Meet the 28mpg rated 2011 Hyundai Sonata. [fimg=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2011_Hyundai_Sonata1.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - June 12, 2010 2011 Hyundai Sonata – Big, Beautiful and hopefully efficient enough I am sure some have seen the banner Sean uploaded earlier this afternoon and may have been wondering what the heck it's all about? Chronicled here is a captivating story just getting started... with the final chapters yet to be written. The 2011 Sonata – A new day dawns for the everyday family sedan. Early last December, the newly redesigned 2011 Hyundai Sonata made its press debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. While a mid-sized sedan launch would not normally grab our attention unless it were hybrid or diesel powered, this conventionally powered 2.4L sedan stood out as something out of the ordinary. Why The 2011 Hyundai Sonata? For one, it broke the mold with an exciting exterior using what Hyundai calls "Fluidic Sculpture” design. It includes a unique yet highly attractive exterior grille and side creases as well as paint that literally changes color and hue with viewing angle and incident light variations. Fluidic Sculpture Design Language Detail - Beginning with the 2011 model year Sonata, Hyundai’s California studios is introducing a “Fluidic Sculpture” in motion approach to design. According to Hyundai, Fluidic Sculpture is a cohesive design language that will eventually encompass the entire Hyundai lineup. In the initial Sonata sketches, Hyundai designers strove for an interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures to create the illusion of constant motion. Inspired by nature, Fluidic Sculpture injects sophistication and dynamic angles into the shape of a vehicle -- a guiding theme which now serves as the core of Hyundai’s design identity. The all-new Sonata is long, light, and low. The high belt-line allows for an extended, sleek roof-line accented by the third window. A mono-form side profile includes flowing lines highlighted by the Hyundai signature chrome accent spanning the length of the car. The stance is completed by 16-, 17-, or 18-inch multi-spoke wheels. 2011 Hyundai Sonata Price Starting at just $19,195, no other manufacturer is able to match this offering with similar equipment. We have even looked down into the compact and sub-compact ranks with many just a few thousand less yet they still offer fewer amenities, less safety HW, smaller size, and less performance. The Sonata is also considered a Large automobile by the EPA’s own accounting with over 120 cu. ft of passenger and cargo (trunk) capacity. Only the Accord comes anywhere close to challenging the Sonata when it comes to total size. 2011 Hyundai Sonata vs. competitors Passenger/Cargo Capacities Column1Column2Column3Column4Column5Make and ModelPassenger volume (cu. ft.)Cargo volume (cu. ft.)Total interior volume (cu. ft.)EPA size classification 2011 Sonata103.816.4120.2Large 2010 Camry101.415.0116.4Midsize 2010 Accord106.014.0120.0Large 2010 Altima100.715.3116.0Midsize 2010 Fusion100.316.5116.8Midsize 2010 Malibu97.715.1112.8Midsize As described above, the Sonata is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a “Large” car and the comparisons above are striking. 2011 Hyundai Sonata Safety Safety is another area where the 2011 Sonata truly shines. This vehicle includes an impressive array of standard safety equipment including an ultra-high-strength steel body structure, four-wheel disc brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This is standard equipment for all trim levels. The Sonata also features six airbags— dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, as well as front and rear side curtain airbags—along with active front-seat head restraints. Other passive safety features include shingle-style, rear-seat head restraints for improved visibility, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, front-seat seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and rear-seat Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for child seats. Once again, all of this is standard equipment. What are the results of this single minded approach to occupant safety? While vehicles comprising the Sonata’s direct competition include many of those same safety features standard, only one other was awarded the IIHS’ 2010 “Top Safety Pick” in the mid-size class. A small group indeed, and surprisingly not a single Asian competitor made the list! IIHS’ 2010 “Top Safety Pick” – 2011 Hyundai Sonata Crash Test Ratings Frontal offset test results: Good – IIHS’ Best Rating Side impact test results: Good – IIHS’ Best Rating Roof strength test results: Good – IIHS’ Best Rating Rear crash protection/head restraint ratings: Good – IIHS’ Best Rating while testing both the manual and power adjustable seats. The Real Reason(s) for CleanMPG’s Interest in the 2011 Hyundai Sonata The main reason the Sonata demanded our attention is that it was designed around a very fuel efficient, yet extremely powerful direct injected, 2.4L, I4 gasoline engine. Notice that I said designed around a 2.4L I4. This vehicle was not designed around a V6 with an I4 as an afterthought (or vice versa)... it was designed to change the way Americans