NEW_CAR_PREVIEW

2013 Hyundai Sonata Preview

7/10/2013
Fast Facts:
  • Midsize 4-door sedan
  • Available as a hybrid
  • 4-cylinder power, with or without turbocharging
  • Hybrid gets bigger battery and more powerful electric motor for greater efficiency
  • Hybrid adds Limited trim level
  • Greater availability of heated seats

Introduction
The Sonata is a midsize 4-door sedan and Hyundai's best-selling model. It comes only with 4-cylinder power, but is offered with a turbocharged engine and a hybrid powertrain.

The Hyundai Sonata competes in the midsize segment with rivals such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.

Exterior Features
The Sonata's exterior styling is an example of Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture design language, which Hyundai says considers the interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures to create the illusion of constant motion. The base model comes standard with P205/65R16 tires on steel wheels with wheel covers, while higher trim levels have alloy wheels and 17- or 18-inch tires. The Hybrid models get fog lights and alloy wheels standard. The Hybrids also have a unique tinted chrome front grille.

Interior Features

Standard interior features of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata include cloth upholstery, air conditioning, interior air filter, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, heated power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD player, auxiliary input jack, USB port, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a trip computer. The trunk has 16.4 cubic feet of cargo space, and a standard split-folding rear seat increases carrying capacity.

The base Sonata Hybrid has the base model's features, plus dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, heated power mirrors with turn signal indicators, and keyless access and starting. Hybrids lack the split-folding rear seat and have just 12.1 cubic feet of cargo space due to the space taken up by the lithium polymer battery. That's up from 10.7 cubic feet last year thanks to the smaller, more powerful battery.

Optional Features
To the base model, the SE adds cloth and leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, keyless access and starting, automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, fog lights, sport-tuned suspension, and P225/45R18 tires on alloy wheels. The Limited trim level gets leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, sunroof, mirror-mounted turn signals, Dimension sound system, high-definition radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, outside-temperature indicator, universal garage door opener, and P215/55R17 tires when ordered with the 2.4-liter engine or P225/45R18 tires with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. It deletes the sport suspension.

The Hybrid Limited adds to the base Hybrid leather upholstery, navigation system, rearview camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, heated rear seats, Infinity sound system, high-definition radio, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Options over and above the Limited's equipment start with a Premium package, which features a panoramic sunroof, Infinity sound system, rearview camera, and a navigation system with real-time traffic information. Buyers can also get remote engine starting, rubber floor mats, and a rear spoiler.

Under the Hood
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata is offered with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, or a hybrid powertrain that teams the 2.4-liter engine with an electric motor. The 2.4-liter engine delivers 198 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque in base form, and 200 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque in the Sonata SE. The turbocharged engine produces 274 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. The hybrid uses a version of the 2.4-liter engine that generates 159 horsepower. It works in tandem with a 35-kW electric motor to produce a total of 199 horsepower. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard for the base 2.4-liter engine and a 6-speed automatic is optional. The automatic, which has manual shift capability, is standard for all other trim levels.

All Sonatas come only with front-wheel drive.

Fuel Economy
EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata are:

  • Sonata with 2.4-liter engine and either transmission: 24/35/28 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • Sonata with 2.0-liter turbocharged engine: 22/34/26 mpg
  • Sonata Hybrid: 36/40/38 mpg
  • Sonata Hybrid Limited: 36/40/37 mpg

Safety
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata comes standard with dual front air bags, front side air bags, curtain side air bags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, and a tire-pressure monitor. A rearview camera is also available.

In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the 2013 Hyundai Sonata received 4 stars (out of 5) in the frontal crash test, and 5 stars in the side crash and rollover tests, resulting in a 5-star overall rating. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the Sonata received a "Good rating"--the Institute's highest--for moderate front overlap, side impact, roof strength, and rear crash protection, making it a "Top Safety Pick." It also received a "Marginal" rating in the small overlap front test, so it doesn't qualify as a "Top Safety Pick Plus." (A "Good" or "Acceptable" rating in the small overlap front test is needed for that designation.)

Technology
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's electric motor output increases from 30 kW to 35 kW, and its battery pack is smaller and more powerful (increasing from 34 to 47 kW) than the 2012 Sonata Hybrid. The engine runs in the more efficient Atkinson cycle, and a disengagement clutch allows the motor to power the car up to 75 mph without dragging the engine along for the ride. The motor can also aid the engine, or the engine can run on its own. The car turns off at stops and restarts when it's time to get underway.

Hyundai has also tweaked the throttle tuning, adjusted the hybrid system clutch control, changed the regenerative braking shift patterns, and decreased the friction in the 6-speed automatic transmission this year. Hyundai says the 2013 changes improve overall fuel efficiency by 6%.

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