Instead of refining the already classic sexy styling and the comfortable and contemporary interior of the new Sonata Hybrid, Hyundai Motor America chose to tweak the excellent hybrid system further increasing fuel efficiency and for the car to operate in all-electric mode more often and for longer periods of time. They engineered an advanced version of the brand’s Blue Drive architecture. The improved architecture optimizes electric-only driving with a higher output 35 kW electric motor, a more powerful 47 kW Lithium Polymer batter pack and an optimized hybrid operating strategy. These upgrade are paired with a 2.4 liter Theta II four-cylinder engine that now runs on a more efficient Atkinson cycle and an enhanced six-speed automatic to generate 199 combined net horsepower. The new Sonata Hybrid Blue Drive system offers greater fuel efficiencies by increasing the overall amount of available electrical drive power, allowing you to go further between fill-ups. As in previous Sonata Hybrids, the new 2013 model features a clutch to decouple the gasoline engine from the drivetrain. When in pure electric drive, the Sonata Hybrid can drive electrically up to 75 mph.
Maximizing electric-only driving results in high fuel efficiency, which is the leading factor consumers look for in a hybrid vehicle. Hyundai engineers aimed to increase the overall amount of available electric drive power and improve the efficiency of the Hybrid Blue Drive operating system in the new model.
Using a higher output 35 kW electric motor and the more powerful 47 kW Lithium Polymer battery pack, the Hybrid Blue Drive powertrain maximizes electric-only driving. The improved operating system takes advantage of newly developed driving pattern detection and engine on/off optimization logic. The availability of more battery energy allows for greater flexibility in running the gasoline engine at optimum efficiency, which saves fuel. Better kinetic energy recovery and increased charging efficiency powers the new model in all-electric mode more often and for longer periods of time, increasing fuel economy. The car utilizes the all-electric mode at optimal moments such as highway driving, and then saves the gasoline engine start-up for roads that require a heavier dose of power at launch.
The remarkable achievement with the new Sonata Hybrid’s 47 kW lithium polymer batter pack is that not only is it more powerful and more energy dense, it also weighs less and takes up less volume in the trunk. It has gone from 96 pounds to 91 pounds, while trunk volume expands from 10.7 to 12.1 cu.ft. Once again the improved efficiency of the battery pack is key to recovering more kinetic energy from braking and charging from the engine, when needed, to help propel the car. The newly optimized system allows the battery to store more usable energy, allowing more all-electric driving, cutting both fuel consumption and emissions. As the upgraded batter stores more energy, engineers also increased the output on the electric traction motor from 30 kW to 35 kW. The increase energy pulled into the system is used for higher torque output in electric driving mode before the system has to start the internal combustion engine. The new Sonata Hybrid can now sustain all-electric mode longer than before. The higher output electric motor is also essential to improving energy capture during regenerative braking.
The HSG (Hybrid Starter Generator) is primarily used to improve clutch engagement when synchronizing engine to transmission speed. The primary traction state of charge is low and the car is stopped, the HSG will automatically restart the engine, which then charges the Lithium Polymer battery pack. When you release the brake and press on the throttle, the Sonata Hybrid will pull away smoothly in electric drive mode with the clutch still engaged. In this mode, the Sonata will briefly behave like a series hybrid. Once the car is in motion and torque demand increases, the clutch will engage and send engine tractive effort through the transmission again.
The body of the new Sonata Hybrid remains unchanged and cuts through the air with an incredible 0.24 co-efficient of drag made possible by the re-sharped front and rear fascias with a deeper air dam, extended rocker panels and lower drag wheels that allow air to flow around the body with less resistance. All of these hybrid and body improvements allow the new Sonata Hybrid Limited that I tested to reach an EPA mileage spec of 36mpg/city and 40mpg/highway.
I checked this out and found it is true only when you get the car up to that speed using the gasoline/hybrid electric system. When I took my foot off the throttle it did go into EV mode but then lost speed as I progressed. When I gave it very light throttle to regain speed it did stay in EV mode until it slowed down again since the light throttle wasn’t enough to keep the speed up from 65-75mph. It behaved the same at any speed below under very light throttle at the optimum speed but did drop off and I had to give it throttle again. It does stretch the miles out using the same light throttle and coasting until you have to regain speed. It doesn’t work on an incline or hill but does on the way down. The EV only mode does work at launch until you reach 20mph then it reverts back to hybrid.
The Hyundai Lifetime Hybrid Battery Warranty ensures that if the Sonata Lithium-Polymer battery ever needs replacement, Hyundai will replace the battery and cover recycling cost for the old battery pack for free to the original owner.
Even though the Sonata Limited is a hybrid vehicle it is still fun and easy to drive with the latest in contemporary mechanical and interior features to make the ride even more enjoyable.
The Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine is all-aluminum with DOHC and Dual Continuously Valve Timing. The six-speed automatic features Hyundai’s Sportronic sequential shifting for a more sporty drive. The unique suspension is fully independent and features MacPherson struts up front with a 24mm stabilizer bar and SACHs Amplitude Selective Damping gas-charged shocks. The rear independent suspension is a multi-link setup with coil springs, a 15mm stabilizer bar and SACHs Amplitude Selective Damping gas-charged shocks for an excellent ride over poorly paved roads and superb handling capabilities at speed.
Steering is provided by a Motor-Driven power steering column mounted rack & pinion power assisted system with engine rpm sensing for a lighter feel at slow speeds and a heavier feel at highway speeds with excellent on-center feel. Slowing the new Sonata Hybrid Limited down from speed are large, regenerative steel disc brakes. Up front are 11.8 inch vented discs with large single-piston calipers and 11.2 vented discs utilizing large single-piston calipers in the rear. Standard ABS and EBD help with your control when braking on slick or wet pavement. The Limited 2013 Sonata Hybrid rides on 17X6.5 inch light alloy wheels wrapped with 215/55R17 inch low-rolling resistance tires.
Standard equipment in my Limited Sonata Hybrid includes projector beam headlights with LED accents, LED taillights, front foglamps, power remote sideview mirrors with turn signal indicators, unique, tinted chrome front grille, bodyside molding tinted chrome inserts, chrome exterior door handles, proximity entry with push-button start/stop, remote keyless entry, alarm and immobilizer, active front head restraints, 5-3-point seatbelts with front pretensioners/load limiters, electric stability control with traction control, front, front seat side and curtain airbags, electroluminescent instrument cluster, 4.2 inch color TFT multi-function trip computer with hybrid technology display, dual automatic temperature control, front console mounted rear air-vents, heated front seats, chrome interior door handles, leatherette interior door panel inserts, leather trimmed front bucket seats with driver’s-side 8-way power adjustments, tilt-telescopic leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise and phone controls, metal-grain interior accents, 499-watt AM-FM-Sirius XM/CD/MP3 with iPod/USB/auxiliary jack Infinity Premium audio system, power windows with driver’s-side express up/down, automatic door locks, integrated Bluetooth with phonebook transfer, Hyundai Blue Link Telematics system, auto light control, Virtual Engine Sound System, solar control glass, leather shift knob, navigation system with high-resolution touch screen display, rear backup camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror/homelink/compass, premium door sill plates, panoramic sunroof with power sunshade.
The price for this advanced and loaded mid-size hybrid sedan is $31,550.00. It is definitely worth the money as I received a combined 37.3 mpg on average traveling on city and highway for more than 450 miles.
COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