Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hyundai Assurance Enhanced for 2010

Expanded protection includes America's Best Warranty™, vehicle return and Roadside Assistance, creating the most comprehensive consumer safety net in the industry

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 12/29/2009 Hyundai Motor America will expand Hyundai Assurance in 2010 to include America's Best Warranty™ and 24-hour Roadside Assistance. These programs will join the innovative vehicle return program, initiated in January 2009 to protect consumers in an uncertain economic environment, as complimentary services on every Hyundai model sold in the United States. The suite of protection now offered under Hyundai Assurance provides the most comprehensive safety net in the industry, all at no additional cost to the consumer.

Hyundai will extend the vehicle return option through 2010, continuing the unique program that permits Hyundai customers to return their new vehicle if they unexpectedly lose their income. The program set a trend in early 2009 for similar consumer guarantees from airlines, retailers and other automakers looking to alleviate the stress of making a significant purchase during a recession. Hyundai sales increased 6.2 percent through November, improving market share faster than any other automaker in 2009, in part due to the strength of Hyundai Assurance.

"Hyundai Assurance represents our complete commitment to our customers, with job-loss vehicle return coverage, five years of roadside assistance, and our industry-leading 10-year warranty," said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. "Assurance shows that we're doing things a little bit differently at Hyundai, and this is making a difference in our business results. You can expect more of this in 2010, starting with the all-new Tucson and Sonata."

For 2010, Hyundai Assurance coverage includes:

America's Best Warranty™

The warranty that changed the industry at its inception in 1999 now headlines a suite of protection programs under the Hyundai Assurance umbrella. America's Best Warranty is highlighted by a fully transferrable five-year, 60,000-mile new vehicle warranty to repair or replace components manufactured or originally installed by Hyundai that are defective in material or factory workmanship, under normal use and maintenance. Additionally, new Hyundai buyers are covered by 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain coverage which includes repair or replacement of Hyundai-manufactured or installed powertrain components (i.e., selected engine and transmission/transaxle components) under normal use and maintenance. Other coverage includes seven-year, unlimited miles anti-perforation warranty, 12-month, 12,000-mile replacement parts and accessory limited warranty, and eight-year, 80,000-mile federal emission and performance warranty. For full details about America's Best Warranty, please see:

Vehicle Return Program

The Hyundai Assurance vehicle return program, the first of its kind for an automaker in the U.S., returns for 2010. The coverage allows consumers to walk away from a financing obligation when certain adverse life events occur, such as involuntary unemployment, providing protection from financial shortfalls that arise from vehicle depreciation (negative equity) up to $7,500. Hyundai Assurance will remain standard protection on new vehicles financed or leased from a participating Hyundai dealer, and supplements all existing consumer incentives. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment history or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months of the financing or lease date for vehicles financed through any lender and financing source.

The Hyundai Assurance vehicle return program is administered by WALKAWAY USA, LLC. For more details, please visit or

Roadside Assistance

If for any reason a new Hyundai becomes disabled, owners have a safety net with five years of 24-hour roadside assistance. Roadside assistance offers drivers peace of mind under the following circumstances:

  * Towing for inoperable vehicles, including accidents
  * Battery jump starts
  * Change flat tire
  * Lock-out assistance
  * Out of gas assistance
  * Trip interruption


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 790 dealerships nationwide.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hyundai Tucson proves it's time to buy a Hyundai

BEVERLY HILLS -- Hyundai needed a more-competitive small crossover-utility vehicle to get U.S. buyers to pay attention in a market segment dominated by Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 -- the three best-selling SUVs of any kind.

So the South Korean car company chose a design from its Frankfurt unit and made sure it would accommodate every gadget typical of bigger, fancier machines.

But it did not bother to make room for a V-6. Those are passé at Hyundai these days, and a four-cylinder should be quite enough, thank you.

A variety of preproduction 2010 Tucsons tested around here seemed more refined, more comfortable and more agile than those key competitors.

If you need a third-row seat, though, RAV4 is the only one. Or if you crave a hybrid, help yourself to an Escape. Tote lots of stuff? Tucson's cargo space is some 40% shy of main rivals'.

But if your only hesitation is the thought of snide remarks from outdated others who still think of Hyundai as a second-tier brand, grow up and make your own choice. The naysayers will be on board soon enough.

Perhaps it'll be when they notice the much-longer Hyundai warranty (60,000 miles overall, 100,000 miles powertrain). Or the all-wheel drive (AWD) that lets you lock it into true four-wheel-drive mode (50% of power to each end). And how about fuel-economy ratings 5% to 10% (1 to 3 mpg) better than those of key rivals?

As if trying to dispel the "cheap car" myth, Hyundai picked this hoity-toity locale to present Tucson to journalists. Bit of a reach, the Beverly Hills connection, but the remade Tucson is pretty slick.

The appearance is supposed to be European, though it doesn't look much like what was on the roads during a recent trip to Germany and the U.K.

By whatever name, the styling is dramatic: sweep and swoop and angles and edges. Will it wear well or soon seem outdated? For the moment, it looks good. Oddly color-sensitive. Nice in white, a color worn well by almost no vehicle.

Rear visibility is compromised by the way the sheet metal kicks up beginning at the back edge of the rear door. Pinches down the rear-most side window. Even so, you wouldn't say it's dangerously difficult to see out the back and rear quarter.

What about that four-banger-only business? Tucson has the perverse advantage of comparing the new powertrain with a ho-hum (at best) V-6 in the old Tucson. Wouldn't take much to seem better.

Abetted by Hyundai's self-designed, excellent-shifting, six-speed automatic, the Tucson's 2.4-liter, 176-horsepower four felt lively, smooth and capable in a day rolling up miles on rural canyon roads, freeways and the Pacific Coast Highway in heavy traffic. More pleasant to drive than rivals' four-bangers. All have similar power, but Tucson models generally weigh less. And despite being 3 inches longer and an inch wider, the 2010 Tucson base model weighs 61 pounds less than the 2009.

Did the four feel like a V-6? No. Did that seem to matter? No. Was the experience undercut by any sort of coarse, bust-a-gut roar you often get in four-cylinder vehicles? No. Floor it and go, liking the sound and sensations. Simple and satisfying.

What else the drives showcased:

-Dandy manual. The six-speed stick shift, offered only in the base GLS with front-wheel drive, was an easy joy. Light-touch clutch, little worry about killing the engine or jerky shifts.

-Panoramic sunroof. Hyundai's first. Handsome option for those who can't stand being unenlightened from above.

-Roomy interior. You'd think you were in a midsize machine, especially back-benchers.

-Clean, classy accommodations. Hyundai's a champion at presenting all the dials, instruments and other hoo-hah you need in stunning simplicity that looks and feels inviting.

Favorite example of less-is-more: Manual-shift mode for Tucson's automatic transmission is via the floor lever. Period. No goofy steering-column shift paddles that are useful to Grand Prix racers loath to lift a digit from the wheel at 200 mph but laughably silly in many modern family cars.

-Good down-the-road dynamics. Based on the commendable Elantra chassis, Tucson had modest body lean for an SUV. Electric power steering was well-tuned, with good on-center feel on straight roads and responsive turning and road feel in the snaky stuff. Brakes felt good, though nearly every automaker has room to approach the Audi standard of suddenness in the "whoa" pedal.

-Niggling details. Safety belt for middle rear-rider hangs from the ceiling. Messy looking, distracting in the rearview mirror and a possible entanglement when you fold the back seat.

It's hard to lower windows just-so to prevent whistle or buffeting. Doable, but takes fussing.

Rear seat doesn't slide fore-aft, as rivals' do.

Hyundai's hot. Sales up 6.2%, Autodata says, in an overall market down 23.9% through November. Only others up this year: Kia, 7.2%; Subaru, 13.6%.

The 2010 Tucson suggests that Hyundai will be among the winners for quite some time.

-What? Compact, four-door, five-passenger crossover-utility vehicle that's different in almost every detail from the vehicle of the same name it replaces.

Two flavors: GLS and Limited, each available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).

-When? On sale this month.

-Where? Designed in Frankfurt, tweaked in California, manufactured in Ulsan, South Korea.

-Why? Needed a serious rival to Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, which currently outsell Tucson in the U.S. about 10-to-1.

-How much? Base GLS FWD manual starts at $19,790 including $795 shipping. High-end Limited AWD with premium package is $29,490.

-How potent? Optional V-6 has been discontinued. Only engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that Hyundai calls Theta II, rated 176 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 168 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000, mated to six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode. Six-speed manual available on GLS FWD only.

-How big? Six inches shorter than CR-V, otherwise similar but has considerably less cargo space. Tucson is 173.2 inches long, 71.7 in. wide, 66.3 in. tall (with roof rails), on a 103.9-in. wheelbase.

