Friday, February 24, 2006

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Preview

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Preview February 23, 2006 by Trevor Hofmann / American Auto Press Car Review Tools Does Hyundai Have Another Award-Winner in the Making?As you know, I like what Hyundai did with its new 2006 Sonata. I talk about it all the time in our bimonthly long-term updates, including how Hyundai refined everything from styling to perceived quality and driving dynamics, while it pumped up performance to near premium levels. As you can imagine, Ive already put in a request for a 2007 Santa Fe when it becomes available. I took extra time at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to poke around the all-new crossover SUV, and after careful examination came away beyond impressed. When it was unveiled a chorus of oohs and ahs could be heard, and just one look makes it easy to understand why. It looks superb! Much like the Sonata, only SUV-like. Such styling updates are especially noticeable up front where the sculpted hood lines flow effortlessly into the larger, three strake ovoid grille opening. An athletic looking front fascia integrates twin circular fog lamps and a racy bumper extension protruding out of the lower air intake, a very stylish addition. Flush, softly shaped headlamp clusters meld in with the front fenders, which rise slightly before being pulled rearward over broad shoulders, bisected by elegant chrome embellished body-color door handles. A secondary waistline, more sharply cut, blends the CUVs (crossover utility vehicle) rear quarter panels into the tailgate, meeting up directly with its taillights, which are shaped and angled downward in unison with the rear window outline as they meet up with the license plate cutout, much like the headlamps are shaped and angle down toward the grille. The only reminder of the old Santa Fe, at least all that I could immediately see, is the seemingly reincarnated hinge-like tube that previously stretched from the outer liftgate panel to the license plate recess, but now it has a purpose beyond styling, its the door handle, and, like the side door handles, is highlighted with chrome and painted body-color. Very nice. Inside, its all about refinement. I find the basic design more elegant, bordering on stunning, with all of the previous generations alien-like dash moldings replaced with classy curves, upscale woodgrain and brushed metal accents. Hyundai isnt trying to reinvent the wheel here, but rather do a better job than its Japanese rivals at a far lower price. The business model has worked in the past, and should continue to do so as long as the South Korean-based manufacturer can continue to maintain high levels of productivity in its Montgomery, Alabama plant, where the Sonata is built, soon joined by the new Santa Fe. Before we jump to conclusions about the new Santa Fe sharing its "platform" with the Sonata, it doesnt. Rather, Hyundai has created an all-new purposely built architecture just for its upgraded midsize CUV. But getting back to Alabama, gone are the days where Hyundai had the competitive advantage of cheap South Korean labor and direct access to cheaper South Korean suppliers, at least when it comes to its large vehicles. Now, Hyundai needs to compete head on with the domestic manufacturers, as well as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and other Asian carmakers that have set up shop on North American soil, so the fact that they can build cars so well and still bring them to market at a greater value than their rivals is mystifying to say the least. Not only was I amazed to see that the new Santa Fe features higher grade plastics than the norm in this entry-level midsize CUV class, but I also found that all interior panels fit together snuggly, while dash-mounted buttons click in and out with a nice precise feel, and theres no sloppy play in between either. The same goes for all the dials, which have a nice damped feel to them. Again, the only wiggles within the audio interface, or anywhere else inside the vehicle, will be the four cheery Aussies entertaining the kids - thats a parent-only reference if there ever was one. To look at the optional perforated leather seats, complete with contrasting piping (a very British touch) in the first photos of the Korean-spec prototype that initially showed up on blogs across the net, was impressive enough, but I think that the solid grey of the example unveiled in Detroit is better suited to North American tastes (contrasting piping should be left to Aston Martin and Bentley, after all). Nonetheless, the seats feel extremely comfortable to sit in, whether in front or the second row, although the rearmost third row is a bit on the cramped side if you measure above five feet eight inches tall (my hair was touching the ceiling and, you guessed it, Im five eight. Still, there was ample room for my legs and feet when someone larger was sitting in the second-row seat in front of me, with his seatback canted rearward at a satisfying rake. Also, most pleasant was the amount of hip and elbow room available, reducing the claustrophobia most adults feel when forced into the steerage compartment of rival vehicles. I was surprised to see separate vents integrated into the rear quarters, and even more shocked that Hyundai had thought of individual fan speed controls way back in the rear. Yes, the new Santa Fe truly is a cut above. Whats more, all the seats in the show car were covered in leather that is higher grade in texture than Hyundai has used in the past - Azera aside. Actually, the new Santa Fe seems on par with the Azera as far as choice of materials and build quality go, which is high praise indeed. I noticed that the steering wheel is different in design to that in the Azera and the Sonata, more upscale in appearance and featuring attractive circular and oval buttons for cruise and audio functions (including a seek feature which cant be had with the Sonata) on the spokes, while the CUVs center stack is a really nicely sorted interface, filled with high-end goodies such as a DVD-navigation system, if so equipped, Infinity sound system with a six-disc in-dash CD changer and MP3 compatibility, plus all surrounding surfaces are covered in an aluminum-like substance and "environmentally friendly" (i.e. fake) woodgrain. Despite not being real, the metal and woodgrain feel substantial (i.e. the thick wood-like plastic doesnt bend when you push on it) to the touch, while still appearing attractive enough to give off an air of respectability. The same goes for the metal and woodgrain surfaced power window controls integrated into the door armrests, and faux