Sunday, April 26, 2015

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe

Though Hyundai just redesigned it in 2013, it appears as if the Santa Fe will nevertheless undergo a mild refresh as we head into the 2016 model year. Here to confirm this are some photographs from our spy photographers.


The Hyundai Santa Fe debuted in 2001 as the brand’s first SUV in the U.S. In 2007, the model underwent its first redesign, giving the Korean automaker a true rival to some of the bigger-name SUVs on the market. The model’s second redesign came in 2013, and in 2016, it will get a light refresh to help it match up with other models in Hyundai’s lineup.

The shots from our spy photographers actually reveal more about the 2016 Santa Fe’s interior than exterior, but the recent revisions to various Hyundai models hint at the new Santa Fe’s details.

Will this revision to Santa Fe help boost this already well-selling SUV in the 2016 model year, or will buyers start growing tired of the overall appearance of the model?

Exterior

Like all of the other recent refreshes from Hyundai, look for only minor tweaks with the 2016 Santa Fe. These should include a bolder grille with a chrome surround and horizontal slats, redesigned bumpers, updated fog lights, and new taillight graphics.

Other than that, I expect the 2016 Santa Fe to carry over unchanged from the 2015 model.

Interior

The cabin will remain relatively unchanged from the 2015 model, but there will be a few minor updates here and there. From our spy shots of the interior, I notice repositioned buttons beneath the LCD screen and a slightly different gear shifter setup.

There have been no major complaints regarding the cabin of the 2015 model, other than its lack of a rear-seat entertainment option and its limited cargo space. The entertainment system may show up as an option in the new model, but the cargo room will likely remain limited to around 80 cubic feet.

Drivetrain

In 2015, the Santa Fe draws its power from a 3.3-liter V-6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. This engine should continue into 2016, but it may see a mild uptick in power and fuel economy. There is also an outside chance that Hyundai will include a thriftier turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant for those looking for a few extra mpg.

The six-speed automatic transmission will likely carry, but if Hyundai decides to go with a more fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder, look for it to mate this engine to the EcoShift dual-clutch transmission to push the fuel economy even further.

Prices

In 2015, the Hyundai Santa Fe has a starting price of $30,150, and this will likely go up a little bit in 2016. Look for a starting price about $500 to $1,000 more than the 2015 model.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Learn the History and Mission of Hyundai Hope on Wheels

When a group of New England Hyundai dealerships and the Hyundai Motor Co. partnered in 1998 to form a local initiative to support the Jimmy Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, no one thought the effort would grow to become the national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization it is today. Now known as Hyundai Hope on Wheels, this independent organization is dedicated to helping children survive cancer. Its mission involves raising awareness, donating research funds, and celebrating the lives of those affected.

Hyundai and its dealers are bridging the widening gap in childhood cancer research funding and have quickly become one of the largest and more innovative grant providers in the field,” explained Peter C. Adamson, Chairman of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG).

Hyundai selects National Youth Ambassadors every two years to represent the courage and hope of those fighting pediatric cancer. These ambassadors travel across the country and share their stories with kids and families going through the same situations. For 2014-2015, the selected representatives are Ashley Burnette and Kenny Thomas.

Now in its 18th year, Hyundai Hope on Wheels is supported by over 800 dealerships across the country.

The Impact of Hyundai Hope on Wheels
Since 1998, Hyundai Hope on Wheels has raised and donated over $87 million to pediatric cancer research, including $14 million in 2014 alone. The funds are distributed as grants to innovative research institutions nationwide. As September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a majority of the fundraising and donations take place then, especially Hope Grants which are selected by the Hope On Wheels Medical Advisory Committee. Other donations throughout the year include the Impact Award, Hyundai Scholar Award, and Young Investigator Research Award. You can apply for a grant here.

The organization holds events such as handprint ceremonies, 5K races, and participation in the Congressional Childhood Cancer Caucus. It also promotes awareness efforts on social media, such as the “Every Handprint Tells a Story” campaign. A financial portion of every Hyundai vehicle sale goes to Hyundai Hope on Wheels.

“Hope On Wheels is our fight to end pediatric cancer, and is at the soul of our work at Hyundai. With each car we sell, we make a contribution with our dealers to end this disease,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.