Weighs 3,179 to 3,516 lbs.

Passenger space: 101.9 cubic feet. Cargo space: 25.7 cu. ft. behind second row, 55.8 cu. ft. when rear seat's folded.

Tows up to 2,000 lbs. Turning circle diameter, 34.7 ft. Carries 1,091 to 1,294 lbs. of people, cargo and accessories, depending on model.

-How thirsty? FWD automatic rated 23 miles per gallon in town, 31 highway, 26 in combined driving. FWD manual: 22/30/25. AWD automatic: 21/28/24.

Trip computers in preproduction test cars registered:

GLS AWD automatic: 22.3 mpg (4.48 gallons per 100 miles) in mixed driving including suburbs, freeway and winding canyon roads.

GLS FWD manual: 26.8 mpg (3.73 gal./100 mi.) in suburbs during heavy traffic.

Limited AWD automatic: 28.7 mpg (3.48 gal./100 mi.) in a mix of suburbs and winding, hilly canyon roads that were driven mainly in second and third gears.

Burns regular, holds 14.5 gallons.

-Overall: Could be the new champ among small SUVs.

By James R. Healey USA TODAY

Thursday, December 03, 2009


HOLYOKE, MA, DECEMBER 14, 2009: Lazer 99.3's morning host Leslie Hall has been battling afternoon host Pat Kelly to see who can raise more toys for the kids at Brightside this holiday season. Brightside for Families and Children is a prestigious and comprehensive nonprofit child welfare, mental health and family support center offering contemporary services for children, adolescents and their families. Both Leslie and Pat have spent nights at the Holyoke Mall collecting toys this holiday season, and it all comes to a head at one final event on the afternoon of Monday, December 14th from 2PM to 4PM on at Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke. Atlantic recording artists Skillet (online at as well as independent band Aranda (online at will each perform acoustic sets in the showroom. The only way to gain admission for these exclusive sets is to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the dealership on the day of the show. Again "Toys to the World" to benefit Brightside takes place Monday, December 14th in the showroom at Gary Rome Hyundai, 1000 Main Street, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Sonata Injects Emotion, Advanced Powertrains and Superior Quality into Bland Segment Hyundai today introduced its all-new 2011 Sonata at the Los Angeles Auto Show. This marks the North American debut of the latest version of the popular midsize sedan, introducing Hyundai's "Fluidic Sculpture" design language and an all four-cylinder engine lineup to the U.S. market.


* All-new sixth generation Sonata midsize sedan
* Fluidic Sculpture design
* All four-cylinder engine lineup
* Launches with new Theta II 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine and in-house six-speed automatic transmission
   o Class leading fuel economy of 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway*
   o Class leading 198 horsepower standard* (200 horsepower on SE trim*)
* 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine and Hybrid Blue Drive models to debut by 2010 year-end
* Production begins at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in December with retail sales beginning in January
* XM Satellite Radio™, real-time XM NavTraffic, XM Data Services, HD Radio Technology™, Bluetooth®, Touch-screen navigation and iPod®/USB inputs

Sonata is the second vehicle in Hyundai's 24/7 version 2.0 product initiative (seven new models in the next 24 months) following on the heels of the all-new Tucson. Production of Sonata will begin later this month at Hyundai's U.S. plant in Alabama with retail sales beginning in January.

The 2011 Sonata represents a modern approach to the traditional midsize sedan segment by using only advanced four-cylinder engines, emotional design and luxury features offered with Hyundai's strong value proposition. The 2011 Sonata poses some intriguing questions:

* Why can't a smart, solid sedan also have modern, sleek, sophisticated style?
* Why pay so much to get a taste of luxury?
* Why can't an efficient four-cylinder engine give V6 power?


Beginning with the 2011 Sonata and 2010 Tucson projects, Hyundai designers set to work about three and half years ago on Fluidic Sculpture. Fluidic Sculpture is a consistent, cohesive design language that will ripple through the entire Hyundai showroom. In developing the initial Sonata sketches, Hyundai designers considered the interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures to create the illusion of constant motion. Inspired by nature, Fluidic Sculpture injects sophistication and dynamic angles into the shape of a vehicle and now serves as the core of Hyundai's future design identity.

The exterior of the all-new Sonata is long, light and low. The high beltline allows for a long, sleek roofline accented by the third window. A monoform side profile includes flowing lines highlighted by a Hyundai signature chrome accent that spans the length of the car. Normally, this type of trim is only found around the windows. On the new Sonata, this trim extends out from the headlamps, juts up along the hood and through the beltline. The face is bold with a large powerful chrome grille and headlamps that integrate precise details. The stance is completed by 16-, 17- or 18-inch multi-spoke wheels.

The sophisticated look continues inside where Hyundai has created an upscale ambiance thanks to a flow-through center console and instrument panel. These flowing surfaces complement the exterior design and wrap around the driver and passengers.


The sleek design, combined with Hyundai's expertise in interior packaging, has produced an interior that delivers class-leading comfort, functionality and practicality. A sleek roofline typically compromises headroom and interior volume but, at 120.2 cubic feet, the Sonata has the most interior volume of its key competitors. It is so spacious, Sonata continues to be classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Large car, truly a "class above" Camry, Altima, Fusion and Malibu (all are categorized as Midsize cars). Even in trunk room, the Sonata shines. Sonata's 16.4 cu. ft. of trunk space gives it a 9.3 percent advantage over the Camry, and a 17.1 percent advantage over Accord.

  2011 Sonata 2010 Camry 2010 Accord 2010 Altima 2010 Fusion 2010 Malibu
Passenger volume (cu. ft.) 103.8 101.4 106.0 100.7 100.3 97.7
Cargo volume (cu. ft.) 16.4 15.0 14.0 15.3 16.5 15.1
Total interior volume (cu. ft.) 120.2 116.4 120.0 116.0 116.8 112.8
EPA size classification Large Midsize Large Midsize Midsize Midsize


The new Sonata will launch with Hyundai's new Theta II GDI 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a Gasoline Direct-Injection (GDI) fuel delivery system, which contributes to improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Sonata is the first midsize sedan to adopt GDI technology as standard equipment in a naturally aspirated powertain. This shorter, more direct path of fuel delivery, allows for greater control of the fuel mixture at the optimum moment, thus improving efficiency. The fuel is injected by a camshaft-driven, high pressure pump that operates at pressures up to 2,175 psi. Direct injection also utilizes a higher than normal 11.3:1 compression ratio for increased power. The pistons are "dished" to increase combustion efficiency in the cylinder. This powerplant will deliver best-in-class fuel economy, best-in-class four-cylinder horsepower and best-in-class torque.

Sonata delivers an impressive 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway estimated fuel economy rating* with the available six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC®. (When equipped with the six-speed manual, the Sonata achieves an estimated 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway fuel economy rating). The preliminary horsepower and torque ratings for the Theta II GDI are 198 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. In the SE trim which includes a standard dual exhaust, the engine delivers 200 horsepower. This high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Induction System (VIS) for better engine breathing. A version of this engine also meets Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards.

  2011 Sonata (est.) 2010 Camry 2010 Accord 2010 Altima 2010 Fusion 2010 Malibu
Engine 2.4L I4 2.5L I4 2.4L I4 2.5L I4 2.5L I4 2.4L I4
Horsepower 198 @ 6300 169 @ 6000 177 @ 6500 175 @ 5600 175 @ 6000 169 @ 6400
Specific output (HP/Liter) 82.5 67.6 73.8 70.0 70.0 70.4
Torque 184 @ 4250 167 @ 4100 161 @ 4300 180 @ 3900 172 @ 4500 160 @ 4500
Fuel economy (A/T) 23/35 22/33 22/31 23/31 23/34 22/33

Next year, Hyundai will add a 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine and a 2.4-liter Hybrid Blue Drive model featuring Hyundai's breakthrough lithium polymer battery pack. Details about these powertrains will be announced at the 2010 New York Auto Show. Sonata's innovative segment first powertrain lineup is a key driver of Hyundai's goal to be the most fuel-efficient automaker on the planet.


Hyundai's commitment to making the Sonata extremely fuel efficient continues with a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC manual control or a standard six-speed manual transaxle.

Hyundai's all-new six-speed automatic A6MF2 transaxle helps the company meet its goals of improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Shifts are silky-smooth with an option of manual control through the SHIFTRONIC feature.

Drivers can access the SHIFTRONIC feature by moving the gear selector into a separate gate. Pushing the selector forward or pulling it rearward will shift the transmission up or down sequentially, adding to driver control. The SE trim will also feature steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. A clear LCD readout on the instrument panel shows the gear being used.

Designed for transverse engine applications in passenger cars and SUVs, the new compact transmission puts Hyundai into an elite class of auto manufacturers who have designed their own proprietary six-speed automatic transmissions. The strength of the design is its unique layout which makes it smaller, more compact and lighter than any other six-speed transmission on the market today.