aluminum transmission faceplate, even nicer than that on the Sonata and featuring a handy rectangular dish on its right side for a cellphone or PDA (and theres a nifty 115-volt plug just above it on the center stack for items like laptops, PDAs and cellphone chargers) plus, of course, the automakers smooth-operating five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode actuation. OK, I havent tested it in the new Santa Fe yet, but as used in the Sonata its fabulously refined. This gearbox is the top-line optional unit, however, which connects through to the Sonatas 3.3-liter V6, adequately rated at "more than 230" horsepower and "more than 220" lb-ft of torque, according to the press kits spec sheet. Unless the CUV has gained an inordinate amount of weight, this drivetrain should be more sufficient to pull or push and pull the Santa Fe to highway speeds in spirited fashion - the pulling or pushing and pulling relating to whether the car is equipped with front-wheel drive, standard, or electronically-controlled all-wheel drive; the latter of which automatically apportions power to the tires with the most traction. For light-duty off-road applications, the Santa Fe features a driver-selectable AWD lock that delivers a continuous 50/50 torque split between front and rear axles. But even if equipped with the Santa Fes base 2.7-liter V6 drivetrain, a reworked all-aluminum powerplant boasting Variable Valve Timing and Variable Intake System resulting in "more than 180" horsepower and "more than 180" lb-ft of torque, it should pull away from the stoplight with reasonable athleticism. The base engine features either a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission, and dealing with slippery roads shouldnt be too much of a problem even without the optional all-wheel drive, thanks to standard traction control and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), the latter a truly important active safety net to help aide drivers who might otherwise lose control of their vehicle and potentially crash - said to result in 63 percent fewer fatalities in single-vehicle crashes. Standard traction and stability control means that antilock brakes are also part of the standard package, along with disc brakes all-round. Hyundai highlighted the Santa Fes safety features during its Detroit introduction, which makes sense being that a vehicles safety is definitely one of the key selling points any family considers when opting for a new vehicle. Those moms and dads will take heart that the new Santa Fe will come standard with six airbags, which include the two bags in front, of course, plus side-curtain airbags for all three rows of occupants. Side impact bags are included too, this combination said to be optimal in surviving rollover collisions with the least amount of corporal damage, reducing fatalities by up to 45 percent, according to Hyundai. The automaker also was sure to mention that most of its competitors made side-curtain airbags optional. In addition to life-saving electronic stability control, which I mentioned earlier, and ABS, which also incorporates Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), a technology that apportions vehicle load evenly in order to reduce braking distances, the Santa Fe also integrates three-point seatbelts and adjustable headrests at all seating positions. The front head restraints are active too, which means that during a rear collision they will move forward slightly in order to reduce their distance to the driver and front passengers head, reducing the chance of whiplash. This is a technology not normally seen in the entry-level CUV class, relegated to top-line premium crossovers such as Volvos XC90. The Santa Fe also features a standard tire pressure monitoring system, in order to reduce the chance of tire-related accidents taking place. Of course, the Santa Fes rigid monocoque structure has been designed with integrated "stress relief" points so that it will collapse in the best possible way to keep the passenger compartment intact, protecting its most vital cargo, you and your family, while impact resistant door beams have been added to resist side-impact crashes. Due to its solid construction and those side-impact and curtain-type airbags, the new Santa Fe is expected to pass crash tests with flying colors, earning a five-star rating. Some of its crash protection benefits, mind you, will come as a result of its larger size. The 184.1 inch long 2007 Santa Fe stretches farther overall than the 177.2 inch length of the current Santa Fe, by 6.9 inches, which will be hardly unnoticeable to owners of the current CUV. Of course, many of these will have had their children grow in size since buying their Santa Fe, so the addition of roomier front and second-row seats, a handy third row for friends, and more cargo room, which incidentally measures 79.4 cubic-feet behind the 50/50 split flat-folding second row, which is quite large for this class. The second row, by the way, which features legroom equal to Mercedes-Benzs massive GL Class, splits in a 60/40 configuration. That last point brings up an interesting secondary discussion, in that Hyundai chose to acid test its new Santa Fe against some pretty stiff competition before letting it loose before us in Detroit. Normally, a company would benchmark a new model next to the best in a given class, which, in the Santa Fes case would mean the best in the entry-level midsize crossover segment. But instead, Hyundai chose luxury vehicles often costing tens of thousands more, such as Lexus popular RX 330, Acuras MDX and Volvos superb XC90. Interestingly enough, the results of such fine tuning not only allowed its engineers to make sure that the third-row seat I spoke of before delivers greater leg and foot room than the latter two of these luxury utes as well as Hondas largish Pilot, but also has made the new Santa Fe quieter than the Volvo, for instance, at 60 mph. Additional premium touches, such as dual-zone climate control can be had, plus optional power seats, the drivers with power lumbar support, heated side mirrors, and important this time of year in the northern states at least, a windshield wiper de-icing system. Theres much more to the new Santa Fe than has been covered here today, with the vehicle only having been launched last month. Ill spend more time reviewing its many features and options, such as what specifically comes with the base GLS, optional SE and top-line Limited models, when I take it for a drive. Until then, suffice to say that Hyundai has come up with another hit, and one that will no doubt have its many rivals concerned. If its production execution equals that of the new Tucson, Sonata and