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Hyundai and Kia Enter Hybrid Market, With Great Cars

sonata-hybrid-driveway-610In 2011, Hyundai tried its hand at hybrid one-upmanship, beginning with the Sonata Hybrid.

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the South Korean company’s first hybrid in the US market. Apparently, Hyundai took its time, scrutinized the hybrid competition, and attempted to outdo it in every respect. Coming in at $25,000, about four-grand less than the award-winning Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Sonata Hybrid has the Fusion beat in every category.

We prefer the Sonata’s aesthetics, but the hard numbers are unequivocal. The Sonata Hybrid offers 206 net horsepower compared to the Fusion’s 191 hp. The Sonata Hybrid’s aerodynamics, rated at a very slippery 0.25 drag of coefficient, is superior to the Fusion’s 0.33 Cd. The use of lithium batteries, rather than the Fusion’s nickel metal hydride, provides just as much power, but allows the Sonata to weigh 263 pounds less. Fuel economy for the Sonata and Fusion Hybrids are nearly identical, but with highway and city numbers swapped. The Sonata Hybrid offers 36 in the city and 40 on the highway, while the Fusion Hybrid is rated at 41/36.

And watch out for the Kia Optima Hybrid, the gas-electric Sonata’s cousin. The Optima Hybrid should carry an even smaller sticker price, and many reviewers are favoring its styling over the already attractive Sonata version.

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