Friday, July 03, 2015

ROAD TEST: Hyundai Accent Hatch Big on Family Practicality

Topping out just under $20K, Hyundai Accent is no longer a cheapie subcompact. Nor does it look the part.

Sure, you can score one for as little as $13,249 ($350 more for the hatchback). But that’s the base car with six-speed manual -- and none of the comforts we now expect in our rides. No air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, Bluetooth, telescopic steering or anything that elevates the daily commute above abject misery.

So an Accent you can really live with will cost another couple of grand, be it for the sedan or five-door hatchback as tested.

The LE five-door ($15,999) and the SE ($18,499) are two new models in the Accent lineup.

Hyundai is a master of packaging and has reduced the steep price walk from its barebones entry car to the next model up by introducing the LE, which for another $2,400 adds a six-speed automatic (with Shiftronic), air conditioning and remote start.

Two more steps up is the sportier SE -- my ride for the week. It was dipped in a head-turning shade of Sunflower Yellow and rolled on a set of 16-inch alloys instead of crappy 14-inch steel wheels with wheelcovers.

Compared to the ìjellybeanî styling of the last-generation Accent, this one’s quite handsome with an aggressive profile that features sculpted sheetmetal, and a sharp character line that follows its rising beltline.

In front, the black hexagonal grille is flanked by swept-back headlamps, and in back, the Accent’s rear-sloping roofline ends in a sporty roof spoiler. The car’s wedge shape not only looks cool but is good for aerodynamics. Coefficient of drag is a slippery 0.30.

But it’s not so good for rear visibility.

Inside, there’s no shortage of hard plastic, but it’s nicely textured and doesn’t look cheap. The centre stack is simply laid out, with large dials for HVAC and basic buttons and knobs for the six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system.

Steering is tilt/telescopic, and includes controls for audio, cruise and Bluetooth phone, and front seats get two-position heating. A power sunroof provides much-needed light to the mostly charcoal interior.

Headroom is abundant in back, and leg room is adequate for most, able to accommodate two adults -- three in a pinch. The 60/40 seats drop to expand the generous 600-litre cargo hold to 1,345 litres. That was enough room last winter to swallow an entire trade show display, which I assumed would take two trips -- or an SUV.

Power comes from an all-aluminum 1.6-litre four cylinder with gasoline direct injection (GDI), and dual continuously variable valve timing. It makes 138 hp and 123 lb/ft of torque, besting several major competitors. But with tall gearing, it’s more about fuel economy than snappy performance.

At highway speeds, it turns over just north of 2,000 rpm, making this subcompact far less buzzy than some I’ve driven. And although the Accent is no hot hatch, it’s on par with much of the competition.

ActiveEco will help achieve the posted fuel economy of 8.9/6.3/7.7 L/100 km, but as it blunts the throttle and remaps the transmission for earlier shifting, any liveliness from the little four-pot engine is gone. I kept ActiveEco off most of the week and still achieved just over eight litres per 100 km combined.

Vehicles like this Accent hatchback, and the slightly more commodious Elantra GT I drove a week earlier, nicely fill the needs of today’s smaller families.

With ample room for four passengers, a ìtrunkî larger than most full-size sedans, and thrifty fuel economy, it’s no wonder so many buyers choose five doors over four.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

First Drive: Hyundai Creta


The first impression of the Creta is that the car is very well proportioned. It doesn't look too compact, and also looks very agile and sporty in its stance. The car's cabin is well finished but not overwhelming - in the sense that unlike recent Hyundai cars that try almost too hard to wow you, this one's a bit understated. The cabin is reasonably roomy and there's good leg and head room at the rear. But it doesn't have the airy and roomy feel of the Duster's cabin.



The top spec cars are very well loaded with features. But we will have to see what makes it into the lower variants. There are 4 variants in all, with Hyundai offering a choice of two diesel engines (1.4-litre, 1.6-litre) and one petrol engine (1.6-litre). The diesel 1.6 has the only auto option which is a 6-speed box.

I drove both the manual and automatic 1.6 CRDi diesel, along with Ashish. The car has an output of 127bhp and we got a go at the two cars at Hyundai's plant test track. We drove by turn and so it was the manual first. The immediate sense you get from the car is that Hyundai has certainly reworked the 1.6 diesel unit to be punchier and offer great low and mid range torque. The car responds well from standstill and also allows you to downshift and accelerate quickly.

There is not much lag and drivers will appreciate the fact that you don't need frequent gear changes especially at lower speeds. So city diving should be a breeze. But to go with the quick acceleration both of us felt that there should have also been a sportier and stiffer suspension. What also lets the car down is a very soft steering with limited feedback and way too much play. A precise steering and a sportier setup would have also held its own better against the Duster - a car that drives very well. I'd have especially liked the steering to be not just adjustable for height but also reach. But the engaging gearbox, good grunt and quick pickup will impress buyers looking for a peppy diesel.

