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The Hyundai Sonata has come a long way since its introduction into the market way back in 1994. Over the past couple of decades, Hyundai has made its mid-size sedan more competitive and more enticing by making it bigger, better, and more tech-savvy, as is evident with the Sonata’s latest 2020 model year redesign. I am currently driving the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited and can attest to all of the improvements that were made, however, I personally think that the Sonata Hybrid is a much better buy.

2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited can give you what you want

Don’t get me wrong, the gas-powered Sonata provides a great balance of power, economy, and fuel efficiency and I will say that it’s pleasant to drive in any setting. However, I much preferred the smoothness and even better efficiency of the hybrid model.

And while you might be against buying a hybrid because you would rather have more power, consider the fact that you probably don’t need any extra ponies for your daily drive and would actually benefit from stellar fuel economy instead.

2021 Hyundai Sonata
2021 Hyundai Sonata | Hyundai

If you do want power, the Sonata Limited trim does give you want as it is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. According to the EPA, it should get 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, which is nothing to sneeze at. But in my time spent with it, I’ve managed to get 27 mpg in combined driving (3 mpg less than that EPA combined estimate) and I’m honestly indifferent about the drivetrain that it’s equipped with.

In regular driving, the small turbo engine motivates the car just fine around town and it has more than enough gusto to get it on the freeway in a hasty amount of time. But a sport sedan it is not, in fact, that’s what the newer Sonata N Line is for. And considering that trim comes with a larger engine that pumps out 290 hp, if all-out sportiness is what you really want, then buy that one.

2021 Hyundai Sonata
2021 Hyundai Sonata | Hyundai

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gives you need

On the other side of the coin, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid can give you the same amount of power when it comes to freeway merges and quick bursts of acceleration from a stoplight. I have now spent time in both cars and I can tell you that they both feel similar when you need to make a quick dash and that doesn’t surprise me considering the hybrid model has a gas/electric powertrain that produces a combined 192 hp.

But the main highlight with the Sonata Hybrid is that it can achieve up to an EPA-estimated 45 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway. Considering most of us would probably rather save money at the pump as opposed to driving fast, we can see which car is a no-brainer.

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid | Joe Santos

How much does each trim cost?

Powertrains aside, the other main difference between the Sonata Hybrid and its gas counterpart is the price. The Hyundai Sonata Limited that I’m driving has an MSRP of $34,980, which is impressive considering the wealth of features that you get with the top-trim version.

However, an equally equipped Sonata Hybrid Limited trim level carries a price tag of $35,300, which is only a difference of $320. Considering you’ll make up that difference at the gas pump within less than half a year, I’d say it’s more than worth it to go with the hybrid model over the gas version.


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