The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - with a new Limited trim level available - is considerably improved for 2013 and, generally, a very decent performer.
Hyundai has gotten through the embarrassing issue of fuel economy numbers that were not quite as good as had been posted originally, but still pretty good at 36/40 mpg City/Highway and average 37 (for the Limited).
The improvements have come primarily in the new lithium polymer battery that is 38 percent larger and more dense (and also lighter) than before with a control system that has been tuned to use more of the electrical charge in the battery before switching to the gas engine, spending more time in electric- only mode than earlier models.
Coupled with the new more powerful 35-kilowatt (47 horsepower) electric motor (up from 30-kilowatt), the 2013 Sonata Hybrid has actually lost some combined horsepower (206 hp to 199hp) but gotten added performance with the considerably improved torque (193 lb.-ft. to 235 lb.-ft.) delivering improved acceleration for stronger performance.
Hyundai improved the value for the Sonata Hybrid by adding a Limited trim level which makes most of the base Sonata model optional equipment standard plus adding larger 17-inch wheels and a NAV system.
We recently tested a new 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited in Silver Frost Metallic with a Gray on Gray interior with leather seating.
The Sonata Hybrid is essentially built upon the Sonata gasoline powered Sonata sedan so it offers all of the room, styling and amenities that have been so popular on that model.
Our Sonata Hybrid Limited came equipped with all of the standard features of the base model including automatic headlights, LED running lights, fog lights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, Bluetooth, Hyundai's BlueLink emergency communications system and the 4.2-inch LCD trip computer with Hybrid Technology Display in the instrument cluster.
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited also came with the 17-inch wheels and leather seating surfaces plus leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power driver seat with lumbar support, heated rear seats (nice touch), the NAV system with a 7-inch touch screen, a rearview camera and an upgraded Infinity audio system with nine speakers and sub-woofer, and SeriusXM with HD radio.
The MSRP for the test Sonata Hybrid Limited with all of this equipment was $30,555.
Our test Sonata Hybrid Limited had the very nice Panoramic Sunroof added for $1,000 along with Carpeted Floor Mats ($110). We were a bit surprised to see that the necessary iPod cable was extra at $35.
Including delivery - our 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited priced out at $32,490.
Stepping back and reflecting on our week in the new 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited, we saw mostly a lot we liked and a couple of things we did not.
All of the spacious and comfortable interior room - with extremely well designed and supportive seating found in the standard Sonata - delivered a driver and passenger (including rear seating) experience that was impressive. We did note that the door opening for the rear seating was a bit high at the sill that could be a problem for some passengers.
The brushed metal hard surfaces on the interior were very attractive and worthy of cars costing much more.
An added plus from the new battery is that it actually takes up less room in the trunk - adding almost two cubic feet of space for luggage and cargo from the prior year.
The operation and transition of the vehicle's power train from electric to hybrid is pretty seamless and, unless you were paying specific attention to it, you would not notice the transition that still has a very slight hesitation in it.
The six-speed automatic transmission is well mated to the power train and transfers the torque acceleration into smooth performance through the range of gears from start to cruising.
We did get more road / wind noise and vibration than we expected based on our driving experiences in the gasoline version - not irritating in particular, just noticeable.
Lastly, the steering and suspension were not quite as performance responsive as we expected. The Sonata, at speed on the highway was pretty good, but on two-lane hilly and curvy roads it had a tendency to want to plow the corners a bit - not serious, but we had not expected that.
Overall, despite a couple of minor issues, we would recommend the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited as a good choice for a mid-sized hybrid sedan that is nicely styled and appointed, is reasonably priced, delivers good mileage and performs well in the city and on the highway.