Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hyundai to introduce world's first production fuel-cell electric vehicle

By Hyunjoo Jin and Christiaan Hetzner Reutersmercurynews.com
Posted:   09/25/2012 01:19:53 PM PDT
September 25, 2012 8:29 PM GMTUpdated:   09/25/2012 01:29:31 PM PDT
Hyundai, which has lagged its rivals in battery-powered electric cars, aims to leapfrog that technology and roll out what it calls the world's first production fuel-cell electric vehicles at this week's Paris auto show.
The South Korean automaker is betting that fuel-cell electric vehicles will be a more realistic future auto technology than pure battery electric cars such as Nissan Motor's Leaf.
Those models have struggled to win over drivers as the batteries are expensive, take hours to recharge and can only drive short distances. Toyota this week scaled back plans for its all-electric eQ minicar, saying it misread the market.
A fuel-cell converts hydrogen and oxygen into water and generating power to drive an electric motor. Fuel-cell vehicles can run five times longer than battery electric cars on a single power-up, and it takes just minutes to fill the tank with hydrogen, compared with 8 hours or so to recharge a battery.
Hyundai, which has watched Toyota make the running with its hybrid Prius model, wants to jump ahead in the fuel-cell market.
But it will offer just 1,000 FCEVs, based on its Tucson crossover, from December through to 2015 in Europe as it looks to more than halve production costs to $44,700.
Trade media have put the initial sticker price at around $88,000, a hefty price tag for a brand that made its name with cheaper, feature-filled models.
While fuel-cell electric cars may go further, manufacturers
still have to wrestle with the high cost of production -- double or triple that of battery-powered electric vehicles -- and a lack of refuelling infrastructure.
"We aim to reduce prices of fuel-cell vehicles to match battery cars by 2020-25," Lim Tae-won, the director in charge of fuel-cell research at Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors , told Reuters ahead of the Paris auto show.
He said fuel-cell cars would overcome the "range anxiety" -- or fear of running out of power far from a charging point -- of battery-electric cars if the refuelling issue was resolved.
A 2008 McKinsey study of 11 global carmakers predicted as many as 1 million fuel-cell electric cars on Europe's roads by the end of the decade, but industry experts caution demand will depend on customer acceptance of the technology, government aid and, crucially, the availability of hydrogen filling stations.
"The great thing about a battery powered electric car is that power sockets can be found anywhere," said Andreas Winckler, managing director of the services unit of Frankfurt trade fair operator Messe Frankfurt Medien und Service, which has leased both battery and fuel-cell electric cars from Mercedes-Benz since November.
"Before we installed the first charging stations here, we just opened a window and ran an extension cord out to the car."
Winckler noted there was just one hydrogen filling station in the entire Rhein-Main region around Frankfurt, continental Europe's financial hub, but it had been broken for weeks. "That's clearly the big dilemma with fuel-cell cars," he said.
Hyundai's Lim said it would cost more to develop a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure than one for electric battery charging, but each hydrogen station would process more cars as it would take just minutes to fill up.
German industrial gases producer Linde is investing tens of millions of euros with Daimler to build 20 hydrogen filling stations by 2015. For now, Germany has only seven.
The aim is to bring down the cost to that of a natural gas filling station, around 300,000 euros, or $387,500, from around 1 million euros today, said Ulrich Buenger, a coordinator at the European Hydrogen Road Tour 2012, which is funded by industry and the European Commission.
In Seoul, Lim predicts fuel-cell will ultimately become the leading alternative fuel technology, though hybrids will dominate during that transition. For now, Toyota is alone in increasing sales of hybrid-electric vehicles, while General Motors, Nissan and others have struggled to live up to the hype with their early battery electric models.
"Battery electric car makers entered the market too early without resolving problems such as range anxiety and costs," Lim said. "It was a hasty approach. The battery electric cars may have helped raise brand value for a couple of years, but ended up slowing down the take-off in the market."
Hyundai's production-ready fuel-cell electric vehicle can run as far as 588 kms (365 miles) on a full charge, similar to traditional gasoline vehicles, Lim said, while Nissan's Leaf can drive only up to 73 miles per charge.
Toyota slashed its plans for the eQ to sales of just 100 in Japan and the United States from previous forecasts of several thousand, saying battery technology could not live up to consumer demands. "The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it's the distance cars can run, or the costs, or how long it takes to charge," said Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's vice chairman, adding that fuel-cell vehicles looked to have more potential.
"The biggest problem is how automakers bring down costs and how much infrastructure will be in place," he said.
Hyundai hopes to get a jump on its rivals by offering 1,000 of its FCEVs, overtaking Daimler and Honda Motor, which have leased only small numbers of their fuel-cell vehicles -- the Mercedes B-Class F-Cells and FCX Clarity, respectively. By 2015, Hyundai aims to have the capacity to build 10,000 FCEVs, rising to 100,000 in 2020, when it expects the loss-making business to achieve "economies of scale," Lim said.
Toyota plans to launch sedan-type fuel-cell electric vehicles from around 2015, and predicts sales in the tens of thousands by the 2020s. Nissan is working on a fuel-cell vehicle with Daimler for 2016 and will also unveil a concept fuel-cell sport utility vehicle, the TeRRA, in Paris.
GM shifted funding from fuel-cells to push Chevrolet Volt electric car with range extender, but sales have been sluggish.
In a KPMG global survey of 200 auto executives, one in five expected fuel-cell electric cars to attract more consumer demand than pure battery electric cars in 2025. Sixteen percent went with battery cars. Hybrids, including plug-ins, provide the best mid-term solution, the survey, published in January, showed.
Source: mercurynews.com

