Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Hyundai Genesis Has Become An Insanely Great Used Luxury Car Value

Hey you, the person with luxury sedan desires but a Toyota Camry budget! Forget the out-of-warranty BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E Class. Those are fine cars, but they will cost you in the long run. The Hyundai Genesis is one of best used luxury values on the market, and you should buy one.
Hyundai first experimented with selling a luxury car in the American market with the Genesis and later the larger, more expensive Equus. Neither car really caught on with premium car buyers despite being much cheaper than their respected rivals. The main problem, aside from being a brand with no cachet fighting in well established European territory, was that most critics panned the first generation Genesis and Equus as “almost but not quite there” luxury sedans.
That all changed with the 2015 Genesis. Hyundai finally made a car that drove and felt like something you would get from a European marque. The shift was so dramatic that Hyundai is now spinning off Genesis into its own brand and currently offers the G80 (formerly called Genesis) and G90 (Equus) sedans.
This transition means that the 2015-2016 Hyundai branded Genesis is stuck in the middle, and that equates to some great values for you. There are tons of V6-powered, lightly used Genesis sedans out there in the mid-$20,000 range.

Oh, you wanted a V8? Okay, I understand, if you are going to get a luxury cruiser you want big engine under the hood. Gas is still cheap, might as well enjoy life.
For less than a fully loaded Sonata, you can have your Genesis with a 5.0-liter 415 horsepower V8 and rear-wheel-drive.

If you are in the market for a used luxury sedan you can go two ways: you can follow the crowd and get something German or a Lexus, and there is nothing wrong with that, or you can get something a little different that gives you everything you want without some of the baggage that comes with the usual choices. But the used Genesis has become way too strong a value to ignore.

Monday, February 27, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata to adopt sporty look

Hyundai is definitely on a roll. Having just launched its Genesis luxury brand, the automaker’s bread and butter models are now in the process of being renewed. 

We just saw the impressive redesign of the Elantra GT at the 2017 Chicago auto show, and soon Hyundai will introduce a sporty-looking update for its Sonata.

Teaser sketches posted to Hyundai’s social media sites give us a taste of what some of the updates will be. The sketches depict the standard Sonata as well as the sporty Sonata Turbo and include the current-generation versions of both to highlight the differences.  (The current Sonata Turbo is sold in the United States as the Sonata Sport 2.0T.)

The designers have adopted the handsome look of smaller Elantra and Accent for the updated Sonata, including almost identical treatments for the lights and grille. Expect some tweaks inside, too.

It’s not clear what mechanical updates are planned. We’ve heard that Hyundai might replace the current model’s 6-speed automatic with a new 8-speeder. We also know that the Hyundai N performance division is developing a new turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4, so perhaps a version of this engine could feature in the updated Sonata Turbo/Sonata Sport 2.0T.

The updated Sonata will be unveiled later this year, as a 2018 model. Though yet to be confirmed, a debut at the 2017 New York auto show this April is a strong possibility.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Head of the class | 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric First Drive

With the Ioniq family, Hyundai has cooked up a recipe that looks really good on paper. As with the pair of hybrid models, the Ioniq Electric combines a high level of efficiency with a nice price and styling that is neither drab nor audacious. This is uncharted territory for Hyundai, though. The dedicated platform shared by this trio of electrified vehicles is completely new, and the electric version is the brand's very first battery-electric vehicle. Hyundai's approach means the Ioniq can carve out its own space in the market and capture the attention – and dollars – of eco-minded buyers on a budget.

The three Ioniq offerings are all very similar, both in appearance and in underlying technology. The Ioniq Electric, though, is the only one without a gasoline engine (and, for that matter, without the six-speed dual-clutch transmission the hybrids use). For propulsion, it relies solely on its 88-kW (118-horsepower) electric motor, which provides 215 pound-feet of torque. A 28-kWh battery pack supplies the energy, giving it a respectable 124 miles of driving range between charges.

"Wait a minute, Scoob," you might be saying. "Only 124 miles? The Chevy Bolt goes 238 miles on a full battery." Yes, that's right. The Bolt is kind of a young, tough shark swimming in the same waters into which Hyundai is dipping its toes. The Bolt, though, has a starting MSRP of $37,495, which is a big sack of ducats for a compact car. It's also $7,160 more than the Ioniq Electric. We'll revisit the price in a little bit.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Same as in the hybrids, the Ioniq EV's interior is attractive and comfortable. The seats are supportive, and it's easy to find a cozy position behind the adjustable steering wheel. Taller occupants might find headroom in short supply, at least in models equipped with a sunroof. The materials are all attractive and nice to the touch, tiller included. The digital instrument cluster is fairly simple, and toggles on the steering wheel allow you to put the information you want right in front of you. The 7.0-inch central touchscreen is attractive, although the large amount of information and features available in the various menus could be a little difficult to navigate for some. Others will appreciate the ability to monitor their energy usage, customize settings, find charging stations, and project their smartphone onto the screen via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There's even available wireless charging for phones that support it.

