She has been talking about buying one for many months. They showed her the exact car she ended up buying in September. It took a long time for my mom to realize just how much money she would need to spend and how little she would get in trade-in for the last car she bought. The new car is a white 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Premium.
My mom didn’t plan on buying a hybrid. She did test drive other cars including the Hyundai Sonata Limited which she liked a lot, but my mom also likes white cars. This was the only white Sonata on the lot in Courtney BC. It had just over 5000 kms on it, the owner/manager of the dealer drove it some. It looks slightly different than other Hyundai Sonatas having a unique grill, badge, trim, and other niceties. It has a lot of bells and whistles, my mom likes the strangest features and design touches. She didn’t test drive the very top of the line Genesis, but she said she would buy that car if she won the lottery. My mom would buy a lot of cars if she won the lottery.
One big concern she had in buying a hybrid is the size of the trunk. The regular Sonata has a much bigger trunk and it has the pass through rear seats. You can’t get a big trunk in a hybrid, nor do the seats have a 60/40 split to allow mid-sized cars to carry larger items like Ikea and other flat-pack furniture. This smaller trunk along with cost kept her from buying this car months ago. She also test drove several Nissans, both Altimas and Maximas. They were nice but she never could come to a deal she felt comfortable with. The Hyundai salesman kept calling and eventually they found a number they could both agree upon.
I don’t think hybrid electric vehicles are big sellers in Courtney British Columbia. It is definitely truck country.
We’ve only had the car less than 24 hours, we actually have to return to the dealership this afternoon to complete more paperwork but they very much wanted her to drive the car off their lot last night in the rain. It has rained pretty much continually so no pretty pictures, just some quick iPhone snaps, even a video of what I think will become a very annoying startup animation and chime. People get used to them on their computers and cellphones, but I sleep my computer or mute it, I don’t think there is a way to mute the startup and shutdown chimes for a 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.
The big test of the trunk size will come on the first big shopping trip and tonight when we take my 92 year old grandmother out for dinner. The car is nice and comfortable inside, most cars are now-a-days. It has leather seats, heated even in the back. It has a very adjustable driver side bucket seat, which I played with today when we drove to Bowser. It has a relatively fancy stereo complete with touchscreen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and the ability to connect devices via USB. They want you to buy their iPhone adapter cable rather than use one provided by Apple or some other third party which seems a bid dubious.
My mom doesn’t have an iPod that can be connected to it, but my sister and I do. You can also connect just a USB thumb drive with music on it. Which seems like a cheaper simpler solution if you haven’t already got a fancy portable music player. My third generation iPod and my iPod Shuffle 2 are incompatible with stereo system, but my iPhone 3GS should work just fine. I may just try it with the official Apple supplied USB cable. I don’t keep a lot of music on my iPhone but I do have iTunes Match.
My mom does a lot of driving. She put almost 200,000 Kms on her 2006 Volkswagon Passat. So saving money on gas has its appeal. My mom is also retired now so this will be the last new car she buys, baring winning the lottery, for quite some time. She regularly takes trips to the states for shopping, so the trunk needs to fit four small carry-on size suitcases plus miscellaneous bags and purchases. It will be tight. More problematic will be the walker of my 92 year old grandmother which we will try to fit in tonight when we take her out for dinner. (It fit!)
I’ll try to take some more pictures or get my sister to. I’ll also see about updating this after my mom has had time to really get used to the car. It doesn’t have a lot of power for going up hills and it will never win any drag races, but it should save money on gas and carry four adults comfortably which is what my mom needs. She’ll be taking it to Duncan on the weekend to play some bridge with my Aunt Mary and some others. They all went to Palm Springs not too long ago, but they flew down and rented a car on that trip.
I’ve driven a Prius Zipcar when I chauffeured Majora Carter around Vancouver when she was in town to speak at Sustainability 2.0. I only drove that Toyota around town, no highway driving, and I didn’t have to pay for gas. I’ve since ridden in several Prius taxi cabs. I think the Sonata is a bit bigger and looks more normal. With normal being how most cars have looked for the last 10 or 15 years.
Both the 12 volt and lithium-polymer battery are in the trunk, this decreases storage space (almost six cubic feet) and makes the 60/40 rear seat impossible. The larger electric battery also vents from the trunk into the cabin of the car. This is to keep it cool in extreme conditions, possibly when the trunk is full of luggage say. This vent can’t be covered by anything or at least so the owner’s manual warns. There are a lot of warnings in the very thick 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid owner’s manual. There is a separate manual just for the stereo/navigation system which neither my mom or I have read. Maybe I’ll pull it out and have a look when we drive to Courtney in a few hours.
Reviews of Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
- The Truth about Cars
- Hybrid Cars
- National Post
- Justinpritchard.ca video review
- Roadfly.com video review