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PHOTO CAPTION: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid design: 'tiptoes just this side of overwrought.'

Hyundai Enters the Electric Car Game with Sonata Hybrid

Alex Taylor finds the 2011 model expensive and falls short of drivability, but gives potential buyers another choice to consider.

Published: 30-Dec-2010

In 2010, the Hyundai Sonata came out of nowhere to break into the ranks of the 10-best selling vehicles for the first time. Don't be surprised to see it challenge for the top five in 2011. In addition to natural momentum, the plain vanilla Sonata Sedan is getting two new toppings: the Sonata Turbo and now the Sonata Hybrid.

Hyundai is late to the hybrid party but has come up with some original ideas that compensate for its tardiness.

I will leave it to the engineers to explain the technical details. To keep things simple: The Sonata hybrid is biased toward highway driving -- unlike most hybrids that get better mileage in city driving. It uses advanced lithium-polymer batteries, which are lighter and more compact than conventional zinc metal-hydride cells. And a novel transmission setup that utilizes the same six-speed automatic transmission used in the sedan allows the electric engine and gasoline motor to work independently from each other. Hyundai calls it Hybrid Blue Drive.

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