2012 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T: More tech, more power

The 2012 Hyundai Sonata SE that rolled into the Car Tech garage this week was not very different from the 2011 Sonata SE that I tested previously.

It's got the same coupelike profile and Fluidic Sculpture design that I described as swoopy and polarizing in 2010. Although, after a year on the road and when compared with the Sonata Hybrid's fish face, its aesthetic is not nearly as polarizing as it was at its debut.

In the cabin, the fit and finish haven't changed much. The dashboard tech is essentially the same and is still a pretty darn good value. Hyundai's subscription-based BlueLink telematics system is new to the Sonata and is now standard, giving users an OnStar-esque set of connected features for a monthly fee.

However, the silver-and-blue 2.0T badge on the rear deck hints that this 2012 example of the Sonata SE is hiding something new under its hood. Compared with the 2011 model that I tested, which was powered by a 2.4-liter engine, this 2012 model loses 0.4 liter of displacement and gains a twin-scroll turbocharger and a heap of horsepower. Does more power make it better? The obvious answer is yes, but I hopped into the Sparkling Ruby 2012 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T to put that hypothesis to the test.

Performance: 2.0-liter turbocharged engine

The Sonata's power plant starts with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder block, adds a head with direct-injection technology, and finishes up with a twin-scroll turbocharger. Power is rated at a maximum of 274 horsepower at 6,000 rpm when boost tops out at 17.4 psi. The maximum torque of 269 pound-feet comes on at much lower engine speeds, being available between 1,750 and 4,500 rpm. Power builds in a fairly linear fashion and there isn't much of what I'd consider to be turbo lag. However, there is a definite delineation at about 4,000 rpm when you can feel the engine coming to life, pulling the sedan forward with surprising zest. There's not enough grunt to snap your neck, but there's plenty to induce a grin.

Power flows to the front wheels via a single-option six-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox features a manual shift mode that allows the driver to chose gears by pushing the shift lever forward and back or by smacking the plastic paddle shifters located on the backside of the steering wheel. Before you turn your nose up at paddle shifters on a front-drive "sport" sedan, know that the Sonata's paddles have a great, clicky engagement and trigger reasonably quick shifts. I must have spent most of my driving time playing around with the paddles, which defintely explains the low fuel economy averaged during our testing.

The EPA estimates the Sonata 2.0T's economy at 22 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 26 combined mpg. After a week spent aggressively using the manual shift mode to keep the turbo spinning with almost no highway cruising to balance things out, the trip computer reported only a 16.6 mpg average.

Drivers looking to get closer to that 26 mpg average should leave the gearbox in its automatic mode and be more gentle with their right foot when driving. However, if you lack self control, Hyundai has equipped the Sonata with an Active Eco mode. Activating this mode adjusts the shift program of the automatic transmission, favoring higher gears and lower engine speeds. Active Eco also remaps the throttle response, digitally lightening your lead foot. The result is a duller ride and slower acceleration, but better fuel economy.

