Friday, August 31, 2007

Hyundai is the Next Target

Hyundai Is the Next Target

Isn't it thrilling that we live in a day and age when the line between bargain basement and luxury consumer goods is getting incredibly blurry? Take Target, for example. I remember when places like Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target were considered equally low-end retailers. Since then, Target has risen up, and now (at least amongst my circle of friends) it is the cool place for hip moms to shop for designer clothing and home goods on a budget. You get all of this while sipping a latte from the store's Starbucks.

The Hyundai Veracruz is the Target of the automotive world. Don't get your hopes up, ladies! There isn't a Starbucks located inside Hyundai's cars or even its dealerships (although I like that idea). What I'm trying to say is that the Veracruz is much like that sweet pair of Mossimo wedges I recently purchased: Pewter metallic strappy sandals with cork wedges, and they even have a driving heel -- how perfect is that? The point I was trying to make before I so rudely allowed myself to get distracted with euphoric fantasies of shoe shopping was that the Veracruz is a budget-esque crossover masquerading as a luxury one. It does so well that I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Veracruz is almost as nice (and in some respects even nicer) as the Lexus RX -- for a base price of more than $10,000 lower. Meowwww!

During my two weeks in the Veracruz, I was surprised by every new feature I uncovered. Initially, I was just thrilled to be driving the first offering from Hyundai with three rows. Imagine how my excitement rose when I slid one of the rear seats forward to climb into the third row and found an incredibly thoughtful handle perfectly placed on the back of the sliding seat for me to grab and hoist myself into the vehicle. The third row, despite being a bit tight, was certainly more comfortable than the sardine-can seat I'm sitting in right now on the airplane while writing this review. While the seat belt receptors in the third row were easy for my kids to buckle on their own, unfortunately, I can't say the same about the ones in the second row. I ended up having to buckle in my youngest every time.

The second row seat belt annoyance was quickly forgotten when I found a slew of my favorite car features all standard in the Veracruz, including a backup warning system, power tailgate, a conversation mirror that offers a view of all the rear passengers, steering wheel mounted audio controls, lighted storage compartments and cupholders, a chill zone in the center console to keep my kids' string cheese cold and -- I'm getting way too typeractive here -- let me just slow down and collect myself a bit before continuing.

Ahhh. Deep breath. Other fabulous features I found in the Veracruz were an available DVD entertainment system with rear controls so capable backseat passengers could play around with it without distracting the driver for instructions. I also appreciated the under-floor storage bin in the cargo area, good rear visibility and luxuriously tactile fit and finish inside the vehicle.

The main thing that I think would make the Hyundai Veracruz -- and, honestly, any Hyundai for that matter -- any better would be for them to be on sale at Target. Stick with me on this for a moment. Hyundai could be the next designer brand to pair up with Target. Imagine a world where you could drive up to one store and purchase a new convertible five-point harness to replace the one with the inexplicable odor emanating from it (despite washing the cover three times), a hand vacuum that plugs into a car's cigarette lighter to suck up the endless supply of loose Cheerios, and the car to put these things into. All this while sipping a latte from the store's Starbucks kiosk.

*For more information on the Hyundai Veracruz and its safety features, visit With questions or comments regarding this review, write to


Latch Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 7


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great – Excellent

Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On

2007 Hyundai Veracruz
AWD Limited
Base price: $34,005
Price as tested: $38,020
Engine: 260-hp, 3.8 liter V-6
Fuel: 17/24 mpg
Length: 190.6"
Width: 76.6"
Ground Clearance: 8.1"
Turning Radius: 18.3'
Cargo space: 6.5 - 86.8 cu. ft.

NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Frontal Impact  
Driver's side: 5 Stars
Passenger's side: 4 Stars
Side Impact  
Front occupant: 5 Stars
Rear occupant: 5 Stars
Rollover resistance: 4 Stars

By: Kristin Varela

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hyundai Elantra and Mazda3 Shine in New Consumer Reports' Tests

Hyundai Elantra and Mazda3 Shine in New Consumer Reports' Tests

YONKERS, NY August 29, 2007; The redesigned Hyundai Elantra outscored the Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra, and Scion xB in Consumer Reports' testing of a group of four small sedans and wagons for the October issue. The Elantra now ranks sixth overall among the 14 small cars that CR has tested recently.

