Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hyundai steps up battle of the small-car giants

Hyundai steps up battle of the small-car giants

Published December 10, 2006
By: Jim Mateja
Chicago Tribune

You fight fire with fire or, in the case of automobiles, minis with minis.

That's what Hyundai of South Korea has done for 2007.

Now that the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa have invaded the mini car segment that the Hyundai Accent plays in, Hyundai has raised the ante with a pair of new Accents: the GS and SE two-door hatchback companions to the GLS four-door sedan.

"We welcome Toyota, Nissan and Honda to this segment and trust that consumers will see the value and quality advantage that our continuous dedication to this segment provides," said Owen Koh, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.

That's a nice way of saying Hyundai considers Toyota, Honda and Nissan carpetbaggers in a market segment the South Korean automaker has been in for years, though Toyota had been there with the Echo but dropped it and opted to focus on larger cars. It wasn't until a gallon of gas became more expensive than a bottle of designer water that the Japanese brought out new entries, or, like Toyota, came back into the segment.

Considering Toyota, Honda and Nissan typically attract more attention than Hyundai, the Korean company has a battle on its hands.

Having tested Fit, Yaris and Versa, we turned to the new Accent hatchback offered in GS and SE version. We tested the SE, which is about 2 inches longer and half an inch wider than a Honda Fit.

Nice styling touches include body-color grille, sideview mirrors and door handles along with a spoiler.

Small, yes, snug, no. But it would be wise for driver and passenger to stow their parkas in back to keep claustrophobia from setting in.

There's decent room in the back seat, providing you can get into it. It requires sliding the front seat forward and taking a really deeeeep breath.

Cargo room behind the seat is more than ample. A parcel shelf strapped to the hatchlid hides whatever is stowed beneath. Need more room? The second-row seat bottoms slip forward and lift up against the front seats and then the backs fold flat.

The cloth seats are well cushioned and supportive for the short commute or long trip. But the driver's seat is bowed like the letter "C." Unless you don't mind driving with your chin on your chest, you have to recline the back a little to snap your spine back into a natural position. It's best to also raise the headrest a tad to keep it from digging into your neck.

Keep in mind this isn't a family car. It's more of a low-cost, high-mileage commuter.

There were times when Hyundai was serving its apprenticeship in the U.S. that you could slam door or hood and listen to the metal twang and watch it shimmy. No more. Small, yes, but very solid.

The 1.6-liter, 110-horsepower 4-cylinder shows more than a little spirit taking off from the light and merging into traffic on the expressway.

Good spunk in an engine that boasts 32 m.p.g. city and 35 highway. With its 12-gallon tank, it could easily deliver a week's worth of commuting or a weekend's worth of cavorting before having to refill.

What drives people to the mini segment is gas prices, so 32/35 is a lure. Putting more time and distance between refills tends to not only lower fuel bills but also divert attention from the commotion upon acceleration.

The SE comes with a sports-tuned suspension complemented by 16-inch radials (14 inch on the GS). Good road-holding ability from a sporty little hatchback thanks to stiffer spring rates, larger stabilizer bars, larger radials and low-effort steering response versus the GS.

At higher speeds, however, the agility borders on light footed on twisty pavement, perhaps because those 16-inch radials are narrow profile.

There's also standard side-impact air bags as well as side-curtain bags. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that vehicles with the seat-mounted side bags and head-protecting curtains have 45 percent fewer fatalities in side impacts.

Though the car's small, it packs a number of storage areas, including the front center console, driver storage tray, storage pockets in the front doors and a rear storage tray. There's also the required dual cupholders and a pair of 12-volt power outlets.

The Accent SE starts at $13,915, the GS at $10,415. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows/door locks/(heated) mirrors, remote keyless entry, rear-window wiper/defroster, illuminated vanity mirrors, AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers and four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock.

The SE also comes with a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. In addition, Accent buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance at no extra cost for five years. That includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses. There's no deductible.

Only option on the test car was floor mats at $85. Missing was a power sunroof, which comes only with an audio upgrade at $1,250. If you prefer automatic, add $1,000.

Dealers also offer a number of accessories, from an MP3 player and iPod adapter to a plastic ground-effects package.

What you can't get, however, is a navigation system, not in a $13,000 hatchback aimed at attracting those on a budget.

Accent sales topped 41,000 units in the 2005 calendar year, but should fall a few thousand short of that this year, according to Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford.

"There was a lengthy strike in South Korea this summer, and we aren't getting as many Accents as dealers want," he said.

Not to mention competitors Fit, Yaris and Versa.

"Sure they are having some effect, but they also are calling more attention to the mini segment," Hosford said.

Even more when gas prices skyrocket again--and they will.

Monday, December 11, 2006

'07 Santa Fe offers safety, style, affordability

'07 Santa Fe offers safety, style, affordability

Sunday, December 10, 2006
Newhouse News Service

Hyundai did it again.

The newly revamped, 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe sport utility vehicle is so well-appointed with safety features and standard amenities and has such pleasant V6 power that it can make consumers wonder why they'd pay more for another crossover SUV.

How much more?

Well, given that the newly styled and larger Santa Fe starts at $22,795 for a base, two-wheel-drive model with automatic transmission and $23,595 for an all-wheel-drive version, any mainstream, family-size SUV over $25,000 ought to force some comparison shopping.

Granted, a Hyundai badge may not be as impressive as a Toyota. The Santa Fe isn't as expressive as a Dodge SUV, either.

The Santa Fe doesn't have a V8, like some Ford SUVs offer, and it doesn't have the kind of off-road capability of a Jeep.

But for American drivers who stay on-road or at most travel dirt roads and paths, the new Santa Fe has appealing style, a five-star, federal government safety rating and, perhaps most importantly, an attainable price.

Don't worry. The Santa Fe doesn't look cheap. Headlights remind me of Audi, and rear-end styling is reminiscent of that on a BMW X3.

For 2007, the mid-size Santa Fe also is slightly bigger than before and offers third-row seats for the first time for a maximum of seven passengers.

The base and buzzy four-cylinder engine is gone. For 2007, there's a new, top V6 with 242 horsepower and a base, 185-horsepower V6. Both have higher fuel economy ratings than the predecessor V6s.

The best mileage rating for a 2007 Santa Fe with automatic transmission and two-wheel drive is 21 miles a gallon in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway, up from 19/25 mpg for a comparable 2006 Santa Fe. This is for a two-wheel-drive model with base, 2.7-liter V6.

The best mileage rating for an all-wheel-drive, 2007 Santa Fe also is up - to 19/25 mpg. This is the same rating as a two-wheel-drive, 2007 Toyota Highlander with larger displacement V6, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

I wouldn't have been so complimentary about a Hyundai decades ago.

South Korea-based Hyundai started selling cars in the United States in the 1980s. But quality was poor, and the brand got a reputation for cheap, less-than-durable models.

Officials sought to invigorate the brand and correct things in the 1990s, culminating in a best-in-the-industry new-car warranty that the company hoped would encourage shoppers to try Hyundai again.

This warranty - with limited, bumper-to-bumper coverage for five years/60,000 miles and limited power train coverage for 10 years/100,000 miles - still comes with every new Hyundai, including the 2007 Santa Fe. So does a five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance program.

Better yet, this year's Initial Quality Study measuring complaints from car owners after three months of ownership by automotive researcher J.D. Power and Associates showed Hyundai now is third best in the industry, behind Porsche and Lexus.

But Hyundai's older models still bring down the brand in longer-term ownership issues. In Power's Dependability Study this year, which measured com- plaints after three years of ownership, Hyundai still ranked below average.

Company officials respond that as older models are replaced by newer ones, the overall dependability results will go up, too.

Certainly, the fit and finish and operation of the test, 2007 Santa Fe GLS built at Hyundai's new Montgomery, Ala., factory was laudable.

This was a base model with carpeted cargo and floor mats - a bit pricey at $90 - as the only option, so the sticker total was $22,885.

The base V6 wasn't overbearing in its power, yet it responded quickly to get the Santa Fe merging into traffic and passing others.

I just wish the four-speed automatic was a five speed, which could boost fuel economy further.

The ride was quieter than I expected. Hyundai boasts that at highway speed, the Santa Fe is quieter than Toyota's Highlander.

Many road bumps were nicely kept away from passengers. This second-generation Santa Fe has a new platform and new MacPherson strut front suspension.

But there was an occasional "grunch" sound that came from the front left wheel area when I'd pull into my driveway, and on potholed roads I sometimes wished for a tad more sophisticated suspension.

Standard tires on Santa Fes with the base engine are 16 inches in diameter. Buyers of the larger V6 get more noticeable 18-inchers.

Steering was mainstream in its feel, neither twitchy nor loose.