For the customer, the new six-speed delivers a performance edge. In this application, it helps brings a nine percent gain in fuel economy (35 mpg* versus 32 mpg). The gearbox has no dipstick because it is filled with automatic transmission fluid that is good for the life of the vehicle under normal usage conditions, thereby reducing maintenance costs.

Developed over a four-year period, this new six-speed automatic is 26.4 pounds lighter than the five-speed it replaces. It also is 1.6 inches shorter and considerably simpler, having 62 fewer parts, which is a key to increased durability, lighter weight and lower cost.

When it comes to transmissions, more gears are definitely better. The addition of a sixth gear enables closer spacing between gear ratios providing a better balance of performance and fuel economy while the wide overall gear ratio helps deliver strong acceleration.

The gearbox has three planetary gearsets and a unique flat torque converter that shortens the unit's overall length by 0.47 inches. Four pinion differentials improve durability and further minimize size.

Another example of engineering ingenuity is found in the design of the hydraulic pressure control unit. Slight manufacturing deviations from one solenoid valve to the next often times cause fluctuation in the hydraulic pressure and affect shift precision and quality. The transmission featured in the Sonata cleverly integrates adjustment screws in the valves that enable each of the eight valves to be calibrated at the factory. This feature ensures stable hydraulic pressure at any shift point which facilitates a high degree of precision and control needed to deliver fast, smooth and precise shifts throughout the rpm range.


An advanced four-wheel independent suspension system combines a supple ride with precise handling and steering response for Sonata GLS and Limited models. Sonata uses MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems with increased travel for improved wheel control and a smoother ride. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs, fade-resistant gas-charged dampers and stabilizer bars. The suspension has been optimized to keep the vehicle flat during corning and provide quick turn-in response. The rear suspension uses aluminum components to reduce weight and improve suspension performance. The GLS and Limited models also use advanced low-rolling resistance tires to improve fuel economy while maintaining good ride and handling performance.

The Sonata SE is an even more exciting and willing partner for drivers who prefer sportier ride and handling dynamics. The sport-tuned suspension features stiffer springs and larger stabilizer bars, resulting in a 20 percent increase in roll stiffness. Unique SE dampers, including monotube shocks in the rear are used to control the more aggressive suspension. Low profile 18-inch tires round out the unique chassis components of the Sonata SE.

All Sonatas have column-mounted, motor-driven electric power steering that adjusts instantly to changing driving conditions while improving fuel economy over a conventional steering system. A quick-ratio steering rack is used for crisp feel on turn-in. Sonata's turning diameter of 35.8 feet is better than Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion and Malibu.

  2011 Sonata 2010 Camry 2010 Accord 2010 Altima 2010 Fusion 2010 Malibu
Turning diameter (feet) 35.8 36.1 37.7 36.1 37.5 40.4


One of the program targets for the 2011 Sonata engineering team was world-class power-to-weight ratio. Power-to-weight ratio pays dividends in both performance and fuel economy.

Vehicle 2011 Sonata 2010 Camry 2010 Accord 2010 Altima 2010 Fusion 2010 Malibu
Burb weight (lbs.) 3199 3307 3269 3180 3342 3415
Horsepower 198 169 177 175 175 169
Power-to-weight ratio 16.2 19.6 18.5 18.2 19.1 20.2

Sonata is rich in ultra-high-strength steel, leading to world-class body rigidity. The 2011 Sonata is 25 percent stiffer in torsion and 19 percent stiffer in bending rigidity than its predecessor, yet it is lighter than many midsize sedans, also offering more interior room.

This focus on power-to-weight ratio pays dividends across the board. The Sonata owes its ability to deliver both strong performance and excellent fuel economy in great part to its impressive power-to-weight efficiency.


Sonata is built from the ground up with safety in mind, with a hot stamped ultra-high-strength steel body structure, advanced airbag technology and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), delivering on Hyundai's commitment to both active and passive safety technology leadership. The prior generation Sonata was the first midsize sedan with standard ESC when it launched in March of 2005. ESC was not standard equipment on Honda Accord until the 2008 model year and the 2010 model year for Toyota Camry. Once again every 2011 Sonata has lifesaving ESC as standard equipment. This is important because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that ESC results in 35 percent fewer single-vehicle crashes and 30 percent fewer single-vehicle fatalities in passenger cars.

The Sonata also features a state-of-the-art braking package. The package includes four-wheel disc brakes and an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) including Brake Assist, which provides maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to automatically adjust the braking force to front and rear axles based on the vehicle loading conditions.

Sonata features six airbags—including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags—along with active front-seat head restraints. The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is projected to earn the NHTSA's top rating of five-stars for front and side impacts. Other passive safety features include shingle-style rear-seat head restraints for improved visibility, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, front-seat seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and a rear-seat Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for child seats.


* An AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers comes standard in the Sonata GLS and SE.
* AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with touch-screen navigation and Dimension® premium sound with subwoofer and external amplifier is optional on the GLS and SE models.
* The Limited model comes standard with an AM/FM/XM/6-disc CD-changer/MP3 with HD Radio Technology and Dimension premium sound.
* The optional AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with touch-screen navigation that includes a 400-watt external amplifier system on the Limited comes with Infinity audio.


Dimension is a new branded audio system created by Hyundai Mobis and features a Variable Equalizer with normal, dynamic and concert settings. The last generation equalizer provided only one fixed sound field. The new Variable Equalizer, tuned by renowned audiophile Ken Pohlmann, is a function for controlling the sound qualities sensed by listeners. For example, Pohlmann added bass response to the concert mode typically not found in other systems.


Audio enthusiasts with even more demanding tastes will be impressed by the AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with touch-screen navigation that includes a 400-watt external amplifier, dedicated Dual Voice Coil (DVC) subwoofer, eight-channels and nine Infinity speakers available on the Limited. Infinity and Hyundai engineers worked together during the early stages of development to integrate the speakers into Sonata's interior. The team spent hundreds of hours fine-tuning the system for the cabin's unique acoustic attributes.


* 2011 Sonata comes standard with three months of XM Satellite Radio, real-time XM NavTraffic and XM Data Services
* Sonata also will be the first popular midsize sedan to offer the clarity of digital HD Radio Technology from the factory
* First vehicle in its class to offer a Bluetooth hands-free phone system standard
* Standard auxiliary iPod/USB inputs allow drivers to fully control and charge iPods directly from the head unit

Touch-screen navigation is available on all trim levels and includes a high-resolution screen. This system provides new features including Bluetooth streaming audio capability. This easy-to-use unit can be controlled via 6.5-inch WVGA touchscreen or voice-activation by headliner-mounted microphone.

The system features 8GB of flash memory and comes matched with a sound system that plays compact discs, accesses digital music files via Bluetooth streaming audio or allows driver and passenger to access their personal listening devices through the iPod/USB/auxiliary inputs. Bluetooth audio wirelessly streams music from select mobile phones to the head unit. Also, with a Bluetooth-enabled phone one can look up a local restaurant and call for reservations before plotting the route. The XM Satellite Radio interface is also integrated into the navigation unit and features channel logos, real-time NavTraffic and XM Data services such as WX Satellite Weather®, XM Stock Ticker and XM Sports Ticker. The system is also updateable via the USB.


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 790 dealerships nationwide.

* Preliminary estimate

Monday, October 19, 2009

Five Reasons To Put the 2010 Hyundai Elantra on Your New Car Shopping List

Time was, Hyundai cars were a bit of a joke in this country. After a strong launch here in 1986 by selling sedan and hatchback versions of its Excel subcompact the firm managed to get a reputation for manufacturing less than high quality cars.

But that all changed with the introduction of Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile warranty on all vehicles. And fortunately for the South Korean firm, this coincided with the company seeing its quality rankings improve to Honda- and Toyota-like levels.

With that as background, here are five reasons to consider the 2010 Hyundai Elantra.

Reason 1: Like Any Hyundai, the 2010 Elantra is a Screaming Bargain

Hyundais in this country have always sold in part on the strength of their high value-to-content ratio, and the Elantra is no different. With prices starting at $14,120 for a five-speed GLS model, Hyundai is still managing to keep its pricing humble.

Do take into account that any GLS purchaser will no doubt want the $1,700 popular equipment package, as it is the only way to get air conditioning.

Reason 2: Check out that Warranty

Even though Hyundai's 10-year warranty is no longer revolutionary--what with brands like Suzuki copying the idea--who wouldn't like to buy a new car with coverage for that long?

The most catastrophic thing that can happen to a car owner who is still making payments is the failure of a transmission or engine. With the Hyundai Elantra and its generous warranty, you never have to worry about it.