Also, Consumer Reports ranked the Mazdaspeed3 as its top-rated sports car following tests of three sporty vehicles for the same issue. The Mazdaspeed3 was tested against the redesigned Mini Cooper S and the Saturn Sky Redline.

"The redesigned Elantra is well-rounded, roomier, more fuel-efficient, and has a more pleasant interior than many more expensive cars," said David Champion, Senior Director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

The Honda Civic remains CR's top-rated small car, followed by the Ford Focus and Mazda3 in that order.

Prices for vehicles in the small-car test group range from $17,515 for the Mitsubishi Lancer to $18,855 for the Nissan Sentra. Prices for the three sporty cars ranged from $25,195 for the Mazdaspeed3 to $30,289 for the Sky.

The Elantra achieved a "Very Good" overall test score. The Lancer also earned a "Very Good" score, though at the lower end of the range. The Sentra rated "Good" overall. The xB, the only wagon tested, earned a "Very Good" overall score. It ranks second among the wagons and hatchbacks that CR has tested, behind the Mazda3. Among the sports and sporty cars, the Mazdaspeed3 earned a "Excellent" overall rating. The Mini Cooper S rated "Very Good" overall and the Sky Redline rated "Good" overall.

Two of the seven vehicles rated for this issue are recommended by Consumer Reports--the Scion xB and the Mazdaspeed3. CR is predicting that the xB will have above-average reliability based on the previous generation xB. Similarly, the Mazdaspeed3 is recommended based on the better-than-average reliability of the Mazda3. Consumer Reports doesn't have reliability data yet on five of the other vehicles, the Elantra, Lancer, Sentra, Mini, and Sky. (The Sky is built on the same platform as the Pontiac Solstice; reliability for the Solstice has been well below average.)

Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Car Reliability Survey of its own subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Full tests and ratings of the test group appear in the October issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale September 4. The reports are also available to subscribers of

Like other recent offerings from Hyundai, the Elantra mimics many Toyota qualities: It has user-friendly and clear controls; very good fit and finish; a comfortable, quiet ride; and handling that is safe if not agile. Unlike other recent new cars from Hyundai, the Elantra also gets good fuel economy for its class, 27 mpg in CR's own fuel economy tests. The Elantra GLS ($17,555 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price as tested) is equipped with a 138-hp, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that provides good acceleration. Its four-speed automatic transmission is both smooth and responsive. The brakes are very good overall.

With its enormous backseat, spacious cargo area, easy access and relatively powerful engine, the Scion xB is a logical alternative to a similarly priced small sedan, and it's a good value. The xB ($18,360 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 159-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes the xB one of the quicker small cars available. The four-speed automatic transmission delivers both smooth shifts and quick response. The xB delivered 23 mpg overall in CR's tests, which is less than the previous generation xB. The new model feels more grown up and is a good value for the price. Brakes on the xB are very good.

While it's an improvement over the old model, the redesigned Lancer still scores only midpack in its class. The Lancer's handling is quite agile and the steering is responsive, lending the car a sporty feel. But the ride borders on being too stiff, the engine is noisy, and the brakes were a disappointment. The Lancer also had subpar fit and finish and mediocre fuel economy. The Lancer ES ($17,515 MSRP as tested) is equipped with a 152-hp, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine was good. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) was smooth. The Lancer's brakes are good overall.

The Sentra is a pleasant small sedan in everyday driving. It has a comfortable ride, quiet cabin, roomy backseat and well-designed interior. But CR's engineers found the Sentra tricky to control in a simulated emergency maneuver, with a tendency for the tail to lose grip too easily and slide. The Sentra 2.0S ($18,855 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 140-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine matched with a continuously variable transmission. The powertrain delivers good performance and smooth and responsive shifts. Braking was also unimpressive.