The Ioniq Electric, like its hybrid siblings, is supremely smooth and quiet. Instead of a lever, the "gear" selector in the EV is a group of buttons on the center console in front of the armrest. Hit the "D" button, tap the accelerator, and you're off, moving down the road in near-silence. It's not a particularly quick car, hitting 60 mph in about 10 seconds, but what it lacks in outright grunt it makes up for in efficiency and refinement.

The Ioniq Electric is easy to drive, tracking nicely on the highway despite its small stature. The placement of its battery pack means a low center of gravity, and the body feels nice and stiff as it eases through corners. While the hybrid models feature a multi-link rear suspension, the Ioniq Electric has a simpler torsion-beam rear to make room for its larger battery; as a result, it tends to bound a tiny bit more over uneven pavement. Overall, it's a polished and comfortable car to drive, with a temperament that allows for some light horseplay. 

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

While it'll dance a few steps, much of the driving joy is of the cerebral sort that an electric powertrain offers. Unlike the Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid, which both keep the driver interface simple, the Electric gives drivers more opportunities to take control of and monitor the experience.

A major highlight of the Ioniq Electric is its regenerative braking system. Instead of switching gears (this EV uses just the one reductive gear), paddles on the back of the steering wheel increase or decrease the level of regenerative braking. In addition to the standard coasting (regen level 0), there are three successive levels of regeneration, the highest of which allows for one-pedal driving. We weren't initially all that interested in the regen feature, but having the paddles at our fingertips made it too enticing not to use.

After just a few minutes behind the wheel, we found ourselves switching between them fluently and without thought, selecting the level based on road grade and traffic. It takes a little getting used to, including a shift in some of the driving reflexes that become automatic after decades behind the wheel, but it's a satisfying way to drive, with a focus on timing and smoothness. While this feature is exclusive to the all-electric Ioniq, after using it, we wish it were available on the hybrid models, too, despite the fact it would complicate their straightforward, more mainstream driving experience.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

On the center console, behind the gear selection buttons, is a "Drive Mode" button, which lets you switch between Normal, Eco, and Sport settings. In addition to the throttle and steering adjustments, the various modes also control regenerative braking levels and climate control. The driver can specify their own regen and climate settings for each mode, as well as set a maximum speed for Eco. While a number of cars, especially luxury models, offer underutilized driver-customizable modes, the enthusiastic and tech-savvy EV crowd seems far more likely to take advantage of this feature.

Back to that pricing thing. The cost premium of EVs is a major barrier for entry, Hyundai has noticed (along with the rest of us patiently waiting to turn in our gas cars for EVs). Pricing the Ioniq at $30,335 significantly lowers that barrier, especially when you consider additional federal and possible local incentives. In the car's main market of California, you could nab one for around $20,000. A lifetime battery warranty sweetens the deal.

In terms of the range, unless you regularly drive 200 miles in a day, or can't bear sitting at a DC fast charger for a half hour now and again when you need to travel longer distances, you might prefer to keep that $7,000 in your bank account instead of opting for a Bolt. The Ioniq is also more efficient and, thus, cheaper to operate, providing nearly an extra half-mile per kWh. Unless you absolutely need the extra pep and range the Bolt offers, for the eco-conscious driver on a budget, the Ioniq EV makes sense.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Then there's the Nissan Leaf, which is closer in price to the Ioniq Electric. The Leaf starts at $31,545, still $1,500 more than the Ioniq, with an EPA driving range that comes up 17 miles short. That's not so bad, but it won't charge nearly as quickly unless you shell out another $1,700 (or choose a higher trim level) to get the 6.6-kW onboard charger. Nissan does offer free public charging for two years in select markets with its "No Charge to Charge" program, although most people charge at home, making that less valuable. Plus, the Leaf looks like a loaf of bread. Advantage: Hyundai.

(This could shift, though, as a 200-mile Leaf is in the works. Similarly, Hyundai says it is also planning a longer-range EV.)