On to the automatic now. And it's very different in its character from the manual. Somehow the same engine manages to sound a bit louder too! The automatic has been tuned for efficiency and typical city driving, and so is not as engaging or fun as the manual. But it is still good to see Hyundai bringing us a more superior gearbox as compared to the auto boxes we got on cars like the Verna. The 6-speed doesn't allow you to redline the car, nor does it let you downshift - even if you use the tiptronic and get into manual mode. While none of this will matter much during daily driving conditions, where it will make a difference is on highways when you're trying to go past a vehicle and need that instant downshift and added punch.


We drove the two variants for a brief period of time and these impressions are based on the feedback the car gave us on the silky-smooth tarmac of Hyundai's test track. We'll get to learn about the car a lot more when we take it for a more evaluative drive upon its launch.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is a Refined, Technologically Advanced Car

The best hybrids from Ford and Toyota are about to get some competition from Hyundai. We just had a chance to sample the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid and found that it’s a refined, technologically advanced piece of machinery.
Like the old Sonata Hybrid, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid sandwiches its electric motor between the engine and a conventional six-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the old Sonata Hybrid, this one switches between gas and electric power almost imperceptibly. There’s no surge when gas power comes on.
The plug-in version has a 9.8-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that Hyundai claims is good for about 24 miles of electric-only driving before the gas engine is needed. With its 50-kw electric motor the car can cruise at up to 75 mph in EV mode, which means it’s easy to drive on electric power without the engine jumping in every time you climb a hill or accelerate hard, something most other plug-in hybrids do. Because the hybrid battery is mounted behind the rear seats, though, the seatbacks can’t fold down to expand trunk space—a minor drawback.
The Plug-In allows drivers to switch among three driving modes: Hybrid, Electric, and Charge. When you start the car, it begins in Electric (EV) mode, using whatever battery charge is available before starting the engine to replenish and supplement the battery pack. Hybrid (HEV) mode preserves the charge in the battery for later use and lets the car operate in regular hybrid mode which means the engine kicks in more often.
The third mode, Charge, uses the engine to recharge the battery on the highway; this mode can be handy if you have cities on each end of your commute and need more battery power at your destination for city driving than would otherwise remain after you set off. Of course, using the engine to charge the battery unravels any efficiency gains you may have made by driving on electric power. The engine on the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is an extremely inefficient source of electricity, so you’d probably be better off just driving on gas power. Hyundai suggests only using Charge mode on the highway, when the engine might be running anyway.
Although Hyundai claims 24 miles of EV range, we found that by using a gentle foot we could eke out 33 miles on meandering country roads. Maximizing EV operation certainly makes the Sonata PHEV feel more like an electric vehicle than the Toyota Prius PHEV, which starts its engine much more often. Brake pedal feel also was refreshingly “normal.” In many other hybrids, the regenerative braking function is more abrupt and takes getting used to. Apart from any green-car considerations, we found this loaded Sonata to be a roomy, pleasant sedan that does many things well. If it fails to excite like a sports sedan, no one should expect that it would. 
While the green EV square in the instrument cluster gave good feedback, even with multiple displays in the instrument cluster and on the dashboard, there is no ability to view all the information we wanted at the same time: Miles driven on electricity, miles remaining on the battery, and overall trip mileage. Even getting the first two simultaneously required using the efficiency display on the big center screen, which meant that we couldn’t see the navigation map or the radio display. We ended up spending a lot of time—and attention—toggling between various screens to see what was happening. That seems like an unnecessary distraction.
The Plug-In’s battery took about 2 hours and 45 minutes to charge about 9 kWh from empty on a 240-volt (Level 2) connector. On an ordinary household circuit, it needed more than seven hours.
Hyundai has not released pricing for the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid. The Hybrid goes on sale next month, with the Plug-In Hybrid arriving in the fall at California and Oregon dealerships. Eight northeastern states will follow, although buyers in any state can buy the Plug-in via special order.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Does the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco Really Get 38 MPG?

Hyundai's Sonata Hybrid may be the star of the Sonata lineup as far as fuel economy, but the next best thing is the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco with higher gas mileage than the base Sonata. Though still a ways off from the all-new 2016 Sonata Hybrid's fuel economy, Hyundai added new engine and transmission tech to the Sonata Eco to boost its fuel economy 3 mpg in the city, 1 mpg on the highway and 3 mpg combined to 28/38/32 mpg city/highway/combined. A 2016 Sonata Hybrid is rated at 39/43/41 mpg or 40/44/42 mpg depending on the trim level.

