2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Sedan

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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 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

  • The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid seemingly has all the right stuff, but quirky driving dynamics keep it from being a top contender among fuel-efficient hybrid-powered family sedans.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    High fuel economy; comfortable and handsome cabin; smooth ride; lengthy warranty; top safety scores.

  • Cons

    Unrefined hybrid powertrain; clumsy braking response; significant price premium compared to regular Sonata.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gains standard BlueLink, the safety, service and infotainment telematics system. A new optional Leather package includes leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. All hybrid components also receive a lifetime warranty.

Full 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gains standard BlueLink, the safety, service and infotainment telematics system. A new optional Leather package includes leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. All hybrid components also receive a lifetime warranty.


The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid isn't the first environmentally friendly family sedan on the market. It is, however, a solid first effort from the Korean automaker, with stylish good looks, a long list of standard features and several technological firsts lurking beneath its hood.

As for those powertrain innovations, the Hyundai-designed hybrid system uses a lithium-polymer battery pack that's both lighter and more compact than the nickel-metal hydride batteries powering comparable models from other carmakers. The electric motor has also been placed between the four-cylinder gasoline engine and a traditional six-speed automatic transmission, which makes for a more familiar driving experience compared to the droning engine note of competitors using a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

This all sounds good in theory. But in practice, Hyundai's hybrid system falls short of expectations. First and foremost, we've found that it falls far short of those lofty EPA mpg estimates. It's thrifty to be sure, but not as much as is promised. (Hyundai later revised its estimates for the car, going from 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway to 34 mpg city/39 mpg highway.) The Sonata Hybrid also leaves something to be desired in terms of refinement, with acceleration at low speeds marred by mild shuddering and lurching. Brake feel is also a bit odd.

Competitors like the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid do not suffer in such ways. The big price difference between the Sonata Hybrid and the entry-level Sonata -- which is rated at a very impressive 35 mpg on the highway -- also makes the Hybrid a tough sell from a bottom-line-oriented point of view.

In total, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a decent choice in a fuel-sipping family sedan, but it needs some work before it receives the sort of recommendation we give the non-hybrid Sonata.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a midsize sedan that's offered in a single well-equipped trim level.

Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, foglamps, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, Hyundai's BlueLink emergency communications, and a six-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

There are just two option packages available. The Leather package bundles leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Ultimate package starts with everything from the Leather package and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera and a nine-speaker Infinity sound system with HD radio.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine generating 166 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque that is paired with an electric motor making 40 hp and 151 lb-ft. Combined, the two power units are good for 206 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only transmission offered.

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 34 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 36 combined. However, in Edmunds fuel economy testing of both the Sonata Hybrid and the mechanically similar Kia Optima Hybrid, we found that both fall a couple miles per gallon short of these estimates.


Standard safety features on the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid include antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, front side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Hyundai's BlueLink emergency communications system is also standard.

In government safety tests, the Sonata Hybrid earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with four out of five stars given for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 2012 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.

Interior Design and Special Features

Not surprisingly, the Sonata Hybrid's passenger cabin looks and feels very similar to its traditionally powered sibling. The interior is equally handsome and controls are straightforward and intuitive, both with and without the touchscreen interface that comes as part of the Ultimate option package. The gauge cluster, which is one of the most notable things that sets the interior apart from that of the non-hybrid model, includes a separate LCD display meant to encourage more fuel-efficient driving.