Compared with the entry level GLS trim and the top-tier Limited levels, the Sonata SE 2.0T model features a firmer, sport-tune for its MacPherson strut front and independent multilink rear suspension. The SE uses the same 24mm front stabilizer bar as the GLS/Limited, but a thicker 17mm rear stabilizer bar (versus the standard 15mm bar). The Sonata SE also upgrades with 18-inch wheels and wider 225-width performance tires. So, the Sonata SE has slightly more mechanical grip than the other trim levels.

I didn't notice any creaks and groans from the Sonata's body or suspension components when I tested the 2011 SE model two years ago, but I did hear this 2012 model's rear end protesting slightly as I eased it over speed bumps and over rough roads. I'm not sure the creaking is specific to our press vehicle, but it was annoying enough merit mention in this review. You'll want to listen for this on your test drive.

Cabin technology: BlueLink telematics

In the cabin, the Sonata features what has become Hyundai's standard technology suite and trim level organization. Bone stock, you get AM/FM terrestrial radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, standard USB and auxiliary inputs, and a single-slot CD player that decodes MP3 files. Add a $35 iPod cable to bridge the USB port and aux-input and add connectivity with the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. The midtier SE model also features keyless entry, push-button start, and "Sport cloth seats" with leather bolsters and power adjustment for the driver's position. The Sonata SE doesn't feature heated or ventilated seating surfaces or memory for its single power seat.

Most of that tech is par for the course when you're talking about a modern Hyundai car. However, new for the Sonata is the Hyundai BlueLink telematics system that debuted on the Veloster last year. BlueLink nets the owner a variety of features that can be used both in and outside of the car.

From the driver's seat, the Sonata owner can access Roadside Assistance, SOS Emergency Assistance, and Automatic Collision Notification with the basic Assurance level of service. From outside the vehicle and with the midtier Essentials level of service owners can remotely start, unlock, or honk the horn of their vehicle with a smartphone app; slowdown, immobilize, and recover a stolen vehicle; and receive alerts when the vehicle leaves a geofenced area, has its alarm or panic mode triggered, exceeds a preset speed, or is operated after a preset curfew. At the top-tier Guidance package, BlueLink becomes a sort of cloud-based navigation system that allows users to search for destinations and points of interest (POIs) with voice commands, search for and send destinations to the car from a web interface, and receive traffic and weather updates. The Sonata comes with a 90-day free trial of the full BlueLink functionality, after which owners will have to choose between the $79 per year Assurance package, $179 per year Essentials package, or the $279 per year Guidance package subscriptions.

Additionally, the Sonata SE 2.0T is available with a conventional, in-dash navigation system as part of the optional Navigation and Sunroof package. This upgrades the sedan's dashboard with a 7-inch touch-screen display that is used with the solid-state navigation system and rear-view camera added as part of the package. This is Hyundai's same basic navigation system that features two-dimensional maps. It's a simple setup, but it's also effective with XM NavTraffic data and a good voice command system. This package also includes the XM NavWeather, Sports, and Stocks data feeds and upgrades the stereo system to a seven-speaker, 360-watt Dimension audio system with a powered subwoofer and adds HD Radio decoding to the terrestrial radio tuner.

In sum

We liked the Hyundai Sonata SE when it was reviewed back in 2010, calling it "a great value, packing in a strong assortment of standard and optional cabin tech, good looks, and performance, all while maintaining a relatively low price." The 2012 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T is the same great car, but with a lot more power and, with the aid of Active Eco mode and a light right foot, only slightly less efficiency. I also like that owners have the option to add one of three levels of connectivity with the new standard BlueLink system.

Our 2012 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T starts at $24,645, but also arrived with a $2,900 SE Navigation and Sunroof package, $100 carpeted floor mats, and the $35 iPod cable. Add $775 for destination charges to reach our as-tested price of $28,455

The good: The 2012 Hyundai Sonata's turbocharger adds a substantial amount of power. The optional navigation system is simple, yet effective. Bluetooth calling and most digital audio sources are standard. The voice command system is quite good and the addition of BlueLink telematics rounds out the dashboard tech.

The bad: No manual transmission available on this "sporty" SE model. Navigation maps don't feature a 3D view. Observed fuel economy left much to be desired.

The bottom line: With more power and more tech, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T offers a lot of bang for your buck.

