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Hyundai's 2013 Sonata Hybird deserves a look

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When it comes to hybrids, Toyota’s Prius and Camry and Ford’s ’13 Fusion have the bulk of the hybrid market. But if you’re still looking and considering, check out Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid before deciding.

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Offered in base and Limited trim levels, we tested latter “Blue Drive.”

For 2013, the Sonata Limited Hybrid goes the extra mile by embedding a generous amount of equipment as standard. The list is lengthy and all inclusive and features such niceties as heated front and rear leather seats, GPS nav with touch screen, backup camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth, Blue Link telematics system, dual temperature controls, a tire puncture kit in lieu of a spare tire and much more.

Sonata Hybrid gets its power from a 2.4L, Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine that is rated at 159-hp and 154 lb/ft of torque. When combined with its 47-hp (35 watts) electric motor, the combination offers 199-hp.

For 2013, the electric motor was upgraded to allow the car to spend more time in electric mode for better mpg, which the Sonata Hybrid is now EPA rated at 36 city, 40-highway mpg or 37 combined mpg.

A new and 25 percent lighter 270V lithium polymer battery that is 10 percent more efficient, stores the electric power and enlarges trunk space by 40 percent. Hyundai also added a new computer-controlled clutch between the engine and electric motor to smooth the transition between the gas engine and electric motor, the effect of which goes unnoticed most of the time.

The hybrid system, like others, uses regenerative braking so there’s a slight delay between when hitting the brakes and when they hold. But it’s only a second or two and doesn’t hamper braking efforts.

There is one quirk with the hybrid system. When slowing to a stop then accelerating again, there’s a momentary hesitation like the system is trying to decide which medium (gas or electric) to use. It takes some getting used to.

In pure electric mode, the Sonata can achieve up to 75 mph and has been 0-60 tested at a lively 8.5 seconds.

Sonatas’ interior is handsome with a vertical stack housing easy to use HVAC controls that display on a 6x3.5-inch LCD screen for GPS nav, rearview camera and audio controls. For the HVAC system, Hyundai uses man-o-gram controls (ala Volvo). Pressing a section of a three-piece, chromed body part activates airflow to that particular area(s), which is nifty and easy to operate via peripheral vision and without having to take eyes off the road.

Front seats are supportive and comfy while the rears are sofa soft with an ample amount of leg and headroom for all but extra tall adults. Low profile rear headrests allow expansive rear visibility and the rearview camera supplements that.

Cargo space was expanded to 12.1 cubic feet thanks to the smaller battery pack. And because of the battery being in the trunk, the rear seats don’t fold but there is a pass-through for long items like skis, curtain or fly rods.

Shod with 17-inch Kumho low-rolling resistance tires, Sonata’s ride is smooth and especially quiet. Handling too is adept with nary any body lean in sharp turns taken at speed.

And car buyers can’t overlook Hyundai’s generous and unbeatable warranties of 5 year/60K mile new vehicle protection; 10/100K powertrain; 10/100K hybrid system component; 7/Unlimited anti-perforation; 5/Unlimited roadside assistance and get this, Lifetime Hybrid Battery System guarantee. Wow, how can you go wrong with this coverage?

Added to this, the Sonata Hybrid received an impressive five star overall safety rating, five for driver frontal crash, four for passenger, five for side crash and five for rollover.

For all these accolades, the fully loaded Limited model base-priced at $30,550 and rose to $32,490 after adding a panoramic sunroof ($1,000), carpeted floor mats ($110) and iPod cable ($35). Still not a bad price for this much content.

For a personal test-drive stop by Lehigh Valley Hyundai in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.

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