2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Up Close

The Sonata Hybrid’s enormous lower air dam changes the car’s demeanor compared to the regular Sonata; viewed head-on, it looks like an entirely separate model. Some may not like that — the redesigned 2011 Sonata is a handsome bit of work — and I’m still torn on it. But the car’s other elements, from the bluish headlight pipes to the taillights’ three-dimensional rings, redeem it. A number of other areas have been restyled, including different wheels and sharper rear corners, and the sum total of changes makes the Sonata Hybrid considerably more aerodynamic than the non-hybrid Sonata, according to Hyundai.

Inside, the Blue button — it’s gray, actually, but it says “Blue” — on the steering wheel optimizes accelerator sensitivity and other drivetrain calibrations for better fuel efficiency, not unlike similar buttons in the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. Alas, Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson didn’t have any estimation of how much the Blue mode affects mileage.

Between the gauges sits an LCD screen that’s larger than the screen in the non-hybrid Sonata; though not as impressive as the Ford Fusion Hybrid’s dual LCDs, Hyundai’s still packs excellent graphics and a great deal of information, including an Eco Guide screen that turns a graphic of the earth from gray (you live to pollute) to blue (you’re one with the meerkats) depending on your driving habits. There’s also an Eco Level scoring system that awards points over a period of time for how well you’re doing. Meerkats die if you score too low.



That's a lot of junk in the Sonata's trunk. I'm guessing the rear seats don't fold down (or if they do, the opening isn't large enough to be practical). What is that partially covered thing in the lower right corner?

Derrick G


That appears to be the conventional starter battery. There certainly doesn't appear to be one under the hood from the photos of the engine room I can find.


That is one ugly grill. The blue leaf reminds me of the Fusion display just not quite as logical.


grill is too huge.

Looks like a unaerodynamic than normal sonata.

Sonata Hybrid Designed by Hyundai Europe design studio.

Normal Sonata Designed by Hyundai US design studio.


Except for front grill, This car standout in its class. impressive hybrid technology.


Yuk. Someone finally beat Audi in grill ugliness.


These pictures do not do the car justice. I saw it at the New York auto show. If you see it in person, the grill actually looks pretty sharp with cool-looking headlights. The hybrid overall looks much nicer than the regular version. I fell in love!


Grill makes me think it's time to recycle the old Edsel jokes.

I suspect the thing in the trunk is a 12V battery to fire up the electronics, just like in the Prius. The MG between the engine and transmission starts the engine after stopping in traffic, presumably using the main battery, so there's no reason to think they'd have a conventional 12V starter.

Sure wish I knew when and how much.

Who designed that front end, Acura??? I was interested until I saw it :-(


Can you fit a set of golf clubs in that small trunk?


You can fit a lot more than golf clubs in the trunk. For all the sceptics out there this car is AWESOME. It drive a lot better than the fusion. It's just one of those things that you have to see in person to appreciate it. I LOVE my Sonata Blue. With the hybrid 1 gas tank last me 2 weeks. :)I go to Austin 2 times a week which is 60 miles 1 way.

Bob from Cleveland

I have driven my Hyundai Sonata hybrid about 1000 miles. I pay attention to the MPG display and get over 40 MPG in the city and over 45 mpg for extended highway driving - perhaps attending to the MPG display aids in driving economically.

The back seat does not fold down. The trunk is small, but the space is very useable. I can get my wheelchair to fit in there.

The features that I like are: 1) Bluetooth, 2) passenger room, 3) driver seat adjustability, 4) appearance, 5) keyless entry and push button start using a proximity system so the "key" can stay in your pocket, purse of briefcase.

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