Source: cnet.com

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi

 The new Hyundai Santa Fe gets a big hike in quality – and price. But is it worth the extra?
Verdict4...The Santa Fe is a big step up from the model it replaces. It looks like a car from the class above, and it’s comfortable and well equipped on the inside, too. It drives relatively well, and will transport up to seven people with very little fuss, providing you dodge the potholes. Is it good enough to justify the extra £3,435? We’d say so, but only just..Hyundai claims its new Santa Fe is such an improvement over the car it replaces that it nearly got a new name. It certainly needs to be much better – the mid-spec Premium Auto model driven here costs £3,435 more than the equivalent version of the old Santa Fe. That’s a serious amount of cash.
But even before you’ve turned a wheel, the new car’s looks start to claw back some of that extra outlay. Gone is the dull two-box shape, and in its place is a sleek, modern and distinctive design.
There are a couple of concessions to its rugged off-roader past, such as the front and rear skidplates and the honeycomb mesh that runs around the foglights. But the big hexagonal grille, swept-back headlights and pointy rear spoiler confirm the new Santa Fe has been styled to be used on road.
The design revolution continues from the high-set driver’s seat. The dash is angular, like those on the latest generation of Fords, and features blue lighting. There are loads of switches and buttons across the doors, steering wheel and dash, and while quality is no match for a VW Group product, everything feels solidly built.
Driver and front seat passengers get more space than before, with plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment. Storage options include massive door bins for big bottles, a pair of cup-holders and a large cubby between the seats.
Head and legroom is good in the second row, with passengers getting a pair of cup-holders that spring from the central armrest, 12V sockets and individual heater vents. These seats fold forward and lie almost flat with the single pull of a boot-mounted lever.
Our car also had the optional third row of seats, which flip up from the boot floor. They’re tight to get into, and space is limited, but they’re OK for children. The small window does make the rear feel dark and claustrophobic, though. As with all seven-seaters, the boot is eaten up by the extra seats when they’re up, but storage space is an impressive 2,247 litres when stowed. 
At launch, the Santa Fe is only available with Hyundai’s 194bhp 2.2-litre diesel. It’s not the quietest engine, and isn’t at its best when mated to the ponderous six-speed automatic gearbox, but it quietens down on the move.
The steering is dull and lifeless, yet you’re always in complete control. And although our car had four-wheel drive, unless the going gets slippy or you press the diff lock button on the dash, the front wheels are driven most of the time.
Hyundai has added firmer dampers to cope with the UK’s potholed roads. At speed, you’d never notice, as the Santa Fe floats along, with a compliant ride. But if you do hit a pothole, the car bangs and crashes, which is the only blip in an otherwise polished driving experience.
.Disqus - noscriptSubmitted by Soren Lorenson on Thu, 2012-09-20 09:39. £31K for a Hyundai?
I know they are pretty good cars but they are up against some pretty serious competition at this level. Perhaps they have forgotten their USP - value. Don't they realise that the companies competing at this price point are all struggling to make money (VW excepted).
Submitted by skikid on Thu, 2012-09-20 11:40. Something has gone awry as this is about 300mm longer than the IX35 but has only about 35mm extra wheelbase and a smaller boot then the ix35 and if you have the 7 seat model boot is even smaller aso do not think it has heated rear seats like the ix35 premium so is all the extra cost and length just wasted on the bonnet
Submitted by JWB on Thu, 2012-09-20 14:06. Regarding the steering, this new model is fitted with the new Hyundai FlexSteer system that gives the driver the ability to select from three settings. I wonder if this is why you felt the steering was "dull and lifeless" ???
Submitted by JWB on Thu, 2012-09-20 14:08. Still great value... More expensive but a whole lot more car!

Key specs
Price: £31,895
Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
Power: 194bhp
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph/Top speed: 10.2 secs/118mph
Economy/CO2: 41.5mpg/178g/km
Equipment: 18-inch alloys, third row folding seats, keyless entry, rear parking camera, sat-nav
On sale: October

Source: autoexpress.co.uk

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hyundai Presents Thee-Door Hatchback Version of New i30 (Elantra GT)

