Monday, December 22, 2014

New Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Unveiled In Korea; U.S. Sales In 2016?

When the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Sonata mid-size sedan was unveiled, a new hybrid model was not a part of the lineup.

Instead, the Sonata Hybrid will carry on through the 2015 model year using the earlier design--but now we know there's a new version on the way.
Find The Right Tire for Your Vehicle.

Hyundai unveiled the new Sonata Hybrid in Seoul this week, with updated styling to match the rest of the lineup and a revised powertrain.

The current model's 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine is replaced with a 2.0-liter direct-injected four, along with an updated six-speed automatic transmission.

Hyundai lists power output as 154 horsepower for the gasoline engine and 38 kilowatts (50 hp) for the electric motor, but hasn't released a combined output figure.

(Just adding the figures for the gasoline engine and electric motor together isn't always accurate because of their differing power curves.)

The new Sonata Hybrid also gets a revised lithium-ion battery pack that Hyundai says is 13 percent lighter than before, but with slightly more storage capacity. It's also now located under the floor of the trunk to free up cargo space.

There are some styling differences--including a unique and deeper grille, streamlined alloy wheels, and an underbody tray and diffuser.

Overall, however, the new Sonata Hybrid looks rather more like its standard gasoline counterpart than the previous model did. The 2011-2015 hybrid Sonata has a differently shaped grille and unique frontal appearance.

Hyundai says the Sonata Hybrid will launch in "major markets" outside Korea in the first half of 2015--meaning it could make it to the U.S. as a 2016 model. It will make its North American debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January.

The Sonata Hybrid will also be joined by a new plug-in hybrid version, which Hyundai plans to discuss at the Detroit Auto Show as well.

That car will feature a powertrain shared with the next Kia Optima, and will compete with plug-in hybrids from Ford, Toyota, and others.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid mid-size sedan models are part of a larger plan by Hyundai and Kia to grab the global number two slot in green cars by 2020.

The Korean carmaker also plans to introduce its first dedicated hybrid model later next year. We may learn more details about this in Detroit, where Hyundai is expected to discuss its green-car strategy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hyundai Distributor Sees 25% Sales Growth in 2015

MANILA, Philippines–Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (Hari), the official distributor of Hyundai vehicles in the Philippines, is bullish of making a “rebound” next year, with sales seen to grow by as much as 25 percent due to the introduction of new models and increasing domestic demand.

Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, president and CEO of Hari, disclosed that they expected vehicle sales next year to hover around 30,000 units in 2015 from the less than 25,000 units that were expected to be sold this year.

“We are positive that we will have a good response from the market with the new models that will be coming in. What will only delay it is if the shipment of these products would come in late in the year or we will have the same shortage of supply as we experienced in the past,” Agudo said on the sidelines of the 2015 Sonata car launch Monday night.

“We expect flat growth for 2014 but we want to rebound from the last two years with these new models because in the last two years, there weren’t (that many) new models that came out,” she added.

On Monday night, Hari unveiled the all-new 2015 Sonata, a luxury sedan that is expected to sell an average 30 to 50 units a month. This model has been redesigned and re-engineered to guarantee comfort, safety and performance. Compared to the previous generation model, the 2015 Sonata is bigger in most aspects and now boasts of a body made up of “advanced high strength steel.”

According to Agudo, the first 50 units would be arriving in the last week of December and were expected to be fully sold out by January as these had been pre-booked. The mid-sized sedan retails for P1.898 million for the top or premium variant and P1.698 million for the basic or the GLS variant.

Apart from the 2015 Sonata, Hari will also be offering next year the new Tucson, the ix25 and the i20 Crossover. These four new models are expected to further boost the company’s market share, increase its customers and bring the Hyundai image to the next level.

Hari ranks third in the local automotive industry in terms of sales. Its market share stood at 9.8 percent but this is expected to grow to about 12 percent by the end of 2015 in parallel with the growth of the Philippine automotive industry.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport Review

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is an interesting car. It is a classy, well-built family sedan that reeks of premium aspirations. These excellent qualities show just how far the Korean car industry has come.

Yet, the frustratingly unrefined powertrain and lack of performance — even on the sport model — show that Hyundai still has a ways to go when it comes to taking down segment leaders like the Honda Accord and the Mazda6.

Luxury aspirations at middle class price

The Sonata’s strong suit is its design. Hyundai’s family sedan shares many of its styling cues, such as its grille and lighting design, with its up-market stalemate the Genesis. These cues, along with the overall implementation of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design language give the Sonata remarkable heft given its humble market position.