The Santa Fe sits up decently above the pavement. So at 5 feet 4, I had to boost myself a bit to get onto the cloth driver seat, but it wasn't a big chore. And I liked that I could see several cars ahead of me in traffic as I sat behind the wheel.

I also appreciated that even in the base Santa Fe has "active" front head restraints that help reduce whiplash injuries in a rear-end crash.

Other standard safety features are curtain airbags, side-mounted, front-seat airbags, traction control, stability control and anti-lock brakes.

But Hyundai doesn't offer, even as an option, a backup assist system to help drivers see what's behind them, and visibility is limited back there.

All Santa Fes, however, can be fitted with the optional third row for approximately $1,300.

Note that third-row leg room is more than what's in the third row of the Acura MDX, so kids and adults can sit back there.

Maximum cargo space is a competitive 78.2 cubic feet.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hyundai overcomes its past with Santa Fe GLS

Hyundai overcomes its past with Santa Fe GLS

By Nick Yost
Published December 1, 2006

The going has not always been easy for Korean manufacturer Hyundai as it struggled over the past 20 years to gain a respectable foothold in the U.S. marketplace.

When its first compact Excels arrived in the United States in 1985, eager buyers gobbled them up, only to find that when you buy something because it is cheap you generally get what you pay for.

The company's reputation for producing poor-quality cars could have doomed it in the United States, but Hyundai maintained its favorable price position, slowly improved its products and put buyers at ease with a long-term warranty.

Today, Hyundai cars, minivans and crossover vehicles are respected as viable alternatives to their counterparts produced by the long-established automotive giants. The company has U.S. production facilities and a solid customer base.

I recently spent some time with one Hyundai that might qualify as a hidden gem. It has not received the marketing push of its more expensive twin, but it could just be the right vehicle for the practical, shopper.

I'm talking about the entry-level Hyundai Santa Fe GLS, not to be confused with the look-alike Santa Fe Limited that boasts, among many other things, a sophisticated 3.3-liter, 242-horsepower V-6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, sunroof, heated leather seats and, for some, an optional rear-seat entertainment system.

The Santa Fe, first introduced in the United States in 2000, fits into the fast-growing category known variously as entry-level sport utility vehicles, compact SUVs and crossovers. It looks like a small SUV, drives much like a car, and features such customer-preferred attributes as command-view seating, room for five or more and generous space for luggage.

Redesigned for 2007, the conservatively handsome Santa Fe has grown 7 inches longer, 1 inch wider and 2 inches taller. In addition, its track has grown by 2.9 inches to give the vehicle better handling and more interior space.

You can pick up a good-looking, solidly built GLS for $20,945, plus delivery charge. Add $1,200 if, like most buyers, you prefer the four-speed automatic transmission to a five-speed manual. But don't be fooled by the price. The GLS is anything but a no-nonsense, no-frills family hauler.

Every GLS comes equipped at no extra cost with traction control, stability control, six air bags, anti-whiplash head restraints, antilock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution, independent suspension, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, a tire-pressure monitoring system, air conditioning, six-speaker sound system with CD player and MP3 capability, cruise control, power windows, heated outside power mirrors, roof rack with cross rails, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, remote locking, windshield wiper deicer and a rear window wiper and washer.

It also comes with a standard V-6 engine featuring double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and an aluminum block and heads. Its 2.7 liters of displacement produce 185 horsepower, 57 less than the bigger V-6; and 183 foot-pounds of torque, 43 less than the more muscular power plant.

I'm sure there are times when some extra oomph could come in quite handy, but I didn't encounter any in a week of travels similar to what the average family might experience.

The engine was peppy, smooth and surprisingly quiet as I easily kept up with highway traffic, dawdled in rush-hour jams and zipped by slower traffic on hilly two-lane rural roads.

The smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission, which can be operated manually, seemed ideally suited to the engine's output and it didn't need to downshift every time we came to a slight upgrade. I encountered no situation where I yearned for one more cog.

At the end of my journeys, I topped off the tank with 13 gallons of regular fuel, forked over $25.50, and calculated an average of 19 miles per gallon for the entire experience. Not bad at all for an SUV wannabe.

The Santa Fe comes with standard two-row seating. Behind the second row, 34 cubic feet of cargo space are available. Fold the split rear seatbacks forward and the cargo container grows to 78.2 cubic feet. An optional, limited-use, third-row bench is available for the first time on 2007 models. With it in place, the space for groceries, etc., drops to 10 cubic feet.

All-wheel drive is available for an extra $2,000, but the Santa Fe I drove puts the power to the road through the front wheels only. I experienced no annoying torque steer, and no resistance to a direction change (understeer) on tight, highway-speed turns.

It got me to thinking that all-wheel drive on the Santa Fe is more of a luxury than a necessity in most sections of the country.

If you combine the front-wheel drive, 8 inches of ground clearance and the traction and stability assists with a good set of snow tires, the front-wheel-drive GLS should be able to conquer all but the worst weather.

The Santa Fe is no back-road bully, but it handles a lot better than a truck-based sport-utility vehicle. The power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is nicely weighted and reasonably precise, the four-wheel antilock brakes do their job well and the independent suspension offers a comfortable ride. A driver need only to remember that lots of ground clearance means a high center of gravity, and that means taking it easy around tight turns.

Inside, the Santa Fe GLS has an unexpected upscale ambiance. The cloth upholstery has a quality feel; the dashboard and other interior trim pieces have low-gloss, soft-touch surfaces; instrumentation is easy to read; controls are easy to find and operate; and even the faux wood trim adds a touch of class.

Now, about the warranty: All Hyundais are fully guaranteed for five years or 60,000 miles and come with roadside assistance for that period. The powertrain is guaranteed for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

The GLS may be the base Santa Fe, but there is nothing base about it. Comparison shoppers will have a tough time finding a better deal, especially when they factor in the all of the standard equipment and the peace of mind that long-term warranty provides.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hyundai to Make Convertibles

Hyundai Motor will start production of its first convertibles at a plant in the Czech Republic to be completed in 2009. A senior source in the company said Monday the firm will produce a convertible mid-size sedan tentatively named FD at the Czech plant. “We are in the midst of discussion with European convertible manufacturer Webasto on the development of the model,” he added. It is the first time a Korean company is getting into mass production of convertible models since Kia Motors produced the Elan in cooperation with Lotus. Hyundai’s motive is improving its brand image. “Convertible cars are not profitable because the volume of sales is small, but they are effective in bringing the image of high-end products to foreign customers,” a Hyundai executive said. Hyundai introduced a concept convertible model of the Tiburon at the Frankfurt motor show in Germany back in 2003. Kia Motors developed the Sepia convertible model but abandoned it judging that it was not marketable enough. The FD, which targets the European market, will be a mid-size car with a 1,600-2,000 cc engine. Hyundai plans to produce the standard FD sedan at its Ulsan plant first, and then make the sedan and convertible at the Czech plant once it is finished.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Longmeadow High School Field Restoration Raffle

A Field of Dreams! The crack of the bat on a warm spring afternoon, boys in their baseball uniforms pitching and fielding balls, stealing bases, and sliding into home! parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors coming together to watch and celebrate the wins or comfort the losses. Young men learning about the importance of teamwork, discipline, commitment and sportsmanship. This, quite simply, is what baseball and kids is all about. A Field in Need The Longmeadow Diamond Club, a group of parent volunteers committed to long-term financial support of Longmeadow High School Baseball, is embarking on a major community-wide initiative to restore our own field of dreams: the Russell Field Baseball Diamond at LHS. Russell Field is well used, by the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams as well as American Legion, Mickey Mantle and adult summer leagues. Over the years, the infield has greatly deteriorated, resulting in conditions dangerous to players. The town budget funds only minimal maintenance, and the many additional hours of volunteer time and expense to groom and repair the baseball diamond before and after games is no longer enough. The Project The work has already begun this fall and the new field will be ready in time for the spring 2007 season. The infield will be completely replaced: the soil conditioned and laser-leveled, pitcher’s mound and home plate areas rebuilt, and the infield replanted with hardy Kentucky bluegrass. A comprehensive field maintenance plan will be put into place. The cost of restoration is $18,100. We have already reached a third of our goal. Will You Help Us? As a town of Longmeadow resident, baseball lover or business with an interest in the Longmeadow baseball community, we ask for your support in helping us make our dream a reality. Here is your chance to win a new 2007 Hyundai Sonata SE valued at $18,800 for just $100. Your odds are great with only 500 tickets to be sold. All proceeds will benefit the Field of Dreams Restoration Fund. Drawing date: May 26th at the Longmeadow Baseball Field. Need not be present to win. No prize substitutions. Taxes and fees are the sole responsibility of the winner. A minimum of 300 tickets must be sold or all funds will be returned. A maximum of 500 tickets will be sold. Car courtesy of Gary Rome Hyundai. To purchase a ticket, contact Bob Michael at 565-2586. For information on the car, log onto GaryRomeHyundai.com