Some potential customers in California might be wooed by Hyundai's unlimited subscription model for the Ioniq Electric, the details of which are still in the works. A 36-month lease includes unlimited mileage for a yet-unannounced monthly fee, which will depend on the trim level and options selected. Hyundai will provide free scheduled maintenance, as well as replacement of any items that wear out within 50,000 miles (like tires, brakes, and wiper blades). Hyundai will also reimburse the driver for charging for up to 50,000 miles (calculated using average electricity cost per kWh versus the mileage data gathered through Hyundai Bluelink). For customers, it could be an enticing deal. For the rest of us, it's an interesting experiment to see if it increases EV adoption.

The Ioniq Electric goes on sale in April, beginning in California, followed by other ZEV states. If you don't live in one of the car's main markets, you can custom order the Ioniq through your local dealer, but you might want to make sure they've elected the training to service the Ioniq Electric.

The Ioniq Electric gets a lot right, and its formula could help encourage many holdouts to ditch their tailpipes. This car is easy on the pocketbook and the eyes, offers an industry-beating level of efficiency, and is somehow also a pleasure to drive. Let's hope Hyundai gets comfortable with being an EV brand soon. At least for now, the Ioniq Electric's greatest handicap might just be in Hyundai's cautious rollout.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tech War: Prius Prime vs. Hyundai Ioniq

By a lucky coincidence, I had a chance to drive both the 2017 Prius Prime and the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq in the same week. The Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid with a futuristic vibe; the Hyundai Ioniq comes in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric versions.
The Prius lineup and the Ioniq lineup are competing for the same buyers, so there will be plenty of comparisons in the automotive press. But this is TechCrunch, so let’s take a look at the technology in each.
Instrument cluster
The first thing anyone is going to look at as soon as they slide into the driver’s seat is the dashboard. The Hyundai Ioniq puts everything where you expect it to be, with a TFT LCD cluster right in front of you. Controls on the steering wheel allow you to choose which information (besides the basics like speed and fuel level) is displayed.
If you’ve never been in a Prius, you might be surprised to have to look a bit to the right to see your instrument cluster. It’s in the center of the dashboard under a curved plastic cowl. There’s loads of information over there, and you can select what’s displayed. It looks, cool but requires you to glance sideways while you’re driving. The Prius Prime I tested had a heads-up display that I found very useful for just this reason.
The Ioniq hybrid I test drove had a clean, basic center console with an 8-inch touch screen with navigation included as part of the Ultimate package. Standard equipment included Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system. (I also drove the EV version, which had a nearly identical infotainment system.)
The Prime Advanced that I tested, which is the top of the Prime line, had a massive 11.6-inch display, but no integration for Apple or Android phones. It was compatible with Siri Eyes-Free and had Toyota’s Entune App Suite, which includes Pandora, iHeartRadio, OpenTable, traffic and weather.
The Prius Prime comes with Toyota Safety Sense, which is standard on most of its new cars. It includes pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and radar cruise control. These aren’t standard features for the Ioniq, but the Ultimate package I tested did have similar safety tech. Both vehicles come with a rear-view camera, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts.
The Prius Prime Advanced adds Prime Apps that can be used to manage your charging status from your phone, find a charging station, warm or cool the interior while it’s still plugged in to preserve range and find your vehicle when you’ve forgotten where you parked it.
Hyundai takes that further by connecting the Ioniq to everything it can. Blue Link does all that Prime Apps do, plus integrates with Amazon Alexa (and soon Google Assistant), Apple Watch and Android Wear watches. And it has roadside assistance and stolen vehicle recovery.
Which vehicle has the best tech depends on what you want your vehicle to do. If the idea of Alexa monitoring your every move gives you the creeps, maybe the super-connected Ioniq is too much. But if you have to have Android Auto, the Prius Prime won’t have it. If you like quirky, the Prius Prime exudes quirky. If you want a low-key commuter car, the Ioniq blends in on the highway.
And if you absolutely must have wireless charging for your phone, your decision just got harder. Both the Prius Prime and the Hyundai Ioniq have it available.

Monday, February 20, 2017

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport Test Drive

Q-ships are diabolical things.
They’re designed to look like simple transport, but are packed to the gunwales with enough weaponry to take down unsuspecting foes who think they’re easy prey.
Why aren’t I writing about cars this week? I am.
Well, the term was originally a nautical one. Q-ships — merchant ships with concealed weapons — are the Trojan horses of the sea. They have participated in naval warfare for hundreds of years, but they were widely used against submarines in the World Wars of the 20th century. Their name refers to the Queenstown, Ireland, port where many were based during World War I.
But the term has also come to be applied to low-profile, high-performance cars, typically bland luxury sedans with enough power to blow away flashy sports cars without drawing undue attention to themselves. Hyundai has now democratized that idea with its new Elantra Sport — though perhaps it’s overdue, as the company that founded it runs one of the world’s largest shipbuilding operations.

