2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Family Review Checklist

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The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited sedan looks good, has lots of features and gets a combined 37 mpg for $32,490 (including destination). But how far will those features, beauty and efficiency go in winning over my family? For the most part, they go pretty far, but the smaller trunk might be a problem for shoppers with families.

With its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's paired with a 35-kilowatt motor, the Sonata Hybrid accelerated quickly. The 2013 hybrid has 7 fewer horsepower than the 2012 model year, but I didn't miss them. The Sonata Hybrid drove smoothly over city streets and on the highway, but the brakes were a problem. They were grabby and I struggled to get used to them. I felt like I was constantly slamming on the brakes no matter how I finessed the pedal.

When it comes to hybrids, it's all about the fuel-economy numbers. The Sonata Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 36/40/37 mpg city/highway/combined. But I didn't get anything near those numbers during my weeklong test drive: I averaged 26 mpg and drove a lot of uncongested highway and city streets.

By Sara Lacey | October 30, 2013 | Comments (1)

2014 Hyundai Sonata: What's Changed

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Most significant changes: A face-lifted exterior joins a new touch-screen audio system and updated navigation system 

Price change: Base GLS models start $155 higher than 2013 versions

On sale: Now

Which you should buy, 2013 or 2014? 2014 for shoppers interested in SE or Limited, 2013 for GLS buyers

Hyundai's midsize sedan is already pretty competitive, and an updated for 2014 version should only make the Sonata more appealing. Along with a modest price increase, the 2014 Sonata gets revised exterior styling, more convenience features and a new touch-screen audio display unit; its powertrain carries over.

Outside, the sedan wears a more fluid looking grille, new 17- and 18-inch wheels, and optional high-intensity discharge headlights and LED taillights. Hyundai says the new 17- and 18-inch wheels have also been designed to reduce road noise. The SE version now also gets a standard body-colored spoiler.

By Jennifer Geiger | October 8, 2013 | Comments (14)

2013 Hyundai Sonata and Sonata Hybrid: Car Seat Check

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Families looking for a midsize sedan will find a lot to like about the Hyundai Sonata. It's roomy, comfortable and full of features yet still affordable. Fuel efficiency is another high point. The hybrid model we tested is EPA rated at 36/40/38 mpg city/highway/combined. The Sonata and Sonata Hybrid have the same amount of passenger room, so our results can be applied to both cars.

One big bonus for families is how well the Sonata's backseat accommodated two child-safety seats. Check out our Car Seat Check below.

By Jennifer Geiger | October 8, 2013 | Comments (1)

What Hyundai-Kia's Latest Strike Means to Car Shoppers

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Hyundai-Kia's troubled home-turf labor relations continue. The latest chapter has Korean labor unions voting to strike over wage and benefit disputes with the South Korean automaker. The result could mean a production stoppage in its home country.

Hyundai-Kia, which together rank fifth in global sales, is the sixth on the U.S. sales pole, with year-to-date sales down 0.3%. Still, the automaker builds popular cars like the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata, as well as the Kia Optima and Soul. All four rank in the top 35 best-sellers so far this year — and although the automaker operates two assembly plants in the U.S., all Soul and a significant chunk of Optima, Elantra and Sonata vehicles hail from South Korea. A production stoppage could hamstring dealer supply in a matter of weeks.

By Kelsey Mays | August 15, 2013 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 270,000 Hyundai, Kia Vehicles

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Hyundai and Kia are recalling about 270,000 vehicles in three separate actions, according to the Chicago Tribune. Hyundai is recalling 240,000 model-year 2006-10 Sonata sedans and 2006-11 Azera sedans due to a corrosion problem that could affect rear-wheel alignment. Meanwhile, Hyundai is also recalling 20,300 model-year 2013 Santa Fe midsize SUVs and Kia is recalling 9,345 model-year 2014 Sorento crossovers, both due to a potential problem with the right front axle.

In the largest of the recalls, the affected Sonatas were manufactured between March 1, 2005, and Jan. 21, 2010, and the Azeras from Sept. 27, 2005, to Nov. 22, 2010, the newspaper reported. Check your vehicle's build date on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. Road salt used in 20 cold-weather states and the District of Columbia can lead to rust on the underside of the affected vehicles; this could lead to misaligned rear wheels. The states include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Hyundai said it is unaware of any crashes or injuries resulting from the corrosion issue, the Tribune reported.