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hyundai Accent And Azera Earn Edmunds.Com

Fountain Valley, Calif. (November 6, 2006) – Two of Hyundai’s newest additions to its entirely refreshed model lineup were honored as Edmunds.com Editors’ Most Wanted winners. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, named the 2007 Hyundai Accent the Edmunds.com Editors’ Most Wanted Sedan Under $15,000, and the 2007 Hyundai Azera the Edmunds.com Editors’ Most Wanted Sedan Under $30,000. The dual awards mark the first time that two Hyundai models have been selected to the Most Wanted list in the same year. "The Editors' Most Wanted winners provide class-leading performance, quality, style and value," said Karl Brauer, Editor-in-Chief at Edmunds.com. "These are the vehicles that our editorial team would choose to have in our own driveways." In selecting the 2007 Hyundai Accent, Edmunds.com’s editorial staff proclaimed it to be “pleasant to drive and loaded with features.” The 2007 Hyundai Azera was said to “deliver plenty of high-end features and performance…and worth a good look when shopping in this category.” “Accent and Azera represent the wide range of high quality vehicles across Hyundai’s revamped model lineup,” said John Krafcik, vice president, Strategic Planning and Product Development, Hyundai Motor America. “It’s fitting that these two vehicles would win the Edmunds.com Editors’ Most Wanted honor in the same year, demonstrating the strength of our lineup from top to bottom.”

New Hyundai Santa Fe SUV brings everything together

The Santa Fe is most endearing not for fancy features or a peppy engine or eye-catching looks — it has those — but for the way everything comes together smoothly. The main test vehicle, a $26,000 high-end Limited with front-wheel drive, grew in esteem daily as it proved ever-easier to drive, ever-more convenient, increasingly impressive for its quiet interior. A short drive in a $30,000 Limited with all-wheel drive did nothing to erode the positive impression.

What stood out during the test drive:

• Styling. Though it looks like a previous-generation Toyota RAV4 on steroids, or something distantly related to the Subaru Tribeca, the overall effect is handsome, if less than crisply original. Quite a few motorists in pricey vehicles did the ol' swivel-head stare as the Santa Fe toodled by.

Best part: The stylish appearance doesn't impose stupid compromises, such as reduced visibility because some design guy thought the back window looked better smaller.

• Powertrain. The optional 3.3-liter V-6 is punchy around town but begins to sag a bit at fast engine speed, as when accelerating flat-out. That's a minor quibble and will go unnoticed by many, perhaps most, owners.

The five-speed automatic that's standard with the 3.3-liter engine shifts crisply most of the time.

The 2.7-liter V-6 that comes with the base model, GLS, wasn't tested. A five-speed manual is standard with that engine; a four-speed automatic is optional.

• Interior. Santa Fe is another of the growing number of smallish SUVs that boast a third-row seat, well-advised or not. As expected, it's a tight fit for adults and should be considered a kids-only area. The third row has limited headroom. And when it's up, it's frighteningly close to the back glass and tailgate.

There are no safety standards governing injury to third-row passengers in a rear-end crash, so you're gambling on the good faith and sound engineering of the car companies when you choose a three-row SUV of modest size. Rear-end crashes aren't common but often are severe, as when a drunk or distracted driver slams you from behind at a stoplight without slowing.

The second row is wide enough for three-across child-seat hooks (the so-called Latch connectors) but is tight on knee room when the front seat is pushed back to accommodate a tall adult. The second row reclines for comfort, something you don't necessarily get in bigger, higher-price SUVs.

The seats, upholstered in leather in the test trucks, were firm to the point of rigid. Some will find them uncomfortably hard. Others will like their robust support. The leather is quite attractive, comfort aside.

The trim in the Limited test vehicles was good-looking, partly owing to the restrained use of fake wood. No phony lumber at all would be better, but if you gotta have some, Hyundai's figured out about how much to have and where to put it.

The higher-price test vehicle was the one that had a third row. Getting to it should have been a cinch because of the simple second-row folding and tipping mechanism on the passenger's side, and the relatively generous aisle it opens to the far-back seat. But the latches on the second row were stiff and hard to work.

• Details. The conventionally operating tailgate swings up, which is easier and more convenient than some rivals' side-swinging gates. The raised gate also provides some protection in bad weather that a side-opening gate can't. Hyundai says it didn't move the handle to the middle because there was no need to, and it's a nice carryover link to the previous model, which also had the handle on the right even though the gate opened upwards and not to the side. Fine, unless you're left-handed and that right-side handle forces you into an awkward reach.

No hooks for grocery and shopping bags. Seems inexcusable in an SUV.

Annoying display on the XM radio. It showed the artist and title only at the beginning of each new song, then reverted to telling you the channel name and number. That's the least-useful info, and Hyundai says you can't reprogram the display. You can display the artist and title briefly by pushing a button, but who needs that distraction when driving?

There's very useful space under the cargo floor if you don't get the third-row seat. It lets you hide valuables and even stash a head restraint or two that you'd remove from the second row for tighter fit of a child seat.

The small-to-midsize SUV market will tyrannize you with its overwhelming number of choices.

The '07 Santa Fe adds to that, another nice SUV of reasonable size, good looks, sufficient power and adequate convenience.

Maybe the rise in car purchases is coming from SUV shoppers who can't decide, throw up their hands and buy a sedan.

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

What is it? Remake of the brand's popular small, four-door utility vehicle, available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). Larger, more powerful than its predecessor. Manufactured at Montgomery, Ala., but South Korean parts make up 65% of the vehicle's value. Hyundai says it is beginning to build more components in the USA, and the level of U.S. components will grow.

How soon? On sale since June.

How much? Base GLS FWD starts at $21,595, including $650 destination charge. GLS 4WD starts at $23,595. Limited 4WD with all factory options is $33,650. Expect to pay close to full window sticker price, online car-shopping sites say.

Who'll buy? Median age, 45; median annual household income, $70,000; 80% are married; 56% are college grads; 55% are women, Hyundai says.

How many? 90,000 a year, Hyundai forecasts.

What's the drivetrain? Standard: 2.7-liter V-6 rated 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 183 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode; traction-control system.

Optional: 3.3-liter V-6 rated 242 hp at 6,000 rpm, 226 lbs-ft. at 4,500 rpm; five-speed automatic with manual-shift mode; traction control. 4WD system is in FWD until wheels spin, then sends up to 50% of power to the rear. Can be locked into 4WD via dashboard switch, ensuring power at front and rear for challenging conditions.

What's the safety gear? Expected bags and belts, plus anti-lock brakes, stability-control system, front-seat-mounted side-impact air bags, head-curtain bags.

What's the rest? Standard features include air conditioning; power steering, brakes, windows, locks, mirrors; AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible stereo (but lacks jack for auxiliary MP3 device); rear-window and mirror defrosters; rear wiper; remote-control locks; cruise control.

What's the warranty? Bumper-to-bumper: five years/60,000 miles. Powertrain: 10 years/100,000 miles. Free roadside assistance: five years/unlimited miles.

How big? Slightly bigger than a Toyota RAV4. Santa Fe is 184.1 inches long, 74.4 inches wide, 67.9 inches tall on a 106.3-inch wheelbase.

Cargo space is listed as 10 cubic feet behind optional third-row seat, 34.2 cubic feet behind second row when third row is folded, 78.2 cubic feet when second and third rows are folded.

Passenger space is listed as 108.3 cubic feet without third row, 142.3 cubic feet with third row.

Weight ranges from 3,727 to 4,121 pounds, depending on model and equipment. Turning circle diameter is listed as 35.8 feet, curb-to-curb. Rated to carry 1,269 pounds of people, cargo and accessories. Rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

How thirsty? 2.7-liter V-6 FWD is rated 20 miles per gallon in town, 25 on the highway, 22 in combined driving with manual transmission, 21/26/23 with automatic.

2.7-liter 4WD is rated 19/25/21 with automatic, 20/25/22 with manual.

3.3-liter V-6 is rated 19/24/21 with FWD or 4WD.

Regular-grade gasoline (87 octane) is specified. Tank is 19.8 gallons.

Trip computer in test vehicle — Limited 3.3-liter, FWD — showed 16.2 mpg in 120 miles of suburban driving.