Azera, look out Japanese carmakers, because Hyundai wont be sacrificing quality to get its price down by thousands in order to increase its market share. These are exciting times for consumers shopping for best value vehicles to meet the needs of their growing families, and the new Santa Fe looks to deliver where its competitors have often not measured up. __________________________ Preliminary much more to the new Santa Fe than has been covered here today, with the vehicle only having been launched last month. Ill spend more time reviewing its many features and options, such as what specifically comes with the base GLS, optional SE and top-line Limited models, when I take it for a drive. Until then, suffice to say that Hyundai has come up with another hit, and one that will no doubt have its many rivals concerned. If its production execution equals that of the new Tucson, Sonata and Azera, look out Japanese carmakers, because Hyundai wont be sacrificing quality to get its price down by thousands in order to increase its market share. These are exciting times for consumers shopping for best value vehicles to meet the needs of their growing families, and the new Santa Fe looks to deliver where its competitors have often not measured up. Source:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

2007 Hyundai Entourage Preview

Taking on the Establishment Once Again Hyundai has been shaking up the automotive establishment since it came on American scene in 1985, but unlike the early days, when its rather poorly executed Excel fought for market share against Chevys equally awful Chevette, Dodges only slightly better Omni and Fords similarly uninspired Escort (among others) at the bottom rung of the feeding chain, todays comparatively premium offerings are among the most competitive in their respective segments. And since that car company came to town, with only one car in a single segment, Hyundais reach has grown to encompass nine vehicle classes, starting with the subcompact Accent four-door sedan, and followed by the compact Elantra sedan and five-door, compact Tiburon sports coupe, midsize Sonata sedan and full-size entry-level luxury Azera sedan in the car segment, plus the compact Tucson and Santa Fe crossover utility vehicles. What vehicles segment isnt it in? Well, theres quite a few actually, and it seems that the South Korean company, finding success by building vehicles better than many of its rivals, with more features for lower prices, and even producing them in the U.S. for North American customers, is about to fill in some of the white spaces with all-new vehicles. Oh sure, a new three-door Accent has been announced, but its not like we didnt expect this, being that Hyundai has offered an entry-level hatchback for as long as, well, the Pony; but the Entourage, first written about in these pages last spring is something entirely new. Hyundai has never been in the minivan game, at least not here in North America. Elsewhere, like in its home market of South Korea or in other Asian markets, plus Australia, South Africa, etc, its Trajet has been available for some time, but here in the U.S., where minivans have long been important on automaker sales charts, theres been no such vehicle. This will end later this year, however, when the Entourage will push Hyundais lineup into double digits, and join Kias Sedona as the second Korean minivan to ever be offered on North American shores - unless youre counting the Kia Besta that was sold by Mazda Canada in the 80s, prior to the Japanese automaker offering its MPV. But unlike those days, when Kia and Hyundai were arch rivals fighting over the same customers, the two companies are now joined at the hip, Hyundai having purchased Kia lock, stock and barrel a number of years ago, and as a result of doing so, is now sharing general architectures, drivetrains and additional components between models. Where the Accent and Rio are built off of the same platform and powered by the same engine and transmission combinations, and the Elantra/Spectra, Sonata/Magentis, Tucson/Sportage, and so on, are now cooperative Hyundai/Kia projects in one way or another, the new Entourage borrows much of what it needs from the recently released 2006 Kia Sedona minivan. This is good news for Hyundai, of course, being that the Sedona has enjoyed some very positive reviews since its introduction. Hyundai, which is positioning itself as the more luxury oriented of the two brands, with Kia targeting sportier buyers, will no doubt spiff up anything that may be lacking, in the same fashion the Chryslers Town & Country upgrades the Dodge Caravan. That last model, of course, has long been the segment leader, offering innovation after innovation in an attempt to stay ahead. Over the years others have tried to compete with varying levels of success, the next highest sellers being GMs various vans, plus Hondas Odyssey, Toyotas Sienna, Mazdas MPV, Nissans Quest, and the aforementioned Kia Sedona. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot Fords Aerostar... Windstar... er... Freestar... call it whatever star you want, although supernova might be more apropos being that its imploding sales have been so devastating Ford will more than likely kill it off sooner than later, and replace it with something that has greater crossover appeal. Lasts years stylish Portico Concept had many prognosticators predicting a more crossover-like minivan was on the way, and while such a move remains entirely possible, the new Entourage, the one we know for sure will line up alongside Hyundais nine other models, is pure minivan through and through. Hyundai has had an interesting vantage point over the years, looking and critiquing from the outside in, and in similar fashion to how Kia was able to come to the North American market with a very competitive Sedona when it first appeared in 2001 as a 2002 model, the Entourage, borrowing much from Kias second-generation Sedona, enters the picture with an extremely competitive product. First of all, its hardly a minivan at all, but is more accurately mid- to full-size, just like its main rivals. Actually, Hyundai is being so bold as to claim that the 172 cubic-feet inside its Entourage is greater than the interior volume of Hondas Odyssey. Interior spaciousness is critical, as minivan buyers tend to use their vehicles for more than just hauling around family members and their half-pint friends, but often commission them for carting around building supplies and other heavy and/or large-scale loads. Due to this multi-usage a flexible seating system is mandatory, and while the Entourage doesnt feature anything quite as revolutionary as Chryslers Stow n Go setup, that