For 2015, Hyundai Hope on Wheels will be continuing its successful “Just One Wish” campaign theme, which highlights the desire of families and doctors to discover a cure. Families can submit their own stories and photos to the campaign here. Or, express your support for families here. You can tag @HopeOnWheels in social media messaged using hashtags #EndChildhoodCancer or #HopeOnWheels.


Friday, April 24, 2015

2015 Hyundai Verna 4S Test Drive Review

After the hatchbacks, the C-sedan segment is where all the action lies nowadays. With Honda City getting a diesel engine and with the entry of Maruti Ciaz, it was time that Hyundai, with its best-selling product in their portfolio did something to challenge the competition.

Hyundai did rule the roost with its diesel engine, automatic gearbox, best-in-class features and other subjective things brought the customers to the showrooms. However, all things changed after City came with diesel engine and Ciaz made a value proposition like no other. Hyundai reacted by tweaking the suspension and adding DRL to the package but now the Verna received a substantial facelift with an objective of regaining the lost ground. How does it fare? We find out!

Exterior

When you look at the side profile it looks exactly the same with no changes whatsoever. The coupe style roofline and edgy window line still grab a lot of attention. The rear too is similar except for new detailing on the taillight elements and bumper reflectors. The front is where it has truly changed with a new sleeker bumper, two slat grill and a revised headlight design with integrated projector elements. Overall, the refreshed front fascia brings about a fresh feel but some would still like the old car’s design better.

Interior

First impression when you get into the cabin is that quality is good all around and so are fit and finish levels. However, the look of the center console is dated now with old school fonts inside and outside the infotainment system. The faux wooden and piano black inserts don’t do much to elevate the cabin ambiance. The console is cluttered with buttons but they are very intuitive and fall into hands perfectly.

The leather wrapped steering is great to hold and so is the handbrake. The arm-rest with built-in storage is comfortable and practical. The MID shows a lot of data which includes average and real-time fuel efficiency, two trip meters, tank range, gear shift indicator and other bits which are toggled by the trip button. The temperature gauge and fuel gauge are displayed side by side on the top of screen and are quite accurate.

The cockpit is roomy enough with good all around visibility but the front visibility could have been better (A-pillars can create huge blind spots at times). Space at the rear in terms of legroom is just about adequate and shoulder room is fine but head room is lacking. Anyone with a height of above 5’9″ would find it difficult. Under thigh support is quite low and recline of seat isn’t done right either for lower back support. Overall, interior is good enough at first glance with decent room but there are short comings which can be improved in the future.

Features

Tons of features on the Verna are available such as, start-stop button, backlit brightness control switch, Rear View Camera with Display on ECM, Rear Parking Sensors, Day/Night rear view mirror, Projector Headlamps with Escort Function, Front Fog Lamps, Front and Rear Defogger with Timer, Clutch Lock System, Central Locking (Driver Side), Automatic Headlight Control, Immobilizer, Electrically Adjustable and Electrically Fold-able ORVMs, Rain Sensing Wipers, Height Adjustable Front Seatbelts for driver and passenger, 2 Din Audio with 1 GB memory, Bluetooth Connectivity, Steering Mounted Audio Control Bluetooth Handsfree and Ergolever for front Passenger seat. In terms of safety, the Verna has ABS with EBD, Impact Sensing Auto Door Unlock, Speed sensing Auto Door lock on all variants and six airbags on top variant while base variants don’t get any.

Engine and Transmission

The Verna is available with 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. The 1.4-litre units make do with 5-speed manual gearboxe while the bigger engines offer a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions. Our test car was powered by the 1.6-litre diesel engine which produces a class leading 126 PS and 260 Nm of torque. The engine is an extremely smooth and refined unit and has class leading NVH. While most of competition have serious NVH issues, the Verna is just aces ahead. There is hardly any noise inside the cabin at any given speed, except when you redline it but even then, it has a sporty note and not a typical diesel clatter.