Overall: A charming smoothie that needs a fuel-economy boost.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New 2007 Hyundai Elantra Pricing Announced

New 2007 Hyundai Elantra Pricing Announced

Offers New Levels of Safety, Interior Space, Content and Unbeatable Value

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 9 -- Hyundai Motor America has announced pricing for the all-new 2007 Elantra. Arriving at dealerships this month with a new lower starting price of $13,995 (including freight charges), Elantra brings more refinement, safety and class-leading interior space to the compact car segment.
2007 Hyundai Elantra Manufacturer Suggested Retail Pricing
Elantra GLS2.0L CVVT5-Speed M/T$13,395
Elantra GLS2.0L CVVT4-Speed A/T$14,395
Elantra GLS2.0L CVVT PZEV*4-Speed A/T$14,395
Elantra SE2.0L CVVT5-Speed M/T$15,695
Elantra SE2.0L CVVT4-Speed A/T$16,695
Elantra SE2.0L CVVT PZEV*4-Speed A/T$16,695
Elantra Limited2.0L CVVT5-Speed M/T$16,695
Elantra Limited2.0L CVVT4-Speed A/T$17,695
Elantra Limited2.0L CVVT PZEV*4-Speed A/T$17,695
Plus $600 freight charge
* PZEV models available only in CA, NY, MA, VT and ME
2007 Hyundai Elantra
The Elantra GLS A/T with Preferred Package, the heart of the new Elantra lineup, offers equipment not available in a comparable Toyota Corolla LE -- fully independent suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes, active front head restraints, iPod auxiliary input jack, and fog lights -- all at a price that is $1,585 under the Corolla. "The all-new Elantra delivers more interior space than Civic or Corolla -- even more space than Acura TL -- and a level of ride and handling refinement that's both agile and comfortable," said John Krafcik, vice president, Product Development and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "Add in great standard safety features like six airbags, anti-lock brakes and active front head restraints and our assertive new design, and it's clear that Elantra offers unbeatable value"


  • Roof mounted side curtain airbags
  • ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution
  • 4-wheel disc brakes
  • Active front head restraints
  • Adjustable head restraints for all seating positions
  • Rear center armrest with cupholders
  • Trunk open feature on keyless entry
  • Motor driven power steering
  • Increased storage (dash storage, console storage and purse hook)
All Elantra models are equipped with unsurpassed standard safety technologies, including a total of six airbags, active front head restraints, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and 4-wheel disc brakes. Side-impact airbags are expensive options on competitors such as Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus, and are not available on the Chevrolet Cobalt. Side curtain air protection is optional on Corolla and Cobalt and still not available on Focus. Four-wheel disc brakes are a key leadership feature for the segment, as traditional rear drum brakes are still found on the 2007 Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cobalt.
2007 Hyundai Elantra

Elantra is available in three distinctive trim levels -- GLS, SE and Limited.

Elantra GLS -- The Perfect Compact Car

In keeping with Hyundai's high-value approach to standard equipment, the Elantra GLS has a remarkable array of desirable features. The Elantra delivers standard safety technologies unsurpassed in its segment, with six airbags, ABS with EBD, 4-wheel disc brakes, active front head restraints, and adjustable head restraints for all seating positions. A partial list of other standard features includes: power windows, power heated mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry with alarm and trunk open, rear center armrest with cupholders, variable intermittent windshield wipers, multiple storage areas, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback, tachometer, tinted windows, two 12-V outlets and tilt steering wheel. The Preferred Package includes air conditioning, 172-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with tweeters and auxiliary input jack, windshield shade band, fog lights, cruise control and dual front illuminated vanity mirrors. A power sunroof can also be ordered with the Preferred Package.

Elantra SE -- Adding A Sporty Flavor

The sport-oriented SE adds all the equipment in the GLS Preferred Package plus a telescoping leather steering wheel with audio controls that features seek, volume, and mode functions, leather shift knob, 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55HR16 tires, and trip computer. The only option is a Premium Package that includes power sunroof and heated front seats. In addition to the available gray and beige two-tone, the SE is also available in a sporty and exclusive monotone black interior.

Elantra Limited -- Luxury Meets Value

The Limited trim takes the Elantra upscale with leather seating surfaces, leather door panel inserts, leather armrest and heated front seats. On the outside, Limited comes standard with chrome rear garnish and Limited badging. A Sun and Sound package is available that combines a power sunroof and a 220-watt premium audio system featuring AM/FM/6-CD changer/MP3 with auxiliary input jack and an external amplifier.


The all-new Hyundai Elantra lineup is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty(TM). Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. In addition, Elantra buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance coverage at no extra charge for five years (no mileage limit), which includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses. There is no deductible on any of these coverages. Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 725 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.
2007 Hyundai Elantra

2007 Hyundai Elantra – Technical Specifications

5-speed manual28 mpg36 mpg
4-speed automatic28 mpg36 mpg
Gear ratios
5-speed manual4-speed automatic
Final drive4.19:13.85:1
TypeDOHC CVVT (Continuously Variable Valve Timing)
MaterialsCast iron block/aluminum cylinder heads
Bore x stroke82.0 x 93.5 mm
Displacement2.0 liters / 1,975 cc
Compression Ratio10.1:1
Horsepower138 @ 6,000 rpm (ULEV)
132 @ 6,000 rpm (SULEV)
Torque136 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm (ULEV)
133 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm (SULEV)
Valves per cylinder4
FrontIndependent, MacPherson struts with coil springs, gas shock absorbers and 23 mm stabilizer bar
RearIndependent, multi-link, gas shock absorbers and 17 mm stabilizer bar
Front10.8-inch ventilated disc
Rear10.3-inch solid disc
ABS4-channel, 4-sensor with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
TiresGLS: P195/65T15, compact spare
SE & LIMITED: P205/55HR16, compact spare
WheelsSE: 15-inch steel wheel with full wheel cover
Limited: 16-inch 5-spoke alloy, Euroflange (Std. SE & Limited)
TypePower-assisted rack-and-pinion, motor driven
Overall ratio15.37:1
Turns3.13 (lock to lock)
Turning circle33.9 feet (curb to curb)
EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS (in inches unless otherwise noted)
Overall length177.4
Overall width 69.9
Overall height58.3
Track, front / rear(15-in. wheel) 60.7 / 60.7
(16-in. wheel) 60.2 / 60.1
Minimum Ground Clearance149 mm / 5.9
Head room
Leg room
Shoulder room
Hip room
EPA Volume (cubic feet)
Passenger Volume97.9
Total Interior Volume112.1
Cargo (trunk)14.2
Fuel14.0 gallons
Oil4.2 quarts
Coolant 7.0 quarts
Towing (w/ trailer brakes)1,500 pounds
Towing (w/ out trailer brakes)750 pounds
5-speed manual2,723 to 2,751 pounds
4-speed automatic2,747 to 2,895 pounds

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hyundai Azera and Tucson Names Best-in-Segment in Strategic Vision 2006 Total Value Awards

Hyundai Azera and Tucson Names Best-in-Segment in Strategic Vision 2006 Total Value Awards

Fountain Valley, Calif. (October 10, 2006) - The Hyundai Azera and Hyundai Tucson were each named winners in the Strategic Vision 2006 Total Value Awards. Survey results placed the Azera atop the large car segment, and Tucson in a tie (with the Saturn Vue) for the top spot in the small sport utility vehicle segment. The Strategic Vision poll surveyed more than 64,000 new vehicle buyers after 90 days of ownership. Results from this information spotlight vehicles that give drivers the best economic value paired with the highest emotional satisfaction.
Consumers were asked an array of questions about their ownership experience including buying, owning and driving their new vehicles, as well as questions about their economic expectations of the car. The Hyundai Azera and Tucson outclassed competitor vehicles with a combination of distinct styling, outstanding safety features, and the Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty". "We are proud that the Azera and Tucson lead their segments in balancing economic value with emotional satisfaction," said John Krafcik, vice president of Product Development and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "It's quite a feat to provide consumers with the best of both worlds, and the Hyundai model lineup offers the right mix of comfort and convenience features, paired with standard safety technologies and unbeatable value, to appeal to consumers on both an emotional and economic level." Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through 725 dealerships nationwide.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

