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AutoBlog: LA 2009: All-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata to come in regular, turbo and hybrid

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Filed under: LA Auto Show, Hybrid, Sedan, Hyundai, South Korea

2011 Hyundai Sonata - Click above for high-res image gallery

Not counting full-size trucks, the meat-and-potatoes of the American car market remains the mid-size family sedan. For the past two decades, the undisputed kings of this particular segment have been the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, especially since the Ford Taurus fell off its pedestal right around 1992. Many have tried to knock the two Japanese heavyweights (now figuratively and literally) off the hill - and almost as many have failed. And while those two titans have remained atop the sales charts, other family sedans have met with considerable success. Perhaps most notably, the Hyundai Sonata, an unassuming car that has found its way into 1.2 million homes.

With beaming grins and news of Hyundai being named the most fuel efficient brand in America, Hyundai's brass took the wraps off their new-for-2011 Sonota. What strikes you instantly is the Sonata's curvy, slightly-hefty, almost organic shape. Hyundai calls the design language "Fluidic Sculpture," and while not quite as in-your-face as Mazda's signature Nagare styling language, we have a feeling it might prove nearly as polarizing. That's not to say the new Sonata is bad looking or ugly. But it is highly-stylized in a mid-size market that tends to reward the bland and middle-of-the-road.

But Fluidic Sculpture is what we've got - and not just on the Sonata. Hyundai's North American President and CEO John Krafcik promises that this design language will define the brand moving forward. Not surprisingly, Fluidic Sculpture originated right here in Southern California in Hyundai's Irvine design center. We really appreciate some of the finely wrought detailing, such as the grille, door handles, headlights and taillights (though those taillights appear to be lifted directly from the BMW 3 Series). We're just a wee bit uncertain of how the new Sonata will play in Peoria.

As for the non-design aspects of the 2011 Sonata, the big news is under the hood. Gone is the 3.3-liter V6, or for that matter, any V6. Instead Hyundai is offering consumers a choice of three four-cylinder engines. The first is a 2.4-liter Gasoline Direct-Injection (GDI) motor called the Theta II good for 198 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That much power from a 2.4-liter essentially puts the Sonata at the head of the four-cylinder class. But what about those pesky V6 cars? No problem, as Hyundai will launching a turbocharged version of the GDI Theta II. If direct-injection and turbocharging sounds a little EcoBoosty to you, well, it is. And that's a very, very good thing.

But what about hybrids? There will be a hybrid version of the Theta II. Hyundai's calling the technology Blue Drive,and it sounds pretty spiffy. Unlike other hybrids that use nickel hydride (or starting soon, lithium ion) batteries, the Hyundai system will use lithium polymer technology. According to Hyundai, lithium polymer leapfrogs lithium ion battery tech and within five years, the entire industry will switch to LP. Only Hyundai will be putting the tech on sale within the year. Big claims to be sure, but Hyundai's been defying conventions and expectations for quite a while now. Look for the Alabama-built Sonata to start at less than $20,000 and go on sale this January. Official press release after the jump, Jonny-on-the-spot photos below.

Continue reading LA 2009: All-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata to come in regular, turbo and hybrid

LA 2009: All-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata to come in regular, turbo and hybrid originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 02 Dec 2009 16:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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