The Sport is the most powerful Elantra ever, but it’s subtle. One could be parked next to your desk right now and you’d never know it. It does get a black grille surround, unique headlamps, LED accent lights, small rocker panel extensions and a chin spoiler that’s low enough for me to scrape on a curb, but it looks neither fast nor furious in your rearview mirror. It’s only after it passes you, and you see its dual exhaust pipes receding into the distance, that you realize you’ve been duped.
It could happen. The Sport is no Corvette (the car or the ship), but with a very eager 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, it is quick in the tradition of hot compact hatchbacks, even though it has a trunk. It’s available with a six-speed manual transmission that’s a delight to operate for $22,450, or with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with racy paddle shifters that can be had for an extra $1,100, making it the cheapest sedan with more than 200 horsepower – 201 hp, to be exact.
Just as important, the Sport gets an independent rear suspension that the other Elantras don’t have. This is mainly to improve its handling, but it also gives it a better overall ride. This kind of update is no small effort, and indicates how seriously Hyundai took the development of the Sport.
Changes to the Elantra’s dull-but-enormous cabin are limited to mildly racy fonts on the gauges, a couple of strips of fake carbon fiber trim, red stitching, the requisite flat-bottom steering wheel and a set of deeply-bolstered bucket seats that wouldn’t look or feel out of place in a sports car that cost twice as much.
Those seats come in handy in the curves, where the front-wheel-drive Sport grips tenaciously and remains as neutral as Taylor Swift’s politics. It’s only at the very limits, not reached on a public road without breaking a few laws, that it loses its composure. But the Sport is about as street-fast as a car needs to be to deliver an entertaining drive...in short doses. Its 30 mpg highway rating is unimpressive for a brand known for its efficiency.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a boy racer ride without the boy racer style, it’s worth checking the Sport out at your local Hyundai lot. You might like what you see, if you can find one.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chicago Auto Show: Hyundai reveals Elantra GT hatchback

CHICAGO — Hyundai isn't giving up on hatchbacks and believes Americans might be willing to buy more than in the past.
That's why the Korean automaker revealed an all-new version of its Elantra hatchback Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show that is lower, wider, and longer than the outgoing version. Hyundai says its new Elantra GT has a more aggressive stance and has added interior volume to its European style.

With 55 cubic feet of interior space, Hyundai says the new GT has more space than any other compact hatchback in the market today.
The Hyundai GT competes against hatchback versions of the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda CivicMazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.
In Europe, where hatchbacks are referred to as "the boot," five-door vehicles like the Elantra GT are more popular than sedans. In America, they are far less popular. But Hyundai says it expects sales of its new Elantra hatchback will exceed 15% of overall Elantra sales, or about 5% more than its current sales mix of Elantras.
The Elantra has been a core part of Hyundai's lineup for years and was the automaker's top-selling car in the U.S. in 2016 even as overall industry sales of cars fell. Hyundai sold more than 208,000 Elantra sedans and hatchbacks in 2016, a 13.8% decline compared with the prior year.
The 2018 Elantra hatchback will be offered in two versions -- the GT and the GT Sport -- when it goes on sale this summer.
The Elantra GT will be powered by a 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces 162 horsepower. The GT Sport will be powered by a 1.6-liter turbo engine with 201 horsepower.
"The new Elantra GT brings more to the North American shores for the 2018 model year,” Scott Margason, Hyundai's director of product planning, said in a statement. “More space and features inside. More aggression and European flair outside. And more options under the hood. I’m particularly excited to showcase the GT Sport, a true hot hatch.”