Reason 3: The 2010 Elantra Touring Model

If you're on a tight budget for a new vehicle but know that your load-carrying needs extend beyond a sedan's capability, check out the Hyundai Elantra Touring, a new model last year.

Known as the Hyundai i30 in Europe, this ultra-cool hatchback just oozes European charm and panache. Prices for the Elantra Touring maxed out at $17,800 for a well equipped 2009 model. The only option was a sunroof.

This year Hyundai saw fit to take out many features that made the Touring cool and created a version for $1800 less. Buy the top-line Touring model, or buy the sedan.

Reason 4: A Hyundai is as Reliable as a Toyota or Honda?

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a hyper-reliable Hyundai. In the latest J.D. Power quality surveys, Hyundai found its way into the upper echelon of car manufacturers, right below Honda and above Toyota.

Honestly, though, it makes sense that Hyundai would make their vehicles as reliable as possible. They don't want to foot the bill for repairs from those seemingly endless warranties.

Reason 5: Since When Does Hyundai Equal Performance?

Time was that economy cars were tinny penalty boxes, with little or no concern for the latest safety and performance advances. But just check out the specs on the 2010 Hyundai Elantra.

All Elantras come with a 138-horsepower 2.0-liter engine with 16 valves, as well as four-wheel disc brakes. For drivers seeking the utmost in control, Hyundai offers a five-speed manual transmission on all models.

As you might expect, most of the Hyundai Elantra's competition comes in the form of the ubiquitous Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. But everyone drives one of those, and the Elantra is on average $2,000 to $3,000 less than comparable versions of these Japanese models.

In buying an Elantra, not only do you get the joy of driving something unique, but you will have money left over to do something irrational ... like buy a whole new clothes wardrobe.

In Milan, Italy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review: 2009 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track makes more out of less

The 2.0T is the low man on Hyundai's Genesis Coupe totem pole, disappointing the power addled and whooping it up too much for pinkie-waving tea drinkers. However, raw power isn't what this turbo model is all about, and once that's made clear, the coupe becomes a delightful flavor in Hyundai's best recipe. All the careful execution of the Genesis Sedan carries over, with an extra dollop of involvement. It's a driver's car, pure and simple. And that's a recipe we enjoy as much as Mom's London Broil.

While the car-crazies have hotly anticipated the Genesis Coupe's retail arrival, mainstreamers have yet to get the memo that Hyundai has its afterburner lit. Entirely different than the Tiburon it sent packing, the Genesis Coupe is a rakishly good looking car with crisply pressed, creative styling. So it looks good, but how's it drive?

One thing's for certain, the Genesis Coupe has serious potential. In 2.0 Turbo form, the GEMA four-cylinder that Hyundai shares with Mitsubishi and Chrysler is mildly boosted to deliver 210 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. The torque is all-in by 2,000 rpm, and there's serious untapped potential in the aluminum engine. In fact, the Hyundai 2.0 shares some of its design with the raucous Mitsubishi Evo's powerplant, although parts differ between the two. The Evo connection is a tantalizing road map to increase the force-fed Genesis' hijinks, and the aftermarket ought to have a field day once it sinks its teeth in.

In the engine room, things are tidy and laid out in a businesslike fashion; the details have clearly been sweated. The turbocharger hangs off the passenger side of the block, and is plumbed through an intercooler before pressurizing the intake tract. There's plenty of room underhood for larger plumbing, aftermarket boost controllers and the usual hot-rodding suspects. The engine has been constructed with all of the right details: aluminum block and heads with cast-in cylinder liners, a bedplate for the lower end, oil sprayers to cool the pistons and dual overhead cams with continuously variable valve timing. Stout stuff. And the square dimensions, with both bore and stroke equaling 86 millimeters, make a good trade-off between off-boost torque and revvability.

The Track suspension package starches up the chassis with stiffened springs and dampers, adds larger diameter stabilizer bars (25mm front and 22 mm rear), stuffs 19-inch wheels with staggered, summer-only Bridgestones under the fenders, and upgrades the brakes with Brembo pieces. Four-piston calipers all around in the obligatory shade of red squeeze 13.4-inch rotors in front and 13-inchers out back, which is impressive braking hardware on a vehicle that's just shy of $28,000 dollars. More importantly for building performance cred, the Track package is not available with an automatic transmission.

Exiting a corner with Tutta Forza called up, a Track-trim Torsen limited-slip differential helps get the power down. The 2.0T has to work hard to break loose – which might strike some as less impressive to some than the big-torque V6 version, but on the track, most wheelspin is little more than wasted motion. While the Coupe and Sedan share a platform, there's nearly five fewer inches of Genesis wheelbase in the two door. A more substantive change is the strut front suspension in the coupe instead of the sedan's control arms. The struts keep costs down, but not at the expense of performance, and the strut towers are braced to keep the geometry stable. The Track suspension in our Genesis Coupe 2.0T is simply the finest job of performance-minded chassis calibration we've ever sampled from Hyundai. The extra stiffness might make your pocket change jingle, but it's still got enough compliance to be comfortable on most surfaces. The ride is busy, but it's acceptable for the extra capability, and more cushion is available by opting out out of the Track package. It's cheaper, too.

The rest of the goodies covered in the Track package are mostly cosmetic and comfort upgrades, including all the goods in the Premium trim level like an Infinity audio system, power moonroof, a power driver's seat, auto-dim mirrors and push-button start. Inside, aluminum dresses up the pedals and the comfortable, bolstered seats are covered in a combination of black leather and red "high friction" cloth. Navigation is forthcoming, too, though our tester sported a large, legible LCD at the top of the center stack in its place. Exterior details include foglamps, high-intensity discharge headlamps, and a large rear spoiler that we'd have accepted reduced downforce to avoid.

The driver's office is also a fantastically good effort. Controls are in the right places, the wheel and stubby shift knob are wrapped in leather, and the center stack is attractively clean while still carrying a full complement of controls for the ventilation and comprehensive entertainment systems. The metallized plastic that tastefully accents various surfaces in the interior may be easily marred, especially where the fob docks, so an entire keychain resting on the lower left corner of the console for thousands of miles is bound to leave a mark. In front of the driver are two metal-ringed nacelles housing legible gauges with halo-style lighting. All of the switches and buttons feel first-rate, and cheap plastics only invade unseen areas.

The only gripe we can muster is the way the steering wheel spokes occasionally block the stalks, making it difficult to see what you've set the intermittent wipers to. Casting an eye around the interior of the Genesis Coupe, you see refined design, and even though some surfaces appear richer than they feel, for the most part, only those who'd rather poke and prod the dash pad will be disappointed – the rest of us will be too busy driving the car.

Upon pressing the "go" button and setting off, we noticed pedals well placed for heel and toe downshifting, and the machinery is game to play along. Underway, there's a growl from the four-cylinder's exhaust, and you can detect the occasional whoosh from the mostly silent turbocharger. The Genesis impresses by being tight, rattle free, and more serene than we expected. A common complaint, at least among those who've tried the V6 Genesis Coupe, is that it has a heavy clutch. In the Turbo, we found the opposite to be the case; the clutch is light and the take-up point is vague. Likewise, steering feel has been widely praised when fitted with the other powertrain, but our initial impression was that it erred on the light side. However, the steering's communication won the day, conveying plenty of detail about what's going on at road level.

There's some softness when off-boost, especially in the first couple of gears where the shorter gearing of the Turbo prevents boost from building. It all fizzes up nicely in 3rd gear, though, and the 2.0 pulls strongly. At speed, a poke at the pedal delivers a responsive surge of pressurized acceleration. When attempting a quick tear through the gears, the electronic throttle's tendency to hang open during shifts precludes smooth driving. It's an emissions thing, for sure, but the calibration forces either slower shifts, or an acceptance of less graceful forward progress.

While there's certainly noticeable grunt delivered by the powertrain, the joy in the turbocharged Genesis Coupe is not in a thuggish shove into the seat. That's what the V6 is for. The 2.0T Track is all about being a pavement scalpel. The handling is clean and deft, the transmission plays along nicely as you row the six-speed gearbox, and the overall execution is impressive for a first effort at a rear-wheel drive coupe that's essentially a ponycar. The capable Genesis Coupe might not have you bellowing the theme to "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" in the same way that the telepathic Nissan 370Z does, and there are cars that will outrun it, but the Genesis Coupe can still hang without excuses.

The potential that lies within this inexpensive, well-crafted coupe is what's really exciting. The easy way to increased capability is winding up the boost. With the aggressive buy in price, there ought to be coins left rattling in the piggy bank for immediate upgrades. On the practical side, the Genesis Coupe offers a (very tight) back seat that folds, a trunk that's not too shabby for a coupe, and it can return 30 miles per gallon on the highway when driven far more gently than we managed. We made too many visits to Boostville to attain that EPA highway estimate.

