The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Transcontinental Challenge

Discussion in 'Hyundai' started by xcel, Dec 24, 2010.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] We are taking a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid on a little road trip ;)

    [​IMG]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Dec. 24, 2010

    2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid at speed in the desert - $25,795 to start while providing its owners a first for a mid-sized sedan, 40 mpgUS EPA highway rating!

    Safe, affordable and fuel efficient… And in early winter, we are attempting to find out just how fuel efficient Hyundai’s latest Sonata really is.

    The Lead up

    Turn back the clock to mid-August when I proposed transporting one of the 2011 Sonata Hybrids from the recently completed Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Long Lead Press Launch in La Jolla, CA back to either a Midwest or East Coast Press Fleet. While the request was not accepted at that time, our friends at Hyundai are now allowing us to transport one of the beauty’s back to Hyundai’s Tech Center near Ann Arbor, MI.

    Since I am now tasked with crossing much of the country, why not make the drive a bit more “Challenging;)

    Beginning on the afternoon of Dec. 26th, we will begin driving one of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrids from San Diego, CA on the Pacific to Brunswick, GA on the Atlantic covering approximately 2,315 miles in early winter. Brunswick, GA is a long way from Ann Arbor, MI is it not? Ok, so I am taking a little detour :D

    And you are asking yourself, “What is so challenging about driving from coast to coast”? What if we are going to attempt to drive the 40 mpgUS highway rated and 17.2 gallon fuel tank equipped Sonata Hybrid across 2,315 miles on less than two tanks of fuel? Doing the math, it’s scary :eek:

    While our own 2011 Hyundai Sonata Preview netted a touch under 50 mpg on a very short 9.9 mile city/suburban route in excellent temperatures and conditions, we will find out together just how far a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid can be driven while experiencing temperatures and conditions ranging from below freezing at night across much of New Mexico and parts of Texas to sections where the car should experience the low 70’s.

    How do you go from 50 mpg around a Chicago area city/suburban route to 65 mpg on the Interstate with higher speeds and in far harsher conditions? That is the part we are going to find out on the fly.

    Our own Skeptics

    While we have been hashing out the details in the mods lounge for quite some time, I thought it would be appropriate if we posted some of the more colorful commentary.

    Paul Bates, CleanMPG moderator:
    Point well taken!

    Al Sichelstiel, CleanMPG moderator:
    Nobody said it was going to be easy let alone possible but we’ll give it our best. Given the changing conditions over the past 48-hours, 2 tanks is a stretch indeed.

    While we do not know what the Sonata Hybrid is capable of in the conditions it will be driven through, I am going to assume the 17.2 gallon spec’ed fuel tank will actually hold at least 18.5 gallons. Most of today’s vehicles have a little more volume and we are hoping the Sonata Hybrid does as well. To make it on that amount of fuel would demand the Sonata Hybrid provide just a bit north of 62 mpgUS. That is a lot of mpg’s for a car weighing in at almost 3,500 pounds!

    2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Transcontinental Challenge Route

    San Diego, CA to Jekyll Island, GA in explicit detail.

    The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Overview

    Hyundai’s first North American hybrid system arrives as what is called the Hyundai “Blue Drive” system.

    The 2.4L I4 - Because the electric traction motor (see below) provides a great deal of torque at low RPM’s, Hyundai incorporated a lesser torque output capable, late intake valve closing Atkinson cycle into the 2.4L engine that reduces pumping losses and improves overall thermodynamic efficiency.

    The net result is improved overall fuel economy thanks to the engine design and increased power and torque response due to the electric motor.

    We hope to take advantage of the Sonata Hybrid’s Atkinson cycle at somewhat steady state speeds while using a “Driving with Load” (DWL) approach.

    Electric Motor and in particular, the “Clutch” - The Sonata Hybrid is equipped with a 40 HP permanent magnet synchronous electric traction motor that produces 151 lb-ft. of torque from zero rpm. The motor is hard-coupled to the input of the transmission and completely replaces the torque converter. A multi-disc clutch pack sits within the inner circumference of the traction motor and is used to de-couple the motor from the 2.4L I4 for idle stop and up to 62 mph EV mode.

