Why Our Car Isn't PZEV Rated - 2011 Hyundai Sonata Long-Term Road Test

2011 Hyundai Sonata Long-Term Road Test

2011 Hyundai Sonata: Why Our Car Isn't PZEV Rated

August 12, 2010

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When Hyundai introduced its new 2011 Sonata, it mentioned the car would be offered with Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) certification in states with California emission requirements. Considering this as well as our Southern California office location, I had just assumed our long-term test car was a PZEV car. But when randomly checking our car's window sticker, I noticed that it had no more than a regular, 50-state emission certification. Hmm. Some investigation was in order.

The PZEV rating is the highest rating a regular gasoline-fueled car can earn for tailpipe emissions in California. It's not a federal rating and has nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions, just those related to smog and pollution. Why PZEV exists and what it actually means is rather confusing, so if you're really interested I'll point you to a Green Car Advisor post that we did a few years ago. But in simple terms, a Sonata with a PZEV rating earns a federal emissions score of 9 (out of a possible 10) for having squeaky clean tailpipe emissions. Sonatas sold in non-California emission states have a score of 5.

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The California state government's Drive Clean website says a PZEV Sonata will produce 360g of annual smog emissions. A regular 50-state car will have 1,502 grams worth of emissions. (For comparison's sake, I brought up a 2001 Ford E350 cargo van with the V10 engine; it's listed at 9,970 grams annually.) Because of the extra emission equipment, though, a PZEV Sonata is rated at slightly less power, with 190 horsepower versus a regular 198 hp.

Our long-term Sonata is on loan from Hyundai, so I asked our contact why our car wasn't PZEV rated. It turns out that there was a delay for PZEV-rated Sonata production until May of this year; our car was produced before then. PZEV Sonatas are now available in all California emission states (and possibly adjacent states as well). Hyundai says most new Sonatas found at dealers will be PZEV-rated, though regular 50-state cars will be sold alongside as well.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor


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