• Mar 9th 2009 at 3:26PM
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Click above for a high-res gallery of the 2009 Hyundai Sonata

When you think of the word "hybrid," what vehicle pops into your mind? Likely, it's the Toyota Prius, and that's what they call a really big win for the marketing department. Much of the success that Toyota's seminal hybrid model has achieved has been attributed to its unique styling, which sets the fuel-saver apart from other manufacturers' hybrids, making the ecomobile instantly recognizable. Those that care about saving the planet – or at least those who like the appearance of caring – often choose the Prius due to its iconic shape and name.

Woong-chul Yang, president of R&D for Hyundai-Kia Motors, says, "People who drive a hybrid like to be differentiated." Sounds painful. In any case, the automaker is reportedly working on giving their first hybrid model, which will be based on the Sonata midsize sedan, a distinct shape. To go along with the unique profile, the Korean hybrid may get a different name to further distance it from its non-hybrid sibling.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

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