By Matt Schmitz | August 15, 2013 | Comments (0)

Do Turbocharged Cars Require More Maintenance?

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Turbocharged engines will require more frequent maintenance, such as oil changes and fresh spark plugs, though they typically don't require additional service compared to naturally aspirated engines. Here are some examples: Dodge advises changing the spark plugs on the Dart's turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder every 30,000 miles, compared with every 100,000 miles for the 2.0- and 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engines. Dodge does not post a schedule for oil changes, instead telling owners to have it done based on an oil-change indicator system that monitors how many short trips you make, outside temperatures and other driving conditions.

On the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder used in the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, Hyundai says to change the oil every 7,500 miles or at least once a year. With the turbocharged 2.0-liter, Hyundai says to do the first oil change after 3,000 miles or six months and then every 5,000 miles or six months. Spark plug changes also are more frequent on the turbo 2.0-liter: every 45,000 miles or three years versus 105,000 miles or seven years on the 2.4-liter engine.

By Matt Schmitz | August 5, 2013 | Comments (11)

What's the Most Affordable Midsize Sedan?

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The midsize sedan is one of the most popular segments in the U.S. It serves as a family car, commuter, road tripper and more.

Because of this popularity, automakers offer a dizzying amount of styles and options for their midsizers. This differing content makes it hard for car shoppers to compare apples to apples from one automaker to the next.

We analyzed the segment for the features most drivers would want in a car of this class and uncovered some surprising results.

By David Thomas | July 30, 2013 | Comments (12)

The Top 10 Biggest Recalls of 2013

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Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues recalls on millions of vehicles. In 2012, NHTSA recalled just shy of 18 million, and 15.5 million in 2011. While some recalls affect just a handful of vehicles, others impact millions.

So far this year, the biggest recall is technically not a recall at all. In June, we reported that NHTSA had requested Chrysler fix 2.7 million Jeep SUVs — 1993-2004 Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Liberty models — due to a potential fuel-system problem that could cause fires in a rear-end crash. Jeep initially refused, insisting the vehicles "met and exceeded all applicable requirements" of federal standards pertaining to fuel-system integrity. NHTSA then gave Chrysler a June 18 deadline to either issue a recall themselves, or be ordered to do so.

On the day of its deadline, Chrysler announced it would launch a campaign to inspect and, if necessary, fix the 2.7 million Jeeps — never officially referring to the action as a "recall." Still, that's what it was, and therefore it earns the distinction of being the biggest one this year.

According to research, the biggest recalls affecting the U.S. market in 2013 are:

By Matt Schmitz | July 22, 2013 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Best Base Models

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An ode to the base model.

Black door handles and a seat that can't move up and down/
paying monthly for not a lot has me feeling like a clown.

Just because you might not be able to afford more than the very least in a car doesn't mean you have to sing the base-model blues. Automakers are adding more features to their lowliest trim levels to entice shoppers even if some are stuck in the stone ages before the USB port became a necessity.

Here are 10 models that we consider to be solid picks, even in their base-model version.

By David Thomas | June 12, 2013 | Comments (9)

2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Drive

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When it appeared in 2011 to counter rivals like the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid generally didn't fare too well in head-to-head matchups. Complaints of a lack of refinement in the hybrid powertrain and braking feel were cited, and the Sonata routinely under-delivered on the fuel economy front. Hyundai seems to have been listening, as these are exactly the areas the company focused on for the 2013 Sonata Hybrid, and the result is a top-notch, fully competitive hybrid sedan ready to take on the competitors.

Changes start with the powertrain: The same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine remains, but it now makes slightly less power, 159 horsepower compared to the 2012 model's 166. This is made up for by a more powerful electric motor, rated at 35 kilowatts instead of the last model's 30. Net power thus drops from 206 in the 2012 model to 199 in the 2013, but this is the only trade-off for superior performance, fuel economy and cargo room. The 2013 Sonata Hybrid's lithium polymer battery has a higher capacity, but it's also lighter and better packaged, allowing the trunk's cargo room to grow from 10.7 to 12.1 cubic feet.

By Aaron Bragman | April 30, 2013 | Comments (0)

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