2007 Hyundai Elantra: Preview

2007 Hyundai Elantra Preview

Attractive value for less than $14,000 by Thom Blackett Oh, those Hyundai guys, they can be clever buggers. During the official launch of the 2007 Elantra at the 2006 New York International Auto Show, Hyundai’s vice president of product development, John Krafcik, boasted that his company’s updated sedan outclassed benchmarks like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. In terms of quality and features, that may or may not prove to be the case, but more literally, the 2007 Elantra has grown to become an EPA-rated midsize car, technically out-classing the compact Honda and Toyota. Nice play on words, Mr. Krafcik. Besides being bigger, the redesigned Elantra greets the 2007 model year with an all-new look, from the sleek new body to the revised interior, a more efficient four-cylinder engine, a bevy of safety features like standard side and side-curtain airbags, and a base GLS model that is said to sticker at less than $14,000. Couple all of that with Hyundai’s excellent warranty, and it’s easy to see why this little ride needed to stretch a bit. Unfortunately, the issue of gas prices and fuel economy continues to be relevant, leading more buyers to look at smaller cars to do more of everything – they’ve got to offer comfort, acceptable performance, utility, lots of desirable features, and good looks. Hyundai aims to please on all fronts with the 2007 Elantra, a ride accented by a stylish new design, a cabin that qualifies it as a midsize sedan, a long list of standard items included in the GLS’s sub $14,000 base price, and a competent powertrain that promises improved fuel economy over the outgoing model. The Elantra is Hyundai’s best-selling model, recently surpassing one million sales since being introduced in the U.S., and the changes for 2007 will help it charge on to the two-million mark. Due to its larger size, the 2007 Hyundai Elantra is classified by the EPA as a midsize sedan, putting it in the unenviable position of competing with cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. However, due to its low price and dimensions more in line with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, this popular Korean nameplate will continue to do battle with compact rides. And that’s a good thing, since its 2.0-liter engine would get smoked by true midsize rivals. The Elantra’s 16-valve four-cylinder engine, featuring continuously variable valve timing, puts out 138 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 136 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,600 rpm with an ultra low emissions vehicle (ULEV) rating; the so-called Green States, such as Maine and Vermont, get a super ultra low emissions (SULEV) rating that drops horsepower to 132 and torque to 133 lb.-ft. A partial zero emissions (PZEV) rating is expected for California. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Under the new skin is fully independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, a power rack-and-pinion steering system, and a four-wheel antilock disc brake setup with electronic brake force distribution. Three versions of the 2007 Hyundai Elantra are available: GLS, SE, and Limited. Though it’s the bottom-rung player, the GLS comes well equipped with items like front-side and side-curtain airbags, front active headrests, antilock disc brakes, power windows, a tilt steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and a 60/40 folding rear bench seat. For a bit more coin, options such as a 172-watt sound system, air conditioning, a power sunroof, and a Sport Package can be added. Poised in the middle of the lineup is the SE, which ups the standard content list with fog lights, heated mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55 tires, remote entry, a leather steering wheel, the 172-watt radio with steering wheel controls, cruise control, and a power mirrors and power door locks. The Limited trim gets standard leather upholstery and heated front seats, with unique options like a 220-watt sound system with an MP3 player and six-disc CD changer. Hyundai continues to impress with capable, stylish products that often offer an unexpected level of refinement, especially given their price points. And, of course, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty only serves to sweeten the pot.

There’s still room for improvement, and those stylish looks are sometimes too heavily influenced by the brand’s competitors, but there’s no arguing with the company’s recent success. The 2007 Elantra should only bolster the Hyundai’s already good fortunes with its attractive design, upgraded interior, focus on safety, and overall bang for the buck. Official pricing has not been released, though company officials claim that the base GLS will sell for less than $14,000. Models will go on sale during the latter half of 2006. Source: autosite.com

Friday, August 25, 2006

Winning Respect

WINNING RESPECT The Sonata Makes Driving A Sweet Song By Joe Kovach, Autoweek Magazine August 28, 2006 Issue In the first quarter of its yearlong stay, the Hyundai Sonata persevered with only backhanded compliments such as, "It's a nice car for the money. In the second quarter it won us over. One staffer said, "Not only does the interior have leather seats, butt-warmers and nice trim, the outside looks good, too. I wouldn't be ashamed to drive it all the time." Indeed. You can sense a pleasantly surprised mood in the logbook. Resembling a '70s/'80s Toyota (practical, bullet-proof and economical), no mechanical problems befell the Sonata in the 6812 miles we've put on the odometer. And we registered no major complaints about one of the cheapest vehicles in our fleet. Sonata is even better looking than most Toyotas of 30 years ago. "This Sonata is more than I expected," an editor wrote. "It's a handsome package, with near-Accord looks in a clean and unassuming wrapper that doesn't scream 'Look at me,' but is in no way ugly. Inside the fits and materials are excellent, the comfort good, the controls laid out well (except for maybe the steering wheel controls mounted too low on the wheel). The doors close with a solid thunk and everything feels well-built." We noted fuel mileage is lower than the EPA's 24.5 rating based on 20/30 mpg (city/highway). One theory is the fine 3.3-liter V6 tempts us with its 226 lb-ft at 3500 rpm, leading us to seek 6000 rpm, where it makes 235 hp. We have no complaints about the five-speed automatic with a Tiptronic-like auto-manual either. "The Sonata is a serious attempt at competing with Camry and Accord, and it stacks up favorably," said a staffer. "Fully loaded Camrys and Accords come in around $30,000, and that's why the Sonata is tough to beat." The managing editor says, "This is the best $23,000 car on the planet." The question at the halfway point is whether the Sonata, like a Toyota, will remain bulletproof for another six months.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gary Rome Hyundai and the Jimmy Fund

Gary Rome Hyundai is pleased to announce its support once again for the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Last year, Gary Rome Hyundai donated $10,000 to pediatric cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Through the support of New England-area Hyundai dealers, other Hyundai dealers across the country, and Hyundai Motor America, nearly $7 million total has been donated to the Jimmy Fund since 1998. Although donations, are mainly generated through vehicle sales, dealers like Gary Rome come up with innovative ways to further their support. Through Gary Rome Hyundai, contributors to the Jimmy Fund can now be a Buddy to help research pediatric cancer. In return, they'll receive their own cuddly "Buddy" in return. "Buddy" has been a popular character in TV commercials and at Gary Rome Hyundai for years. Now you can have your very own Red Sox jersey Buddy and help fund pediatric cancer research at the Jimmy Fund. A $20 donation gets you the cuddly Buddy and proceeds will go to The Jimmy Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Last year, Gary Rome Hyundai donated $10,000 to the Jimmy Fund. To get your own Red Sox jersey Buddy and help strike out cancer, visit our store at 1000 Main St. in Holyoke Massachusetts or order online at http://www.hyundaiaccessorystore.com/Jimmy_Fund_Buddy.html today. Supplies are limited. For more information about Gary Rome Hyundai's support of pediatric cancer research, and Hyundai products, please visit our website at http://www.garyromehyundai.com.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

2007 Hyundai Elantra: Preview

2007 Hyundai Elantra: Preview By MALCOMM GUNN, Wheelbase Communications You might have taken the Elantra for granted in the past, but Hyundai challenges anyone to ignore its mighty marvel this time around. For 2007, this increasingly popular economy car hits the highway in a larger size and with more style and features to tempt buyers. If you haven't visited a Hyundai showroom lately, you're in for a big surprise. In the last two years, the company has completely revamped its entire lineup — seven models in total — adding the new Tucson mini-ute, Azera luxury sedan and Entourage minivan, and remaking the Santa Fe off-roader and Accent and Sonata passenger cars. The fourth-generation Elantra replaces a well-received version that was introduced in 2001, a model that managed to cut a wide swath through the North American small-car landscape. Hyundai has capitalized on this momentum and created a car that strives to out-do just about every other competitor in terms of size and features. Outside, the Elantra's packaging has been significantly altered with a more rounded front end that appears similar to that of the smaller Accent and bigger Sonata. Although not exactly head turning, the overall design carries a certain Euro-influenced style that is attractive in its own way. Thus far, the four-door sedan is the only body style available, but don't count out an eventual return of a four-door hatchback, a mainstay model of the previous Elantra. Twisting the ignition key engages a 138-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's essentially a carryover from the previous version. Note that the output in California and some northeastern states is reduced to 132 horses due to tighter emissions regulations, which traditionally have a negative impact on performance. The motor is matched to a five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. Three trim levels include the base GLS that's fitted with the bare econo-car necessities although six airbags and anti-lock brakes are included. Opting for the SE adds air conditioning, heated side mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch alloy rims and a 172-watt audio system. At the top of the range is the Limited that includes all of the SE's content as well as leather-covered seats (heated in front) and interior trim. The stand-alone option list is short and includes a power sunroof and a 220-watt sound system with a six-disc CD changer. Always standard, of course, is Hyundai's warranty, which provides five years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection and 10 years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. Vehicles such as the class leading Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are the professed targets for Hyundai and, given the Elantra's increased volume, features and safety content, the company is certainly closer. source: southcoasttoday.com

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hyundai Brand Value Rises Businessweek