think about what a 4 cylinder engine is capable of accomplishing. Hyundai's I4 has almost 200 HP on tap and even in a large sedan its road performance, fuel economy, and (particularly apropos to this article) range between stops at the pump. The 2011 Sonata is the first midsized sedan to adopt GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) technology as standard equipment in a naturally aspirated powertrain. This shorter, more direct path of fuel delivery allows for greater precision at the optimum moment, thus improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. The fuel is injected by a camshaft-driven, high pressure pump that operates at up to 2,175 psi. Direct injection also allows the use of a higher than normal 11.3:1 compression ratio for increased power without having to resort to Premium Unleaded. Along with the Sonata’s fuel efficient 2.4L GDI engine comes a rarity for a mainstream manufacturer today -- a 6-speed manual transmission. This combination offers superior straight line acceleration over and above that available from an automatic, but its overdrive gears offer ratios that are almost as tall as those in the 6-speed automatic! This means that the 6-speed manual transmission equipped Sonata offers almost 10% more city fuel economy while matching the comfortable low RPM steady state cruise and highway fuel economy of the optional 6-speed Automatic. This is in sharp contrast to most other manufacturers who gear manual transmissions up to 30% lower than their automatic transmission equipped counterparts so that they sound like “Buzz Bombs” on the Interstate! Unlike Hyundai, these manufacturers talk about meeting the needs of the customer when in fact they are doing just the opposite. Hyundai’s approach shows up in its EPA Fuel Economy ratings as shown below: 24 City/35 mpg highway for the Manual Transmission 22 City/35 mpg highway for the Automatic Transmission Now that you know a little about the car, what's this about a “Challenge”? 2011 Hyundai Sonata Challenge North of Milwaukee, WI to the Atlantic Coast of Long Island, NY. We have been working for quite a few months with Hyundai’s National Manager and Midwest Product Public Relations Representative, Dan Bedore to take out a 2011 Hyundai Sonata 6MT for either a standard Review or a Challenge drive. The first opportunity for a “Challenge Drive” presented itself earlier this spring when a 6-speed manual was sourced within the Los Angeles Press Fleet. Unfortunately, by the time the logistics were established for bringing that vehicle back to the Midwest for insertion into the Chicago Press Fleet, it had been moved to the Detroit Press Fleet… We just missed it. The second opportunity arrived approximately a month ago when Dan personally drove the 2011 Sonata 6MT from the Detroit Press Fleet and inserted it into the Chicago Press Fleet specifically for this CleanMPG Challenge Drive. What about this “Challenge” Drive??? As we have been hinting in MaxxMPG’s (Chris Bernus) Sonata Sales for 2nd Quarter of 2010 Just Increased +1... thread, we are going to attempt to drive this full-sized car over a thousand miles on a single tank of fuel. While we have driven the 800-miles between Chicago and NY City on a single tank a number of times in the Prius and a 335d, we have never taken a vehicle as large as the 2011 Hyundai Sonata another 20% beyond that range and at the extremely high Fuel Economy needed to get there. In particular, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata includes an 18.5 gallon tank and a 28 mpg combined rating offering a stated range of 518 miles. Using its all-highway rating of 35 mpg, its calculated range is just 647 miles and we need at least another 50% on top of that. To drive one thousand miles on a single tank of fuel from a topped off tank, the Sonata has to provide at least 54 mpg. While we have seen flashes of 50 mpg from both Chris’ own 11 Sonata and my few minutes in two different 2011 automatic transmission Sonatas, holding onto 55 mpg for an entire tank while crossing the Midwest all the way to the East Coast is going to be a bit more... shall we say... “Challenging.” The car will be arriving late Monday morning or afternoon with less than 4 gallons in its tank. As soon as it arrives, I will be doing everything I can to figure out what is needed for that 55+ mpg average while equipped with an uncalibrated ScanGauge-II. Once I am down to fumes, I will fill it to top-off on late Tuesday night north of Milwaukee and begin the challenge drive. The first segment will bring me back home so I will have approximately 100-miles on the tank as I stop for a few hours and load it up with gear. All day Wednesday, I will cover approximately 900 additional miles in order to finish up in Long Island, NY... Hopefully this can be accomplished without running out before passing the Big Apple. On a carbon footprint basis, I do have a reason to be in New York or I would not be driving. Anybody else need a ride to reduce it even further? All said, wish us luck as this is the largest car we will have ever driven over this extreme distance on a single tank of fuel. If all goes well we will not be running out on the side of I-80 in New York. At least I sure hope the outcome turns out far better than that scenario!