2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid with windswept trees

Just yesterday, we told you how Hyundai's 2013 Sonata Hybrid was late out of the gate (along with its mechanical twin, the Kia Optima Hybrid), with growing speculation suggesting that the company was revisiting its gas-electric sedan with an eye toward improving its efficiency.

Well, today Hyundai has released official details, and that's exactly what's happened. Sporting a larger starter generator, a higher output electric motor and a more potent 47 kW lithium polymer battery, the 2013 Sonata hybrid is more efficient than before. The revised hardware helps the sedan jump two miles per gallon combined over its 2012 predecessor. That pushes the 2013 Sonata Hybrid to 36 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 38 mpg combined. Engineers also tweaked the machine's software, with revised driving pattern detection and engine on/off logic.

Surprisingly enough, the new battery pack actually weighs less than the kit in the old Sonata Hybrid, taking up less room in the trunk. Engineers shaved 4.6 pounds from the pack and the vehicle's cargo area now boasts 12.1 cubic feet of space compared to the 10.7 cubes in the outgoing model. Hyundai has yet to release any images of the updated model (a 2011 example is pictured), so presumably the revisions are limited to what's beneath the sheetmetal.

Even with all the changes, the Sonata Hybrid now carries a base MSRP of $25,650. That's $200 less than last year, and now buyers can option up to the Sonata Hybrid Limited at $30,550, plus destination. No word on any changes for the Sonata's Kia counterpart, but we'll keep you informed if anything comes to light. In the meantime, check out the full press release below for more information.


UPDATE: Gallery of new 2013 Sonata Hybrid images added.

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HYUNDAI ADDS MORE VALUE AND CAPABILITY TO 2013 SONATA HYBRID, MAINTAINS LIFETIME HYBRID BATTERY WARRANTY

2013 Sonata Hybrid Maximizes Efficiency with Increased Electric-Only Driving

Hyundai's Industry-Exclusive Hybrid Lifetime Battery Warranty Continues with Larger, Lighter 47 kW Lithium Polymer Battery Pack, Higher Output Electric Motor and New Control Logic, Yielding Improved Fuel Efficiency

Operates in All-Electric Mode More Often and For Longer Periods of Time


COSTA MESA, Calif., Feb. 20, 2013 – Hyundai Motor America has announced pricing for the 2013 Sonata Hybrid, starting at $25,650 for the extraordinarily well-equipped Sonata Hybrid and $30,550 for the new range-topping Sonata Hybrid Limited. At $25,650 shoppers will discover the improved 2013 Sonata Hybrid achieves better fuel economy and is priced $200 less than the outgoing 2012 Sonata Hybrid. Hyundai will continue to offer an industry-exclusive Hybrid Lifetime Battery Warranty on the 2013 Sonata Hybrid.

2013 SONATA HYBRID PRICING

Sonata Hybrid

2.4L Atkinson 4-cyl. Hybrid

6-Speed A/T

$25,650


Sonata Hybrid Limited

2.4L Atkinson 4-cyl. Hybrid

6-Speed A/T

$30,550

Freight Charges for the 2013MY Sonata Hybrid are $795 and not included in the prices above.


The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid increases fuel efficiency and operates in all-electric mode more often and for longer periods of time, with an advanced version of the brand's Hybrid Blue Drive architecture. The improved architecture optimizes electric-only driving by adding a larger capacity 10.5 kW Hybrid Starter Generator (HSG), higher output 35 kW electric motor, a more powerful 47 kW Lithium Polymer battery pack and an optimized hybrid operating strategy. These upgrades are paired with a 2.4-liter Theta II four-cylinder engine that now runs on a more efficient Atkinson cycle and an enhanced transmission to generate 206 total horsepower. The new Sonata Hybrid Blue Drive system offers greater fuel efficiencies by increasing the overall amount of available electrical drive power, allowing drivers to go further between fill ups.

As in previous Sonata Hybrids, the 2013 Sonata Hybrid features a clutch to decouple the gasoline engine from the drivetrain. When in pure electric drive, the Sonata Hybrid can drive electrically up to 75 miles per hour.