Friday, September 14, 2012
Following in the footsteps of sister company Kia and its Pro_cee'd, Hyundai has also introduced a three-door variant of its own compact hatchback model, the i30, which is marketed in North America as the Elantra GT.
Hyundai points out that the i30 three-door was "designed, engineered and manufactured in Europe, for Europe", which means don't expect this body style to be added to the range of the Elantra GT.
Much like the closely related Pro_cee'd, which is the three-door version of the Cee'd compact hatch, the i30 three door differs from its five door sibling from the A-pillar and back featuring a roofline that slopes downward from front to rear, a remodel bumper and tailgate plus more heavily sculpted rear shoulders.
Hyundai's designers also made some changes to the front end of the car with a re-profiled bumper sporting different fog lamp housings and a new, black-finished mesh insert and central bar for the hexagonal grille.
The three-door i30 will be offered in Europe with the same powertrains as the five-door and station wagon version (Tourer) of the i30 including 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter diesel and gasoline units ranging in output from 89hp (90PS) to 126hp (128PS), together with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
The new i30 three-door will be officially revealed at the 2012 Paris Motor Show in September with a sales date to be announced.
Thanks to Bruno R. for the tip!
Source: Carscoop.com

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hyundai mounts dynamic launch for 2013 Genesis Coupe

By Jason Ang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
It’s not every day that a carmaker launches its latest model not at a swanky hotel but on a full-blown track event. Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (Hari) did just that when it launched the 2013 Genesis Coupe at Round 3 of the Lateral Drift Championship, in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila. Rather than mount a static display, Hyundai put on a show as the new Coupes swept around the track in true drift fashion under the skilled hands and feet of drivers like Atoy Llave of Atoy Customs.
The Genesis Coupe expanded the appeal of the Hyundai brand, which before this car was known mainly for utilitarian
vans and sedans. The coupe is a world-class sports car platform, with rear-wheel drive and a choice of sufficiently powerful engines.

The most significant upgrade to the 2013 model is the powertrain. The four-cylinder variant gets a new 2.0-liter Theta engine equipped with a twin-scroll turbocharger. Compared with the previous turbo, the twin-scroll design is able to recover more energy from the engine’s exhaust gases, resulting in more power. The new engine outputs 257 hp, a nearly 50-hp increase from the previous model. Theoretically, a twin-scroll design is also more efficient than a single-scroll turbo. The top Genesis Coupe still gets a 3.8-liter V6 engine good for 300 hp. Sporty drivers will choose the six-speed manual, while those opting for comfort will enjoy the new 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. A Torsen limited-slip differential helps put the power down to the road by limiting wheelspin on loose surfaces. Thanks to the front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, weight distribution is a near-ideal 55:45 percent ratio front to rear. Manual-transmission cars also get Brembo brakes as standard. Active headrests combine with six supplemental-restraint airbags, including side and curtain bags.

PROFESSIONAL drifters Atoy Llave (left) and Gio Rodriguez, Hari chairman Edward S. Go, Hari president and CEO Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, 2012 Miss World-Philippines and Hyundai Brand Ambassador Queneerich Rehman, and Hari chairman emeritus Richard L. Lee

No upgrade is complete without a facelift, and the new coupe gets a prettier face, courtesy of new headlamps integrated into a new fascia. The new face gets a look that is more similar to Hyundai’s new corporate face, as seen on the likes of the Sonata and Veloster. The grille is now the standard hexagon, with twin hood nostrils. The headlamp main beams feature HID technology, and LED strips around the foglights lend a more modern look. The taillights also use LED lighting. 19-inch alloy wheels are standard.
Inside, the Genesis Coupe gets a 5.6-inch display with an Infinity audio system. The Audio system has Bluetooth capability, and is iPod compatible. It can also swallow six CDs for those who can’t part with them. A new triple-gauge cluster shows acceleration, torque, and oil temperature, while a trip computer provides more information. The dashboard features hand stitching to give a more upscale feel to the interior. And the new seatbelt extension guide saves your shoulder, and perhaps your wristwatch too, from aggravation.
The Genesis Coupes were the star of the Lateral Drift round, as a pair of yellow and blue Coupes did their drift dance on the track. The Genesis Coupe showed its precision handling capabilities by allowing pinpoint maneuvers on the track, with the customary human speed cones acting as the markers. Drift racers Alex Perez, Gio Rodriguez, and Llave put the Coupes through their paces.

THE GENESIS Coupes were the star of the Lateral Drift round, as a pair of yellow and blue coupes did their drift dance on the track.
On hand to witness the power of the Genesis Coupe were Hari chairman Edward S. Go, Hari president and CEO Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo and chairman emeritus Richard L. Lee.
The Genesis Coupe is available in a choice of eye-catching colors: yellow, red, white, two shades of blue, silver, gray, black and copper.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2013 Hyundai Genesis Pricing Details

September 10, 2012

The 2013 model year Hyundai Genesis lineup grew a lot smaller when automaker decided to drop the standard 5.0-liter model and the 4.6-liter V8 model from the extended lineup. This left the new 2013 Hyundai Genesis sedan range with only two models. The 2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec model powered by the 429 hp, 5.0-liter Tau V8 engine and the lower end 2013 Hyundai Genesis, with its 333 hp 3.8 liter V6 engine.