While the Genesis Coupe is not perfect, it's an extremely solid entry into a newly refreshed RWD sport/ponycar class with plenty of competition. Anyone contemplating the neo-retro Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger ought to check out the Genny, as it offers a whole lot of performance for a solid price without egregious corner cutting. Hyundai's money has gone into the things that matter with this car, and it works phenomenally well, even if we were left wanting more torque in first and second gears every time we launched it hard. Wrap the package in handsome, original bodywork that's not trying to recapture 1969, and Hyundai's effort makes a compelling argument.

by Dan Roth

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hatchback Lacks Muscle, but Not Charm

CORNWALL, N.Y. -- Rosa Parks Brown, our chocolate Labrador, prefers subcompact cars. We think it's because subcompacts force humans to sit next to her. Parks, as we call her, loves humans, craves them. She hates being left alone in the rear compartments of large trucks, crossover utility vehicles or sedans.

In that regard, the subcompact Hyundai Accent SE hatchback, seemingly the least likely of vehicles to transport three adults, a large dog and all of their stuff, turned out to be ideal for our 320-mile journey here from our home in Northern Virginia.

Parks did the whole trip resting her head in the lap of her true master, our daughter Binta, or sticking her face as close as possible to the open front passenger window ostensibly to catch a breeze, but really to lick the back of the neck of the woman in the front passenger's seat, my wife, Mary Anne.

Other than my wife's occasional protests against being neck-slurped, it was a pleasant, easy trip -- surprisingly pleasant and easy.

The little Accent is the most affordable car made by Hyundai, a South Korean manufacturer that prides itself on the design and production of affordable automobiles. At Hyundai in the 1980s, that meant motorized trash, such as the now-defunct, seldom mourned Hyundai Excel subcompact.

Today's Hyundai no longer makes trash. In fact, the company has been reaching upscale and doing so successfully with models such as its new Genesis sedan. Next year, Hyundai will roll out its Equus sedan, a super luxurious automobile designed to compete with Mercedes-Benz's S-Class and BMW's 7-Series.

The only people laughing at the prospect of Hyundai taking on Mercedes-Benz and BMW are those who haven't been paying close attention to Hyundai.

I have written here and other places that Hyundai has mastered the art of Wal-Mart marketing. Some of you have taken that as an insult. It isn't.

To people who shop regularly at Wal-Mart, as we Browns do on our East Coast road trips, it is high praise. We get products and service we want with the quality we want at prices we consider unbeatable.

Hyundai understands that. It is committed to the proposition of high value for dollar, even in its least expensive car, the front-wheel-drive Accent hatchback.

The Accent is a subcompact with wiggle room, arguably with as much usable interior space as that offered by the more expensive Toyota Corolla. Fit and finish are as good as anything offered by Hyundai's Japanese rivals. In terms of air-bag count, standard safety equipment is better. You get standard side and head air bags in the Accent. You don't in the Corolla.

The Corolla has a more powerful four-cylinder engine -- 1.8 liters and 132 horsepower vs. 1.6 liters and 110 hp for the Accent. That makes the Accent more of a right-lane car than its Japanese rival. But both cars can exceed the top 65 mph speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike with the same unhappy result: an expensive conversation with a New Jersey state trooper.

Still, I would've preferred a larger engine in the Accent. And here's hoping that Hyundai creates a special iteration of the Accent with, maybe, a turbocharged 1.8 liter, four-cylinder diesel. That would make getting up Mine Hill Road here a lot easier than struggling along in second gear, which is what we had to do in the gasoline-fueled four-cylinder Accent SE used on this trip.

But Parks didn't mind the second-gear stuttering. With a fuel efficiency of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, using regular unleaded gasoline, we saved enough money to buy her some gourmet dog food.

Perhaps that's really why she prefers subcompact cars.

By Warren Brown
Washington Post

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hyundai Genesis sedan earns top billing

After just a few miles behind the wheel of the Hyundai Genesis sedan, it was easy to understand why this vehicle was named the 2009 North American Car of the Year -- the first such honor for any product from this South Korean automaker.

It was also easy to forget I was driving a Hyundai, because it felt more like I was behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz. I kid you not.

The company that made the mistake of introducing itself to the U.S. market in 1985 by introducing the miserable little Excel hatchback has graduated into a full-line automaker with a stable of vehicles designed to fit almost anyone's tastes.

But there is more Hyundai magic on the way. While the Genesis has a base price range of $32,250-$37,250 (plus $800 freight), the automaker plans to bring an even more-expensive luxury car to the United States late next year -- its Equus sedan, which it displayed at the recent Pebble Beach, Calif., luxury-car show.

The Equus is already on sale in South Korea, competed head-to-head against such vehicles as the BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-class. No U.S. prices have been announced yet for the Equus, and it might even get a different name for this market, but it probably will push into the $50,000 range when it arrives.

For now, though, people who want BMW, Lexus or Mercedes-style luxury -- but without the prestigious name, mind you -- can be happy with the Genesis sedan.

This car is not to be confused with the Genesis Coupe, which arrived this year as a 2010 model. The coupe, which I also tested recently, starts at $22,000 and is much-less luxurious than the larger and roomier sedan by the same name.

Hyundai's U.S. sales have held remarkably strong during this year of historically depressed overall industry totals, a credit not only to cars such as the Genesis sedan and coupe, but the strength and value of the entire Hyundai lineup -- which begins with the under-$10,000 Accent subcompact.

The company's success this year, while other automakers have been struggling to survive, has been helped by its value-pricing strategy, and, perhaps most of all, its "Hyundai Assurance" plan. Under that program, the automaker pledges to buy back any new Hyundai during the first year of ownership if the buyer becomes unemployed or can't work because of health problems.

The new luxury sedan, which was introduced to Super Bowl TV viewers in January, also was honored by the Web site as the "Best New Car of 2009," and named a "Top 5 Luxury Car for 2009" by, the consumer Web site operated by the National Automobile Dealers Association."

Genesis also earned five-star safety ratings for both front and side impacts in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Michael Deitz, Hyundai Motor America's product planning manager, contends that the Genesis "has the technology and features comparable to the world's leading premium sports sedans at a value Mercedes and BMW can't beat."

The car has the look and feel of a large, premium European sedan such as the BMW 5-series or Mercedes E-class, but at a much-lower cost. The styling is quite Mercedes-like -- not flashy, just classy.

The $32,250 starting price is for the base 3.8 model, which comes with a 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine.

On the top end, there is the 4.6-liter V-8 model, with an impressive 375 horsepower, beginning at $37,250.

Our tester was the model that most consumers are choosing – the 3.8 V-6. With extras such as a Premium Plus package ($3,000) and Technology package ($4,000), our tester rang up at $40,050 with freight.

With the Premium Plus package came 18-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped door and dash, power sunroof, power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, rain-sensing wipers, and more.

The Technology package added a 528-watt Lexicon audio system, integrated with a navigation system, with HD radio, XM satellite radio, and XM NavTraffic; a rear backup camera; adaptive headlights; front and rear parking assist; and cooled front seats.

Hyundai said it expected the Genesis to compete for customers with cars such as the Lexus ES, Chrysler 300 and Cadillac CTS, but added that it has performance capabilities and luxury features "comparable to sedans costing tens of thousands of dollars more."

The Genesis rides on a new rear-wheel-drive vehicle platform that Hyundai developed specifically for a luxury car, and it has an advanced five-link suspension at all four corners to give it both the ride and handling that consumers expect in a premium sedan.

Both engines come with six-speed automatic transmissions, although the gearboxes are different for each model.

With premium fuel, the V-8 has the 375 horsepower, but it's also designed to run on regular gas. The horsepower drops just slightly, to 368, with regular, but Hyundai says the car still outperforms all competitors in the amount of horsepower produced per liter of engine displacement.

While I haven't tested the V-8 model, I can tell you that the V-6 offered more power than I would ever need either in town or on the highway. The accelerator pedal takes a little getting used to, as just a small push gives the car a quick forward jolt -- bringing groans from my passengers, who said they though I was trying to snap their necks.

But once I got the hang of it, I heard no more complaints. It reminded me of the way my flight instructor taught me to handle the control wheel in the airplane -- "You don't turn the wheel," he said. "You just add pressure."

The ride was smooth and quiet, even at top freeway speeds, yet during spirited driving on twisty roads, the Genesis performed quite well, with no squishiness at all. Steering was more precise than I expected, as well, although not quite as crisp as that of a comparably sized BMW.

The Genesis has impressive EPA fuel economy numbers for a car with this much power -- 17 mpg city/25 highway for the V-8 and 18/27 for the V-6. Hyundai notes that this is better than many V-6 engines in smaller midsize cars.

