Lyons on Wheels
2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Base MSRP: $ 27,750 (Blue) As Tested: $36,464 (Limited)
Fully redesigned last year, 2021 marks year two of the eighth generation, for Hyundai’s Sonata. The front wheel drive four door is offered in SE, SEL, SEL Plus, N Line (new, and due this summer) and Limited trim levels. Sonata is also offered with hybrid power, in Blue, SEL or Limited trim. My test car this time was the latter. With the sole option of carpeted floor mats ($169) and a delivery charge of $995, it had an as-tested price of $36,464.
Whether gas or hybrid powered, Sonata makes a good first impression. With an aggressive front end, curvy roofline and a ducktail back, it’s one of the sportier looking members of its segment. Power for the Hybrid is derived from a 2.0L four cylinder gas engine, coupled with a 39-kW electric motor, for a combined, 192 horsepower. The 2.0 contributes 139 lb.-ft. of torque, and the electric motor kicks in 151 lb.-ft. of torque 0-1,800 rpm. The RightNow nature of the torque delivery from the electric motor makes Sonata feel responsively quick at low speeds, and it’s smooth throughout. A traditional, 6-speed automatic transmission puts the power to the front wheels, rather than a CVT, making this a drone-free zone. Fuel economy is impressive. EPA estimates for the hybrid are 45/51/47, and my week of mixed in town/highway driving netted 47 mpg’s – right on the target for combined driving. The brakes are grabby, as is typical of hybrids; steering weight is a little heavier than average. Handling is fine for a family sedan. The car rides well, and it’s quiet inside.
The dashboard design is clean, with a 12.3″ color LCD instrument cluster straight ahead, and a 10.25″ touchscreen (8″ on Blue and SEL) center stage. The infotainment system includes compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The presence of a volume knob is a plus; the absence of a tuning knob is a minus. The HVAC controls one level down are better than average, in terms of ease of use. Hyundai benchmarked three of its midsize sedan competitors – Accord, Altima and Camry – in developing the newest Sonata. Here’s how the quartet stack up on three, commonly compared, cabin metrics: trunk capacity, front leg room, rear leg room. Accord has the largest trunk (16.7 cu-ft.), followed by Sonata (16), Altima (15.4) and Camry (15.1). The best front leg room can be found in the Sonata (46.1″), followed by Altima (43.8″), Accord (42.3″) and Camry (42.1″). Tops in rear leg room is the Accord (40.4″), followed by Camry (38″), then Altima (35.2″) and Sonata (34.8″). In practice, a six footer can – just – fit behind a six footer in the Sonata, provided that the driver isn’t too laid back with their seat rake.
Limited level cars get a brace of tech features, the most novel of which is a solar roof panel. It can generate enough electrical power to add about 700 extra miles of driving per year – when exposed to six hours of sunlight daily. Given that we live in the Great (though partly cloudy) Northeast, your mileage may vary.
A 40 year resident of the Capital District, Dan Lyons has been reviewing new cars for publications for nearly 30 years. He is the author of six automotive books, and photographer of more than 200 calendars.