Thursday, November 18, 2010

2011 Hyundai Sonata and Genesis Sedan Awarded an Automotive Best Buy Award from Consumers Digest

Consumers Digest Magazine named both the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2011 Hyundai Genesis sedan a "Best Buy." The ratings are based on behind-the-wheel assessment, safety ratings, ownership costs, warranty, price, comfort, ergonomics, styling and amenities. The Sonata is a Best Buy in the Family Car category and the Genesis sedan is a Best Buy in the Luxury Car segment.

"Value, as we see it, is based on purchase price and ownership costs relative to quality, performance and subjective factors like comfort and design," said Randy Weber, publisher, Consumers Digest. "Few purchases are more important, or require more research, than buying a new vehicle. Our analyses ensure that consumers are as satisfied with their auto purchase years after making it as they were on the day they drove off the lot."

The Automotive Best Buy Awards reflect Consumers Digest's view of which 2011 vehicles offer exceptional value for the money. A panel of six automotive experts evaluates the vehicles from behind-the-wheel on an ongoing basis, both under real-world conditions in their own test-drives and at manufacturers' new-model introductions. They assess design factors including styling, accessories and amenities, cargo space, and fit and finish, as well as performance characteristics including starting and acceleration, steering and handling, ride quality and fuel economy.

"The Genesis has provided ground-breaking value among its luxury competition with lavish appointments and impressive driving performance," said Mike O'Brien, vice president, Product and Corporate Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "The all-new Sonata also upholds Hyundai's legacy of value with exciting design, best-in-class fuel economy and outstanding residual value. Both cars continue to exceed expectations for consumers in their respective segments."

For more information and a complete list of award winners, 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 about 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.

Hyundai Elantra Earns Highest Residual Value in its Class in the 2011 ALG Residual Value Awards

ALG, the industry benchmark for residual values and depreciation data, today announced its 12th annual Residual Value Awards, honoring vehicles across 19 different segments and two brands that are predicted to retain the highest percentage of their MSRP after a three-year period. The 2011 Hyundai Elantra topped the competitive compact segment, winning ALG's award for the highest residual value in its class.

The 2011 Residual Value Awards are based on the entire model year forecast of 2011 products. Award winners are determined through careful study of the competition in each segment, historical vehicle performance and industry trends. Vehicle quality, production levels relative to demand and pricing and marketing strategies are among the key factors that affect ALG's residual value forecasts.

"Hyundai's win of the mid-compact segment highlights the growing reputation of the brand, as well as its impressive new product push," said Raj Sundaram, Senior Vice President, Solutions Group and ALG. "The all-new 2011 Elantra shines with standard luxurious features and a modest price tag, and it's expected to be a favorite of young drivers like the VW Jetta and Mazda3 before it."

The all-new 2011 Elantra encompasses Hyundai's latest ambitions including "Fluidic Sculpture" design, advanced safety technologies and best-in-class 40 mpg highway fuel economy. It took 33 months to develop the all-new Elantra and four years to bring it to market. The 2011 Elantra launches with new 1.8-liter "Nu" engine and in-house six-speed automatic transmission.

"Achieving such tremendous value retention speaks to the overall quality and merit of the Elantra," said Mike O'Brien, vice president, Product and Corporate Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "Vehicles that retain their value in the long-term offer a lower overall cost of ownership to the customer, allowing Hyundai to offer strong lease options to consumers and better resale value at trade-in time for our customers who purchase their vehicles."

For more information and a complete list of winners, visit:


Based in Santa Barbara, California, ALG ( is a leading provider of data and consulting services to the automotive industry. ALG publishes the "Automotive Lease Guide" - the standard for Residual Value projections in North America, and has been forecasting automotive residual values for over 45 years in both the U.S. and Canadian markets. ALG is a company of DealerTrack Holdings, Inc. HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

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 about 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.

Monday, November 15, 2010

2011 Hyundai Elantra: First Look

* Competes with: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus
* Looks like: An aggressive compact sedan
* Drivetrain: 148-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine; six-speed manual or automatic transmission
* Hits dealerships: 2011

Hyundai busted sales records with its revamped Sonata midsize sedan earlier this year, and it looks like it will do the same when the new Elantra goes on sale next year.

The just-announced Elantra will use the same formula as the Sonata, offering a high level of refinement, value and performance for a good price. However, this model has a not-so-secret weapon: 40 mpg standard.

While the Chevy Cruze and smaller Ford Fiesta promise 40 mpg highway or better, they do so only in special trims or with certain transmissions. The new Elantra gets an EPA-estimated 29/40 mpg city/highway and 33 mpg combined. That's the exact same mileage as the smaller Fiesta SFE.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but it looks like the base GLS model will come without air conditioning and a few other conveniences to deliver a low price. It still comes with power windows, a six-speaker stereo system and USB port.

The GLS Popular Equipment Package can be added. It includes air conditioning, cruise control, telescopic steering wheel and 16-inch steel wheels.

The Limited trim will come loaded with leather seating, automatic transmission, black chrome grille, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated front and rear seats, and Bluetooth connectivity.

A navigation system with 7-inch screen is available as an option on either trim level.

By David Thomas

Monday, November 08, 2010

2011 Hyundai Equus test drive - Hyundai isn't horsing around

We can all learn a lesson from Hyundai. They don't sit around and wait for others to define their vehicles: They tell us who the competition is, and thus define their vehicles. Witness the latest new Hyundai: the 2011 Hyundai Equus. Hyundai tells us to compare it to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7-Series and the Lexus LS. Hmm... we'll see. The 2011 Hyundai Equus will arrive in two different configurations, Equus Signature ($58,900) and Equus Ultimate ($65,400), each with a 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and EPA fuel economy estimates of 16 MPG city/24 highway.