Standard on the V-6 model are electronic stability control with traction control, antilock brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted side-curtain air bags, the electronic front head restraints, fog lights, automatic headlights, dual power/heated outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, heated leather seats with power adjustment up front, cruise control, white and blue interior lighting, keyless entry with push-button start, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, dual front fully automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage opener and compass, AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM audio system with iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth and floor mats.

The V-8 models come with most of the features of the V-6, plus 18-inch silver alloy wheels, chrome lower body side moldings, upgraded leather seats, leather-wrapped dash and door trim inserts, power glass sunroof with tilt and slide, power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, integrated memory system, Lexicon 15-speaker surround -sound audio system, six-disc CD changer, illuminated scuff plates, wood-trimmed leather steering wheel, power rear sunshade and rain-sensing wipers with auto-defogger windshield.

The car seats five, and as a full-size sedan, it's quite roomy for both front and rear passengers, with lots of rear legroom even when the front bucket seats are pushed all the way back on their tracks.

But my 11-year-old twin grandkids were much more comfortable in the back seat by themselves. With no one sitting in the middle, the center armrest can be pulled down, and it provides two decent cup holders.

The car comes with Hyundai's great warranty, which includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, along with 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain coverage, seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation protection, and 24-hour roadside assistance for five years with no mileage limit.

Towing, lockout service and trip-interruption expenses are included.

G. Chambers Williams

San Antonio Express-New

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2010 Hyundai Elantra Lineup Saves Gas And Goes Blue

Hyundai has made a very smart choice on its Elantra sedan for 2010: improved its fuel economy. And at the center of the improvement is a new frugal base model: the Elantra Blue.

Through some relatively simple engineering enhancements--such as a smart alternator, lower-friction components, and revised/taller gear ratios, along with revised engine calibration--Hyundai has improved fuel efficiency on the Elantra Blue (versus last year's Elantra models) by up to eight percent. EPA ratings now stand at 26 mpg city, 35 highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission--up from 24 mpg city, 33 highway on last year's model.

Due to "smart engineering enhancements" on other Elantra GLS and SE models, fuel economy ratings have gone up about one mpg in both city and highway ratings, to 26 mpg city, 34 highway.

Throughout the model line, the changes have been achieved while preserving the engine's power output. All models remain powered by a 138-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; PZEV versions make 132 hp.

Unfortunately, these changes don't apply to the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring sport wagon.

Prices are mostly unchanged, with the base Blue model just $25 higher than last year's GLS. The base Blue, at a $14,145 MSRP, includes power heated mirrors, power locks and windows, keyless entry, a split-folding rear seatback, and a tilt (though not telescopic) steering wheel. Options include air conditioning, an upgraded 172-watt audio system with MP3 compatibility, iPod and USB inputs, and cruise control. In short, it's a gas-saver but not a blue-light special.

The GLS moves a bit upscale from last year, adding most of those options plus a few more minor features, such as fog lamps, while the top-of-the-line SE includes steering-wheel audio controls, leather trim, telescopic steering-wheel adjustment, sport-tuned steering and suspension, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Of note is that the fuel-economy improvements in the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue model don't involve an extra-cost package (such as in the 2010 Kia Forte) or the need to step up to a higher-priced model. Hyundai points out in a release that the 2010 Elantra Blue is priced lower than base models of the 2010 Toyota Corolla, 2010 Ford Focus, 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, and 2009 Honda Civic.

General Motors likely revived this trend toward special trims of small-models with improved fuel economy. Last year GM produced an improved-efficiency XFE version of its Chevrolet Cobalt last year.

In the 1980s and into the 1990s, automakers produced various high-mpg trims such as the Dodge Omni Miser, Honda CRX HF, and Chevrolet Sprint ER

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hyundai Genesis is Class of the 2009 Model Year With Most Top-Car Honors

Headlined by the 2009 North American Car of the Year award, Hyundai's new flagship earns more top recognition than any other 2009 introduction

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 08/27/2009 Hyundai's all-new flagship, the Genesis sedan, launched to significant anticipation culminating with its coronation as the 2009 North American Car of the Year – the first time a Korean brand has ever achieved the honor. But Genesis didn't stop there, accumulating honor after prestigious honor to become the most decorated new car launch of the 2009 model year. At last count, Genesis tallied more than 20 top honors from the most prominent media outlets and automotive organizations in North America.

Genesis' trophy case includes awards and accolades from the likes of J.D. Power and Associates, Motor Trend, AutoPacific, and leading consumer publications. Genesis is built on Hyundai's all-new, performance-driven rear-wheel-drive architecture. It offers two powertrains, the Lambda 3.8-liter V6 engine producing 290 hp, and Hyundai's all-new Tau 4.6-liter V8 engine producing 375 hp. With technology rivaling more expensive luxury sedans, convenience features like push-button start and navigation system, and five-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), it's clear that Genesis is among the best new cars of 2009. But at a starting MSRP of just $32,250 and max price of just $42,000 for a fully loaded Genesis, it's no surprise the competition was left in Hyundai's rear-view mirror.

"Genesis was developed to rival the world's best luxury sedans so we knew it would be a great car, but we didn't know how it would be received by the automotive community," said Scott Margason, director of Product & Strategic Planning for Hyundai. "As the awards accumulated, we realized not only how well designed the Genesis was, but how far the Hyundai brand had come. Consumers and automotive industry influencers really embraced the idea of Hyundai producing a luxury product."

Genesis Sedan Awards

1. 2009 North America Car of the Year
2. Motor Trend – America's Top 40 New Cars
3. J.D. Power and Associates – Automotive, Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) - Most appealing midsize premium car
4. J.D. Power and Associates – Vehicle Launch Index (VLI) - Highest ranked 2009 all-new or redesigned vehicle
5. The Car Book 2009 – Best Bet (intermediate category)
6. – Best New Car
7. Kiplinger's Personal Finance – Best New Model (sedans $30,000-$45,000)
8. – Car of the Month (April)
9. – Top 5 Luxury Cars
10. – Best Car Buy - Top luxury cars under $35,000
11. – Car of the Year
12. – Car of the Year
13. On Wheels – Car of the Year
14. AutoPacific – Ideal Vehicle Awards - Aspirational Luxury Category
15. AutoPacific –Vehicle Satisfaction Awards - Aspirational Luxury Category
16. Consumer Reports – Top-Rated Vehicle (upscale sedan category)
17. Consumer Digest – Best Buy (luxury segment)
18. MyRide/Autobytel – Car of the Year
19. Ward's Auto World – 10 Best Engines (4.6 liter Tau V8)
20. Automobile Journalists Association of Canada – Canadian Car of the Year
21. Automobile Journalists Association of Canada – Best New Luxury Vehicle Under $50,000


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 780 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, Hyundai Assurance is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hyundai Tucson Wins 2009 Motorist Choice Award

Intellichoice and AutoPacific automotive experts recognize Tucson for owner satisfaction and overall value

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 08/19/2009 Intellichoice and AutoPacific honored Hyundai Tucson with a 2009 Motorist Choice Award in the Compact Crossover SUV category for its top scores in ownership satisfaction and overall value. The Motorist Choice Awards recognize new cars and trucks that give their owners both economic and emotional satisfaction, helping new car buyers find vehicles that best satisfy all of their personal transportation needs.

"Automakers have long known that car buyers are looking for outstanding value, and want to be proud of the car they drive," said James Bell, publisher and editor of "With the Hyundai Tucson being awarded a Motorist Choice Award, it proves to be a purchase that owners will be pleased with both financially and behind the wheel."

The fourth annual Motorist Choice Awards were co-developed by AutoPacific, known for its owner satisfaction rankings, and, the online source for automotive ownership cost and value analysis, to recognize the vehicles that delivered both the highest customer satisfaction and the lowest cost of ownership. One-hundred and ninety six cars, trucks, crossovers and SUVs were scored this year to determine the winners.

"It's an honor to be recognized by both and AutoPacific in the 2009 Motorist Choice Awards," said Brandon Ramirez, product manager, Hyundai Motor America. "With safety and technology features rivaling more expensive vehicles in the small SUV segment, Tucson is a smart option for car buyers seeking value, quality and reliability in their next car purchase."

For 2009, sound engineering refinements have been made to improve Tucson's EPA fuel economy values. Additional exterior and interior changes include all-new 16-inch alloy wheels, a more distinctive chrome grille, new tailgate trim and new GLS seat fabric. The Tucson SE 4WD received standard heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer. Tucson also has standard XM Satellite Radio™ and iPod®/USB and MP3 auxiliary input jacks.

