Hyundai Motor America kicks off the ad blitz for its first hybrid model, the 2011 Sonata Hybrid, on CBS’ national television broadcast of the Sun Bowl Dec. 31. As name sponsor of the college football invitational, the automaker has eight, 30-second commercials and exposure on sunbowl.org.

The first Sonata Hybrid commercial, dubbed “Anachronistic City,” admits that Hyundai wasn’t the first to market, but portrays the hybrid, mid-size sedan as a more sophisticated evolution of the technology in a more appealing package. The ad shows a variety of early machines that were technological wonders of their day, including high-wheel bicycles, black-and-white televisions, first-generation cell phones and silent movies.

“Sonata capitalizes on the learnings of hybrid models that have come before it and advances the technology so that it’s practical and affordable for a broader consumer audience- not just early adopters,” said Hyundai’s President-CEO John Krafcik.

Sonata Hybrid goes on sale in January. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the base model is $26,545 with $31,545 for the premium model. Each price includes the $750 delivery charge.

Toyota, which sells the nation’s most popular hybrid, the Prius, increased prices by about $250 for the 2011 model year, translating to MSRPs of between $23,050 and $29,080, including the $760 delivery fee.

In addition to the hybrid, Hyundai will advertise the other Sonata power trains during the Sun Bowl – the 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection version and the 2.0-liter turbo model. The automaker’s year-end campaign featuring YouTube artists’ Pomplamoose, will also air during the Sun Bowl broadcast from El Paso, Texas.

The redesigned Sonata has been a smash for Hyundai in 2010, boosting the model’s sales to 200,000 units and helping the automaker finally reach its goal of a total of 500,000 units in a year in the U.S.- a goal since 2005. The new Sonata is one of three finalists for Car of the Year, which will be revealed in Detroit on January 10 at the opening of the 2011 North American International Auto Show. Sonata is up against the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, as determined by a panel of 49 automotive journalists.

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Jean Halliday is a seasoned journalist with the nation's longest consecutive run covering auto advertising. Her years in the trenches include stints at Automotive News, Adweek and Advertising Age. The native New Yorker now lives outside the Motor City. You can read Jean's blog at AutoAdOpolis.wordpress.com.

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