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2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (photos)

Hyundai's new Sonata has been very successful, a good combination of design and cabin electronics for the midsize market. But now the sedan gets a hybrid power train, boosting fuel economy into the mid-30s.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 21 Josh Miller/CNET
Hyundai has grand designs for the Sonata. In the high-volume midsize sedan market, Hyundai is offering the Sonata with a 2.4-liter engine, with a 2-liter turbocharged engine, and in this hybrid version, featuring a 2.4-liter engine complemented by an electric drive motor and lithium ion battery pack.

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Beyond some labeling, the Sonata Hybrid does not look much different from the base Sonata. The attractive design uses many swooping lines, giving the car a modern, space-age look.

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The 2.4-liter engine and electric motor combine to give the Sonata Hybrid 206 horsepower, ample for most people.

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The cabin compartment is roomy, with plenty of room for front passengers and decent leg space in back.

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A standard glass roof makes for two sunroof openings in the cabin: one over the front seats and one over the rear.

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The suspension is tuned soft, which doesn't give the Sonata Hybrid much in the way of cornering capability, but adds to ride comfort.

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The trunk is slightly compromised by the 100-pound lithium ion battery pack. But Hyundai still manages to fit a pass-through.

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The cabin tech suite comes in a single, $5,000 package, bringing in a very good navigation system, an excellent-sounding Infinity audio, many audio sources, and a Bluetooth phone system.

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An electric-power-steering system is well-tuned in this car, keeping boost balanced for road feel.

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A button at the bottom right of the steering wheel activates Blue Drive, the car's economy mode.

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The instrument cluster display uses full color, but only shows trip information, lacking displays for audio, phone, or route guidance.

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The Sonata Hybrid has a six-speed automatic transmission, which includes a manual mode.

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The infotainment system uses a set of buttons and a volume knob just below the responsive touch-screen LCD.

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The car generates an Eco score depending on how efficiently you drive. The better the score, the greener the earth graphic becomes.

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The navigation system only shows 2D maps, but it does include a traffic overlay.

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Weather forecast information comes in through a satellite feed.

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The Bluetooth audio-streaming interface is very basic, although that is more a limitation of the Bluetooth specification.

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The stereo plays MP3 tracks off a USB drive or connected iPod.

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The premium Infinity audio system that comes with the car's tech package delivers very detailed, well-balanced music reproduction.

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The phone interface looks a little busy, but the keypad is nice. It also has an interface for the phone's contact list.

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A backup camera includes trajectory lines and distance indicators.

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