allows all seats to collapse flat into the floor, the new van integrates the requisite flat-folding 60/40 split rear seat, dubbed Hyundai Hideaway, plus a second row with seatbacks that fold down and pedestals that flip forward, or that can be easily removed if needed, to open up cargo space. That second row can be accessed via twin rear sliding doors. After interior flexibility and overall size, probably the next most important consideration minivan buyers, normally parents with children, would find important are safety features. Being a father of three, the fact that the Entourage comes standard with a bevy of state-of-the-art active and passive safety items, such as four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), anti-whiplash active front head restraints, as well as a half dozen airbags that include side curtain-type bags for all three rows, gives me piece of mind. No doubt, the Entourage will garner a five star crash test rating. The Entourage also includes shoulder-belts for all passengers, plus Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) in the second- and third-row seats, for easier and safer attachment of child seats. The inclusion of a high-line tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) as standard equipment is impressive too, a system that not only will warn of impending danger but also, if tire pressure is kept at the recommended level, could save you a few dollars at the pump while reducing tire wear. As mentioned, the Entourage gets dual rear sliding doors, but I didnt mention that they integrated convenient power windows. Few vans offer side windows that open at all, and I for one really appreciate having them, if only just so that the kids can wave and say bye to Grandma while were driving away. And then there are also those days when exterior airflow is more refreshing than air conditioning, which also comes standard by the way, and the power side glass, plus the usual power rear quarter windows, that pop out from the side rather than roll down, make for a nice cool breeze inside the cabin. Right about now Id better correct myself, as the Entourage doesnt merely come standard with air conditioning, but rather a dual front climate control system with individual controls, plus separate controls for second-row passengers. The van delivers ventilation to second- and third-row passengers, mind you, so everyone can be comfortable. Those up front can carry on discussions with rearward passengers aided by the convenience of an adjustable conversation mirror tucked in front of the controls for the optional power glass sunroof, while a foldaway center tray table between the two front seats includes four cupholders, handy for parents with smaller children who might need to pass their drinks back and forth. Drivers will be able to enjoy the comfort of high-quality cloth seats, with leather available as part of a Limited package, for a sum. Additional luxury features include the option of woodgrain or metal-like trim, highlighting a center stack that looks very upscale (and very Sedona-like) and complements a steering wheel and electroluminescent gauge package that pulls cues from the Sonata, upcoming Santa Fe replacement and top-line Azera. All Entourage vans get a two-tone color scheme as well, a nice way of breaking down the visual size of a minivans large interior panels. Drivers will also enjoy a tilt steering wheel plus optional power adjustable foot pedals and heated front seats, while all will find the Entourages optional power liftgate handy. As for the available rear-seat entertainment system, which features an eight-inch LCD monitor, I wouldnt consider a new van, SUV or crossover without one, and the new Hyundai also can be had with an optional Infinity AM/FM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with Logic 7 surround sound. Heck, forget the kids... leave them in bed inside the house while you and your honey enjoy a little R&R in the back of the van. To some who will be driving the Entourage, the fact that it can be had with backup warning sensors will be of greater significanc than how much engine output is hidden under the hood. Still, theres no reason to have to give up one to have the other either. All Hyundai minivans will boast a version of the Azeras velvety-smooth 3.8-liter V6, a highly refined DOHC, 24-valve engine that produces a maximum of 242-horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful in the minivan segment. Rather than out-power all rivals the Entourage splits the difference, featuring more horsepower than Fords Freestar, Chevrolets Uplander (and therefore Buicks Terraza, Pontiacs Montana SV-6 and Saturns Relay) and Dodge Caravan, plus greater torque than the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Dodge Grand Caravan. But this top-line Hyundai V6 isnt all about refined power, as it also provides the convenience of timing chains instead of belts, benefiting from no scheduled maintenance, plus good expected fuel economy and an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification rating. The vans five-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual should get some credit for the fuel economy and ULEV rating, not to mention the drivetrains expected refinement. Hyundai says the transmission "offers smooth shifts and a wide spread of ratios that ideally suit the engines characteristics and includes an overdrive lock-up torque converter for quiet, efficient highway cruising." As for ride and handling, expect it to be very good. As mentioned previously, Kias version of the van is getting bullish reviews from those who have driven it, and with Hyundai benefiting from an extra year of development overseen by its own expert engineers, it should be refined even further. And unlike other vans that are based on midsize sedans, the two Korean models ride on a purpose-built unibody architecture featuring a 118.9-inch wheelbase and a 66.3-inch track width; both longer and wider than minivan competitors. While a four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts, coil springs plus a stabilizer bar in front and a multi-link setup with coil springs and a stabilizer bar in back, should be good for absorbing the bumps and dips of inner city streets while delivering adept road-holding, I, for one, would find its 39.6-foot turning radius equally nice to live with. The Entourage accomplishes this, as well as deft turn-in at high-speeds, via an engine-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. Connecting to the road are a set of four 16-inch steel wheels wrapped in 225/70 R16 all-season tires. Optionally, 17-inch alloy wheels can be fitted to 235/60 R17 tires. The alloy rims and lower