Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mid-Year New Car & Truck Buyers Guide: Hyundai Driving for Success With Many Models

Mid-Year New Car & Truck Buyers Guide: Hyundai driving for success with many models

The spotlight is plenty crowded at Hyundai these days as the company introduces one new car or truck after another -- sometimes before the public's even gotten used to the one announced only a short time before.

Hyundai is considered to be on the ascend these days, and it is trying to make sure it doesn't miss a single niche.

So rather than pick one or two cars that's been overlooked at Hyundai, I'll introduce you to the newer models to re-familiarize you with all that has happened at one of the world's busiest auto company.

Most recently Hyundai introduced the all-new Veracruz large crossover, which is intended to do serious damage to the sales of Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.

The Veracruz, with prices ranging from $26,995 to $34,695, looks as if it costs far more than that.

It has three-tiered headlights, a sculpted bumper and an interesting grille that includes a curved portion that houses the Hyundai "Flying H" logo. Its roofline is not unlike the one found on the sexy Infiniti FX series of crossovers.

Standard equipment includes electronic all-wheel drive; proximity key; rain sensing wipers; mirrors mounted on adjustable pedals; full power everything; an audio system that includes an AM/FM, XM Satellite radio, CD and an MP3 player; a 260 horsepower 3.8 liter V-6 (rated at 17 mpg city and 24 highway); heated power side mirrors; and side curtain bags.

Another new model is the Azera GLS, an entry level variant of the popular mid-sized sedan that starts at $24,895 with a five-speed transmission and a 3.3 liter V-6 that is rated at 21/28. New this year for Azera are side view mirrors with side marker indicators added to the Ultimate Package, steering wheel audio controls standard on all models, and contrasting gray stitching on cars equipped with black leather. The Azera is designed to compete with Toyota's Avalon.

If you want a nice surprise, check out the new 2007 Elantra. This is a car that lists for less than $14,000 for starters -- and is better equipped than some cars selling for about half as much more. It's got front and rear side curtain air bags, adjustable head restraints, full power equipment, remote keyless entry system, tilt steering wheel, rear center armrest with cup holders, center console with two-tier storage compartment and more.

It's got so much interior volume that the federal government places it in a class size above the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic -- there's more interior volume than you'll find in Acura's TL entry-level luxury car.

And don't think you get all this in a Plain Jane car. The new Elantra is curvaceous, not flat and angular as some compact cars seem to be. It's got a flowing character line along each of its flanks and an aggressive-looking grille. Inside you'll find interiors with two-toned themes and touches of aluminum trim.

Power comes from a 2.0 liter, 132 horsepower four-cylinder engine with mileage ratings of 28 mpg city and 36 highway. Prices range from $13,395 to $17,845.

Another star of Hyundai's lineup this year is the all-new 2007 Santa Fe small crossover.

The Santa Fe has several competitive advantages: It offers a third-row seat, which is a big deal for shoppers these days; two transmissions and two engine choices -- both are V-6s, a 2.7 liter 185 horsepower version (rated at 21 mpg city/26 highway) and a 242 horsepower model (rated at 19 city/24 highway); and, of course, a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty.

It also comes with a full complement of safety equipment, including electronic stability control, anti-whiplash active head restraints and six air bags, including side air curtains.

The new Santa Fe has more flowing lines than its predecessor; you don't see the odd character lines or sharp angles and odd wrinkles that were part of the previous car.

Inside, there's more luxury and comfort than you might expect: dual zone climate controls; blue backlighting for all interior gauges, switches and buttons; and soft-touch, high quality materials and low-gloss surfaces through the car.

Prices range from $20,945 to $27,945.

What's Coming in 2008

The big news during the next model year will be the long-awaited arrival of Hyundai's first true full-size rear-wheel drive sedan. A concept version was called the Genesis, but it's possible that name may be changed. Still, the car is expected to look a lot like the sleek, expensive looking Genesis concept sedan that was a hit at the New York International Auto how.

Both V-6 and V-8 versions will be offered, with the V-8 engine having horsepower well in excess of 300 horsepower.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
By Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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