The reason behind the sliming down of the Hyundai Genesis range given by the company was that of simplifying the lineup.

The other possible reason for having discontinued the said models could be for the low fuel economy the larger engines delivered when compared to the V6 from the smaller 333 hp engine. Now the Hyundai Genesis with an efficient option in the form of the V6 and a not so fuel efficient but a more powerful option of a V8, makes a lot of sense and indeed makes matters simpler. But for those who still would like to go for the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 liter V8 and the Genesis 4.6 liter V8, the 2012 model year vehicles are still available.

Meanwhile, The 2013 Genesis 5.0 R-Spec price starts at $47,675, which includes the handling and destination charges of $875. That is an increase in price over the 2012 Genesis 5.0 R-Spec of by $300. Hyundai has set the price of the base model at $35,075, including handling and delivery. So, now the price gap between the lowest end and the top end of the model lineup turns out to be a full $12,600, with no options left out in the mid range.

The 2013 Hyundai Genesis 333-hp 3.8-liter V6 models will be available in three different equipment trims.

On the other hand, the older 2012 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 liter V8s and 5.0 liter V8s will be available for $45,375 and $45,875 respectively, including handling and delivery charge of $875.

Insideline also says, with the 2014 model year, Hyundai is set to bring a complete design makeover to the Genesis model lineup.