profile tires make the van look better, no doubt, although I personally didnt trade in my BMW 5-Series for a 96 Dodge Caravan because I wanted something a little sportier. Dont get me wrong, I liked the look of the Caravan, a point that weighed heavily when choosing it over any competitor, just like what Hyundai has done with its Entourage will work to entice todays minivan buyers, but other considerations, like the convenience of dual sliding side doors, also were important to my decision. After all, I was a new family man at the time, with a small industrial clothing supply business that required frequent long-hauls from Vancouver to Edmonton, the van filled to the gills with upwards of five-hundred fire-retardant cotton coveralls at a time, and an eager oil and gas servicing company at the other end relying on delivery. Whatever your needs are, the minivan, if you can overcome any negative stigma, is the ultimate all-purpose transport, and now that Hyundai is in the game, it stands a good chance of pulling in its share of new buyers. Source: Always remember to visit for latest deals available Gary Rome Hyundai , Hyundai Accessory Store and Hyundai Performance Auto Parts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hyundai Azera Succeeds as Near-luxury Sedan

Hyundai is an unabashed upstart. The South Korean automobile manufacturer first entered the U.S. market just two decades ago with a small entry-level car called the Excel that had a low price but quality to match. It was not an auspicious debut; something like a Fourth of July rocket that quickly fizzles. But Hyundai managed to keep from crashing. Along the way, it caught hold of itself and started producing better cars, always with a price advantage. It also insinuated itself into other territories: compact, sports coupe, midsize and SUV. To ease consumer concerns, it instituted a fiveyear, 60,000-mile warranty, with coverage for 10 years or 100,000 miles on the engine and transmission. That was accompanied by a realization that customers tire quickly of returning to the dealer for fixes, even if they are covered, so Hyundai made a major push to improve quality. It paid off, to the point where the company was able to build a modern new manufacturing plant in Alabama, where it manufactures the mid-size, highly rated Sonata sedan. Even with that, Hyundai has managed to maintain a price advantage over competitors, though it is dwindling. Now, without so much as a by-your-leave, the upstart is invading a province that has been dear to the bottom line of American manufacturers, as well as some foreigners: the large, near-luxury sedan. The engine of this endeavor is the all-new 2006 Azera, which replaces the XG350 as the flagship of the Hyundai automobile lineup. It competes with the likes of the Buick La Crosse and Lucerne, the Nissan Maxima and the Mercury Montego, but its real target is the new Toyota Avalon. With front-wheel drive and 107 cubic feet of passenger space, the Azera matches the Avalon. But its trunk, at 17 cubic feet, is bigger than the Avalon's 14 cubic feet. Overall, the Azera is 5 inches shorter than the Avalon, and it weighs slightly less. Critics have referred to the Avalon as the Lexus of Toyotas, and the description is apt because of the luxury surroundings inside. The Azera sought to match that, and it largely succeeded. The interior combines quality materials with tasteful design, and features such touches as a wood-and-leather steering wheel on the Limited model. But the Azera does fall short of the Avalon in several areas, notably in the back seat. Where the Avalon has a flat floor and ample room for three people, enhanced by reclining seatbacks, the Azera offers commodious accommodations only for the outboard passengers. The center position is a perch, and the person exiled there must straddle a hump in the floor. Moreover, a navigation system was not available at the introduction, and XM satellite radio is not scheduled for installation until the fall of 2006. Hyundai partially makes up for any shortcomings by featuring a low price and continuing its extended warranty. The base price of the new Azera SE is $24,995 and, even with a full load of options, the upscale Limited model tops out at $30,380. The standard equipment is extensive: 263-horsepower V-6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode, electronic stability and traction control, antilock brakes with brake force distribution, side air bags and side-curtain air bags, remote locking with an alarm system, dual-zone automatic climate control, audio system with CD player and MP3 capability, cruise control, and power windows, seats and mirrors. The Limited adds such luxury touches as leather upholstery, 17- inch alloy wheels, daytime-lighted instruments and a power rear sunshade. Options include a power sunroof, a motorized tilt-and- telescope steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an upgraded audio system and a six-disc in-dash CD changer. With its luxury orientation, the Azera is a fine road car with a suspension system that is biased toward a ride that is resilient without being floaty. Bumps and other road imperfections are handled with aplomb. Although it does not handle like a sports sedan, the Azera acquits itself capably on twisting roads. Up front, the seats are large, supportive and comfortable, with power lumbar adjustments on the Limited model. The controls impart tactile sensations of quality, and the automatic transmission shifter, in particular, has a satisfying feel. The 263-horsepower V6 is quiet and smooth, and offers plenty of power for passing and freeway merging, though it doesn't provide snappy acceleration. The emphasis is on smooth surges of power, enhanced by the unobtrusive five-speed automatic transmission. The transmission has a manual-shift mode, which is a bit of overkill in a family/luxury car. It's not too likely many owners will decide to play as rally drivers and shift for themselves. At the same time it introduced the flagship Azera, Hyundai also unveiled a brand-new Accent, which is its entry-level economy model, starting at less than $11,995. Robert F. Cosmai, the president and CEO of Hyundai of America, calls them "the bookends of our brand." As recently as seven years ago, Hyundai's total U.S. sales barely topped 90,000. In 2006, the company expects to sell more than half a million cars and SUVs. That will certainly take it out of the upstart class and into the establishment. (C) 2006 Albuquerque Journal. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; Source Always remember to visit for latest deals available Gary Rome Hyundai , Hyundai Accessory Store and Hyundai Performance Auto Parts.