Hyundai Brand Value Rises Businessweek Calls Brand “Big Winner”
--- Jumps nine positions in Best Global Brands survey by BusinessWeek/Interbrand --- Biggest increase of automakers (Seoul, Korea) Hyundai Motor Co. has emerged as one of the world’s leading brands ranking 75th overall, according to the 2006 Best Global Brands survey jointly conducted by Interbrand, a leading consultancy in branding and BusinessWeek, the New York-based global media organization. The 17 percent increase since last year in the value of the Hyundai brand earned the Korean automaker the title of fastest growing automotive brand and a place among the top five biggest gainers in brand value, causing the magazine to label Hyundai one of its “Big Winners”. Last year, in its debut appearance on the Best Global Brands list, Hyundai ranked 84th. With a brand value estimated at $4.1 billion, the power of the Hyundai brand on a global basis now surpasses several competitors. “This survey tells us what many people already know: That Hyundai is a fast-rising star,” said Hyundai’s Vice President for brand strategy, Brandon Yea. “Our brand management is supported by continuous improvement in the quality of our products,” he added. Public perceptions of the Hyundai brand have been transformed as a result of dramatic improvements in the quality of Hyundai vehicles. In turn, this has fueled a steady increase in sales and confidence in the brand among both customers and dealers. Hyundai’s pursuit of a better balance between quantitative and qualitative growth has benefited from the company’s brand management. Brand management issues now influence decision-making in styling, marketing and communications as well as at the retail and after-sales service levels.
Interbrand Ranking 2006 Result
OverallAutomotiveRankingBrandBrand Value(Billlion $)
7 1Toyota27.9
102M. Benz21.8
295Ford 11.0
Interbrand (www.interbrand.com), the leading brand consultancy and authors of the annual ranking of “The Best Global Brands” in partnership with BusinessWeek was founded in 1974. Interbrand has offices in over 30 cities in more than 20 countries around the globe and clients from among the most respected businesses. BusinessWeek is a leading global business media organization which was founded in 1929 and is published by the McGraw-Hill Companies, BusinessWeek has more than 4.7 million readers each week in 140 countries. Local language editions include Chinese, Russian, and Bahasa Indonesian. Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Co. has grown into the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group which in 2005 sold 3.7 million vehicles to ranked as the world’s sixth largest automotive manufacturer and includes over two dozen auto-related subsidiaries and affiliates. Hyundai Motor Co., employing over 68,000 people worldwide, posted US$26.1 billion in sales in 2004 (on a non-consolidated basis). Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 5000 dealerships and showrooms. Further information about Hyundai Motor Co. and its products is available at www.hyundai-motor.com

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Testimonial From Gary Rome Hyundai

Last Monday I found myself on the western side of the state on a brief vacation trip, when my ventilator system died in the 90+ degree heat. A quick call to Hyundai assistance gave me Gary Rome's address and I came in as quickly as possible. Your service staff not only took me in without an appointment but set a technician to looking at the problem immediately. An hour later, I was on my way with a new blower switch installed and an invoice for $0. I almost hesitate to name any one individual because everyone at your facility was so responsive, but the service advisor of record was Carlos Rivera. I can see why your dealership has been recognized for outstanding customer service. Thanks for the experience. Mr. Holbrook, Groton MA

Friday, August 04, 2006



Contact: Chris Hosford 714-965-3470 Cell: 714-743-8764 chosford@hmausa.com


Fountain Valley, Calif., August 2, 2006Hyundai Motor America (HMA) President and CEO, Ok Suk (Owen) Koh, today announced that Steve Wilhite has been named Chief Operating Officer for the company. Wilhite will be responsible for the company’s strategic development, sales, marketing, communications, parts and service. He will report directly to the President and CEO. “Steve’s passion for the automotive business was clear from the moment I met him and all of us at Hyundai are excited that he will be leading our sales, marketing and other operating efforts,” said Koh. “He is known for his innovative and creative marketing approaches. However, also invaluable will be both his automotive retail sales experience and non-automotive marketing background which will be an immense help in driving the growth of our brand and presence in America." “I’m thrilled with the opportunity to return to Southern California and help lead the continued development and growing success of Hyundai,” said Wilhite. “The chance to be a part of growing sales, working directly with dealers again, and capturing and expressing who and what Hyundai is becoming is a challenge I couldn’t resist.” . Wilhite joins Hyundai From Nissan Motor Company, where he was senior vice president, global marketing. Previously he served as vice president of marketing for Nissan North America. Wilhite has worked as the vice president worldwide marketing communications at Apple and as the senior marketing executive at Volkswagen of America where he led development of the “Drivers Wanted’ campaign and launch of the new Beetle. He has also served in senior management positions in the retail auto industry and began his automotive career with Ford Motor Company. Wilhite will officially join the company and assume his new assignment on August 16, 2006. He earned a master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Stanford University. He is married with one daughter and one son. Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed in the U.S. by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 725 dealers throughout the nation.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Grows up to Midsize

Hyundai's Santa Fe sport utility vehicle enters its second generation for 2007, reborn as a midsize model from its previous compact size. The growth means the Santa Fe now has room for up to seven people, and can compete in the same segment as the Toyota Highlander, Ford Freestyle and Honda Pilot. The Santa Fe, like those competitors, is one of the new breed of SUV called a crossover, thanks to its carlike unibody construction that combines the body and frame in one unit. The South Korea-based Hyundai hopes that the larger Santa Fe can take sales away from traditional truck-style SUVs such as the Ford Explorer, as well as competing against its crossover competitors. The compact Santa Fe that the new model replaces already had made a name for Hyundai. It was well-built, affordable, stylish, and easy on gas. Hyundai's 2007 Santa Fe, is about 7 inches longer than its predecessor, and features a sleeker, more aerodynamic body and a new grille. The automaker isn't abandoning the compact crossover segment, however. It also offers the Tucson, introduced for 2005, which actually is in the same segment as the previous generation of the Santa Fe; the Santa Fe was just slightly larger and better-equipped, giving it a higher price. The new Santa Fe is 184.1 inches long, about seven inches longer than its predecessor. It's also an inch wider and almost two inches taller. Its track is 2.9 inches wider, which makes it wider than the tracks of the Highlander and Explorer. Even though it is larger, the new Santa Fe starts at $21,595  $100 less than its predecessor. And it offers quite decent fuel economy for a midsize sport utility. EPA ratings are as high as 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway for the base 2.7-liter V-6 version, and up to 19 city/24 highway for the uplevel 3.3-liter V-6. That compares with 15 city/21 highway for the base Explorer. It's also quite Americanized. The Santa Fe is the first production vehicle created by Hyundai's new U.S. design center in Irvine, Calif. The center's mission, Hyundai says, was to design a vehicle "to meet American consumers' demand for safety, style, sophistication and performance." The designers and engineers aimed high, Hyundai says. The benchmark for the new Santa Fe weren't its would-be competitors such as the Highlander and Pilot; instead, it was vehicles such as the Lexus RX and Acura MDX, which are the premium versions of the Highlander and Pilot, and the Volvo XC90. The XC90, whose reputation for safety is well-established, gave Hyundai inspiration for the new Santa Fe's safety features. They include electronic stability control, anti-whiplash active head restraints, and side-curtain air bags for all three rows of seats. Although test results have not been announced yet, the Santa Fe "is expected to earn the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's top five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts," Hyundai said. The side-curtain air bags are standard on all models. Some of the Santa Fe's competitors offer this feature as an option, including the Explorer, Highlander and Toyota RAV4. Electronic stability control also is standard on all versions. This system "compares the driver's intended course with the vehicle's actual response and then brakes individual front or rear wheels and/or reduces engine power as needed" to help maintain vehicle stability in extreme or panic maneuvers to help prevent rollovers, Hyundai says. This is a feature that is appearing as standard equipment on most of the newer SUVs, and is expected to lower death rates from SUV accidents substantially. The available engines include a new 2.7-liter V-6, rated at 185 horsepower and 183 foot-pounds of torque, and the 3.3-liter V-6, with 242 horsepower and 226 foot-pounds of torque. That's an increase of 15 horsepower from the 2.7-liter engine in the 2006 model, and 42 horsepower from the 3.5-liter V-6 that was optional in the '06  with better fuel economy for the larger engine despite the huge spike in power. The 2.7-liter model comes with a standard five-speed manual transmission, with EPA ratings of 20 city/25 highway. A four-speed automatic is optional, and actually gets better fuel economy than the manual. With the 3.3-liter engine, a five-speed automatic is standard. Both of the automatics come with the Shiftronic feature, which allows the driver to shift manually (without having to use a clutch). Two-wheel drive is standard, but an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system is optional, Hyundai says this system automatically sends power to the wheels offering the best traction. The driver can activate a new center differential lock that splits power 50-50 between the front and rear axles regardless of which wheels have the best traction. This can help move the vehicle better in some off-road situations. The all-wheel-drive Santa Fe does not have low-range gearing for serious off-road driving. It is capable of limited off-road operation, however. Among exterior features are a more aggressive look that includes a new grille and headlights. The new Santa Fe has a sleeker, more aerodynamic body, with a lower coefficient of drag. That's the measure of wind resistance, and the lower the resistance, the better a vehicle's fuel economy. Although the vehicle is 2.1 inches shorter than the Lexus RX, there is more head, leg, and shoulder room in the first two rows of seats. The RX doesn't offer a third row of seating, either. "With 40 percent of all crossover and SUV customers demanding a third-row seat, this feature will significantly broaden Santa Fe's market reach and appeal," Hyundai said. The third-row seat has a 50/50 split, and can be folded flat to increase cargo space. The middle seats, with a 60/40 split, can be folded, too, creating a cargo area of 78.2 cubic feet. With the second and third rows of seats in place, though, cargo space is just 10 cubic feet. Three trim levels are offered: base GLS, midlevel SE and uplevel Limited. But the GLS even comes well-equipped, and offers more standard equipment for thousands of dollars less than a Highlander, Hyundai says. GLS models come with the 2.7-liter engine, manual transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, 112-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers, rocker panel moldings, heated power side mirrors, power windows and door locks with remote, roof rack with sliding cross rails, tire-pressure monitoring system, air conditioning and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Options include the four-speed automatic transmission and a premium package, which adds a power tilt/slide glass sunroof and heated front seats. Five-passenger seating is standard; to get the third seat, the buyer must opt for the GLS touring package. It includes a rear climate control unit. Moving up to the SE model brings the 3.3-liter engine and five-speed automatic transmission, along with 18-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, front fog lights, and steering wheel audio controls. An SE premium package adds a power driver's seat with lumbar support, a power tilt/slide glass sunroof, heated front seats and universal garage/gate opener. The optional ultimate package includes the premium package plus a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with eight-inch LCD monitor; a 252-watt AM/FM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with seven speakers and external amplifier; and a 115-volt power outlet. To get the third seat and rear air conditioning, buyers must choose the SE touring package. Top of the line is the Limited, which comes with everything found on the SE, plus leather seats, heated front seats, power driver's seat with lumbar support, dual zone automatic climate control with outside temperature display, and the universal garage/gate opener. Special exterior touches on the Limited include a chrome grille and exterior door handles, and a body-color rear spoiler. A tilt/slide glass sunroof is optional. Also optional with the Limited is the ultimate package, which brings the sunroof, rear entertainment system, a 605-watt Infinity AM/FM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with 10 speakers, 115-volt power outlet, and power front passenger seat. The Limited Touring Package adds the third row of seating and rear air conditioning The 2007 Santa Fe is arriving at Hyundai dealers now. San Antonio Express-News G. Chambers Williams III