2013 SONATA HYBRID IMPROVEMENTS

2012 Sonata Hybrid vs. 2013 Sonata Hybrid

HSG

8.5 kW 10.5 kW

Electric Motor Output

30 kW 35 kW

Battery Output

34 kW 47 kW

EPA Estimated Fuel Economy (mpg)

34 36 city

39 40 hwy

36 38 comb.


Increasing electric only driving

Maximizing electric-only driving results in higher fuel efficiency, which is the leading factor car buyers look for in a hybrid vehicle. Hyundai engineers aimed to increase the overall amount of available electrical drive power and improve the efficiency of the Hybrid Blue Drive operating system in the 2013 Sonata Hybrid.

Using a higher output 35 kW electric motor and the more powerful 47 kW Lithium Polymer battery pack, the Hybrid Blue Drive powertrain maximizes electric-only driving. The improved operating system takes advantage of newly developed driving pattern detection and engine on/off optimization logic. The availability of more battery energy allows for greater flexibility in running the gasoline engine at optimum efficiency, which saves fuel. Better kinetic energy recovery and increased charging efficiency powers the Sonata Hybrid in all-electric mode more often and for longer periods of time, increasing fuel economy.

The 2013 Sonata Hybrid utilizes the all-electric mode at optimal moments such as highway driving, then saves the gasoline engine start-up for roads that require a heavier dose of power. All of this translates to money saved for the driver.

KEY IMPROVEMENTS FOR INCREASED FUEL EFFICIENCY

LITHIUM POLYMER BATTERY PACK

The remarkable achievement with 2013 Sonata Hybrid's 47 kW lithium polymer battery pack is that not only is it more powerful and more energy dense, but also weighs less and takes up less volume in the trunk. The weight of the pack has gone from 92.4 pounds to 87.8 pounds while trunk volume has increased from 10.7 cu. ft. to 12.1 cu. ft. Once again, the improved efficiency of the battery pack is key to recovering more kinetic energy from braking and charging from the engine, when needed, to help propel the vehicle. The newly optimized system allows the battery to store more usable energy, allowing more all-electric driving, cutting both fuel consumption and emissions.

HIGHER OUTPUT ELECTRIC MOTOR

As the upgraded battery stores more energy, engineers also increased the output on the electric traction motor from 30 kW to 35 kW. The increased energy pulled into the system is used for higher torque output in electric drive mode before the system has to start the internal combustion engine. The 2013 Sonata Hybrid can now sustain all-electric mode longer than the previous system. These changes deliver both improved fuel economy and drivability. The higher output electric motor is also essential to improving energy capture during regenerative braking.

HYBRID STARTER GENERATOR

Taking the Hybrid Starter Generator (HSG) from 8.5 kW to 10.5 kW of capacity provides more charging capacity and, in turn, seamless electric starts. The HSG is primarily used to improve clutch engagement when synchronizing engine to transmission speed. The primary traction motor is coupled to the transmission and cannot be used to charge the hybrid battery when the car is stationary. If the battery state of charge is low and the car is stationary, the HSG will automatically restart the engine, which then charges the Lithium Polymer battery pack.

When the driver releases the brake and presses the accelerator, the Sonata Hybrid will pull away smoothly and silently in electric drive mode with the clutch still disengaged. In this mode, the Sonata will briefly behave like a series hybrid. Once the car is in motion and torque demand increases, the clutch will engage and send engine tractive effort through the transmission again.

DRIVEABILITY IMPROVEMENTS

In addition to improving efficiency, Hyundai engineers set their sights on improving drivability with the following:

Improved hybrid system clutch control
Improved vehicle response by throttle tuning
Optimized regenerative braking shift pattern
Decreased friction in the compact six-speed automatic transmission
AERODYNAMICS

The body of the 2013 Sonata Hybrid remains unchanged, but it still features the unique exterior that sets it apart from other Sonatas. The combination of a re-shaped front and rear fascias with a deeper air dam, extended rocker panels and lower drag wheels allow air to flow around the body with less resistance. The drag coefficient for the Sonata Hybrid is an exceptionally low 0.24 that compares favorably to the Porsche 911 GT2 RS (0.34) and the Nissan GT-R (0.27).


The ability to easily slip through the air, combined with low rolling resistance tires and the reduced friction in the newly optimized Hybrid Blue Drive powertrain, significantly reduces the amount of energy required to maintain highway speeds. The result is the remarkable highway fuel efficiency of the Sonata Hybrid.