Sporty Cars: Big Fun in Tiny Packages

Of the three sporty cars that CR tested this month, engineers and editors rated the Mazdaspeed3 best. It's based on the already fun-to-drive and practical Mazda3, but has a stronger powertrain and a sport-oriented suspension. The Mazda rides tautly but is well controlled. The Mazdaspeed3 Grand Touring ($25,195 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 263-hp, turbocharged, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers excellent acceleration. Its six-speed transmission is very good, though the gated shifter caused some drivers to miss shifts. Braking on the Mazda is also excellent.

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at

Long-Term Wrap-Up: 2006 Hyundai Tucson

Long-Term Wrap-Up: 2006 Hyundai Tucson

Another adventurer took our Tucson to Colorado over a holiday weekend. He wrote that freeway ride quality was smooth, allowing passengers to easily doze off. As the road took him higher in elevation, it started to snow, and the Tucson really began to shine. In near-whiteout conditions with little traction on the road, it "was nothing short of phenomenal -- over icy, windy, snowy roads, the vehicle was perfect, never giving us any white-knuckle moments."

Additionally, our Tucson went to Mammoth Lakes, a popular summer and winter destination five hours north of Los Angeles, where it served as pack mule for an editor who embarked on a multi-day camping trip with friends and family. "I was impressed with the amount of gear the cargo area held -- the rear became downright cavernous with the second row folded," she logged.

More often than the occasional out-of-town excursion, the Tucson was enlisted to battle Los Angeles traffic. Not surprisingly, its compact size made it easy to maneuver around our busy, congested streets and a piece of cake to parallel park and fit into tight spaces. For that reason alone, it was always a popular choice among staffers, but there were a few discouraging details worth mentioning.

The 2.7-liter V-6 is small and offers a respectable amount of horsepower, but for such a small vehicle it still felt sluggish and didn't offer the fuel economy we would've expected. In fact, the Tucson only got one mpg better average fuel economy than the much bigger and heavier 3.5-liter Honda Ridgeline V-6. Of course, this small V-6 is one the Hyundai's had for a while, and we'd expect a newer generation engine soon. Likewise, the four-speed automatic seems to slip away much of the available power, and it sure would be nice not to buzz at near 3000 rpm at highway speeds.

Likewise, editors cited the lack of storage areas and cubbies in the doors and center console. As for overall ride and handling, comments were mixed: Some staffers felt the steering was comparable with that of other vehicles in its class, while others found themselves correcting halfway through most turns, usually having to dial in more input than expected. Some of that, we suspect, is in the suspension design, while some is probably inherent in what a compact SUV's design parameters will allow, especially at this price.

Our Tucson went through four standard service procedures, and not once did we have additional issues for the dealer to investigate. That says a lot for its reliability.

In summing up our experience with this Hyundai, one editor noted, "It's easy to say the Tucson is a good value -- it's got a V-6, airbags, stability control, good interior room, back-country capability, all for under $24,000. But there are a few other good vehicles also in that ballpark."

Maybe Hyundai isn't the first name that comes to mind for most shoppers, but this little SUV served us well for the 12 months and 23,000 miles we had it. Worth a look if you're ready buy in this segment.

2006 Hyundai Tucson 4wd Limited
Base price $18,445
Price as tested $23,320
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 4-door, 5-pass
Engine 2.7-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
SAE net hp @ rpm 173 @ 6000
SAE net torque @ rpm 178 @ 4000
Transmission 4-speed automatic
0-60 mph, sec 10.7
EPA, city/hwy 19/24
Total mileage 23,105
Average test mpg 18.1
Observed worst mpg 10.8
Observed best mpg 24.9
Average distance per fill-up 190.9
Average cost per fill-up $29.76
Average cost per gallon $2.90
Number of services 4
Overall service cost $332.48
Problem areas None

