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. The fact that it manages to return EPA-estimated fuel economy of 39 mpg on the highway only sweetens the deal.
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).
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
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.
Powertrains and Performance
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.
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.
Interior Design & Special Features
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.
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.
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid standard Equipment Includes:
- Black Onyx Pearl
- Blue Sky Metallic
- Hyper Silver Metallic
- Porcelain White Pearl
- Silver Frost Metallic
- Venetian Red Pearl
- Camel, leather
- Camel, premium cloth
- Gray, leather
- Gray, premium cloth
- Width: 72.2 in.
- Height: 57.7 in.
- Length: 189.8 in.
- Front track: 62.9 in.
- Rear track: 62.9 in.
- Wheel base: 110.0 in.
- Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 10.7 cu.ft.
- Maximum cargo capacity: 10.7 cu.ft.
Roof and Glass
- Variable intermittent wipers
- Rear defogger
- Wheel Locks
Tires and Wheels
- Alloy wheels
- 16 x 6.5 in. wheels
- Null spare wheel
- P205/65R16 tires
- All season tires
- Tire repair kit
- EPA interior volume: 114.5 cu.ft.
- Gross weight: 4586 lbs.
- Drag Coefficient: .25 Cd
- Curb weight: 3457 lbs.
[**] When adequately equipped, which may require engine and/or other drivetrain upgrades.
- Front head room: 40.0 in.
- Front hip room: 55.2 in.
- Front leg room: 45.5 in.
- Front shoulder room: 57.9 in.
- 8 -way power driver seat
- Driver seat with power adjustable lumbar support
- Height adjustable driver seat
- Premium cloth
- Bucket front seats
- Rear hip Room: 54.9 in.
- Rear head room: 37.8 in.
- Rear leg room: 34.6 in.
- Rear shoulder room: 56.7 in.
- Folding with storage center armrest
- Rear ventilation ducts
- Remote power door locks
- Power mirrors
- Heated mirrors
- 1 one-touch power windows
- Cargo Mat
- All-Weather Floor Mats
- iPod Cable
- Carpeted Floor Mats
- Cargo Net
- Trip computer
- External temperature display
- Low fuel level warning
- Cruise control
- Front console with storage
- Front and rear cupholders
- Front and rear door pockets
- Overhead console with storage
- Remote trunk release
- Retained accessory power
- Front seatback storage
- Electric speed-proportional power steering
- 12V front power outlet(s)
- Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
- Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel
- Hands-Free Calling*
- Roadside Assistance*
- Destination guidance (also Turn-by-Turn Navigation)*
- Interior air filtration
- Dual zone climate controls – driver and passenger
- Trunk light
- Simulated alloy trim on center console
- Simulated alloy trim on dash
- Simulated alloy trim on doors
- Front reading lights
- Turn signal in mirrors
- Dual illuminating vanity mirrors
In Car Entertainment
- Mast antenna
- 6 total speakers
- 104 watts stereo output
- AM/FM in-dash single CD player with CD MP3 Playback stereo
- Sirius XM satellite radio
- Auxiliary audio input and iPod integration
- 3 Months of provided satellite radio service
- USB connection
- Pre-wired for phone
- Bluetooth wireless data link for hands-free phone
Engine & Performance
- Base engine size: 2.4 L
- Cam type: Double overhead cam (DOHC)
- Cylinders: inline 4
- Valves: 16
- Valve timing: Variable
- Horsepower: 206 hp @ 6000 rpm
- Turning circle: 35.8 ft.
- Base engine type: hybrid
- Drive type: front wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
- MacPherson strut front suspension
- Multi-link rear suspension
- Four-wheel independent suspension
- Front and rear stabilizer bar
- Fuel type: hybrid
- Fuel type: regular unleaded
- Fuel tank capacity: 17.2 gal.
- Range in miles (cty/hwy): 602.0/688.0 mi.
- EPA mileage est. (cty/hwy): 34/39/36 mpg
- 4-wheel ABS
- Front and rear head airbags
- Dual front side-mounted airbags
- Child seat anchors
- Remote anti-theft alarm system
- Emergency braking assist
- Front and rear ventilated disc brakes
- Rear door child safety locks
- Daytime running lights
- Engine immobilizer
- Front fog/driving lights
- Auto delay off headlamps
- Dusk sensing headlamps
- 2 front headrests
- 3 rear headrests
- Passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation
- Rear center 3-point belt
- Front seatbelt pretensioners
- Turn signal mirrors
- Stability control
- Traction control
- Electronic brakeforce distribution
- Emergency interior trunk release
- Front height adjustable headrests
- Rear height adjustable headrests
- Passenger head restraint whiplash protection system
- Driver head restraint whiplash protection system
- Tire pressure monitoring
- Emergency Service*
- Airbag Deployment Notification*
- Vehicle Alarm notification*
- Stolen Vehicle Tracking/Assistance*
- Leather Package
- Option Group
- Ultimate Package
- Basic: 5 yr./ 60000 mi.
- Drivetrain: 10 yr./ 100000 mi.
- Hybrid Component: 10 yr./ 100000 mi.