Sonata: Hybrid sedan slayer

Expect Hyundai to undercut the price of Toyota hybrid vehicles.

The cheapest hybrid sedan around?

Let the hybrid price wars begin

Sedans aren't the biggest sellers when it comes to hybrid cars. However, if hybrids are to ever achieve more than 3 percent market penetration, then sales of hybrid sedans will probably have to increase significantly.

Fortunately, with the Hyundai Sonata hybrid poised to hit the market as the smoothest, cheapest and most cost-effective hybrid sedan on the market, a big uptick in hybrid sedan sales could be just around the corner.

Thus far, real world Sonata hybrid information is still limited. For instance, final 0 – 60 and, most important, fuel economy numbers, are still not available. In terms of 0 – 60, the Sonata hybrid will be in the same ball park as the Toyota Camry hybrid and the Ford Fusion hybrid, but who really cares about 0 – 60?

When it comes to hybrids, fuel economy and price are the truly relevant numbers and, overall, the Sonata hybrid should rank with the best of them.

Outside of the performance numbers, the Sonata hybrid might also offer a few other advantages.  For instance, Hyundai's six-speed transmission, according to Hyundai engineers, could offer the smoothest transmission of any hybrid in this class.  Furthermore Hyundai's much smaller, yet equally powerful lithium polymer battery pack should provide the greatest amount of cargo and passenger space available compared to the competition.

More important, however, if InsideLine is correct, the Sonata hybrid's greatest asset will be its price, which could undercut the Camry hybrid by as much as $1,500.

If InsideLine's prediction holds true, it seems that Ford and Toyota will soon be forced to reduce the prices of their hybrids in this segment. Not only will that make hybrid sedans more cost-effective, but it could also force an automaker like Toyota to reduce the price of other hybrids, such as the Prius, as well.

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