Monday, February 13, 2006

'06 Sonata offers more space, comfort and power

The first clue Hyundai is making big strides comes when you shut down the engine and catch yourself smiling. Then you get out, and catch yourself looking over your shoulder for that final glimpse. But this is one of those Korean cars, isn't it? Emphasis on economy, a little less car but a little less money, longer warranties. Well, let's first be accurate. Korean? The new, fully redesigned 2006 Sonata is the first Hyundai built in the United States, in Montgomery, Ala. Second, there's nothing ''less'' about the Sonata. It is ready to be added to your look-see list when shopping the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Keep in mind the Sonata already has impressed the quality-study guys at J.D. Power and Associates for the last couple of years. Now the redesigned Sonata is bigger, better equipped and has a smarter feel on the road. The Sonata has a more aggressive look than its predecessor, enhanced with four-barrel projector lens headlights. It's two inches longer, two inches taller and a one-inch longer wheelbase. And it's slightly wider than the Camry, Accord and Nissan Altima. And those extra inches translate to more room inside -- more legroom, headroom and shoulder room than last year's Sonata. In fact, the interior dimensions prompted the EPA to categorize the Sonata as a large car, not the midsize it intends to be. It is extremely comfortable. The instrument panel is clean and simple, and controls are easy to reach and operate. Seats were comfortable enough but felt somewhat short on thigh support for a six-foot-plus guy. We stuffed bags and boxes of stuff for Goodwill into the 16.3-cubic-foot trunk, one of the biggest in the midsize segment. Plenty of room back there (five more trunkloads and I might actually find my garage workbench!) Besides its extra roominess, Sonata is bigger on performance, too. Steering and handling are more precise, and the Sonata has learned to grip the road better on corners. Hyundai credits the new four-wheel independent suspension for that and its smoother ride. Gas-filled hydraulic shocks up front and a multilink system in the rear improve handling and cut down on the racket inside, too. Front-wheel-drive power comes from two new engines. A 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder puts out 162 hp and is said to return around 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. The tester, the top trim (LX), comes with a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 235 horses. That's 65 more hp than last year's V-6. Mileage for the V-6 was around 24 combined; it's EPA-rated at 20 around town, 30 on the highway. The Sonata is quick enough, with zero to 60 at between seven and eight seconds. Hyundai says its variable intake system broadens Sonata's power curve, and what that means is a boost in off-line acceleration plus passing performance. A new five-speed automatic tranny is smooth climbing into gears and has the Shiftronic feature that lets you shift without a clutch. All V-6's get the new transmission. Sonatas come well equipped. Standard are 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats with eight-way power on the driver's side. The top-line test car is priced at $22,895 but with power sunroof and six-disc CD changer it came in at $24,295. Those two options, by the way, are the only ones available. The middle GLS ($19,395) gets you the automatic transmission and lumbar support and redundant audio controls on the steering wheel. The base GL, at $17,895, gets the inline four-cylinder engine. Anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control all are standard, and the Sonata is the only midsize that can make that claim. Sonata also has six air bags, including dual front, side-impact and front and rear side-curtain air bags. Beyond all these improvements, you still get Hyundai's five-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain protection. With a firmer, crisper ride and more space for all body parts, the Sonata is poised to be a serious contender with the Accord and Camry. Always remember to visit for latest deals available Gary Rome Hyundai , Hyundai Accessory Store and Hyundai Performance Auto Parts.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The All New Hyundai Entourage: Comming Soon

Hyundai has officially launched the new 2007 Hyundai Entourage site. It can be found at The Hyundai Entourage will be powered by the 3.8L V6 engine now found in the 2006 Hyundai Azera. The Hyundai Entourage will come with 242HP and 251 lb/ft of torque coupled to a 5 speed automatic transmission. As with every Hyundai the Entourage comes with an impressive list of both safety features and standard equipment. Rest assured that you and your family will be safe with 6 standard air-bags, Anti-Lock Braking System, Traction Control, and Electronic Stability Control all standard

