hyundai Blue Link Telematics system, a three-piece moonroof,  a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen and HD radio are new for 2012.  MSRP starts at $25,850.

Cars.com — 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Cars.com reports that the comfort of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid matches the gasoline-only four-cylinder Sonata. The car offers a better battery pack and better mileage on the highway than its competition in the family car market, the Toyota Camry and the Ford Fusion. They add that “it looks cool, too.”

They say that the Sonata Hybrid looks “dramatically” different than the gasoline-only version due to a “radically” enlarged grille and LED headlights in the front.  The car is light, includes aerodynamic wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires, and flaps behind the grille that open or close depending on the speed of the car. This combines to give the Sonata Hybrid a co-efficient of drag rating of 0.25 Cd. They point out that this is better than the Camry Hybrid (0.27 Cd) and the Fusion Hybrid (0.33 Cd).

They note that the car features a lithium polymer battery, which is said to be better than the nickel-metal hydride batteries found on many hybrids. The polymer battery is also different than the popularly used lithium ion battery because it is smaller. Still, due to the battery, cargo space is reduced when compared to the regular Sonata, they said. They note that Hyundai chose a “traditional” six-speed automatic transmission over a continuously variable automatic transmission so that the driver of the car could enjoy a better driving experience.

Cars.com noted that when the Sonata Hybrid was not in the so-called “fuel-sipping mode” acceleration was “strong” and shifting was “crisp.” However, when the car was in “Blue mode” they commented that “The transmission didn’t seem to know what to do on steep inclines, and the engine whined unsettlingly on hilly roads.” However, they countered that the Blue mode is commonly used for city and highway driving — not on hilly roads. Under the proper conditions, the mode increases efficiency by 5 percent.

Edmunds.com — 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Edmunds identified the pros of the car to be high fuel economy; a comfortable and “handsome” cabin; smooth ride, lengthy warranty and good safety scores. They found the cons to be unrefined hybrid powertrain, clumsy braking response, and significant price increase compared to the regular Sonata. They also claim the fuel economy was not as good as the EPA numbers.

MotorTrend — First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

MotorTrend notes that the lithium polymer battery is lighter than the 2012 Camry and Fusion Hybrids, and is smaller and more durable than the lithium-ion battery. Moreover,  they note that the six-speed engine clutch “…seamlessly engages and disengages at all engine speeds to imperceptibly deliver gas, gas-electric, and full-electric drive modes.” They conclude that the car does not have any conspicuous “hybridness” — such as whirring CVT and “grabby” brakes.

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review Summary

In conclusion, the consensus appears to be:

Likes:

  • Battery pack
  • Good mileage
  • Looks “cool”
  • Good aerodynamic features
  • Good acceleration
  • Good shifting
  • Comfortable cabin
  • Smooth ride
  • Good safety rating
  • No “hybridness”

Dislikes:

  • Unrefined hybrid powertrain
  • “Clumsy” braking
  • EPA fuel economy numbers overestimated
  • Price compared to all-gas model

Do you own this car, or have you driven one? What’s your take?

Leave a comment and help out the people who are researching this car!

Olinda Vriend June 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I wonder about the fact that the lithium battery that Hyundai uses is not recyclable? Is this not a diadvantage?

Cleveland_Bob June 14, 2012 at 11:55 am

I have owned one Sonata Hybrid for over a year and purchased a second for my wife because I liked the first so much. I have gotten over 42 mpg on the 2011 base model and for 1000 miles have gotten about 45 mpg with the 2012 model. The cars handle great, the braking and shifting between EV and gas modes are smooth and sure. The accident avoidance is excellent. The proximity sensing ignition and the chime signal system work very well. The Bluetooth is superb and fully supports hands-free phone use while driving. They are fantastic cars that are ideal for us to go to work and transport family. They easily fit three adults and two children in car seats or five adults.
With respect to the battery – my understanding is that the material is recycled inorder to reuse the lithium polymer.

Michael September 15, 2012 at 8:28 am

I have had my 2012 Sonata Hybrib for 2 weeks and I am very pleased with the fuel economy. I am getting 38 mpg through out the week going back and forth to work (highway and streets). So that is between what is stated on the sticker 35 and 40.

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