By Scott Mortara
Photography by Julia LaPalme

Hyundai Announces Name of Future Five-Door

Hyundai Announces Name Of Future Five-Door

All-New 2009 Elantra Touring Moves A Popular Nameplate In A Sportier, More Functional Direction

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., 08/08/2007 Hyundai Motor America Vice President of Product Development and Strategic Planning John Krafcik, speaking at the Center of Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars, announced Hyundai's all-new five-door compact will be named "Elantra Touring." Elantra Touring will reach dealers in the spring of 2008 as a 2009 model year vehicle. The "Touring" name captures this all-new model's combination of high-function and fun-to-drive character. Elantra Touring will once again extend Elantra's product line into the compact five-door segment. (The previous generation also featured a sporty five-door model). Elantra Touring will come with class-leading standard safety technologies, including Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control, ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and six standard airbags, including side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. The vehicle will be the first compact five-door with standard Electronic Stability Control.[1]

Elantra Touring will have the most interior volume (passenger volume plus cargo space) of any five-door in its class and will be powered by the same fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, in-line four-cylinder found in the Elantra sedan. This newest Hyundai will also feature unique sport suspension and steering tuned for greater response and handling, while offering Hyundai's first USB port, along with a standard auxiliary jack and standard XM Satellite Radio®. Elantra Touring's competition will include the Toyota Matrix, Dodge Caliber and Mazda3.


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 more than 750 dealerships nationwide.

[1] Based on AutoPacific mainstream compact 5-Door segmentation

Monday, August 06, 2007

2007 Hyundai Veracruz

2007 Hyundai Veracruz

Hyundai is successfully changing the way Americans look at their product line.

During the past decade, the Korean automaker's lackluster build quality and stodgy designs have given way to sophisticated styling and improved fit and finish -- the likes of which mimic their Japanese competitors.

"Our company is experiencing the fastest quality improvement in its history," Hyundai Product Manager Miles Johnson said. "Our entire organization is fanatical about quality."

Hyundai's redesigned Sonata sedan and Santa Fe sport utility are current samples that have helped fuel the company's annual U.S. sales growth from 91,217 units in 1998 to last year's 455,520 units.

The newest member to join the Hyundai product line is the midsize 2007 Hyundai Veracruz crossover vehicle outfitted in GLS, SE or upscale Limited models.

Veracruz is larger than its Santa Fe brethren with a 4-inch-longer wheelbase and 6-inch overall length increase that yields a car-like ride quality akin to most large sedans. Cabin acoustics and body sound insulation absorbs engine and road noise to whisper levels.

Unlike a sedan however, Veracruz can manage up to seven passengers with a standard third row 50/50 split-folding seat that accommodates adults for short jaunts, but caters best for children. Second row occupants enjoy adult-size head, leg and knee room with split seats that slide and recline to suit their comfort needs.

Second and third row seats easily fold down to create a cargo hold that swallows everything from bicycles to building material.

Up front, user friendly controls greet the driver with easy-to-read gauges that turn to a soft blue hue for nighttime driving.

Supple cloth seat cushions and soft-textured materials create a pleasing and comfortable ride for all passengers. Limited models are available with two-tone leather upholstery.

Veracruz teams a 260-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission that propels its standard front-wheel drivetrain managed by 17-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in all-season rubber. All models are available with all-wheel drive.

Electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes, front and three-row side curtain airbags are standard.

Veracruz is equipped with power accessories, steering wheel audio controls, air conditioning with separate rear climate controls, cruise control, rear window wiper and a keyless entry system.

Popular option packages include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rear-obstacle detection system, power sunroof, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers and power adjustable pedals. Bluetooth hands-free phone system, auxiliary iPod jack and XM satellite radio also are available.

The 2007 Hyundai Veracruz GLS enters the crossover segment at $26,995, followed by the SE model for $28,695. Limited stretches the bottom line to $32,995. Add $1,700 for all-wheel drive.

Sunday, July 29
Times Auto Writer