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Review: 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Kamil Kaluski June 25, 2013 Featured, Hyundai Reviews 18 Comments

2013 Hyundai sonata hybrid side

Once upon a time vehicles proudly displayed their V8 badges to symbolize their superiority over lesser, V6 equipped, models. That badge alone gave the owners of such cars street cred for their taste and prosperity. Today, I cannot think of a single new vehicle sold which still sports a V8 badge. It’s now all Eco this and Hybrid that. Those are the badges which, much as they have in the past, symbolize the model’s superiority over lesser, less efficient, models. They similarly inflate the owners’ pride and ego, too.

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has three such badges: bluedrive on each side and a hybrid badge on its trunk. Yet somehow, the design language would speak hybrid even if those badge were removed. Whether it is the wheel design, the grill, the taillights or even this blue color, it is enough to separate this hybrid model from its conventional sibling. This is an important factor proven by the iconic shape of the Toyota Prius and its sales success over more conventional looking cars such as the Civic Hybrid.

This Sonata Hybrid is Hyundai’s first venture into the hybrid market. At first glance they got the exterior appearance right, even if the front grill takes some getting used to. What’s more surprising is what’s on the inside and how un-hybrid-like the Sonata Hybrid drives.

2013 Hyundai sonata hybrid limited side

Inside there is plenty of room for each passenger, with a surprising amount of leg-room for the ones in back. The interior is comprised of high quality materials, much nicer than the Altima and Camry, and feels like it will last a long time. The only thing that wasn’t nice was the rattle coming the door-mounted Infinity® speakers when the volume was turned up to concert levels.

The infotainment/navigational stack looks to have been lifted from an Infiniti, while HVAC controls look a like the ones found on most Volvos. That said, both are intuitive and easy to use without much fluff. The navigational system, like most new ones, has traffic diversions programmed in and has impressive sneaky ways of avoiding congestion. I was less impressed, however, when it couldn’t get to a mall road which has been in existence for over ten years.

2013 Hyundai sonata hybrid limited interior details

The Bluetooth easily synced with my iPhone4 and worked without issues. The front of the center console has a nice cubby with auxiliary input, USB port, two 12v receptacles and enough space for two phones. It’s such a simple thing but it keeps your stuff organized and you don’t have to sacrifice cup-holder space for your phone.

The trunk is on the small side, which is typical for hybrid sedans as that is where the batteries are located. However, the Sonata is the first hybrid sedan that I have ever encountered with a center armrest pass-through. The opening isn’t big but it maybe just big enough for a pair of skis, saving you a good amount of MPGs which would be otherwise killed by a roof-rack.

2013 Hyundai sonata hybrid limited seats

Speaking of MPGs (horrible term but it is part of the industry lingo now, so get used to it), the EPA says that the Sonata Hybrid Limited gets 36mpg in the city, 40mpg on the highway, and a combined amount of 37mpg. This is unusual as most hybrids get better gas mileage in city driving than on the highway. In my own heavy-footed, short distance, driving which performed on a crazy mix of city, highway, and gridlocked city/highway, I did not get those numbers. According to the dash display I was getting between 24 and 32mpg over the sixty miles I drove this car in a four day period, which is not that impressive. Perhaps a greater driving distance would yield more concrete results.

Speaking of driving, the Sonata Hybrid feels more like a conventional car than most hybrids do. For starters it has a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission. Inside, there is no knob for eco, sport, and other driving modes. In fact if it wasn’t for the “eco guide” gauge in lieu of the tach, it wouldn’t be immediately evident that this is a hybrid from driving dynamics perspective. The engine, updated from the 2011 version, can sound harsh at times but good power is always available, whereas it is slightly delayed in some other hybrids.

2013 Hyundai sonata panaramic sunroof

The price for a Sonata with bluedrive and hybrid badges starts at $26,445. The better-equipped Limited model with a panoramic sunroof, as pictured, is $32,345. Like other hybrids, this is a substantial premium over its conventional sibling. Like in the heydays of the V8 badge, calculating whether that premium makes sense is pointless – you either want it or you don’t.  