Front seats are comfortable and supportive. The backseat offers plenty of room for two adults, though taller passengers will find headroom in short supply. All hybrid sedans lose a good bit of trunk space to the hybrid system's battery pack, and the Sonata Hybrid is no exception, with just 10.7 cubic feet of cargo room. The regular Sonata, for comparison, has 16.4 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

On the road, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offers a nice combination of nimble handling and a smooth, composed ride quality. There's plenty of power on tap, whether you're accelerating away from a stop sign or pulling out to pass on a two-lane road. Where this hybrid powertrain disappoints, however, is in low-speed driving or quickly changing traffic conditions. In these situations, the Sonata Hybrid often 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

Terrible experience

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I bought my 2012 Sonata Hybrid last year and was originally very pleased with it, with the exception of the seat design. The headrest comes too far out and pushes your head forward. I could get over that, though. What I can not get over is the shuddering that began just over a month ago. I've had it into the dealership 4 times, and after upgrading the software which didn't solve the issue, they tell me the shuddering I experience every time I stop is 'normal'. The drive is no longer 'fun', but stressful, as I brace myself each time I see a stop sign. It's a rough ride for driver and passengers alike. I would not recommend this car to anyone. Sadly, I'm stuck with mine.

Finally got it right!

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

Purchased 2012 Hybrid in Aug 2012. Loved it. After a week, it started 'lurching' sometimes and the gas mileage wasn't what I expected. After complaints to the dealership my car's computer(s) was upgraded twice at no charge and now I get great mileage and no more lurching. Drive 60% in town and 40% highway. I average 37mpg but on long road trips get 39-42mpg, sometimes higher. Have seen 50mpg. Hubby loves to drive my car more than his! One reason we chose Sonata is that three of our grandchildren can ride in back with no problem. Stylish, fun to drive, roomy and we love it! The trunk in the hybrid is smaller than the regular Sonata, but plenty of room for luggage for a road trip for 2.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Bad mileage....worse customer support

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I own a 2012 Sonota Hybrid Limited. I am currently getting 24mpg in city driving. I have done all of the service upgrades recommended by this forum and it's readers. I met with a field rep today to discuss the poor mileage. He told me as long as I get 23mpg or better Hyundai won't do anything for me. I have spent numerous hours on the phone with Hyundai and several trips to dealerships without any effect. Sorry, that is not good enough...this is the third Hyundai we have purchased since 2010. One would think Hyundai would value me as a customer. Apparently not. Too bad....I like the car other than the mileage. Hyundai does not stand by their customers based on my experience. Won't buy again.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Missing the mark, but still

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I purchased my 2012 Sonata Hybrid new from the dealership. This was my first "fancy" car, as I had always gone either base model or used in the past due to financial difficulty, but I was finally in a position to spoil myself a bit, and was able to justify my expense in the fuel savings, or so I though... Highway miles truly are 38-40, and I can even get that if "cruising", but only if the weather is nice, and traffic is light. Here in the Midwest we get temperature extremes which effect the fuel economy a great deal, and stop and go city driving averages 32 mpg which is no where near what they had advertised. My friends all say I drive like an old man too, so I know it's not just me...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Very comfort ride but poor

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I was attracted by the high tech package and the exterior design. Very well designed on the looking. But absolutely disappointed with the MPG. I knew the MPG will be off a bit from the sticker, but didn't expect THAT MUCH of a difference. Sticker states 5.2L/100km combined, I am getting 7.1 - 7.3L/100km. This is no where near to the sticker MPG. I am a gentle driver, so it's not my driving style issue. Acceleration response time is slow, need to give an extra 1 - 2 second when making a left. I wasn't aware of this when I had my test drive, start to realize as I drive it daily. Not sure if this is common for all hybrid. Alignment is starting to pull to the left after 2 weeks.

Best car ever

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)

I purchased my hybrid with everything. I took the Nav package with red and the tan interior. The handling is great. Mileage is great! Looks of the car is great. I get so many compliments. Awesome car! LOVE IT! It drives so smooth and quiet. I have read where some people complain of slight delays when they hit the gas. I've never noticed that. It has lots of power when I push the pedal. Just a wonderful car. The selection on here for model only gives "base" as a selection. In Canada we get base, then LTD then Navigation package which has the works. Not really any options to buy other than winter floor mats.

Talk About The 2012 Sonata Hybrid

Gas Mileage


  • 34
  • cty
  • 39
  • highway
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