Thursday, July 13, 2006

All-Time Sales Mark For June

More Hyundai vehicles were sold this past June than in any other month in the history of Hyundai in the U.S. Overall sales records have also been shattered for the first half this year, setting 2006 to be the best year ever for Hyundai, especially now with the new '07 models in stock. Total sales were at 44,508 units, with the Sonata tops at 11,739 units, which was a 37% increase over last year.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Safer At Every Speed

Safer at every speed Once reserved for the well-wheeled set, lifesaving innovations are trickling down to entry-level cars as automakers respond to competition and consumer demand By Royal Ford, Boston Globe Staff May 28, 2006 Americans hit the roads this first weekend of heavy summer travel aboard some of the safest vehicles ever built. And it's not because they're all driving luxury cars. Key lifesaving technology, often as standard equipment, is moving down the automotive cost chain, touching even entry-level cars. Car makers of widely affordable vehicles, particularly Honda, Hyundai, and Kia, are increasingly making critical gear such as side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and antilock brakes standard fare in cars whose base prices range from $10,000 to $25,000. Until recently, these features were available only in vehicles above $30,000 -- forcing people to buy luxury cars if they wanted safer rides. ``It's amazing what happens when automakers finally decide to deal with a problem," said David Friedman, a research director at Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists, which in 2003 designed a sport utility vehicle that incorporated many features now in use. Honda's new subcompact Fit, for instance, starts at $14,000 and comes with six airbags front to rear and standard antilock brakes (ABS). Most entry-level cars only have two front airbags. Virtually all Hyundais come with six standard airbags. Its small SUV, the Tucson, starts at less than $20,000 with the airbags and crucial electronic stability control (ESC). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated Hyundai's $25,000 2007 Entourage minivan as the safest on the market because of its full package of front, side, and three rows of curtain bags, stability control, traction control, and ABS. And its Azera sedan, also at $25,000, brings all of the above while boosting airbags to eight. Driven by competition, government testing requirements, and consumer savvy, it is a trend that will continue, predicts David Champion, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports magazine. ``You're going to see more and more safety features, in more and more cars, at cheaper and cheaper value," he said, adding that many should be made standard. Of all the new safety features, electronic stability control is the one that safety advocates and industry participants call the most revolutionary. That's because it prevents accidents, while many other advances take over after a crash. ESC uses sensors to monitor driver intent, wheel speed, slippage, forces compelling the car, and then acts on individual wheels that should be slowed or powered to force the car back to its proper path. Studies in the United States, Japan, and Europe in the past two years have shown the impressive lifesaving potential of ESC. Hyundai and Kia, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co., have made ESC standard in a broad swath of their lineup, leapfrogging even Honda and venerable Volvo, which relies largely on after-crash protection, in standard safety gear. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that equipping passenger cars with ESC cuts the risk of single-vehicle accidents 35 percent and that SUV risk would drop 67 percent. The insurance institute , a research group funded by auto insurers, estimates that if all vehicles on US roads had ESC, 800,000 accidents could be prevented and 14,000 lives spared each year. And while studies are scarce on the relatively recent addition of side-impact and side-curtain airbags, NHTSA estimates that the former could save 1,000 or more lives per year and the latter are reducing deaths by about 45 percent among drivers hit on the driver's side. For example, the institute rated the Ford Five Hundred sedan the safest only after airbags that are optional are added. Side airbags protect the torso from side-impact crashes. Curtain bags protect the head from intruding vehicles and contact with the window or door frame, and they keep limbs inside the car in cases of rollover. And, particularly in the case of SUVs, they help prevent unbelted occupants from being ejected. Indeed, analysts and those in the industry acknowledge that future federal testing standards will likely mean that side and curtain airbags will be necessary to pass the tests. Compliance and competition will drive safety, said James O' Sullivan, chief executive for Mazda North American Operations, who argued that standard safety features may become ``the price just to get into the game." Economic class has played a strong role in the safety of cars that Americans drive, according to a study by Consumer Reports . It said last fall that only 2 percent of households with incomes under $40,000 have cars with curtain airbags, while 20 percent of households with incomes above $80,000 ride with that level of protection. But wealth is only one factor. Often, the report said, even those with the money shun optional safety equipment. ``Our experience has been that when you make safety equipment optional, people don't buy it," said Chuck Thomas, a chief safety engineer for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Consumer Reports found that drivers rank CD players, cruise control, air conditioning, and power outside mirrors as more important options than ESC or curtain airbags. In fact, 9 of the top 10 choice options were for comfort, convenience, and entertainment; ABS was the only safety feature . Advocates say this is why crucial safety features should be standard. Yet many manufacturers still go for rock bottom sticker prices and offer safety as an option, and have been known to bundle safety with noncritical options before it can be bought. For instance, the 2005 Mazda3 offered ABS and additional airbags for $800, but only if consumers also spent $1,400 on special wheels, power controls, and air conditioning. Yet bad publicity over SUVs caught up with manufacturers in the late '90s, and that is where, in these expensive vehicles, many safety features first became standard as companies responded to protect a profitable segment of the market. SUV suspensions were changed from floppy single rear axles with leaf springs to independent suspension systems; frames were modified to lower the center of gravity and make the vehicles less likely to roll over; and the fronts of SUV frames were lowered so their contact point with cars does not ride up and over those cars. SUVs also got the first antirollover sensors. These moved into some luxury cars, which also got side-assist systems that warn drivers when a vehicle has moved into their mirrors' blind spots; and brakes that sense when drivers quickly remove their feet from the gas -- indicating an emergency -- and begin braking even before the driver hits the brake pedal. Yet not all of the trend comes from a heartfelt industry effort to save lives, said Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN, Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich. automotive consulting firm. ``Part of what's going to drive it is competition," said. ``Everybody's looking for a niche in an increasingly competitive market." © Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hyundai Puts More Vehicles With Standard Electronic Stability on the Road