2007 Hyundai Entourage: The Minivan Wars Heat Up by: Matthew C. Keegan It was only a matter of time before they entered the minivan fray and after several false starts the on again and off again Hyundai minivan appears to be on once again. Hyundai is targeting a market it has long sidestepped and it appears that a long wheelbase version of the Kia Sedona will soon be sold in the US as a Hyundai Entourage. The minivan wars are heating up again even as one competitor exits the market and another also gives serious consideration to abandoning the minivan segment. Is there an Entourage in your future? Read on for all the details and then decide. Two decades ago, Hyundai entered the North American market with its $3600 Excel Pony. This cheaply priced, cheaply built model set the tone for the new importer and it wasn’t a good one at that. Low quality went arm and arm with the low price, but consumers still bought Hyundais anyway as a new Excel compared favorably with prices for late model used cars of that era. Many owners shrugged off the cheap plastics and quality problems, citing that the Pony gave them something they never had before: a brand new car. Eventually, Hyundai expanded its line up and improved its quality levels. An industry best warranty plan was crafted and put in place which helped to underscore that Hyundai was serious about building quality vehicles and would stand behind their many products. Mysteriously, a minivan was not part of the line up even as its Kia subsidiary successfully introduced the Sedona and as demand for minivans remained strong. Rumors of a Hyundai minivan have been circulating for several years. Even previous company press releases hinted at the possibility, but no official announcement had been forthcoming. Finally, late in 2005, Hyundai signaled that they would go ahead and produce a minivan based on the stretched wheelbase version of the Kia Sedona. No short wheelbase van is planned, so the Entourage will clearly target a slightly higher and more lucrative end of the minivan market. With a 3.8L V6 engine, power sliding doors, ABS, traction control, six airbags, and triple zone air conditioning, the Entourage will be equipped to compete directly against four popular models: the Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, and the Toyota Sienna. Based on the Sedona, Hyundai does have its work cut out for itself as the Sedona has been below average in quality and reliability. To Hyundai’s advantage will be its competitive pricing and with Ford out of the market and General Motors considering doing the same, Hyundai’s focus will be set squarely on competing against the two Chrysler products as well as the pricey Honda and Sienna models. While Chrysler is currently the sales leader in this segment, a smartly optioned Entourage will probably grab sales from fully equipped versions of each model. This will not happen if quality levels do not improve. Knowing the competitiveness of this Korean automaker, you can expect that the Entourage will present a strong battle once quality issues have been overcome. Should that happen, you can expect that the Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona will grab more sales and become a force to be reckoned with. The consumer may be the biggest winner as prices are likely to hold or even come down in the face of strong competition. Source:

Always remember to visit for latest deals available Gary Rome Hyundai , Hyundai Accessory Store and Hyundai Performance Auto Parts.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hyundai's 2006 Azera flagship is value-priced, premium sedan

Compare the Hyundai Azera to the Toyota Avalon and Buick Lucerne BASE PRICE: Estimated $24,800 for base SE; estimated $26,900 for Limited. AS TESTED: Estimated $29,400. TYPE: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger, large sedan. ENGINE: 3.8-liter, dual overhead cam V6. MILEAGE: 18 mpg (city), 27 mpg (highway). TOP SPEED: 146 mph.LENGTH: 192.7 inches. WHEELBASE: 109.4 inches.CURB WEIGHT: Estimated 3,750 pounds. BUILT AT: South Korea. OPTIONS: Ultimate package (includes power sunroof, power adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, upgraded Infinity audio system with in-dashboard, six-CD changer) estimated $1,900. DESTINATION CHARGE: Estimated $600. Add another Hyundai to the shopping list. With the release this month of Hyundai's new flagship sedan, the 2006 Azera, the South Korean automaker offers another noteworthy model for American car shoppers - this time for buyers of near-luxury to entry-luxury large sedans. The five-passenger Azera is an attractively styled, V6-powered car with a quiet cabin, plentiful standard convenience features, more interior volume than a Toyota Avalon and more standard safety equipment, including eight airbags, stability control and traction control, than a Buick LaCrosse or Buick Lucerne. The Azera also comes with Hyundai's industry-leading warranty coverage that includes a limited powertrain warranty that lasts for 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Hyundai officials have not publicly announced final pricing yet, but they expected the base Azera SE would have a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price under $25,000. This compared with a starting price of the car it replaces, the 2005 Hyundai XG350 sedan, of $24,899. With destination charge added, the XG350's total starting price was $25,494. Hyundai officials said the top-of-the-line Azera, the Limited model, is likely to start around $27,000. In comparison, the competing 2006 Toyota Avalon has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $27,165 for a base XL model. The 2006 Buick LaCrosse starts at $23,595 for a base CX, while the 2006 Lucerne starts at $26,990 for a base CX. The Azera rides on a stretched version of the front-wheel-drive platform used by Hyundai's mid-size sedan, the Sonata. Styling is attractive and upscale. This is the