Performance is quite stellar as the power-to-weight ratio seems very high (Hyundai has managed to hide kerb weight since day one) and once you hit the 1700-1900 RPM roundabouts the turbo kicks and it just surges ahead. Mid-range like any other diesel engine is very strong and relentless, plus there is a good amount of top-end power too. The motor does not stop pulling even at serious highway speeds. The 6-speed gearbox is smooth and easy to live with as the shifts are slick and throws are short.

Fuel efficiency

The 1.6-litre diesel and petrol have received changes which include new pistons and ECU mapping, resulting in an improved fuel economy. ARAI fuel efficiency figures for the 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol motors with manual gearbox are 17.43 kmpl and 17.01 kmpl respectively. ARAI stats have seen a bump by a good amount for the diesel engines. It’s 24.8 kmpl (previous was 23.5 kmpl) for the 1.4-litre and 23.9 kmpl (vs 21.9 kmpl) for the 1.6-litre unit. What we got in the 1.6 diesel is 14 km/l in the city and 18 km/l on the highway with slightly heavy foot.

Ride Handling and Braking

When it comes to the dynamics, the Verna has been in spot light for the wrong reasons. The car is not known for its handling car. Hyundai, being a keen listener, has done the needful this time and says the changes are substantial. How does it fair compared to the old one? Well, it’s miles ahead. The ride quality despite being a stiffed suspension is extremely good and spot on without pitching or crashing in pot holes. It glides over most uneven surfaces with absolute peace at low to medium speeds. High speed manners have improved drastically and there isn’t nervousness of the highest order but there is a wee bit of it post 140 km/hr something which is acceptable and depends on demands from driver to driver.

Braking? Well Hyundai has silently removed disc brakes from the rear (it is being done with facelifts just like how they did with i20). In that process the brake pedal feel at the initial part is quite wooden and hence it needs a big shove to shed some speed. ABS kicks in quickly. Steering is very vague and has no feedback whatsoever. In the city and at parking speeds its extremely light, so its quite convenient there.

When it comes to handling, the suspension does a great job at low to medium speeds. Body roll is very well controlled due to well calibrated suspension but a light steering and a hesitant chassis dilutes the fun factor. Overall, a great improvement but surely there is more fine tuning left to be done to woo the enthusiast as the engine is just part of a small story.

Price

As we know there are tons of options to choose from as there many transmissions and engines provided. The list includes the price of the variants Hyundai has to offer with the Verna and pricing seems quite competitive and good value as well considering the changes done to this model are quite substantial.

Verna dominated the segment and still does impressive numbers on the sales chart.

Verdict

As a package to delight the consumers, the Verna has it spot on. You get a lot of goodies for your money, you get a very efficient and powerful engine in the 1.6-litre diesel. Safety is top notch for every variant except the base variant and top variant retains the six airbags which is segment best. However, if you’re an enthusiast who loves driving and want maximum comfort for rear seat occupants, the competition is there to impress you. If you want an efficient performer with a delightful and calm nature, the Hyundai Verna is seriously worth considering.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hyundai Launches New 2016 Plug-In Hybrid

Hyundai launched its first plug-in hybrid vehicle today at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is expected to travel up to 35 km on electric power and can recharge in as little as two and a half hours with a Level 2 charger. Once the maximum electric-only range has been reached, the Sonata PHEV goes on to perform just like a regular hybrid vehicle.

The company also introduced an all-new Sonata Hybrid. Sonata Hybrid continues to visually differentiate itself from other Sonata models with purposefully unique wheels and front and rear fascias that improve aerodynamics while highlighting its advanced technology and efficiency. The 2016 Sonata Hybrid is expected to deliver improved fuel economy over the previous generation Sonata Hybrid.

Sonata PHEV and Hybrid will be built at the Asan plant in South Korea and will go on-sale later this year. Prices will be announced closer to the vehicles’ on-sale date.

PLUG-IN POWERTRAIN

Although the Sonata PHEV is very technologically advanced, it will behave much like the regular Sonata Hybrid from the driver’s seat. A 9.8 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, roughly five times larger than the Sonata Hybrid’s battery, is expected to give Sonata Plug-in Hybrid an all-electric range of up to 35 km, farther than any other intermediate PHEV sedan.