    A truly engine and MGSet decoupled “pure glide” can be achieved at speeds below 62 mph without dragging both the gear set and the engine at the same time! It is not the EV, it’s the glide that makes or breaks highway fuel economy and we will take advantage of this at every opportunity.

    Li-Po Battery Tech - While a Charge Sustaining mode Hybrid like the Sonata would not gain much fuel economy using any number of the latest battery chemistries and cell designs, it does receive an increase thanks to the Li-Po designs lower weight by comparison to today’s standard NiMH designs. In addition, the LG Chem based Li-Po chemistry is said to improve longevity over other Li-Ion battery chemistries we will see over the next few years.

    Aero - The Sonata Hybrid features a unique exterior that includes a combination of a re-shaped front and rear fascias with a deeper air dam, extended rocker panels and lower drag wheels. The drag coefficient for the Sonata Hybrid is stated at an exceptionally low 0.25 which compares favorably to the 2011 Prius with the same.

    In addition to a great aerodynamics package in a modern day aesthetically pleasing exterior, the Sonata Hybrid is equipped with low Rolling Resistance Coefficient (RRc) tires.

    Let us hope all of the features the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid provides are enough.

    2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Transcontinental Challenge Miscellaneous

    Given the maximum range and fuel economy nature of this drive, I made a special request of Hyundai that they do a fresh alignment of all four wheels. While this is not normally granted by a manufacturer for a vehicle in their respective Press Fleets, because of the testing (“flogging” would be a better term) that some of the other media outlets may have driven the Sonata Hybrid like, Hyundai agreed.

    2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Alignment – Before and After

    All alignment destroying hard driving by previous journalists has been erased.​

    In addition, I am packing a 2-gallon fuel container so when she does hit fuel starve alongside the Intestate in Texas somewhere, I will have the ability to add a documented amount of fuel and drive to the next upcoming gas station in order to discover just how much that Sonata Hybrid actually holds. And I hope it is a wee bit more than just 17.2 gallons.

    A CleanMPG “Maximum” road trip is not a trip without a number of cans of Pepsi stowed in various hidden and not so hidden locations inside the car. We will find out just how many 12 oz. cans the Sonata Hybrid can hold in slightly less than 24-hours from now ;)

    December 25th launch? I wanted to get out of Southern California with the least amount of traffic and that day seemed as good as any other? The wife is not too happy but sometimes you just have to say, “Just do it”!

    Loose Itinerary and Latest Weather Conditions (Day/Night)

    Saturday Dec. 25th:

    San Diego, CA – Start – Partly Cloudy/Showers - Hi/Lo 65/55 with Winds from the S/S @7/8 mph
    Yuma, AZ – 150 miles out – Mostly Sunny/Partly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 72/51 with Winds from the NE/E @6/2 mph

    Sunday Dec. 26th:

    Casa Grande, AZ – 320 miles out – Partly Cloudy/Partly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 68/41 with Winds from the SE/WNW @6/3 mph
    Tucson, AZ – 400 miles out – Mostly Sunny/Partly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 72/42 with Winds from the SE/SW @10/4 mph
    Deming, NM – 615 miles out – Sunny/Overnight Low - Hi/Lo 60/27 with Winds from the E/ENE @10/6 mph
    Las Cruces, NM – 670 miles out – Mostly Sunny/Partly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 61/35 with Winds from the SSE/SW @4/2 mph

    Monday Dec. 27th:

    Carlsbad, NM – 880 miles out – Mostly Sunny/Clear - Hi/Lo 56/27 with Winds from the N/N @21/6 mph
    Lamesa, TX – 1,020 miles out – Partly Cloudy/Mostly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 56/33 with Winds from the SE/SSE @13/6 mph
    Breckenridge, TX – 1,200 miles out – Rain/ Partly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 43/29 with Winds from the N/NNW @13/11 mph

    Tuesday Dec. 28th:

    Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX – 1,320 miles out – Cloudy/Showers - Hi/Lo 55/47 with Winds from the SSE/SSE @10/7 mph
    Longview, TX – 1,465 miles out – Cloudy/Showers - Hi/Lo 57/45 with Winds from the SSE/SSE @8/6 mph
    Shreveport, LA – 1,530 miles out – Mostly Cloudy/Showers - Hi/Lo 53/42 with Winds from the SSE/SSE @8/5 mph

    Wednesday, Dec. 29th:

    Monroe, LA – 1,630 miles out – Showers/Showers - Hi/Lo 66/48 with Winds from the SE/SSE @10/6 mph
    Jackson, MS – 1,750 miles out – Few Showers/Showers - Hi/Lo 63/47 with Winds from the SSE/SSE @10/9 mph
    Meridian, MS – 1,840 miles out – Partly Cloudy/Showers - Hi/Lo 60/44 with Winds from the SSE/SSE @9/6 mph
    Selma, AL – 1,945 miles out – Partly Cloudy/Showers - Hi/Lo 57/41 with Winds from the SSE/SE @6/5 mph
    Montgomery, AL – 2,000 miles out – Partly Cloudy/Showers - Hi/Lo 56/41 with Winds from the S/SE @6/4 mph

    Thursday, Dec. 30th:

    Eufaula, AL – 2,080 miles out – Showers/Showers - Hi/Lo 66/44 with Winds from the SE/SSE @9/5 mph
    Albany, GA – 2,150 miles out – Scattered Showers/Scattered Showers - Hi/Lo 67/44 with Winds from the SSE/SSE @9/4 mph
    Waycross, GA – 2,265 miles out – Partly Cloudy/Partly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 69/42 with Winds from the SSE/SSE @7/2 mph
    Brunswick, GA – 2,320 miles out – Mostly Sunny/Partly Cloudy - Hi/Lo 68/44 with Winds from the SSE/S @8/2 mph

    As of this write-up read from the most up to date forecasts as shown above, there is not a single day of optimal conditions so it is going to be a heck of a battle.

    Other gear: My 0 degree sleeping bag just in case, a week and a half worth of clothes, some minor tools and emergency gear, Rain-X the windows, a GPS, portable Verizon Internet solution for updates on the road and of course some sun glasses…

    Once I reach Brunswick, the Sonata heads back up to Ann Arbor, MI where we will have to say good bye :ccry:

    Elwood Blues would have probably said the following if he were in my shoes:
    Wish us luck as we learn about the Hyundai Sonata’s maximums in a no holds barred blast across the country in “challenging” conditions.

  2. fusion210

    fusion210 Well-Known Member

    I can't wait to see the results of this one. Good luck!
  3. rossbro

    rossbro Well-Known Member

    Make sure you record your speeds ,please.
  4. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    It sounds like a great challenge and adventure. I met my wife in Brunswick, & her family still lives there, so we make that trip about every other year. I spent every other weekend on Jekyll Island during the 2 years I lived there, & could keep you entertained the whole trip with Alligator stories ;).
  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Rossbro:

    I can guarantee they will be between -3 mph in reverse and no more than the PSL on the high end... Maybe a wee bit more when coming down out of the mountains ;)

  6. atlaw4u

    atlaw4u Well-Known Member

    I will keep my fingers crossed for you.
  7. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

  8. Kacey Green

    Kacey Green Well-Known Member

    It'd be curious to see you use reverse on one of the stretches, I know this is for the parking-lots and such, but on first read, that's what came to mind.
  9. bestmapman

    bestmapman Fighting untruth and misinformation

    Good luck Wayne. Let me know if you need any help.
  10. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    First hiccup occurred at 06:30 AM this morning when I got bumped from my 07:00 AM flight! They have me on another that leaves Milwaukee at 05:15 PM so I will not get into San Diego until way after midnight :mad:

    Oh boy is this going to mess with trying to beat the next weather front coming into Southern Ca. at this very moment :(

    Jud, now that I ahve a few hours, can you make one of those elevation maps you are so good at for this drive?


    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    Since I am now 12-hours behind and will probably be landing smack dab in the middle of the next low pressure front and rain, I might find a place to stay in southern CA and launch out of San Diego tomorrow morning instead??? It appears the rain will let up by about 06:00 AM. Between 09:00 and 11:00, it should be partly sunny and I will have a forecasted decent weather and even a light tail wind for the first 400 or so miles as I catch up or at least follow the front while on our way East. Who would have thought that this setback could turn out to be the first break in our favor after all?

    I have some more last minute weather studies to complete thanks to this morning’s debacle but it appears promising?

    On the bright side, my son pulled a 25.8 mpg segment over the last 8-miles after I refueled the MDX. He was actually at 29.8 mpg before the 125’ climb heading towards home off of Route 41.