INTELLICHOICE.COM AND SOURCE INTERLINK COMPANIES, INC., part of Source Interlink Media, LLC., is the market leader in automotive ownership cost and value analysis. Founded in 1986, is committed to empowering consumers to make better purchase decisions by providing independent and essential automotive information and tools. Through the web site (, consumers get the help they need to research, compare, configure and price vehicles. The site also connects buyers to the buying alternatives of their choice, including vehicle manufacturers and an online car buying guide. Source Interlink Media LLC is a subsidiary of Source Interlink Companies, Inc., a recognized provider of targeted media and marketing services, a leading U.S. distributor of home entertainment products and services and one of the largest publishers of magazines and online content for enthusiast audiences.


AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm, founded in 1986, also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters and its state-of-the-art automotive research facility are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area. Additional information can be found on AutoPacific's websites: and


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 780 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, Hyundai Assurance is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hyundai Genesis Coupe Recognized as a 'Most Fun' Clunker Replacement by Kelley Blue Book's's 10 most fun clunker replacements list helps new car shoppers turn clunker credit into pure driving excitement

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 08/18/2009 The editors of Kelley Blue Book's recognized the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe on its list of "10 Most Fun Clunker Replacements." The list was designed to help car shoppers looking to get more excitement out of their government credit under the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program. The Genesis Coupe was named "Most Fun" among such elite European competitors as Audi TT, BMW 128i and BMW 335d. editors said, "Have you driven a Hyundai lately? Quality, performance and overall appeal are way up, while purchase value remains strong (and resale values are improving). The rear-wheel-drive Genesis Coupe is by far the most fun Hyundai we've ever driven."

Genesis Coupe raises the performance ante from its sibling Genesis sedan, and shares its rear-wheel drive architecture and 5-link independent rear suspension to appeal to true driving enthusiasts. The Genesis Coupe offers a 30-mpg, 2.0-liter model with an intercooled four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 210 horsepower, and a 3.8-liter V6 Track model with 306 horsepower and massive Brembo brakes.

"To have the Genesis Coupe designated a fun clunker replacement by is great evidence of Genesis Coupe's dynamic performance appeal," said Derek Joyce, product development manager, Hyundai Motor America. "This is exactly why the Coupe was created - Hyundai's answer for enthusiasts wanting an affordable, thrilling and fuel efficient ride. We've seen great success with the Cash for Clunkers program across the Hyundai line-up and are excited to celebrate this recognition for the brand."

For more information about the Top 10 Most Fun Clunker Replacements from Kelley Blue Book's, please visit


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 780 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, the Hyundai Assurance Program is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.


Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource® has provided vehicle buyers and sellers with the new and used vehicle information they need to accomplish their goals with confidence. The company's top-rated Web site,, provides the most up-to-date pricing and values, including the New Car Blue Book® Value, which reveals what people actually are paying for new cars. The company also reports vehicle pricing and values via products and services, including software products and the famous Blue Book® (Official Guide. According to the C.A. Walker Research Solutions, Inc. - 2008 Spring Automotive Web Site Usefulness Study, is the most useful automotive information Web site among new and used vehicle shoppers, and half of online vehicle shoppers visit is a leading provider of new car prices, car reviews and news, used car blue book values, auto classifieds and car dealer locations. No other medium reaches more in-market vehicle shoppers than

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hyundai's Early "Car Allowance Rebate System" Trades Show Nearly 60 Percent Improvement in Fuel Economy.

Early trend could translate to annual savings of 69 million gallons of gas, $170 million in fuel costs and more than 600,000 metric tons of co2 emissions

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 07/24/2009 Early statistics from Hyundai Motor America on the U.S. government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, also known as "Cash for Clunkers," show an average 59 percent fuel economy gain between the "clunker" and the new vehicle purchased. Hyundai estimates individual fuel consumption will decrease by 275 gallons per year, reducing fuel costs by nearly $680 annually at current gas prices.

As this program expands industry wide, the energy and cost savings could be considerable if these early trends hold for the 250,000 vehicle sales expected under phase one of the CARS program. Annual fuel consumption in the U.S. could decrease by 69 million gallons, reducing spending by a total of nearly $170 million on gasoline[1], and cutting CO2 emissions by more than 600,000 metric tons.

"While the figures are indicative of early trends only, it is clear that the program, at this stage, is very successful in getting old, low fuel economy vehicles off the road and replacing them with safer and greener vehicles," said Hyundai Motor America President and CEO John Krafcik. "We think these economic and environmental benefits are so compelling, that they will induce Congress to expand or enhance the CARS program past its current endpoint."

Additional statistics from the Hyundai sample prove further that the CARS program is truly removing "clunkers" from the road. Eighty three percent of the initial trades take in a truck, SUV or van and 86 percent of the new vehicles purchased are passenger cars. The average age of a trade-in model is nearly 14 years, and the average odometer reading is more than 140,000 miles. The average "clunker" achieves about 16 miles per gallon according to EPA data, while the average new car sold under the program achieves more than 25 mpg.

Hyundai became the first automaker to honor the government's CARS incentives on July 2 and the novel consumer incentive program accounts for about 11 percent of Hyundai sales so far this month. Nearly a third (32 percent) of the trade-in models reported by dealerships were Ford vehicles, followed by Dodge (23 percent). Lexus, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz are among the other brands delivered as "clunker" trades, demonstrating both the broad appeal of the government program, and the changing nature of Hyundai's product line and buyer demographics. Hyundai's rollout enables buyers to receive the full rebate allocated under the CARS program when an eligible trade-in is exchanged for a qualifying Hyundai model at a participating Hyundai dealership.

The fuel-efficient Hyundai Elantra was the most popular model purchased under the CARS program, making up nearly 33 percent of sales. Elantra recently earned top honors in the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study for the highest initial quality in the compact car segment, and is a "Top Pick" from a leading consumer magazine. With manufacturer incentives and a full CARS rebate for a qualifying "clunker," consumers can purchase a new Elantra for as little as $8,620. Sonata (27 percent) and Accent (19 percent) ranked second and third, respectively, in CARS transactions.

Hyundai accelerated CARS incentives to consumers by several weeks by backing dealerships with short-term cash advances as the government organized the rollout of the program industry-wide. Under the CARS program, consumers qualify for a $4,500 rebate on the purchase or lease of new vehicles that achieve 10 miles per gallon more than a trade-in car or five miles per gallon or more than a trade-in light truck. New vehicles that achieve between 4 to 9 mpg more than a trade-in car, or 2 to 4 mpg more than a trade-in light truck qualify for a $3,500 incentive. See for complete details.

Thirteen Hyundai models and engine combinations qualify for the CARS incentive program, which requires passenger cars achieve 22 mpg or more combined fuel economy, and light trucks achieve 18 mpg or better combined fuel economy.

* Accent
* Elantra
* Elantra Touring
* Entourage
* Sonata 2.4L
* Sonata 3.3L
* 2010 Genesis Coupe 2.0L
* Tiburon 2.0L
* Tucson 2.0L
* Tucson 2.7L
* Santa Fe 2.7L
* Santa Fe 3.3L
* Veracruz

Five Hyundai models achieve 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway –Accent, Elantra, Elantra Touring, Genesis Coupe 2.0L and Sonata 2.4L. Hyundai ranks third in corporate average fuel economy according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, so consumers will realize further cost savings by stepping into a more fuel-efficient model than they currently drive.

The CARS incentive program complements all existing special incentives and financing options from the manufacturer, including Hyundai Assurance, which allows consumers to return their vehicle if they unexpectedly lose their income, and Hyundai Assurance Gas Lock, which offers a year's worth of gas at a guaranteed price of $1.49 per gallon. Visit for details.


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 790 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, Hyundai Assurance is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

North American Car of the Year Hyundai Genesis Earns Highest Ranking Among New or Redesigned 2008 and 2009 Vehicles

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 07/22/2009 J.D. Power and Associates announced today that the Hyundai Genesis is the highest ranked 2009 all-new or redesigned vehicle in the inaugural Vehicle Launch Index(SM) (VLI). This result comes after the Hyundai Genesis significantly contributed to Hyundai's high marks in the J.D. Power and Associates' 2009 Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS) announced in June in which Hyundai was the highest ranked non-premium nameplate. On July 16, 2009, Genesis was also designated J.D. Power's most appealing midsize premium car in the 2009 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study(SM).

The Vehicle Launch Index quantifies how well 2009 new vehicles–including new entries to the market, all-new and redesigned models–perform during the first eight months after launch. Genesis' performance in the IQS and APEAL studies is significant because VLI includes the key factors of vehicle quality and design, included in both studies. The VLI also examines various factors that are critical to the financial success of a launch, including turn rate, vehicle revenue, dealer gross profit, incentive spend, credit quality and residual value.

"Genesis represents everything Hyundai knows about engineering, building, and launching great automobiles," said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and chief executive officer. "Awards like VLI help reaffirm what we're hearing from the marketplace – that Genesis has been a tremendous success in generating incremental sales, building the Hyundai brand, and satisfying our most demanding consumers."."