Sonata Plug-in Hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED), a 50 kW electric motor, in place of a torque converter. This electric motor is 32 percent more powerful than the motor used the in regular Sonata Hybrid and allows EV operation at higher speeds and for greater duration.

The Sonata PHEV will be available nation-wide later in 2015. Sonata PHEV buyers will be eligible for a provincial tax credit in Ontario and Quebec.

HYBRID POWERTRAIN

The heart of the 2016 Sonata Hybrid is the downsized 2.0-litre Nu GDI four-cylinder engine (replacing a 2.4-litre MPI engine) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that houses a more powerful 38 kW electric motor and clutch where the torque converter would normally be found. Sonata Hybrid’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED) delivers the same responsive, engaging driving characteristics Sonata owners expect while improving fuel economy through the use of the larger electric motor.

AERODYNAMIC EXTERIOR

Sonata Hybrid and PHEV use the same functional design changes to improve their drag coefficient to a class-leading 0.24 as well as provide visual cues to distinguish the hybrid models from other Sonatas. Visual changes to the PHEV’s exterior include a charging port on the driver front fender. Both models feature a unique grille, front and rear bumpers, front fenders, front and rear lights, chrome side sill moldings, badges and new wheels from the regular gasoline-powered Sonata.

SAFETY FEATURES

The 2016 Sonata Hybrid and PHEV come standard with seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag designed to help prevent the driver from sliding down the seat in a collision. Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS and a rearview camera also come standard. While projector headlamps are standard on the Sonata Hybrid, HID headlamps are available and come HID headlamps are standard on the Sonata PHEV.

Hyundai engineers implemented many active safety and convenience technologies for the 2016 Sonata Hybrid and PHEV to assist drivers and help prevent collisions. No longer reserved for luxury cars, advanced technologies such as Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a Lane Departure Warning System are all available in the Hybrid and standard on the PHEV.

CONVENIENT TECHNOLOGY

The 2016 Sonata Hybrid and PHEV deliver the convenient technology one would normally expect in a luxury vehicle. Hyundai’s hands-free trunk release is standard. An electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, a driver memory seat, rear window sunshades, heated steering wheel, LED interior lights, ventilated front seats, power front seats with 4-way adjustable driver lumbar and Adaptive Cruise Control featuring stop-and-go capability are available on the Hybrid and standard on the PHEV.

MULTIMEDIA

All 2016 Sonata Hybrid and PHEV models come standard with iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity with phonebook transfer and voice-recognition. An 8.0-inch navigation system, HD radio and Infinity premium audio system are available on the Hybrid and standard on the PHEV.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

It took years for Hyundai to be taken seriously by driving enthusiasts, but this is the car that clinched it. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a rear-wheel-drive sport coupe with plenty of power and style, and it's a great value, too. If you're a driving enthusiast, we think you'll agree that this Hyundai speaks your language. Here are five reasons why the Genesis Coupe is the genuine article.

Bold Looks
What good is a sport coupe if it doesn't turn heads? The Genesis Coupe has style in spades, whether you're looking at its aggressive grille, brash alloy wheels or its distinctive beltline swoop. Forget subtlety. This coupe throws caution to the wind, and it loves the spotlight. You won't be disappointed unless you want to blend in.

Burly V6 Power
The Genesis Coupe used to offer a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but now it comes one way: with a big ol' 3.8-liter V6 under the hood that pumps out 348 horsepower. That's a whole lot of muscle from a naturally aspirated V6. (In comparison, consider Mercedes-Benz's new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, which is rated at 329 hp.) The Hyundai V6 makes some angry noises when you provoke it, and its passing power at speed is pretty amazing. This motor's ready to go whenever you are.

Balanced Handling
For driving dynamics, Hyundai benchmarked the Infiniti G Coupe, which is based on the Nissan 370Z sports car. Not surprisingly, the Genesis Coupe is a real athlete on winding roads. The steering is quick and precise, and you always feel in control. If you're into drifting, by the way, this is one of the easiest cars to get sideways, no joke. We told you Hyundai was serious this time.

Snug Seats
No matter which Genesis Coupe you choose, the front seats are going to be snug and sporty. But if you get the R-Spec or Ultimate model, you'll enjoy sport seats with extended bolsters, and they're definitely worth the upgrade. This car can generate some bigtime g-forces, so you'll be glad for that extra lateral support. If you're going to get a speedy sport coupe, you might as well have some genuine performance seats to match.

