While we can’t write any driving impressions about the new 2011 Hyundai Sonata due to an embargo that lifts Monday, we can tell you that during the vehicle’s launch our car achieved an incredible 46.8 mpg. And as impressive as that number sounds, it was still only enough to earn the team of AutoGuide.com Editor-in-Chief Colum Wood and TopSpeed.com Senior Editor Philippe Daix a bronze medal. First place went to the team of Donald Buffamanti of AutoSpies and Jaime Florez of Ruedas ESPN with a 52.8 mpg rating that would even impress a Prius.
The gold medal winners got more than just praise, however, as Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik offered to treat anyone who could beat his personal time of 47.8 mpg to a private dinner.
We’ll be the first to admit that the 46.8 mpg rating was hardly done under real world conditions. Although while Buffamanti and Florez used cruise control up hills and coasted in neutral down hills (despite engineers saying that it shouldn’t matter), we even used our air conditioning, albeit only when going down hill.
For the record, Hyundai officially rates the 2011 Sonata at 24/35 mpg (city/highway) for the manual transmission and 22/35 mpg for the automatic. To put these numbers, and our 46.8 mpg number into perspective, the Toyota Prius is rated at 51/48 mpg, while during a similar fuel economy challenge we managed 65 mpg in the Prius. And while you won’t get Prius fuel economy numbers out of a Sonata, you will get a vehicle that is so spacious its technically classified as a large sedan by the EPA, plus it delivers 198-hp!