Battle of the Hybrid Family Sedans: Toyota Camry XLE Vs. Hyundai Sonata

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  • Test vehicle’s MSRP:
    Camry: $31,045
    Sonata: $32,260

    Seating Capacity: 5 occupants

    Standard Safety Features:
    Camry: 10 airbags; ABS; whip-lash injury-lessening front seats; Toyota’s Star Safety System which includes Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control’ ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology to override the brakes in case of sudden acceleration; and Daytime Running Lights

    Sonata: front and side-impact airbags; active head restraints (front passengers); rear-seat low-profile head restraints; Electronic Stability Control; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution;

    Standard and Optional Features Included:
    Camry XLE: 17-inch tires; dual zone automatic temperature control; 8-way power driver’s seat; folding power heated outside mirrors; cruise control; power windows; automatic rearview mirror with compass; a rear back-up camera; power sunroof; automatic headlights; a pushbutton keyless starter; customized texting; and music streaming capabilities   

    Sonata with Ultimate Package: 17-inch tires; leather (heated) seats; panoramic sunroof; navigation system; rear camera; 8-way power driver’s seat; power windows; power door locks; a keyless remote system; a pushbutton keyless starter; cruise control; and automatic headlights

    Standard Audio:
    Camry XLE: 6-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD Player with 3-month satellite radio

    Sonata with Tech Package: a 400-watt, 9-speaker AM/FM/HD CD Player with satellite radio subscription

    Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty:
    Camry: 3-year/36,000 miles
    Sonata: 5-year/60,000 miles

    Powertrain Warranty:
    Camry: 5-year/60,000 miles
    Sonata: 10-year/100,000 miles

    Hybrid Battery Warranty:
    Camry: 8-year/100,000 miles
    Sonata: lifetime hybrid battery coverage for the original owner only

    Bluetooth Compatibility:
    Camry: Yes
    Sonata: Yes

    MP3 Capability:
    Camry: Yes
    Sonata: Yes

    ipod Capability:
    Camry: Yes
    Sonata: Yes

    Standard Engine/Horsepower:
    Camry: 2.5-liter, 4-cyl./156-hp
    Sonata: 2.4-liter, 4-cyl./166-hp

    Recommended Fuel: Regular

    Standard Fuel Mileage:
    Camry: 40-city/38-highway
    Sonata: 35-city/40-highway

    Miles on a Tank of Gas:
    Camry: 612 miles
    Sonata: 573 miles

    What’s New:
    Camry: For the 2012 model-year, Toyota introduces the seventh-generation Camry, which is available in both a hybrid and non hybrid configurations. The Camry hybrid features an updated version of Toyota’s Hybrid Drive Synergy powertrain which works hand-in-hand with the newly developed 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine. Besides a new powertrain, the redesigned Camry also includes new technology too, such as a lane-changing blind-spot monitoring system and Toyota’s new Entune system, which first appeared on the PriusV. This infotainment system allows one to fully integrate their smartphone into the car’s audio system, accessing both entertainment and information services. Once integrated, one will have access to Bing, OpenTable and movietickets.com.

    Also pricing for the XLE hybrid is about $800 lower than last year’s model.

    Sonata: While the Camry is all-new for the 2012 model year, the Sonata hybrid is a carryover from last year’s revised model. Like the Camry, the Sonata is available in both a hybrid and non hybrid configuration. For the 2012 model year, a new standard Blue Link system includes a safety, service and infotainment telematics system.

    Also the Sonata contains a few package tweaks. For instance, the Sonata is now available with a panoramic roof.

    The Verdict: Toyota has been a forerunner as it relates to their hybrid technology. While both family sedans seemingly were well engineered, the Sonata’s hybrid engine wasn’t as refined as we would have expected. While accelerating at low speeds, there was a lag at low speeds in the Sonata. We found the acceleration in the Camry hybrid to be flawless. However for those who opt to purchase a Camry can expect to shell out a few thousand dollars to replace the hybrid battery once the 8-year/100,000-mile warranty expires. Hyundai actually provides a life time warranty for its hybrid battery (only for the original owner). Hyundai has one of the best warranties in the industry. And both Hyundai and Toyota provides the appropriate gauges to help drivers optimize their fuel mileage.

    Furthermore, by having the hybrid technology, this means that consumers will have to sacrifice trunk space. Consumers opting for the Camry hybrid will lose be down from 15.4 cu. ft. in the non hybrid to 13.1 cu. ft. in the hybrid. Sonata buyers will have to fork over more trunk space. As opposed to the 16.4 cu. ft. available in the non hybrid Sonata, buyers will have to squeeze in as much as they can into the 10.7 cu. ft. in the cargo area.

    Also as it relates to styling, Toyota went the conservative route with its popular midsize sedan, while Sonata took a big risk last year, making their vehicle look more like a Lexus than the typical run of the mill family sedan. Furthermore, while we like the overall sleek design of the non hybrid Sonata, we weren’t that fun of the wide-mouth, fish-like grille on the hybrid, which allowed the hybrid engine to breath. We did learn from our inside sources that Andre Hudson, the designer of the non hybrid Sonata, wasn’t responsible for the design tweaks made on the hybrid. The Sonata hybrid was designed by the Koreans, while an American was responsible for the design of the non hybrid Sonata.

    Moreover, Hyundai offered such high-end features as a dual roof and heated rear seats as a part of its options package in the Sonata hybrid. Neither which are available on the Toyota. Also for the 2012 model year, Toyota upped the ante this year, by joining the Ford Fusion offering a blind-spot technology system.

    Overall both of these family sedans are great. Both provide comfortable seats which are equipped to soak up the road in a safe, comfortable fashion, while hauling around a family of five. A well-optioned Sonata hybrid, which includes heated seats and a dual roof, still costs a few thousand less than a comparably equipped Camry hybrid. And both models provide a fail-safe system which prevents the vehicle from experiencing sudden acceleration.
     
    Competition: 2013 Chevy Malibu with Ecoboost; Ford Fusion Hybrid; and Kia Optima Hybrid
     


    Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.

     

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