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Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Upgrades – Are They Enough?

The Hyundai Sonata is in a weird place for a couple reasons: the 2015 model is going to be introduced at the New York Auto Show and the formerly white-hot sedan has been in an extended cool-down period. Will announcing upgrades to the 2014 Sonata Hybrid make a difference?

Pricing for the 2014 Sonata Hybrid starts at $26,000 for the well equipped Sonata Hybrid and $30,750 for the range-topping Sonata Hybrid Limited. Hyundai will continue to offer an industry-exclusive Hybrid Lifetime Battery Warranty on the 2014 Sonata Hybrid – but it's not transferable to used car buyers.

New standard equipment for the 2014 hybrid model include:

• LED interior dome lights
• Touchscreen color audio with HD Radio
• Rearview camera

The 2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid features a powerful 35 kW electric motor, 47 kW Lithium Polymer battery pack and an optimized hybrid operating strategy. The Hybrid Blue Drive system is paired with a 2.4-liter Theta II four-cylinder engine that efficiently runs on an Atkinson cycle and six-speed hybrid automatic transmission to generate 199 combined net horsepower. This advanced powertrain maintains the improved fuel efficiencies of the Sonata Hybrid by increasing the overall amount of available electrical drive power, allowing drivers to go further between fill ups.

As in previous Sonata Hybrids, the 2014 Sonata Hybrid features a clutch to couple the gasoline engine with the drivetrain. When in pure electric drive, the Sonata Hybrid can drive electrically up to 74 miles per hour.

On paper, the Sonata Hybrid makes a lot of sense with a combined fuel economy of 38 mpg compared to 28 mpg for the standard Hyundai Sonata. Fuel savings are estimated to be $500 a year according to EPA statistics.

But emotionally does it make sense to buy any Hyundai Sonata at this point? It might be better just to wait absent any great deals on the Sonata Hybrid. Not known at this point is when the newly designed 2015 Sonata will get the hybrid powertrain. More details coming at the end of March when the 2015 Sonata is introduced in South Korea.