2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 206 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 34/39 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

  • A valiant first effort, but the 2011 Hyundai Sonata's awkward acceleration and braking keep it from being a top contender among fuel-efficient hybrid-powered family sedans.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Excellent fuel economy; comfortable and handsome cabin; smooth ride; lengthy warranty.

  • Cons

    Unrefined hybrid powertrain; clumsy braking response; significant price premium compared to regular Sonata; tight headroom for taller rear passengers.

  • What's New for 2011

    The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is an all-new model.

Full 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review

What's New for 2011

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is an all-new model.


Hyundai's entry into the hybrid segment seems a simple enough formula: Stick a hybrid powertrain into its redesigned and widely praised Sonata family sedan, make sure it achieves 40 mpg on the highway, and sit back and count sales. With the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the Korean automaker signals that it not only intends to compete in the hybrid category, but win it as well.

On most counts, the Hyundai formula delivers. As with the regular Sonata, the Sonata Hybrid is distinctively styled, roomy and stacked with a lot of creature comforts as standard equipment. Add 36 mpg around town and 40 mpg on the highway and it's clear that the Sonata Hybrid takes aim at top contenders in the segment that include hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.

The Sonata Hybrid varies from its competition in its powertrain, which is designed in-house and essentially uses a separate electric motor sandwiched between the 2.4-liter gasoline engine and traditional six-speed automatic transmission. Its lithium-polymer battery pack also differs from the competition's nickel-metal hydride batteries, as Hyundai says it's more space-efficient and better at resisting thermal damage caused by constant charging and discharging.

On paper, the Sonata Hybrid seems like a winner. Yet its performance ultimately isn't quite as refined as the hybrids from Ford, Nissan and Toyota. The Sonata Hybrid's powertrain and braking fight to sync their computers with the driver's intentions, and the result is an often clumsy, jerking response during low-speed driving in moderate traffic. This isn't enough to keep the Sonata Hybrid off our list, but it does make it worth investigating the competition -- or even just a regular Sonata -- a little more closely.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a midsize family sedan available in one well-appointed trim level. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, full power accessories, heated and folding outside mirrors, automatic headlights, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an eight-way power driver seat, a trip computer, Bluetooth and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio, an iPod adapter and an auxiliary audio jack.

The sole option package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and a premium nine-speaker Infinity audio system with HD radio.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine generating 166 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque, paired with an electric motor making 40 hp and 151 lb-ft. Combined, the two power units are good for 206 peak hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only available transmission.

In Edmunds performance testing, the Sonata Hybrid accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, which is reasonably quick for a hybrid. The EPA estimates Sonata Hybrid fuel economy at 36 mpg city/40 mpg highway and 38 combined. That's quite a bit better than the Camry Hybrid, though about the same as the Ford Fusion Hybrid.


Safety features on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid include antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Sonata Hybrid earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with four out of five stars given for front-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata earned a top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength protection.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Sonata Hybrid came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, an average result for the class. By comparison, the Fusion Hybrid makes the same stop in 122 feet.

Interior Design and Special Features

Like its conventional counterpart, the Sonata Hybrid features solid interior fit and finish, with tight panel gaps and subtle, futuristic appearance cues infused into the dash and center stack design. Knobs with precise action and detents control primary climate and radio settings, while in models equipped with navigation, a 7-inch touchscreen display handles most phone, map and audio functions.

And although the Sonata Hybrid sacrifices some interior and trunk volume to its battery pack -- about 6 cubic feet on both counts -- relative to the regular Sonata sedan, the rear seat is plenty roomy for two adults. Three can fit in a pinch. Passengers taller than 6 feet, however, may find that the sleek roof design infringes on their head space.

Driving Impressions

A well-balanced chassis and suspension make the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid feel more agile than its family sedan intentions might suggest. The light-effort steering action feels lively yet still proves fairly precise. The hybrid powertrain's electric motor makes accelerating from a dead stop a smooth affair, and at highway cruising speeds the electric motor can aid quick bursts of acceleration that makes the engine almost feel turbocharged.

But in low-speed driving or quickly changing traffic conditions, the Sonata Hybrid shudders and lurches while deciding which gear it wants. It is similarly indecisive under braking, as the transition between electronic regenerative braking (which helps recharge the battery pack) and mechanical braking is clumsy and unpredictable. Almost all hybrids exhibit some quirkiness, but the Sonata Hybrid's acceleration and braking is the quirkiest of the bunch.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Great car with some hesitation

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I've owned this car since July 2011 and have over 64000 miles on it. My mileage has varied from a 35MPG low to an amazing 56 MPG for a 15 mile trip. Average MPG for the life of the car until I changed tires this month was an actual 38 MPG. The car MPGgauge reads falsely high. My driving is 90% highway, though this is my daily driver. Like others, I had a check engine light issue when I first bought it and was reimbursed for my time and trouble by Hyundai. The mileage is very dependent on style of driving, speed (the slower the better). I really like the regular transmission over a CVT like the Honda Civic Hybrid I owned.