first Hyundai with light-emitting diode taillamps, which are normally found on pricier luxury cars. There's nothing bold and brazen here like you find on a Chrysler 300 large sedan. Indeed, the Azera rides on relatively modestly sized wheels and tires: 16- and 17-inchers. Most intriguing, the Azera doesn't look like a large sedan, even though it's classified as one by the Environmental Protection Agency. For example, at 16 feet long, the Azera is 4.5 inches shorter than the Avalon. But the Azera's 106.9 cubic feet of passenger volume matches that of the Avalon, and the Azera's trunk is larger, with 16.6 cubic feet of space versus the 14.4 cubic feet in the Avalon. Headroom is commendable in the Azera, with even back-seat riders having 38.2 inches of room. This compares with 37.2 inches in Buick's LaCrosse back seat. Even the larger Buick sedan coming to showrooms later this year, the Lucerne, offers a bit less rear-seat headroom of 37.6 inches. Front-seat legroom in the Azera matches or bests that of other premium, family-sized sedans. For example, front-seat legroom of 43.7 inches in the Azera is greater than the 42.5 inches in the Lucerne and the 41.3 inches in the Avalon. But the Azera's rear-seat legroom of 38.2 inches is less than the 41 inches in the Lucerne and the 40.9 inches in the Avalon. The Azera also has a bit less hiproom than the Lucerne and Avalon. In real world driving, the test Azera Limited, a top-line model estimated to be priced under $30,000 with options, had such comfortable seats with soft leather, front and back, I had no trouble settling in. In fact, the interior seemed exceedingly inviting for a car at this price. The nicely arranged, large buttons and knobs that controlled the ventilation system and audio from the center part of the dashboard reminded me of those in a Lexus car. The Azera Limited's mixed wood-and-leather steering wheel and wood-trimmed gearshift lever seemed to have been plucked from a luxury car, too. And there are thoughtful touches, such as assist handles above the doors that are damped so they don't clunk noisily back into place. Front-seat head restraints not only are adjustable for height, they can be positioned forward and back, closer or farther away from a passenger's head. The rear seatback splits 60/40 and can fold down, allowing room for long items to fit into the trunk. And the Azera hood is raised - and held up in place - by a hydraulic arm, not a manual stalk. The ride is cushioned but not isolating. The Azera's front independent, double wishbone suspension and rear independent, multi-link suspension - both with stabilizer bars - keep bumps from jolting passengers but still give the driver confident handling. The power-assisted rack and pinion steering can adjust the steering effort needed as engine speed picks up, but it still seemed to need too light of a touch for my taste. I never lacked for responsive power from the Azera's 263-horsepower, 3.8-liter, double overhead cam V6 with continuously variable valve timing and 255 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm. Indeed, Hyundai said the Azera's 0-to-6-mile-an-hour time of 6.5 seconds makes it the fastest Hyundai yet. This is a new Hyundai engine, considered the 'big brother" of the 3.3-liter V6 used in the Sonata. In the Azera, the 3.8-liter V6 uses regular gasoline and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with smooth shifts and a shift-it-yourself manumatic mode. Engine sounds are mostly muted during cruising, as you'd expect in a premium family sedan. When heard during acceleration, the engine conveyed a strong, satisfying sound in the test car but wasn't overbearing. The Azera's performance numbers aren't far from the 268 horses and 245 foot-pounds of torque at 4,700 rpm that come from the 3.5-liter V6 in the Avalon. It's also more than the Buick LaCrosse, which has two V6 offerings. The Azera, however, doesn't include a V8, while the Buick Lucerne will be available with an uplevel, 270-horsepower V8 capable of 290 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400 rpm. The Azera's fuel economy isn't anything to brag about. This car is rated at 18 miles a gallon in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. This is less than the 22/31-mpg rating for the 2006 Avalon. In recent model years, Hyundai has made a name for itself with its generous standard safety features, and the Azera is no exception. The car's eight airbags include not only side curtain airbags for both front and rear seats but rear-seat airbags that deploy out of the sides of the seats to provide protection in side crashes. The Avalon, LaCrosse and Lucerne do not include these rear-seat airbags, though the Avalon has a driver knee airbag that deploys during a frontal crash to help ensure a driver doesn't slide forward and get mis-positioned in the seat. Stability control and traction control also are available on the Avalon but are not standard on all models as they are on the Azera. The Azera has been on sale for months in South Korea, where sales have outpaced the Hyundai Sonata. There has been no safety recall of the new Azera, and no crash test rating is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And Consumer Reports magazine does not list a reliability rating. Source: Associated Press / Always remember to visit for latest deals available Gary Rome Hyundai , Hyundai Accessory Store and Hyundai Performance Auto Parts.