The J.D. Power and Associates VLI recognition will join the growing number of Genesis honors and accolades including North American Car of the Year, Kiplinger's Best New Model for 2009, AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award, and more. Hyundai's Genesis sedan sets a new benchmark in the premium car category. With a starting price of just $33,000, Genesis includes performance and luxury features typically found on vehicles costing thousands of dollars more.

The VLI looks at 2008 and 2009 model-year vehicles first sold between January and October 2008. Vehicles must be all-new or major redesigns and must sell at least 5,000 units during the first eight months to be included.

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 790 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We Get a Ride in Hyundai's New S-Class Fighter

We hang a right and head west onto the 10 freeway in Santa Monica toward the beach. The on-ramp is downhill, two lanes wide and drag-strip straight.

Suddenly I'm pinned to the large leather seat as the 2011 Hyundai Equus downshifts from 6th gear to 2nd and its 368-horsepower 4.6-liter Lambda V8 yanks the big sedan toward the Pacific. I look at the tach. Its needle is sweeping quickly through its arc as a muted V8 rumble chases us from behind. At 6,500 rpm, the transmission delivers a quick but smooth upshift just as we reach the traffic lanes of Interstate 10.

"Is that floored?" I ask, one eye still on the dials.

"That's floored," says John Krafcik.

He should know -- he's driving. The left seat of the Equus is still off-limits to American journalists. But Krafcik is more than just our chauffeur; he's the president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, and the man basking in the glow of the company's recent success. He's also the guy who's going to sell the Equus in the United States, taking Hyundai north of the $50,000 barrier for the first time.

On Sale in a Year
With John's right foot still buried in the thick carpet of the Equus, the sedan delivers another smooth shift at redline. I check the speedometer; it's reading about 140 and climbing. Can't be, I think to myself. The car feels quick, but not that quick. I clutch the door panel while my brain tries to catch up. Then I realize the speedometer is in kilometers per hour, so I start doing math.

Krafcik keeps his foot down and his mouth moving. "The car is still about a year away," he says, talking about the possible timetable for the introduction of the Korean-built luxury sedan in the U.S. "And we'll most likely sell it here as the Equus." Equus is Latin for "horse," and the car's entry into the U.S. market has been the worst kept secret since Henry Ford leaked word about the flathead V8 back in 1931. We're told the official official announcement of the car's sales future in the U.S. will come in mid-August.

At 160 km/h, Krafcik finally backs off. That's about 100 mph, and from the passenger seat I'm impressed with the ride and stability of the Equus. It's a bit firmer than I thought it would be. It's not quite as tied down as a Hyundai Genesis, but it's not the floaty Korean-market limo I was expecting. You definitely feel the road, although there's a little less rebound control than there should be.

Traffic is light as we reach the short tunnel that marks the transition from the I-10 west to the northbound Pacific Coast Highway. We enter the darkness and then quickly burst into the noontime California sunshine again. I ask about the suspension tuning. "It's not quite really ready yet," says Krafcik. "Right now our engineering team is on a cross-country drive with an Equus, an S-Class, a 7 Series and a Lexus LS. We're there with the interior, but they are fine-tuning the ride and handling. Make no mistake, our targets are those three cars and our ride and handling will be more in the direction of the LS 460 L."

Ballsy. The strategy, not the driving. Hyundai has decided to take on three of the best sedans in the world.

Priced Right
Still northbound on PCH, we're cruising within the 50-mph speed limit and past the Malibu beachfront homes of Hollywood's super-rich. This is S-Class and 7 Series country, and Krafcik knows it. All around us are the people he must convince to buy a Hyundai instead of a Benz, Bimmer or Lexus.

It'll be tough, and Krafcik hedges his bet. "Our goal with the Equus isn't volume," he says while passing a black Mercedes-Benz S550 on the right. "It's image. We want to show the world we can make the finest sedans in the world."

He's right about one thing, because the interior of this Equus is up to the challenge. The fit and finish is exceptional. The leather is soft. The seat is cush and comfortable, if a little flat, and the headliner is an acre of Alcantara suede, just like you get in an S65 AMG. There's even French stitching on the leather-wrapped dash. The metallic trim on the center stack and console is plastic and not real aluminum, though. It looks good, but should be the real thing.

No, it's not quite as nice inside the Equus as in the interiors of the luxury sedans it has targeted in the marketplace, but it's close, and the Equus should undercut those sedans by $20,000 or more. Krafcik won't get specific on price, but says enough for us to guess that the 2011 Hyundai Equus will start at $48,000 and top out at about $58,000.

"Our challenge is to make sure it doesn't become the next VW Phaeton," Krafcik notes. Keeping the price under $60,000 seems to be a key to achieving that goal. "There will be two packages," he continues. "A base car and one with all the backseat stuff."

That "stuff" includes a reclining rear seat, fold-out tables, and radio and climate controls built into the rear armrest. The Lexus LS 460L offers a similar package, although it's really only for those who would rather be driven than drive themselves.

Wider Than S-Class
Stopped at a red light, I take the opportunity to look around a bit more. The odometer reads 1,792 km (a little over 1,100 miles). The A-pillars are carved carefully to permit a panoramic view ahead. There are heated and cooled front seats with three-level temperature adjustment. There's a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, wood on portions of the steering wheel rim and an elegant clock on the center stack. I can't hear the engine, which is idling at 600 rpm. The window switches, shifter, iDrive-like interface controller and navigation system are all plucked right from the Hyundai Genesis. The gauges are similar to the ones in the Genesis, as is the four-spoke steering wheel. And there's a "Sport" button just to the right of the shifter.

I also notice that the car feels spacious. Nice and wide, which it is. In fact at 74.8 inches wide, the Equus is the same width as a BMW 7 Series and a full inch wider than the Lexus LS and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The light turns green. Krafcik accelerates away, only part throttle this time. And the Equus moves off like an upscale luxury sedan powered by a V8 should -- with authority. Upshifts from the six-speed automatic are nearly imperceptible and the V8's flat torque curve gets the Equus back up to 50 mph well ahead of Malibu's afternoon traffic of surfers.

We're not surprised. The Equus features the same powertrain we've praised in the Genesis, and it feels just as good in this larger package. What is surprising is that the larger Equus weighs only 200 pounds more than a Genesis, which makes it easy to calculate some educated guesses about its acceleration times.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis V8 we last tested hit 60 mph from a standstill in 5.9 seconds (5.7 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and finished the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 101 mph. After some 'rithmetic on our part, we expect the Equus to hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds (5.9 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and cover the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 99 mph. Not slow, yet certainly slower than an S550, a 750i or an LS 460.

Also from the Genesis0 are the rack-and-pinion steering with old-school hydraulic assist (still our preference over electric-assist systems) and four-wheel disc brakes. The Equus also has air suspension, although only Genesis sedans sold in Korea are equipped with this feature.

Looks Like a Lexus
Just past the Malibu Country Mart (made famous by TMZ), a guy in a Porsche 911 Turbo pulls alongside us. He's checking out the car. Our car -- the Hyundai. And he's not the only one. Since we hit Malibu, there's been no missing the ability of the Equus to make people look. Even the tourists in their rented Grabber-Blue Mustangs know this Hyundai is something special.

It may be a dead ringer for a Lexus LS from the rear, but the Equus certainly has enough street presence for valets to keep it up front. "The two character lines in the side are from the California studio," says Krafcik. "In fact, there's more U.S. influence in the design of the Equus than the Genesis." There's certainly enough chrome on its flanks to back up that statement.

And it looks larger than it is. At 203.1 inches long, the Equus is just a fraction of an inch longer than a Lexus LS 460 L and nearly 2 inches shorter than a Mercedes S-Class. Meanwhile, its 119.9-inch wheelbase falls between the dimensions of the long-wheelbase LS and the short version. Even the short-wheelbase 7 Series has an inch-longer wheelbase than the Equus.

Full Speed Ahead
Once we reach Pepperdine University, we flip around and head south toward Santa Monica again. It's now that I realize how quiet the Hyundai's interior is. At 100 km/h (about 60 mph) over the smooth asphalt that is PCH, all I hear is some tire slap from the 18-inch Hankooks.

Time to ask about that Sport button. "It's for the suspension," says Krafcik. "Push it, see what happens."

I do, and suddenly the Equus is the floaty Korean-market limo I was expecting. "Wow, big difference," I say, pushing the button again and getting the air suspension back into Sport mode. "Don't go there."

Krafcik first came to Hyundai Motor America in 2004 as the company's vice president of product development and strategic planning, and his home garage is stuffed full with a Porsche 911 C2S (997) and a Caterham 7, so I know he knows what I mean.

And at that moment Krafcik nails the throttle and redlines a couple of gears. "Feels good, huh?" he asks.

Yeah, he knows.

By Scott Oldham