What is it? "Blue drive" is Hyundai's new name for its hybrid technology. The Sonata Blue Drive uses advanced lithium-polymer batteries and Hyundai says the car can drive up to 62 mph on electric power alone. The electric motor, mated to a 209-hp four-cylinder engine, is designed to increase hybrid efficiency on the highway, where Hyundai says Americans spend most of their time driving. The Sonata hybrid has EPA ratings of 37 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. Unlike most other hybrids, which use various forms of continuously variable transmissions, the Sonata uses a six-speed automatic to give it a more conventional driving feel.
What's new or notable? Hyundai says its new lithium polymer battery technology yields a 40 percent reduction in battery weight and a 60 percent smaller size with twice the range of conventional lithium batteries.
CR's take: The Hyundai Sonata Blue Drive Hybrid will join a steadily growing number of hybrid choices in the popular family-car segment. And, despite its unwieldy name, it promises to be a viable competitor.
When will it be available? Late 2010.
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