2013 Hyundai sonata hybrid rear


  • FuzzyPlushroom

    Hmm. Good to know that there's a relatively normal hybrid option out there, even if it gets relatively normal fuel economy, too. Keep the eco gauge, though. I know how hard my foot's down. I'll take a giant Volvo 240-style clock there to go with my Volvo 240-style grenade-launcher passthrough.

    Now, are those old-school California manufacturer's plates, or have they simply never changed the design of the lettering? They look as though they may once have been on a Scoupe or an original Sonata.

    • I always liked BMW's "mpg" gauge under the tach, very cool to watch it swing into the single digits. On my 318iS I couldn't get it to go below 14mpg or so.

      • SSurfer321

        I got excited when my truck touched 19 mpg on my recent trek from KY to OH. Its easy to get single digits.

    • Devin

      I like irresponsibility meters, though I like them better when they display numbers instead of just a bar. I got a rental Corolla to read something like 50 l/100km. It was rad.

  • Jay_Ramey

    Audi still has little V10 badges on its sportier offerings. But with V10s underhood, you kinda have to show it off.

    $32K a little pricey, and a little hard to believe that in this segment people care about badging or the technology underhood to drive it up into 2-year old C-Class territory.

    By the way, Pujo called, they want their grille back.

    • Vairship

      Looking at that schnozz with the silver beak/wing thing, I think they hired the guy who killed Acura…

  • JayP2112

    When my pal was still at the Subaru shop, we took a Sonata hybrid out from the used lot.
    It was pretty cool. Had all the bells and whistles…

    I came to a stop sign and the engine stopped running.
    My years of British car ownership came back in a flood of panic. NO ENGINE NOT GOOD!!

    Then we realized the car has startstop, had a good laugh and swore we'd never speak a word of it again.

  • Maymar

    <img src="; width=500 /img>
    <img src="; width=500 /img>
    I can think of at least a couple cars that are proud to identify their V8 engines (sort of). That said, a V8 for anything short of the bourgeoisie (or the proletariats who overextend their credit for the bourgeoisie image) is getting a little uncommon. On the other hand, the turbo Sonata wears a 2.0T badge to prove you bought the one with more Go!, so both sides get to prove they spent more.

    I'll also give props to the Sonata Hybrid, for looking pretty decent while being identifiably different. I don't care for the Optima Hybrid, but the green Sonata's pretty handsome. Between being good for 90km/h on battery, and great taillights, it's a pretty neat package.
    <img src="; width=500 /img>

    • Deartháir

      I am disappointed with the entire commentariat.

      ; width="600">

      Click to embiggen, then set it as your desktop as a penance so you can call yourselves car guys again.

      • I was lost at the phrase "new vehicle."

        • Deartháir

          I assumed in your case it was probably confusing hearing of a vehicle with more than one or two cylinders!

          • The fleet's current mean is 2.6 with a median of 3. So there!

      • Rover1

        Yup, or this
        <img src=";
        or this
        <img src=";

      • Maymar

        To be fair, I didn't forget such machines. Just, like I said, V8s are almost plentiful if you're spending money. On the other hand, if I didn't care about having savings, I might be able to swing financing on a slightly used Hemi Charger or 5.0 Mustang (and keep them running!).

        • Deartháir

          Yeah, you're off the hook, you posted the other two candidates who immediately sprang to mind.

  • Tomas

    I personaly own 2011 sonata hybrid. I never got worse than 37mpg (snow conditions), 42mpg to 45mpg summer driving. It took little time to get use to this car. I like it size and design. I never had hyundai before but I would recomend anyone this car who doesn't stay always in downtown driving conditions. This car likes speeds 40mph and up

    • Right, I don't doubt it. I spent most of my time in the city or in grid-locked bumper-to-bumper traffic and specifically stated that.

  • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    Where did they hide the numeric keypad?


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