Compared with flamboyant sedans like the Mazda6 or Hyundai’s cousin, the Kia Optima, the Sonata and its slightly anonymous profile are a bit staid. But, by the same token, it has a more grownup vibe than the competition.

The same grownup qualities are to be found on the inside. Hyundai’s designers have made extremely clever use of contrasting colors and materials to make the interior’s mainstream cloth and plastic look like they belong in a premium vehicle. Like Hyundai’s other recent efforts, the interior might be a bit space aged for conservative customers. However, it looks good and it feels like someone in the design studio cared.

In a segment filled with boring black plastic pits, the only other car that can make a similar claim is the Mazda6.

The Sonata also feels like a quality product; after a solid fifteen minutes of poking, prodding, and scratching, I couldn’t find anything loose or poorly installed. Not so long ago, this would have been unthinkable in a Korean car. However, I feel like Hyundai might be in contention for the build quality crown.

More tech than the Germans

Another strength in the Sonata’s quiver is tech. When optioned up, like my $27,000 press demonstrator, the Sonata delivers a dazzling array of tech that would look good on a $52,000 BMW.

I feel like Hyundai might be in contention for the build quality crown.

2015 Sonata buyers will not only come away with expected toys like heated seats, keyless go, and navigation, but also some of the latest and greatest the industry has to offer, like streaming internet radio, and Apple CarPlay.

Because this is a Hyundai, a shocking number of these features come as standard. Meanwhile Audi and BMW are happy to offer you some gratis windshield wipers and maybe a seat as standard.

Access for these features comes through the same touchscreen interface that is found on the new Genesis. It may not be perfect, but it is decidedly above average. What is more, the graphics and operation help augment the premium feel of the rest of the car.

To read more about Hyundai’s infotainment check out our review of BlueLink.

Sport? Curling is a sport

Unfortunately, performance does not come as standard. By far the biggest disappointment in the Hyundai Sonata is the standard powertrain.

A 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder GDI engine mated to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic powers SE and Sport models. The power numbers are right in line with entries from Mazda, Honda, and Toyota, but numbers — not to mention names — are deceiving. Frankly, this engine is bad.

The engine is rough and surprisingly loud at low rpm. In fact, when I first fired the Sonata up, it sounded so much like my old Volvo 240, that I thought there was something wrong with it. Fortunately, the noise becomes much less intrusive as speed and rpm increase.

Sadly, for a car called the “Sport,” performance is sluggish from a standstill all the way to highway speeds. Compared the feisty Honda Accord, the gutsy Subaru Legacy, and the smooth Mazda 6, the Sonata Sport’s engine is a big disappointment.

By far the biggest disappointment in the Hyundai Sonata is the standard powertrain.

The engine also spoils what is a remarkably solid chassis and suspension setup. Hyundai’s engineers struck a nice balance between sporty firmness and family-soothing smoothness. The electric power steering is communicative and remarkably direct for a family sedan.

The tuning isn’t as aggressive, as some other cars in this segment, but its balance and poise fits with its grown up image.

To really enjoy this suspension, customers will need to open up their wallets for one of the two optional engines: the 1.6T or the 2.0T.

The 1.6-liter turbocharged “Eco” engine delivers a little less horsepower than the 2.4 at 178 ponies, but a better torque curve, which peaks at 195 pound-feet.

Then there’s the 2.0T, which boasts 245 hp, thanks to a larger twin-scroll turbo. But this engine starts a $28,575, a full $7,425 more than the base car. For that reason the Eco, which starts at just $100 more than the Sport model is probably the best way to go, especially considering its promise of 28 city and 38 highway mpg.


Buyers looking to actively enjoy the driving experience will have to spend a bit more to get one of the upgraded powertrains, which may well disappoint. However, for anyone looking to feel a bit special in a family sedan, the Sonata should be at the top of his or her list. That’s because it is rare to find a family sedan with the same combination of visual charisma, build quality, and options.

Yes, it is undoubtedly disappointing that the Sonata — in its base form — is an underwhelming driving experience. But given that this car starts at just $21,150, it is hardly unforgivable.

    Excellent style and design
    Loaded with tech features
    High quality interior
    Comfortable Ride

    Underpowered and rough base engine
    Expensive upgrade to performance engine

Friday, December 19, 2014

2015 Hyundai Azera Facelift Gets Detailed

Hyundai has released new pictures and details about the 2015 Azera following its debut at the Miami International Auto Show.

On the styling front, the facelifted model receives a new front bumper, a revised grille and LED fog lights (on Limited variants). Moving further back, there's a modified rear bumper and restyled 18-inch alloy wheels.