Exceptional Value
A new Genesis Coupe starts well under $30,000, and it comes standard with cool stuff, including LED running lights, a smart key, automatic climate control and Bluetooth. The sport-tuned R-Spec is the jock in the family, while the Ultimate offers leather and Infinity audio. No matter which way you slice it, the Genesis Coupe is a remarkable value for the money. Most cars with this much capability would cost a lot more if you added all those features.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0

Hyundai's midsize sedan made a big splash with its redesign for the 2010 model year. Its aggressive, daring exterior and high-tech, attractive interior made for a compelling package that put the Korean automaker in a competitive position in the segment for the first time. And while the design itself may have been polarizing to a degree, it's impossible to ignore the Sonata's impact on Hyundai's presence in the market. Years of growth in both sales and market share back that up.

But for 2015, Hyundai took the Sonata in a different direction. The new Sonata's exterior is handsome and conservative--in many ways a throwback to the 2009. Is this Hyundai's way of visually repositioning the Sonata as an established competitor rather than an ambitious newcomer? If so, the execution seems spot-on, but Hyundai seems displeased with the results.

Why?
While Sonata sales volume has been consistently up since the introduction of the 2015, recent reports have indicated that Hyundai isn't thrilled with the conquest rate on the updated car. But is that a sign of failure? Hyundai has been offering cash to move them, but that by itself isn't a strong indicator. Incentive spending industry-wide has been up lately in this segment due to low gas prices and the run on SUV and truck inventory. In short, family sedans aren't hot right now.

But Hyundai remains unimpressed, and it appears that a return to the 2010 model's more outlandish styling is coming. It's impossible to fault Hyundai for wanting to recapture the magic of the 2010. Who wouldn't? But that may not be attainable in the current industry climate.

What is it?
The Sonata Sport 2.0T lives up to its name. It's the most powerful, most buttoned-down variant in the lineup, boasting a turbocharged, 245-horsepower engine and a sport-tuned suspension (a Sport model sans turbocharger is also available). And if specced with the Ultimate Package, as our tester is, it's also among the most feature-rich of the Sonata clan. The only trim with more bells and whistles standard is the Limited, which essentially bakes the Sport 2.0T's goodies and the Ultimate Package add-ons into one.

What sort of goodies? Highlights of our Sonata's feature list include a tilt & slide panoramic sunroof, rear window shades, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and heated/ventilated front seats.

What works?
The new Sonata is the 2014's better in driving dynamics, for sure. The previous model's steering was acceptable at best, lacking weight and precision and requiring far too much attention even in straight-line cruising. No more. While it still can't match the benchmarks in this class for steering accuracy and feedback (look to the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord Sport), the Sonata has come a long way in a short period of time. If anything, the steering may be inappropriately heavy for a car whose mission is more A-to-B than back-road-runner, but the formula is better than before by miles.

What doesn't?
There are two salient head-scratchers hiding in the Sonata's spec sheet, so let's address those up front. First off, there's the power rating. 245 horsepower isn't a painfully deficient power figure, especially from a turbocharged four-cylinder, but it's not segment-leading by any stretch. In a class where 260-290 horsepower is par for the course for top-trim engines, 245 does seem a bit anemic.

In a lightweight car, that wouldn't matter, and therein lies our second gripe: curb weight. The Sonata Sport 2.0T tips the scales at just a hair under 3,600lbs. A Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited, with its bulky boxer-six and all-wheel drive, is only ~60lbs heavier. There's a mileage penalty, too. At 23 mpg city, 32 highway and 26 combined, the Sonata's EPA figures aren't much better than, say, a Chrysler 200 V6's, and our real-world mileage backs that up.

Leftlane's bottom line
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Sport is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. It may be slightly underpowered and slightly overweight, but it is comfortable, feature-rich and affordable. If you can look beyond its spec-sheet deficiencies, you'll be more than happy with driving experience.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T base price, $28,575. As tested, $34,460.
Ultimate package, $4,950; carpeted floor mats, $125; Destination, $810