Disappointing Hyundai hybrid

FRESNO, Calif.

But in its latest tests, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid scores nowhere near as well as the regular Sonata.

The gas-powered Hyundai Sonata has responsive handling and delivers a comfortable ride. It earned top scores in Consumer Reports' tests. But the Sonata Hybrid is a different story.

Braking distances are considerably longer, and it doesn't do as well in emergency handling. Consumer Reports auto engineers say that the Hybrid's low-rolling-resistance tires help improve fuel economy but that they don't provide as much grip. The Hybrid does get better fuel economy - 33 mpg overall, compared with 27 for the regular Sonata. But the Hybrid doesn't transition smoothly between gas and electric power.

Although the Sonata Hybrid is a disappointment, it's an exception among Hyundais. Overall, Consumer Reports has seen real improvement in new Hyundais. They generally perform well and provide good value for the money.

The Hyundai Elantra is Consumer Reports' top-rated small car, with nimble handling and a comfortable ride. And the Genesis is the top-rated upscale sedan. It provides most of the benefits of a luxury car for $10,000 less than its competitors.

If you 're considering getting one of the top-rated Hyundais, there's another benefit to owning one of those cars: Hyundai has one of the longest warranties of any carmaker. It covers the repair or replacement of many parts for 10 years or up to 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

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