2023 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a rough rider

2023 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited vs. 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid: Hybrid sedan battle.

This week: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Price: $36,594 as tested. Carpets were the only option.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked the “distinctive styling, accommodating interior,” but not the “fussy handling; six-speed automatic could shift smoother.”

Marketer’s pitch: “The hybrid sedan that reminds you why you love to drive.”

Reality: It reminds you by being a warning beacon rather than a shining example.

What’s new: The Sonata Hybrid gets some new equipment options for 2023 and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. It loses the solar roof in favor of a panoramic sunroof. It was last redesigned in 2020.

Competition: In addition to the Camry, there’s the Honda Insight, Honda Accord Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Kia Niro, and Hyundai Ioniq.

Up to speed: My recollection of previous Sonata Hybrids was of a balky, slow sedan, but a look back at the Mr. Driver’s Seat review of the 2016 model showed it to be a smooth and fairly speedy sedan.

Unfortunately, either it’s fallen backward or my standards have risen, because I found the 2022 version — basically identical to 2023′s — to be uncooperative. The vehicle would hesitate and occasionally respond unpredictably.

The 2.0-liter four is coupled with a 37kw motor run by a 270V battery, creating 192 horsepower. The vehicle gets to 60 mph in 8 seconds, according to Consumer Reports, but I demand a recount.

Seriously shifty: Seriously. Thinking back on a vehicle that shifted as frequently and held in higher gears far too long — even after cresting a grade and headed downhill? What’s up with that? — I’d have to think of a small automatic Mitsubishi or Chevy from the early 2010s. The bad old days.

The Sonata Hybrid’s six-speed transmission provided none of the smoothness most hybrid vehicles offer, which as a rule are far smoother than gas-powered vehicles and second only to most electric vehicles.

On the road: The Sonata Hybrid is pleasant enough for everyday driving, on the highway, in town, in the country. The suspension is comfortable and the ride is quite nice.

But if you want some fun, shop for a different vehicle. There’s none to be had here. Country curves are endured rather than enjoyed, and the Sonata leans hard into them.

Driver’s Seat: Another issue with the Sonata Hybrid — I just couldn’t find a comfortable adjustment for the leather seat. The seat moves up fairly high, but then there’s no headroom. And I couldn’t get the bottom to raise and lower in unison; only the back would come up and down. Consequently, my feet never felt right on the pedals, not a good feeling.

While focusing on all that, I overlooked some basics, but the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat brought the focus right back to the real problem.

“Wow, this seat is really hard!” she exclaimed. “I mean, it’s like there’s no cushioning or anything.” Nailed. It. Sturgis Kid 4.0 agreed, as well, when I brought this up.

Friends and stuff: Rear-seat passengers may honestly wonder what all the complaining is about from the front. The corner seats have plenty of room to stretch out and feel far less harsh than the front buckets.

The middle seat doesn’t have a bad floor hump, but the seat itself juts out in an effort to create more inviting corner seats, and any passenger there will suffer a highly undignified ride. Abrupt cornering will spread the indignity, sending that passenger tumbling to the left or right.

Cargo space is a generous 16 cubic feet. The rear seat also folds down to create a fairly nice cargo bay, as well.

Play some tunes: The stereo is a bright spot. Hyundai has upgraded the look and operation without losing the basic functionality of the unit. A dial controls volume, buttons get users from function to function, and everything else happens in the easy-to-use wide, shallow 10.25-inch touchscreen.

Sound from the system is pretty good, about a B+ or A-. It’s fairly clear and has plenty of adjustment, but not quite perfect reproduction.

Keeping warm and cool: Dials control the temperature and buttons operate all the rest. It’s clear to see what’s going on, and seat heaters and ventilators are a nice touch at this price point.

Fuel saving: On the bright side, the Sonata Hybrid averaged a solid 40 mpg throughout my testing.

Where it’s built: Asan, South Korea

How it’s built: Consumer Reports gives the model a 4 out of 5 for reliability.

In the end: If you’re annoyed by all that hybrid-electric smoothness and quiet, the Sonata Hybrid may be for you.

Next week: Toyota Camry Hybrid

#Hyundai #Sonata #Hybrid #rough #rider

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