  12. Rokeby

    Rokeby Gen II Prianista



    Would you take a stab at what you think your typical MPH will be.

    I'm not asking for the overall average, but what you expect you'll be
    doing rolling down the highway...

    On second thought, given how long you estimate you'll be on the road,
    will you be traveling on "blue roads" to take advantage of lower PSLs?
  13. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    This article is a wonderful xmas gift, thank you Wayne and good luck!
  14. jkp1187

    jkp1187 Well-Known Member

    Good luck Wayne - I'll bet this is going to be a nailbiter!
  15. vickh

    vickh Member

    hi wayne

    any chance you'll be stopping in tucson or phx dealerships along the way? i'd love to see the car!!

    any idea when they'll 'really' be available for sale? bummed out about missing the tax credit and considering the altima hybrid as well...
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  16. owlmaster08

    owlmaster08 Well-Known Member

    Best of luck, Wayne!
  17. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Rokeby:

    The Sonata Hybrid will be on I-8 to Casa Grande, I-10 to El Paso where it will traverse onto the secondary highways into Dallas. Then its I-20 all the way to Montgomery, AL and State routes across the rest of AL and GA to finish off the drive.

    I left a link to the map detail underneath the map pic in the original post (OP). Probably 55 +/- on the mains while DWL and evoking ICE -Off glides wherever they can be completed. 50 + on the secondary’s if they are 55 mph PSL’s and nobody is behind.

    The road speed problem is exacerbated by pics and uploads every two to four hours which will decimate my total time but I am driving to meet the challenge goals in the safest manner possible. There are still only a few Sonata Hybrids within the Hyundai fleet and I do not want to be responsible for breaking one of their pride and joys.

    I am only guessing but IIRC, Chris said the standard 11 Sonata AT’s TC locks up at 45 mph so everything may have to occur above that speed. And while the Hybrid does not incorporate a TC, it still has a lock up but I do not remember its particular RPM’s where any particular magic happens.

    This is all just speculation until I get behind the wheel for the LA to San Diego drive before the Sonata is topped off for the real test :)

    Herm, thanks! I tried to get a passenger but the time of year was a bit tough for that wish on my end.

    Jkp, this one feels similar to the CBS News drive a few years back. I had just discovered SHM and made it with 1.1 gallon to spare. This one allows me more time but the conditions are tough and I have a lot less familiarization time behind the wheel. Thousands of miles less familiarization time to be exact. I am viewing some points along the route with the new schedule at 25 degrees F and we all know what that is going to do to the run :rolleyes:

    Vick, I am not sure what time I will be coming through Tucson just yet but I PM’ed my cell number. If the time is convenient for you, I have no problem stopping at any truck stop, oasis or off-ramp to a short hop eatery to say hello!

    Thanks Owlmaster!

    I see Sean has added the linked banner to the home page and forums so we are again all set to go for the second round of transport to LA and then San Diego.

    I will be back on the road to Milwaukee in an hour or so and will be staying somewhere between LA and San Diego tonight.

  18. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    The hybrid has no TC, but the gearing on the 6AT keeps the car out of 6th gear below 45mph, according to what I'm reading from owners. The hybrid may be different because it can use electric assist to keep overdrive engaged at lower speeds. But based on prior drives, it appears that early builds of the Sonata hybrid prize battery charge over offering assist, and so I don't see them setting the car up to hang onto top gear down to 40mph.
  19. Rokeby

    Rokeby Gen II Prianista


    Will you be using a ScanGauge or other after-market gauging to assist in you
    getting up on the learning curve for what's happening under the hood?

    Even if you are, it's probably too early for the codes to have been determined
    for hybrid and HV battery metrics.

    I'm really interested in how thw young upstart Sonata stacks up against the
    gold-standard Prius Gen III in the hands of a Master. I suspect that folks may
    be sweating a little in Toyotatown. :p

    Drive on... :woot:

    Be careful out there.

    Best of luck.
  20. bestmapman

    bestmapman Fighting untruth and misinformation

    Here is the terrain for the legs.

    Leg 1

    Leg 2

    Leg 3

    This leg is not working, I will try to get it up later.

    Leg 4

    Leg 5

    Leg 6

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