First Glance: Haven't we seen you somewhere before?

I have to get this out of the way first. I think that the name "Equus" is a terrible mistake. "Equus" is Latin for "horse," which is how we come to the English words "equestrian," "equine" and others. Fine so far. But "Equus" is also the title of Peter Shaffer's iconic 1973 play about a young man who blinded six horses with a spike after they witnessed his sexual failure in a barn. The play's Broadway production won a Tony Award in 1974. A 1977 film adaptation directed by Sidney Lumet featured Richard Burton. The play has been revived many times over the years, usually as a star turn. In 2007, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) played the troubled young man to much acclaim on London's West End. My point is that this is not some obscure little play. This is a major work, and it has a perverse, violent, psychosexual context that no car manufacturer would want to attach to their new vehicle. I know that the Equus name is revered in South Korea, as the previous version of this executive sedan was been a big success over there. But bringing a new vehicle to the US and ignoring the literary and cultural context of the name strikes me as insensitive. One big demerit before I even drive your vehicle, Hyundai.

Walking around the outside of the Equus, it's easy to see the designers' inspiration. There's some Mercedes-Benz in the front end (link goes to photo), some Maybach in the haunches, a little 7-series in the trunk lid. 19" wheels fill each fender well. The whole look is elegant, if a little generic. The Hyundai flying "H" logo only appears on the trunk, not on the hood, where a new Equus ornament faces the world.

In the Driver's Seat: Home, James

In South Korea, the Equus has been Hyundai's flagship executive car since its first generation in 1999. True Type A businessmen use drivers, so that their commute time can be work time. As such, the back seat of the Equus Ultimate is set up like an executive jet, with two cushy seats separated by a large center console. The right side seat is the power seat -- it even has a fold-out footrest. The front right side seat powers far forward to allow for maximum comfort and space in the rear. Every luxury option is standard on the Ultimate trim level, including heated and cooled seats, a refrigerator, rear-seat entertainment system and gold bullion storage compartment (or is that a glove box?).

The driver's and front passenger seats are not bad, either. Everywhere you look and touch, you are rewarded with quality materials, assembled with care and skill. I'm not generally a fan of wood trim in cars, but the wood in Equus is nice, even if its buried under a thick layer of clear coat.

The interior is so polished and elegant that complaints are few and minor, and I have only one: I'm not crazy about the font that they use on the controls and dash buttons -- it's not as sophisticated as the rest of the design.

Lexicon provided the audio and video technology aboard the Equus, and it's really great. You get home theater quality sound inside the cabin, with the new Lexicon Discrete LOGIC7 Surround Sound audio system that delivers 600 watts through 13 channels. Particular attention was paid to the sound quality in the rear seat, where the executive might be riding.

On the Road: Floating through life

Hyundai is great at benchmarking other successful brands, and engineering toward duplicating or bettering their results. Lexus has been the industry leader in cabin quietness -- until now. Equus's interior sound levels are the quietest that I've ever perceived. Road noise doesn't sneak in, no matter how pebbled the path. Very impressive.

Under the hood you'll find a great big 4.6 liter V8 engine with up-to-date technology like continuously variable valve timing and variable induction. Recognizing that its buyers might be thriftier than most luxury buyers, Hyundai has tuned the V8 to perform with either premium or regular gas, with only a slight performance penalty for the cheaper stuff. A ZF-sourced six speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. The Equus weighs in at just under two and a half tons, about what I expect for a big luxury sedan, and acceleration and performance are grunty, but not overwhelming.

The Equus' air suspension provides a smooth ride, especially when paired with the continuous damping control that adjusts shock-absorber performance. A newly developed electro-hydraulic power steering system provides excellent feel when turning. Some electric power steering systems feel numb, but the interaction of electric and hydraulic systems keeps the steering feel live in most driving situations.

Call it a gimmick, but it will probably sell a few Equii: the vehicle's manual will be loaded on an Apple iPad, instead of printed on paper. I love the idea, I've never had to worry about the batteries running low on my Toyota's paper manual when I was trying to figure out how to use the jack. Is this a smart use of technology, or too smart for its own good?

Journey's End: Who's zooming who?

Equus is significantly less expensive than comparably-equipped competitors, which Hyundai names as the Lexus LS 460 L ($70,925), Mercedes-Benz S550 ($91,600) and BMW 750Li ($86,400). I don't expect Equus to compete with the S-Class and the 7-series, no matter how much Hyundai believes that it will. A buyer who is considering a $90,000 S-Class is buying something more than an executive sedan -- they're buying into the Mercedes-Benz brand experience.

Hyundai has some great ideas about how to improve the brand experience for Equus, like delivering the vehicle to potential buyers' homes for test drives, specially-trained Hyundai dealers providing sales and service, and valet service for maintenance and repair. Hyundai has been preparing its buyers for a luxury experience for years, with the vast improvement in the Sonata and the introduction and success of the Genesis. But Hyundai is not Mercedes-Benz or BMW. Hyundai isn't even Lexus... yet.

I think the real competition for Equus is price point where you can get more for your money with a Hyundai: The BMW 550 Gran Turismo ($63,900) and the Mercedes-Benz E550 ($57,100) had better look out, because buyers looking for luxury and space might find the sweet spot in Equus long before they approach the $85,000 - 90,000 mark.

Bottom line: Equus represents another major step forward for Hyundai. I can't wait to see what's next. -- Jason Fogelson