2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review

Pros & Cons

  • High fuel economy
  • comfortable and handsome cabin
  • smooth ride
  • lengthy warranty
  • top safety scores.
  • Unrefined hybrid powertrain
  • clumsy braking response
  • significant price premium compared to regular Sonata.
Other years
List Price Range
$6,990 - $11,841

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid models

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.

2012 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.


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.


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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Roomiest Fun-to-Drive Hybrid Sedan on the Market
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the best package of attractive styling, smooth handling, excellent mileage and comfort among hybrid sedans in the US. I found with slight care its easy to get over 40 mpg on the highway and overall 38+mpg. Features that reduce the mpg are using heated seats and interior heater in the winter or full AC in the summer. However, using the "econ" feature with the heating/cooling one easily achieves 38 mpg overall or better. The jitteriness at low speeds was resolved with the first service when the computer system was upgraded to remove some of the hesitency between use of EV and gas engine modes. Update is free and resolves issues raised in some initial reviews.
78K miles engine failure?
4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)
78K miles engine failure? I own a 2012 Sonata Hybrid since 07/2015 which I bought from a off lease place with a little over 24k miles on it. I loved this car ever since I bought it, never had any major issues, till last week when it stalled on me with warns to stop driving to prevent damage to the hybrid system. I had it towed to a dealership to receive the news that the engine was seized and it would cost me $8,700 to have it replaced. I was shocked and start laughing, cause I thought is was a bad joke of some kind… Nope!! she was dead serious. So I said, okay 10years/100K miles powertrain warranty… Nope!…that only applies for the original owner… Certified Pre-owned gets 5years/60k miles… My car has 78k miles and I didn’t buy a certified Pre-owned… Very sad since I don’t have that kind of money and even if I had, KBB on my car is $8,800, it wouldn’t make sense spend on it…. Very, very sad my engine died with ONLY 78K miles…The worse I still own $8,500 on that car. Not sure what to do at this point.
Missing the Mark, but still a nice car.
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...
Buyer Beware
Ruby Daring,11/13/2016
4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)
We were leasing the 2012 Sonata Hybrid and the lease was up in July so we were planning to trade it in and lease a new one then. My stepmom died unexpectedly on Mother's Day so we had to drive from Colorado to Missouri for the funeral. We took the Sonata since it was the most reliable vehicle (ha) AND we were only at 45,000 miles so we were way under the mileage allotment on our lease. A few days after we got there the engine started making a funny noise when we went to get dinner. We parked it immediately and called Hyundai the next morning to have it towed to the nearest dealership, which was Suntrup Hyundai in St. Louis. Much to my surprise not only had it blown the engine but they MADE US PAY FOR AN ENGINE REPLACEMENT before we could turn it in on the lease. We offered them maintenance records but Hyundai made the decision to deny the claim before they ever got the records. I called them to ask how to fax them in and they told me "Don't bother. We have already made our decision." I finally convinced them to at least let me fax the maintenance records in and I gave them my mechanics phone number. To their credit they examine they did call him, then they denied it again. The reason they did not cover it under the warranty was they claimed we had not properly maintained the vehicle. Despite the records and the conversation with my mechanic. Oddly enough my mechanic had previously voiced some concerns to us a few times about the oil consumption - but the oil light never came on and there were no obvious issues so we didn't think too much about it. Until the engine seized. We were told we had to pay for a new engine as we had to turn in a running vehicle at the end of the lease. We fought it as long as we could, with multiple people in the Hyundai Corporation. Since our car was being held at the dealership ultimately the choice became pay for the engine, buy the car, or ruin our credit. We paid for the engine. It cost us $7,000. Then we had to buy out on the lease for another $790.00. Once this happened to me I started researching my car online and there was complaint after complaint on my car. Wouldn't you know the 2012 Sonata Hybrid had the most complaints. Great. These complaints go on and on. How can Hyundai continue to ignore these obvious issues and hold the consumer accountable? The sad thing is I have owned Hyundai's for over 20 years and I will now never own another one. What good is 100,000 mile warranty if you don't cover the defects? And these are defects. Why not give consumers a lifetime, transferable warranty? It sounds much better than a 100,000 mile warranty AND since Hyundai apparently doesn't pay for their defects it's all good. They won't lose any money, really. The only thing I can say at this point is buyer beware. I would strongly advise anyone considering buying a Sonata Hybrid to keep looking. Otherwise you need to keep a detailed journal of all maintenance, any issues, no matter how slight, note if there are no warning lights or too many warning lights, and get all of your maintenance done at a dealership. That way you MIGHT have a shot at getting any defects on your car fixed. [non-permissible content removed]

Features & Specs

34 city / 39 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
206 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid features & specs


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
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Overview

The Used 2012 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 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Base is priced between $6,990 and$11,841 with odometer readings between 13816 and142250 miles.

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Which used 2012 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) 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for sale near. There are currently 6 used and CPO 2012 Sonata Hybrids listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,990 and mileage as low as 13816 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 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

Can't find a used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrids you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for sale - 8 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $24,200.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 11 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $21,631.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for sale - 8 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $13,247.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 8 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $15,675.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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