Last year, in this very space, The Car Connection's editors picked a high-powered, expensive luxury car as our favorite four-door.
This year, we're going in the opposite direction. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is our choice for Best Sedan To Buy 2021. It also won our Best Hybrid To Buy 2021, edging out the 2021 Lexus ES 300h.
We've spent plenty of time in the newest edition of the Hyundai Sonata, a car which won our inaugural Best Car To Buy 2011 award. The gas-only cars have great poise, excellent features, and good safety scores. As a group the Sonata lineup earns a TCC Rating of 7.3 out of 10.
Break out the Sonata Hybrid, and it ties the other ratings leaders this year—BMW 3-Series and Volvo S60—both of which outstrip it handily in price. The Kia K5 and Genesis G80 are within reach, though neither has complete crash-test scores to confirm an actual tie.
What none of those vehicles have for less than our $50,000 price limit is an exceptionally efficient hybrid edition that preserves the character of the car while delivering sky-high fuel economy—up to 52 mpg combined, in the case of the 2021 Sonata Hybrid Blue.
This year's Sonata Hybrid doesn't offer the plug-in variant of past generations, but what's there is tuned and tweaked to eke out gas mileage in the Prius atmosphere. Hyundai combines a 2.0-liter inline-4 with a 6-speed automatic, a 51-hp motor, and a 1.62-kwh lithium-ion battery for a combined system output of 192 horsepower. Acceleration is moderate, but the Sonata Hybrid solves other equations that have eluded other sedans and hybrids in particular: It's blessed with natural steering feel, an absorbent ride, and a capacious interior.
It's also fitted with lots of standard-feature content and luxury-car options that include a solar roof that trickles power back into the battery. Automatic emergency braking is standard, and so are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and LED headlights.
For $28,725, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Blue is one of the most efficient and affordable family sedans on the road today, and that alone might be worth our nod as the Best Sedan To Buy 2021. It's also the Best Hybrid To Buy 2021; even though it has the same rating as the Lexus ES 300h, the Sonata Hybrid costs about $15,000 less. The dramatic improvements, inside and out, only add to the luster.
Read all about the winners of The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2021 awards—and find out which vehicles took home our annual Driver’s Choice awards as well as top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.