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Hyundai Ioniq Electric Will Be Available For Sale In US This Week

Hyundai announced last year that the hybrid and battery electric versions of the Ioniq would go on sale in America during the winter. The Ioniq will offer customers three power train choices — a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and a battery electric. Winter is with us for another 6 weeks, according to the calendar. Mike O’Brien, vice president-product planning for Hyundai Motor America, says the Ioniq Hybrid and Electric will go on sale next week.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
O’Brien says, “Our focus was on developing a great compact car that happens to be electrified. There were around 1.1 million buyers who shopped for an EV last year, but because of cost or maintenance or durability…or that they felt the car was too under powered…they didn’t buy one. We are offering a no-excuse electrified vehicle that measures up to compact vehicles in the segment.”
It is that a way of responding to Elon Musk’s challenge to other manufacturers to build “compelling” electric cars? It sure sounds like it. Prices for the Ioniq Electric have not been announced. That information will be coming along shortly, but the price will likely undercut other similar cars by a significant margin. Hyundai’s corporate sibling, Kia, has priced its new Niro Hybrid thousands less than a comparable Prius or Toyota RAV 4 Hybrid. The Kia Niro starts at around $22,000.
O’Brien says the Ioniq Electric will undergo a “soft launch” for now. A more robust marketing campaign is planned for later in March. One way Hyundai will keep the price of its new electric car low is by limiting the size of its battery to 28 kWh. So equipped, it earns a 150 MPGe rating from the EPA — which makes it the most energy efficient car sold in the US. The Toyota Prius Prime is next with a rating of 133 MPGe. 
Officially, range for the Ioniq is listed as 135 miles city, 110 miles highway, and 124 miles combined. Is that going to be a problem for consumers? It shouldn’t be. The average US driver only goes less than 50 miles a day, meaning the Ioniq Electric will have more than enough range for the needs of most drivers. Dedicated Tesla fan Bjorn Nyland test drove one recently in Europe and gave it a rave review, calling it almost as good as his Tesla in some respects.
Still, people seem to have the notion that they “need” 200 miles of range, just as many believe they absolutely “need” the power of a V8 engine. But if the Ioniq Electric is indeed competitive with the price of other compact cars, that objection may be easily overcome.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Operation Better: Hyundai To Deliver A Better Super Bowl Experience For The Real Heroes

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Feb. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- At Super Bowl LI, some of the better moments will happen off the field in the hearts of those who make the Super Bowl possible. Hyundai Motor America, an official sponsor of the NFL and Super Bowl 50 USA Today Ad Meter winner, is bringing a first of its kind experience to those that deserve it most, by making this year's game better for our soldiers overseas.
View photos
Hyundai will transport several U.S. troops from a base overseas to the heart of the action in stadium. Using custom built 360-degree immersive pods, Hyundai will allow the soldiers to feel as though they are in the stadium.
As announced recently, Hyundai and its marketing agency partner INNOCEAN Worldwide are working with renowned director Peter Berg (Patriots DayDeepwater HorizonLone Survivor), Pony Show, and Film 45, to bring this never done before idea to life. The team will shoot, edit and produce a 90-second documentary in real time that captures this incredible experience. This piece will run after the final whistle in the first commercial break immediately following the conclusion of the game, before the trophy ceremony. Hyundai released two teasers during the AFC and NFC Championship weekend, featuring Super Bowl champions Joe Montana and Mike Singletary that hint at Hyundai's creative. The full story will be told when the 90-second piece airs after the game.
"Hyundai has always had a strong relationship with the U.S. Armed Forces, and we wanted to give those who make the love and passion for football possible a unique and better experience," said Dean Evans, CMO, Hyundai Motor America. "'Better' is our driving force and this campaign is an act of that brand philosophy. Using the latest innovations in video technology we will give our troops an experience they will never forget and one that viewers won't want to miss."
"This project combines two of my greatest passions—football and the military," said Peter Berg. "I'm incredibly proud to be partnering with the Hyundai and INNOCEAN teams to bring the troops a better Super Bowl experience through cutting-edge technology. Editing the piece during the game itself is going to be intense, but we will have an incredible team in place on multiple continents to pull off this feat."
"Doing something that's bigger than a commercial and can help bring our country together when it seems impossibly divided is incredible," said Eric Springer, Chief Creative Officer, INNOCEAN. "We wanted a challenge for this year's Super Bowl, and we certainly gave ourselves one."
This initiative continues and builds upon Hyundai Motor America's commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces. G.I. Jobs named Hyundai a Top Military Friendly employer in 2017 and last year, Hyundai was recognized by CivilianJobs.com as one of the Most Valuable Employers for Military, the only automaker to receive the honor. For several years, Hyundai has offered special discounts to military personnel and honored Memorial Day by enhancing its Military Incentive Program, aiding U.S. troops in purchasing a Hyundai vehicle.   
To learn more about this program, view the teaser content and the final documentary film immediately following the Super Bowl, please visit https://www.hyundaiusa.com/better/.