TRIM LEVELS

The improved 2013 Sonata Hybrid will offer two different model grades to choose from, Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Hybrid Limited.

EPA Estimated Fuel Economy


Sonata Hybrid

City

36

Highway

40

Combined

38



Sonata Hybrid Limited

City

36

Highway

40

Combined

37



HYBRID LIFETIME BATTERY WARRANTY

The 2013 Sonata Hybrid comes with Hyundai's Hybrid Lifetime Battery Warranty. The coverage expands the benefits of Hyundai Assurance, the industry's most comprehensive warranty program, including an unsurpassed 10-year powertrain warranty.

The Hyundai Lifetime Hybrid Battery Warranty ensures that if the Sonata Hybrid lithium-polymer battery ever needs replacement, Hyundai will replace the battery and cover recycling costs for the old battery pack free-of-charge to the original owner. The coverage is not transferrable, and does not apply to lease and commercial vehicles or vehicles serviced outside the U.S.

LITHIUM-POLYMER BATTERY TECHNOLOGY

The Sonata Hybrid, with Hyundai's improved Hybrid Blue Drive technology, has always featured a lithium-polymer battery pack, making Hyundai one of the first automakers in the world to incorporate this remarkably efficient battery technology into production vehicles. Lithium-polymer is the next generation of lithium-ion technology and is ideally suited to automotive applications thanks to a particularly robust and reliable chemistry.

The lithium-polymer cells, developed with Hyundai's partner LG Chem, use a manganese-spinel chemistry that provides an excellent compromise between power delivery, energy density and thermal stability. Thermal stability is critical to ensuring durability, effectively eliminating the need to replace the battery pack during the normal lifespan of the vehicle. The electrodes in older lithium-ion chemistries expand and contract significantly with the heating and cooling that naturally occurs during charging and discharging. This thermal expansion causes cracks in the electrodes which ultimately reduces the cell's ability to hold a charge. Manganese-spinel lithium-polymer cells have much lower expansion rates and are thus able to go through tens-of-thousands of charge cycles even without having to use a heavier, liquid-cooling system.

Sonata Hybrid Packaging

The Sonata Hybrid MSRP is $25,650, excluding $795 freight and includes the following standard equipment:

2.4L Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder hybrid engine
Hybrid Starter-Generator (HSG)
Permanent magnet high-power density motor
270V lithium polymer battery
6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC®
Electronic stability control with traction control system
ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist
Active front head restraints
Front, front seat side and curtain airbags
16-inch Eco-spoke alloy wheels
Headlight LED accents
LED taillights
Front fog lights
Side mirror-mounted turn signal indicators
Unique, tinted chrome front grille
Bodyside molding tinted chrome inserts
Chrome exterior door handles
Proximity entry with push-button start
Remote keyless entry, alarm and immobilizer
Electroluminescent instrument cluster (Supervision)
4.2-inch color TFT multi-function trip computer with hybrid technology display
Dual automatic temperature control
Floor console mounted rear vents
Heated front seats
Chrome interior door handles
Leatherette interior door panel inserts
Tilt & telescopic steering wheel with cruise, audio and phone controls
Metalgrain interior accents
AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 with iPod®/USB & auxiliary input jacks
Power windows, locks, heated mirrors
Integrated Bluetooth® with phonebook transfer
Hyundai Blue Link Telematics system
Automatic light control
Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS)
Solar control glass
Sonata Hybrid Limited

The Sonata Hybrid Limited MSRP is $30,550, excluding $795 freight, and includes the following standard equipment:

17-inch Eco-spoke alloy wheels with unique finish
Leather seating surfaces
Leather-wrapped steering wheel & shift knob
Heated rear seats
Power driver seat with lumbar support
Navigation system with high-resolution touch-screen display
Rear backup camera
Infinity® premium speakers, subwoofer and external amplifier (400-watt)
HD Radio® Technology with multicasting
SiriusXM® NavTraffic, NavWeather and Sports & Stocks w/ 90-Day Trial
Auto-dimming mirror/HomeLink®/Compass
Premium door sill plates
Panoramic Sunroof Package ($1,000 MSRP)

Panoramic Sunroof
Glossy black door surround and outside mirror housing