Hyundai Puts More Vehicles With Standard Electronic Stability on the Road Than Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche or Volvo
Electronic Stability Control is Standard Safety Equipment on 70 Percent of Hyundai Vehicles, More Than Any Other Popular Brand FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., June 15 -- Hyundai continues to demonstrate its commitment to life-saving Electronic Stability Control (ESC) by making it standard on more of its sales volume than any luxury brand. Hyundai expects to sell more than 350,000 ESC-equipped vehicles in the 2007 model year -- more than Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche or Volvo. Proving that ESC does not require paying premium prices, Hyundai offers this sophisticated safety technology as standard equipment on five vehicle lines for the 2007 model year: Sonata, Tucson, Santa Fe, Entourage, and Azera -- all of which have starting prices between $18,000 and $25,000. All told, 70 percent of Hyundai sales volume in the 2007 model year will be comprised of vehicles with standard Electronic Stability Control, a higher standard fitment rate by far than that achieved by any non-luxury brand, including Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevrolet or VW. "Research universally substantiates that Electronic Stability Control is an invaluable life-saving technology, and Hyundai is proud to lead all popular automotive brands in providing it as standard equipment to our customers," said John Krafcik, vice president of product development and strategic planning, Hyundai Motor America. "Other manufacturers may talk about their commitment to this technology, but at Hyundai, we've demonstrated our commitment by making ESC standard equipment on 70 percent of our volume." A study released earlier this week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) confirmed that ESC reduces the risk of all single-vehicle crashes by more than 40 percent -- fatal crashes by 56 percent. In addition, the same research shows that ESC reduces the risk of fatal multiple-vehicle crashes by 32 percent. The IIHS data also shows that ESC reduces the risk of single-vehicle crashes by SUVs by 43 percent and cars by 33 percent, while it reduces single-vehicle rollovers by SUVs by 80 percent, 77 percent for cars. The IIHS estimates that as many as 10,000 fatal accidents could be avoided each year if all vehicles were equipped with ESC. "Rarely do we see safety effects as large as we're seeing for Electronic Stability Control," said Adrian Lund, president, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "We encourage all vehicle manufacturers to include this important technology on new models because the research proves it saves lives." Hyundai Motor America launched a new initiative in June to inform consumers of the important life-saving technology found as standard equipment on 70 percent of Hyundai vehicles. All Hyundai vehicles equipped with standard ESC will be tagged with a small window decal which reads "ESC: Life-saving technology confirmed by NHTSA and IIHS studies." This effort is intended to help raise awareness for ESC, while underlining Hyundai's dedication to providing this sophisticated technology as standard equipment on the vast majority of its models. Electronic Stability Control is just one element of Hyundai's commitment to unsurpassed safety, which includes a wide range of active safety equipment to help drivers avoid accidents, and passive equipment to protect all vehicle occupants if an accident can't be avoided. Electronic Stability Control uses sophisticated electronic and hydraulic technologies to help stabilize situations where a driver finds the vehicle veering from its appropriate path -- due to slippery surfaces, driver distraction or other causes. In a University of Michigan study released earlier this month, Electronic Stability Control reduced the chance of an SUV being in a fatal accident by 50 percent, while reducing the chance of a fatal rollover by 73 percent. For cars, the system reduced the chance of a fatal accident by 31 percent and the chance of a fatal rollover by 40 percent. Study author John Woodrooffe noted that Electronic Stability Control systems "appear to be the most significant safety advance since seat belts." Additionally, a National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study reports a 35 percent reduction in single vehicle crashes for passenger cars, and a 30 percent reduction in fatal single vehicle crashes in cars equipped with ESC. For SUVs, the numbers are even higher, with a 67 percent reduction in single vehicle crashes for SUVs and a 63 percent reduction in fatalities. Accelerating the industry's adoption rate of ESC, five Hyundai models now come with the safety technology as standard equipment. The 2005 Tucson SUV became the first Hyundai model to feature ESC as standard equipment upon its launch in fall 2004. It was also the first vehicle under $20,000 with standard ESC and six airbags. The completely redesigned 2006 Sonata mid-size sedan was the first mid-size sedan under $20,000 with standard ESC and six airbags when it launched in spring 2005. The premium Azera large sedan debuted in fall 2005 with standard ESC and eight standard airbags. This year, Hyundai's first-ever minivan, Entourage, debuted with ESC, six standard air bags, and a Gold Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety -- the highest safety rating ever awarded a minivan. And this June, Hyundai's all-new 2007 Santa Fe mid-size crossover debuts with standard ESC, six airbags, and a starting price below the outgoing model, rounding out Hyundai's suite of vehicles equipped with standard ESC, and accounting for 70 percent of 2007 model year sales volume. Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai cars and sport utility vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 700 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

Source: theautochannel.com

Electronic stability control could prevent nearly one-third of all fatal crashes and reduce rollover risk by as much as 80%; effect is found on single- and multiple-vehicle crashes

ARLINGTON, VA — An extension of antilock brake technology, electronic stability control (ESC) is designed to help drivers retain control of their vehicles during high-speed maneuvers or on slippery roads. Previous research found significant effects of ESC in reducing the risk of fatal single-vehicle crashes. Using data from an additional year of crashes and a larger set of vehicle models, researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have updated the 2004 results and found that ESC reduces the risk of fatal multiple-vehicle crashes by 32 percent. The new research confirms that ESC reduces the risk of all single-vehicle crashes by more than 40 percent — fatal ones by 56 percent. The researchers estimate that if all vehicles were equipped with ESC, as many as 10,000 fatal crashes could be avoided each year. "The findings indicate that ESC should be standard on all vehicles," says Susan Ferguson, Institute senior vice president for research. "Very few safety technologies show this kind of large effect in reducing crash deaths." Availability varies: ESC is standard on 40 percent of 2006 passenger vehicle models and optional on another 15 percent. It's standard on every 2006 Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes, and Porsche. Another 8 vehicle makes (Cadillac, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mini, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo) offer at least optional ESC on all of their models. But ESC, standard or optional, is limited to 25 percent or fewer models from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Hummer, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Saturn, Subaru, and Suzuki. After studies in 2004 by the Institute and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some manufacturers announced plans to make ESC standard on all SUVs. The percentage of SUV models with standard ESC has been growing faster than for cars. As a stand-alone option, ESC costs from about $300 to $800, but it can cost more than $2,000 on some models when packaged with other equipment. A potential problem for increasing consumer awareness is that automakers market ESC by various names including Electronic Stability Program, StabiliTrak, or Active Handling. "When ESC is optional, this hodgepodge of terms is bound to be confusing," Ferguson points out. "It's good that some of the major manufacturers have pledged to make ESC standard on their SUVs in the next few model years, and it should be standard on cars and pickup trucks too." How ESC works: Antilock brakes have speed sensors and independent braking capability. ESC adds sensors that continuously monitor how well a vehicle is responding to a driver's steering wheel input. These sensors can detect when a driver is about to lose control because the vehicle is straying from the intended line of travel — a problem that usually occurs in high-speed maneuvers or on slippery roads. In these circumstances, ESC brakes individual wheels automatically to keep the vehicle under control. When a driver makes a sudden emergency maneuver or, for example, enters a curve too fast, the vehicle may spin out of control. Then ESC's automatic braking is applied and in some cases throttle reduced to help keep the vehicle under control. ESC is relatively new. Only in the last few years have researchers had sufficient data to analyze its effects on real-world crashes. The new Institute study is based on data from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System and police reports of crashes in 10 states during 2001-04. Researchers compared crash rates for cars and SUVs without ESC and the same models in subsequent years when ESC was standard (note: some vehicles with optional ESC were included in the no-ESC group because so few buyers choose this option). More effects of ESC on SUVs: The data in the Institute's 2004 study weren't extensive enough to allow researchers to compute separate risk reduction estimates for cars and SUVs. However, this was possible in the broader analysis that's just completed. While both cars and SUVs benefit from ESC, the reduction in the risk of single-vehicle crashes was significantly greater for SUVs — 49 percent versus 33 percent for cars. The reduction in fatal single-vehicle crashes wasn't significantly different for SUVs (59 percent) than for cars (53 percent). Many single-vehicle crashes involve rolling over, and ESC effectiveness in preventing rollovers is even more dramatic. It reduces the risk of fatal single-vehicle rollovers of SUVs by 80 percent, 77 percent for cars. ESC was found to reduce the risk of all kinds of fatal crashes by 43 percent. This is more than the 34 percent reduction reported in 2004. If all vehicles had ESC, it could prevent as many as 10,000 of the 34,000 fatal passenger vehicle crashes that occur each year. Insurance claims show effects on collision losses: The results of the Institute's studies showing significant reductions in serious crash risk are reflected in some insurance losses. According to a new analysis by the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, losses under collision coverage are about 15 percent lower for vehicles with ESC than for predecessor models without it. However, ESC doesn't have much effect on property damage liability claims or the frequency of injury claims. These findings track police-reported crashes, which show little effect of ESC on the risk of low-severity multiple-vehicle crashes. Source: iihs.org

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