Via: Insideline

Thursday, September 06, 2012

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport First Drive

By Logan Utsman on Monday, September 3rd, 2012

At the cusp of the twenty first century, a humble little automaker took a big step by unveiling their first ever SUV. When the Hyundai Santa Fe debuted, it was a truly global crossover that on paper, check off every box on the midsize utility to-do list. While solid but underrated, the unibody hauler was, without a doubt, one of the pioneers responsible for turning Hyundai from an afterthought to a seriously competitive automaker. Following the first generation’s launch were a wealth of equally designed cars that paved the way for the Fluidic design philosophy that has finally put the brand on the industry map. With the majority of Hyundai’s vehicles flowing while standing still, it is now time for the Santa Fe to follow suit. An all-new generation has not only created the 2013 Santa Fe Sport but has also created a whole new type of family.
Born in 2001, the Santa Fe name has been Hyundai’s bread-and-butter SUV for more than a decade. With two generations under its belt, the third is looking to have the greatest market share to date and it will do so with a clever trick. For those of you paying attention, the seven seater Veracruz is lacking a 2013 version because, it is being replaced by one of the two Santa Fes being launched. Instead of calling the bigger model the “L”, “XL” or simply “Veracruz”, it will be called the Santa Fe while the smaller wheelbase variant will be called the Santa Fe Sport. Perhaps a bit confusing at first, Hyundai is hoping that due to the familiarity of the namesake, potential buyers will see it as a welcoming change. With about a 4 inch difference between wheelbases of the Sport and the seven seater, the two vehicles look remarkably similar. Even still, each has different purposes and rivals to compete with.
In order to find out just how evolved the third generation is, we climbed all the way up to 8,347 feet above sea level to Park City, Utah. While there, we were given the opportunity to sample the Sport as the long wheelbase version has yet to fully leave the pre-production phase. With two engines, two drivetrains and numerous packages, the Santa Fe is available in 14 different guises. Honestly a bit much but people shopping for midsize SUVs tend to admire a wide array of choices. Base pricing starts at $24,450 and can go all the way up to $34,800 for the fully loaded AWD 2.0T Technology. Not one to pull any punches, Hyundai sampled out the best of the best by featuring the loaded Sport. Features included in our sample model were items such as navigation on an eight inch touchscreen, a 12 speaker Infinity supplied surround sound stereo, panoramic sunroof, manual rear sunshade screens and heated steering wheel. Standard features included LED headlamps, satellite radio, bluetooth device pairing, Hyundai’s BlueLink telematics and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel.
Almost every single aspect of the 2013 Santa Fe is different from before including what’s under the hood. For the Sport, two engine options are available with one being completely new to the platform. Base motivation is supplied by a repeat of the naturally aspirated 2.4 liter GDI inline four cylinder. Classified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV), the powerplant puts 190 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque to either the front or all four wheels. Gone is the upgraded 3.5 liter V6 and in its place is the 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder borrowed from the likes of the Sonata sedan. Now familiar, the four banger uses direct injection, variable valve timing and a twin-scroll turbocharger to produce 264 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. Slightly down on power from the six it replaces, the Theta II manages to push the Santa Fe Sport a higher rate of speed due to an easily forgettable but highly important factor: weight. Not only does the vehicle weigh less overall than before but the engine’s compact size means the Sport’s distribution is very impressive for an SUV. Full throttle acceleration is satisfying if not exciting as the Theta does a fantastic job of climbing to redline. Its low-end torque is stout but it’s the engine’s top end that is most impressive. Boost hits early on, doesn’t seem to let go and despite being an actual crossover, the Santa Fe Sport felt faster than the last turbocharged Hyundai we drove: the Veloster.
As satisfying as it is to ring the Sport out at wide open throttle, most drivers won’t have their foot buried in the firewall all the time. This is where the Hyundai could use some polishing as part throttle and low rpms are not its strongest suits. The response time between input and actual movement is a bit lazy and a few times, real and safe power didn’t show its face until seconds after it was called for. After some thought, the problem could be chalked up to simple tuning as in a quest to achieve high economy, the Santa Fe Sport seems far too eager to drop its engine’s rpms. While driving around Utah, ECO mode was left off so it’s the Hyundai’s natural trend to stay out of fuel enriching boost. Even when this ”I’d rather just cruise” mood set in, getting the Sport back into “let’s hustle” mode is by no means abrupt or jarring. The movement from the drivetrain is never felt and the six speed automatic’s shifts both up and down are glass smooth. For being built in-house, the slushbox is plenty stout enough that being the Santa Fe’s sole gearbox isn’t an issue at all.
Of all of the 2013′s changes, the most profound can been seen among the vehicle’s chassis. Compared to the 2012, the Santa Fe Sport is 266 lbs lighter than before while managing to be loaded with more features and becoming structurally stronger. At 3,459 lbs, the Sport weighs less than most of its competitors and even some “sporting” cars. Featuring Hyundai’s high tensile strength steel and a fully independent suspension, the SUV carries the mannerisms of a much lower car. Using an electric assisted steering pump, the Santa Fe also features Hyundai’s Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM) previously felt in the Elantra GT. Unlike inside the little hatchback, the utility’s use of the system is much more apparent. There is a crystal clear difference between the three modes and when placed in Sport, the Santa Fe gives the kind of feedback usually reserved for cars with tuned suspensions. Around the twisty mountain roads of Utah with numerous elevation changes, the Sport felt flat, controlled and confident and when things needed to slow down, it was obvious. Afterall, this is still a tall SUV and pushing really hard can result in understeer.
Packed inside our sample Sport was a Dynamax all-wheel drive system. Fully automatic, the system features a locking differential and a rear electronic coupler. Active cornering control allows for torque to be properly distributed to all four wheels and when sensors detect understeer, traction and brake controls are mitigated to reduce it at all costs. During our time spent with the Sport, we traverse some mild forest roads and the system proved itself in the most important way: safety. The Santa Fe isn’t designed to lift up a wheel crawling over rocks and for that reason, the active controls make traveling over slushy terrain easily manageable. It isn’t rough, tough and crude and its manners on gravel are just as quiet and cool as when on pavement.

If you were to count how many midsize SUVs are available to you right now, you would have to take off your shoes. The segment is utterly crowded but even still, Hyundai has managed to create a stout competitor. With the boosted engine, power is aplenty and room and comfort is up there with the best. Perhaps most impressive of all is the vehicle’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels which were so good, the Santa Fe could easily be considered a premium luxury vehicle. The Santa Fe is so accommodating that it simply lacks the ability to offend anyone. It may have less than perfect throttle response and its navigation could be easier to use with better “hot keys” but those could be a quick fix. With its bold lines, chiseled overhangs and wide fenders, the Sport seems much more muscular than before and isn’t as bulbous as other offerings. It may be fluid but it isn’t overly cute and no “cool dad” should be embarrassed to drive the crossover to work. If anything, living with the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport might be one of the easiest tasks on the day’s to-do list.