The cabin largely carries over but there's revised switchgear, illuminated sill plates and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch display. The latter gains an assortment of new features including Pandora capability, a split-screen display and an enhanced Google Point-of-Interest search function - among other things.

The model also comes nicely equipped with a host of standard equipment including leather upholstery, a dual-zone automatic climate control system and heated front / rear seats. There's also a next-generation Blue Link telematics system.

Speaking of technology, the 2015 Azera gains a standard Blind Spot Detection system with Rear Cross Traffic alert and Lane Change Assist. Limited variants go one step further as they have Automatic High Beam Assist, a Lane Departure Warning system and a Forward Collision Warning system.

Motivation is provided by a 3.3-liter V6 engine that develops 293 bhp (218 kW) and 255 lb-ft (345 Nm) of torque. It is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission which should enable the model to return 19 mpg city / 29 mpg highway / 23 mpg combined.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How to Save on Gas

Being frugal at the gas pump is something that many people give little thought to. Interestingly, it is one of the most powerful places to have an effect on your budget. Saving money at the gas pump can have a huge impact. Even more importantly, the changes that can save you money are easy and take little to no time at all to implement.

Here are several things you can do right now to save cold, hard cash at the pump:

1. Fill Up Middle of the Week

It is a well known fact that gas prices are at their highest on the weekends. This is common sense really…when do most people have time to go get gas? When do families head out for trips and gas up the family car? Rather than paying top dollar on the weekend for convenience, stop on a Wednesday instead and enjoy the savings.

2. Never Ride on Empty

Many people think this is an old wive’s tale but it is based in fact. Running a car on less gas than is optimal means the car has to work harder. This means that the car is not efficiently using the gasoline and pulling more than is needed to operate the car. (There is also that added inconvenience of potentially running out of gas) Rather than doing this to your car, fill up when you hit the half empty line. This will keep your car running optimally and your gas prices down.

3. Stick to Regular Fuel Unless You Own a High Performance Sports Car

Buying a high grade of gasoline is going to do very little for your family sedan. The old station wagon is not going to perform better or last longer by using high grade premium gasoline. What you will accomplish is paying way too much for your gas each week. This costs people a ton of money every single week and the truth is…it is money down the drain.

4. Do Trip Combos

This means sitting down and planning out your day beforehand. Each evening, sit down and figure out where you need to go and what you need the car for. Consider where everything is and how you can combine trips. Nothing stinks worse than to pass right by someplace and then get home and realize you needed to stop there. Plan ahead and work out trip combos to use less gas and save money.

5. Use an Online Gas Finder

These little websites are awesome! Simply put in your address and it will spit out the lowest prices and where they are located. There are also phone apps that can do the same thing if you are on the go. Find one you trust and that consistently gives you the right information and stick with it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Handy Tips to De-Ice Your Car and Windshield!

Here are some great things to do if you find snowy, freezing weather heading your way.

1) Cover your windows! Using car mats, carpet remnants, or sheets of plastic to cover your car windows will prevent them from getting any frost, snow, or ice on them in the first place. For the side windows, open the doors and let the plastic drape over the windows before closing the doors again. This takes a bit of planning the night before, but you’ll sure be happy when you wake up in the morning!

2) Another use for vinegar! If you spray or wipe vinegar over your windows after you park your car, it will prevent ice from forming in moderately cold temps. You can also use it to mist over a light frost to help it melt faster.

3) Protect your wipers! One of the most frustrating parts of an icy car is trying to chip away at the ice around your windshield wipers. The car’s defroster rarely reaches the wipers too, so warming your car up in advance of needing it doesn’t help either. Not a problem! Simply place an old pair of socks over your wipers after you park, and you’ll be good to go no matter what the weather brings!

4) Get mad! If your car is really covered in pure ice, give the hood of your car a good smack with a flat palm to help crack the ice and give yourself a place to start scraping. When removing ice and snow, remember not to use shovels or other sharp objects to remove the ice, as this will easily scratch your paint. Only use scrapers and brushes specifically meant for clearing ice and snow from cars.

5) Water it down! Another thing you can do to try to melt ice or frost is to simply fill a bucket with water and toss it over your windshield. This will either completely melt the ice, or will at least make it easy to scrape or brush off. The trick here is to make sure that the water is just luke warm. If you use boiling water, you risk cracking your windows because of the rapid change in temperature.
6) A smarter way to park your car! If temperatures will just be getting a little bit chilly, chances are the sun’s rays in the morning may be able to do all the work for you. If you can park your car facing East (where the sun rises), then the frost on your windshield may just be melted for you before you even need to think about scraping!