The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, expected to hit dealerships later this year, is the South Korean company�"s first hybrid in the US market. Apparently, Hyundai took its time, scrutinized the hybrid competition, and attempted to outdo it in every respect. While we�"re still lacking perhaps the most critical piece of information�the purchase price�it appears that Hyundai has produced a mainstream mid-size hybrid sedan that provides real competition for class-leading fuel economy. Hyundai expects the Sonata Hybrid to achieve 37 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.
The company is taking direct aim at the Toyota Camry Hybrid (33/34) and Ford Fusion Hybrid (41/36), the two most popular regular-looking mid-size hybrid sedans. While the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid does not look exactly like its conventional sibling�more about that in a moment�Hyundai decided not to copy the unique aero-look of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. Moreover, Hyundai went its own direction on technology�by developing an original proprietary hybrid architecture to reduce weight and to improve highway fuel economy.
"The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the new kid on the block, but it's not a follower," said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. "Its full parallel hybrid configuration and breakthrough lithium polymer batteries offer a new take on traditional hybrid design, while its unique design sets it apart from the mid-size hybrid pack."
Balancing Highway and City MPG
Unlike hybrid systems from Ford and Toyota, the Hyundai system does not use a continuously variable transmission with integrated electric motors and generators. Instead Hyundai is using its new six-speed automatic transmission with an electric motor that takes the place of the torque converter. What�"s the difference? It means that Hyundai is trying to address the common complaint that hybrids provide great mileage for city driving conditions, but not so much for highway driving.
�SUnlike traditional [power-split] hybrids that trade off highway fuel economy for higher city ratings, the Sonata Hybrid delivers best-in-class highway fuel economy, while still delivering about a 40 percent improvement in city fuel economy compared to a Sonata equipped with the Theta II GDI engine,⬝ said Krafcik. �SWe think this is a better balanced approach for the majority of car buyers.⬝
Read More... [Source: HybridCars.com]