Great hybrid car

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I have had my sonata since July 2011. It has been great to me. I do a lot of business travel and I am averaging no less than 38MPG on almost all my full tanks of gas 530-575 Miles between fill ups. It has a very smooth ride and I have had no operation or performance issues.

Just bought a certified used

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I just bought a lease return 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. I prefer cloth so I was glad to find this a basic package car. I love it. Averaging 33 mpg where as my Jetta got 20 in town. Such a quiet car and have had it up to 72 mph on the interstate in electric mode. So far, it rocks!

Like the car but...

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I like my Sonata but to give an honest sober review I have to start off saying it is not as billed on the showroom floor. Sticker mentioned 37 MPG city when I bought it. I live in an area that gets well over 100 degrees in the summer and bought the car in June 2011. This meant I used the A/C quite a bit. Right out the door with the A/C on and learning the feel of driving for economy I was getting about 25 mpg in the city month or so. I did find however that with no climate control (or only turning it on when at cruising speed) and feathered driving I could get the 37 mpg after a while. Any AC from dead stops and that dropped to 32. Hyundai learned of the MPG issue and issued a software change that was intended to fix it. On a routine service I had them update the S/W and Hyundai sent me a $50 gift card for my trouble. I thought that was a good gesture, particularly since it did nothing to delay the normal service anyway. After the S/W update the best MPG I can get is about 32 but on the bright side, it wasn’t effected by the climate control as badly. I recently took it in for another service and the repair order mentions another S/W adjustment and now I haven’t been able to maintain an MPG above 29…Two software updates, two declines in gas mileage. Haven’t had it back long enough to determine all the impacts of the change. I might ask to see if they can set it back to original factory defaults. Additionally, I have also experienced the problem mentioned in a couple of the below posts with the lurching. When it was new, when stopped at red lights, if the gas engine clicked on at the stop, the car would lurch in a way that on a couple occasions, I looked into my rear view to see if I was rear ended. Also, once when accelerating to pass a vehicle on the freeway, when I pressed the accelerator, the car actually momentarily slowed rather than increase speed immediately. Again, this was at a point when it was running on EV mode and the accelerator caused it to shift to gas engine and the transition was not smooth and responsive, and potentially dangerous as noted in below posts. That only happened once and I don’t know if one of the S/W changes addressed it but Hyundai does need to acknowledge that issue. That all being said, it sounds like a negative review and maybe it is but, at the end of the day, I do like my Sonata. It is comfortable for me, has a reasonably smooth ride and I knew when I bought it that this was the 1st model year of the Hybrid and I expected it as such to be working out some issues. I’m sure the 2013 and beyond will have addresses much of these issues and become more refined. With the differences in the software I have had, I can see why these reviews are all over the map. I suppose if I were to be honest to someone looking for a Sonata, I would tell them to look at the regular gas model first as really, the title “Hybrid” in the 2011 is really just a novelty rather than a benefit and Hyundai is making good somewhat with gas cards for the mileage discrepancy.

Best family hybrid sedan

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

My family has 2 Sonata hybrid sedans because they are safe and fun to drive, get good fuel economy, handle well including braking and transition from EV to gas motor engaged. The car has excellent power when it is needed because the electric motor can supplement the gas engine. The Sonata hybrid has the most interior room of any hybrid sedan that cost less than $40,000. I read the negative reviews from some and do not agree with them. The car's equipment, such as the excellent Bluetooth hand's free phone use, all work well. The car's ride is very smooth and quiet. In contrast to comment - the electric engine operates only at low speed, I found that the car will go into EV mode at 60+mph

Very disappointed

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I was very disappointed with the Sonata Hybrid. They advertise 40 mph highway, but I get about 32; the internal computer says I get about 35, though. When I asked about the discrepancy between my actual fuel consumption and the sumputer's estimate, the dearship told me the computer was more accurate than the actual (not sure how that's possible). The interior is also very constrictive and not comfortable for anyone over 6' for anything more than about 30 minutes. The electric motor is very weak, only operating up until about 10 mph, and only kicking in after that during coasting. The accelerator is also very unresponsive, sometimes taking up to two seconds to kick in.

Talk About The 2011 Sonata Hybrid

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Discussions See all Started By

Has anyone experienced the engine shutting down while driving? I was on the freeway, and all of a sudden bells starting going off and the car showed on the dash that the battery wasn't charging. T?...

This will apparently be the car that is the basis for the Sonata Hybrid, reportedly the first production hybrid to use lithium polymer batteries....

Description: This bulletin describes the procedure to replace the rear lower control arms on some Sonata (YF), Sonata Hybrid (YF HEV), and Azera (HG) vehicles....

Read more about the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Gas Mileage


  • 34
  • cty
  • 39
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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