2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • comfortable and handsome cabin
  • smooth ride
  • lengthy warranty.
  • Unrefined hybrid powertrain
  • clumsy braking response
  • significant price premium compared to regular Sonata
  • tight headroom for taller rear passengers.
Other years
List Price Range
$5,300 - $7,900

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid models

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.

2011 Highlights

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

Performance & mpg

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

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

2011 Sonata Hybrid with Premium package
marnold4,04/17/2011
We just have about 350 miles on the car but so far it's great. Plenty of pickup to get on the highway or pass, excellent fuel economy (baby it on the highway, on the flat or slight downhill, and you can hit 50 mpg fairly easily). The interior design is outstanding, nice leather seats, Sound system with Infinity speakers and sub-woofer work nicely. It's nice to have a transmission that actually shifts, and you can shift it in manual mode. BlueTooth works great with our HTC Droid phones and the i-Pod touch works perfectly as well. Nice sound and reception on HD radio stations in the area. The car has more of a luxury feel than a sporty handler for driving.
Impressive in all respects other than highway mileage
hybridrocks54,06/05/2011
I have one of the first base sonata hybrids sold in central new jersey and still on my first tank of gas with over 600 miles on the car. For $5000K more, I figured I could get my own GPS and I've no use for leather seats (the cloth ones are better looking and there's some cow out there ecstatic that it's still munching grass) or dual moonroofs (I"m 6' 2", so I would rather have more headroom, thanks). I've owned an Insight and Prius and I would never know I was driving a Hybrid--there is no indication in drive feel whatsoever and the body style certainly doesn't scream hybrid (but the nameplate and the head/tail light treatments definitely let others in the know figure it out).
Great Hybrid and excellent value
cleveland_bob,06/29/2011
Appearance - striking lines and contours produced completments from friends and family. Ride - The suspension absorbs bumps and pot holes well while maintaining good control. Braking is in dry and wet conditions is very good without pulling to either side. The regenerative braking system does not compromise function. In one emergency braking situation (deer) the car braked quickly. I missed the deer and did not swerve to either side. Interior - very well appointed with switches where they should be. Bluetooth is great and enables hands free phone use. FueL economy - 40-42 mpg in city and 45+ on the highway. The car will cruise using the electric motor up to about 60 mph. Great car!!!!
Awesome vehicle
ddiverd,05/07/2011
I received the first hybrid Sonata to be sold in New York state. I immediately bonded with this car, it is one of the best vehicles I have driven, given the type. The styling is great and I will be using it to commute on a daily basis. The ride is firm, but also tight, handling is straight on. I traded a 2007 Camry, and it far surpasses that car. The interior fit and finish is superb, with brushed aluminum accents on the door and dash. The car looks like a much more expensive ride, and is styled differently than a regular Sonata. I wanted this car ever since I saw it in Motor trend. Averaging 39.5 mpg at this time, on the road and 35.5 in the city. Amazing car, leaves the Prius in the dust.

Features & Specs

MPG
34 city / 39 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Hybrid
206 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover9.7%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Overview

The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is offered in the following submodels: Sonata Hybrid Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid?

Price comparisons for Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid trim styles:

  • The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Base is priced between $5,300 and$7,900 with odometer readings between 119886 and186783 miles.

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Which used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrids are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2011 Sonata Hybrids listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,300 and mileage as low as 119886 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

Can't find a used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrids you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for sale - 10 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $19,177.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 10 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $24,206.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for sale - 10 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $12,795.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 12 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $8,803.

Should I lease or buy a 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Hyundai lease specials
Check out Hyundai Sonata Hybrid lease specials