The Eco's 178-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and Hyundai's first dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission are to thank for the additional fuel economy, replacing the non-turbocharged 2.4-liter and traditional six-speed automatic in the base SE trim level. We set out to see just how little fuel the new powertrain combo uses on a 185-mile road trip from Elkhart Lake, Wis.. to the Chicago suburb of Streamwood and then 30 miles into the city of Chicago.

The first 134.7 miles were exclusively at highway speeds of 60-70 mph where, driving solo, I observed a respectable 39.8 mpg while averaging 63 mph. It wasn't unheard of to see the instant mileage readout hover above 40 mpg. And then I spent 51 miles in a combination of bumper-to-bumper traffic and stoplight-to-stoplight suburban driving. The mileage still remained in respectable shape finishing the journey at 34.7 mpg after averaging 37 mph.

Perhaps most surprising is that the Eco's turbocharged 1.6-liter is no slouch even though it has 7 fewer horsepower than the base 2.4-liter engine. It's quite the opposite; an additional 17 pounds-feet of torque that's available at a low, low 1,500 rpm makes the Sonata Eco an unexpectedly spirited driver. Resist those urges to save fuel and the engine comes to life quickly when your right foot stays planted. The transmission, on the other hand, could use refining.

Jerky starts and hesitation from the dual-clutch are a consistent annoyance in heavy traffic, which is unfortunate because that's where the Eco sees its biggest improvement in EPA ratings. Those annoyances are alleviated after the car is rolling and the transmission provides crisper shifts and expected downshifts when passing.

The Sonata Eco starts at $24,100, including an $825 destination fee. That' $975 more than a similarly equipped Sonata SE with the optional Popular Equipment Package ($1,150) that adds automatic headlights, 10-way power driver's seat, 5-inch touch-screen, backup camera and the Blue Link telematics system, which are all standard on the Eco. The Sonata Eco comes with a few extras, too, including the chrome grille from the Limited, integrated turn signals from the Sonata Sport and chrome interior door handles also from the Sport.

The EPA expects the Sonata Eco to save $500 in fuel over five years compared with the base Sonata. While the Sonata Eco isn't a clear winner to make your money back — few eco-type packages are — the Sonata Eco manages to increase fuel economy without killing the driving experience. That's something few economy packages can claim.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Auto Review: The Well-Dressed Hyundai Elantra GT


It may look like the summer of 2015, but in this review we have actually leaped ahead to 2016 and we're driving Hyundai's compact Elantra GT. Who knew that in the waning weeks of 2015, scientists would release genetically-reengineered dinosaurs to the wilds of central Connecticut? But that's the future for you. Or it may be, we'll just have to wait and see. But one thing I do know for sure is the 2016 Elantra GT is here now, and it's a very interesting player in the compact class. Like pretty much every new car that comes along, the GT flirts with the size class above it, as it's nearly roomy enough to be called a midsize. But perhaps even more desirable than generous interior room is the fact that, with a couple of option packages, the Elantra GT has all the comforts of cars costing considerably more. It also delivers impressive fuel economy, and excellent versatility thanks to its five-door hatchback design.


Riding on a wheelbase of 104.3 inches (a couple of inches shorter than the Elantra sedan), the front-drive Elantra GT is powered by a 2-liter NU Inline Four. NU is an engine family designation, and does not mean it's entirely "new," although this is a tweaked version of a very contemporary design. Armed with Gasoline Direct Injection and the latest technology, the engine produces 173 horsepower. Two transmissions are available, a 6-Speed Manual and a 6-Speed Shiftronic automatic gearbox. We tested the latter, and while the 2-liter Four isn't the most refined out there, it's a great fit for this car and offers up good acceleration and outstanding fuel economy. The GT comes with a Sport Suspension as part of the Style Package that helps sharpen chassis response, and this is bolstered by what is now standard Hyundai fare: user-selectable electronic steering assist. This includes Normal, Sport and Comfort settings to help fine-tune feel. The Elantra GT is no cutting-edge sportster, but it is fun to drive, and feels light on its feet in congested traffic. A good part of this agility is the car's low curb weight, thanks to extensive use of lighter, high-strength steel. The firmer suspension rates don't damage ride quality, and road noise is kept reasonably stifled.

The Elantra GT interior is blissfully free of excessive bells and whistles, while incorporating the latest in Hyundai's Blue Link Telemetrics. The Tech Package includes leather upholstery (heated and ventilated up front for year-round comfort), and there's also a navigation system, rearview camera and a huge panoramic sunroof that makes the car feel even more spacious. Rear seat room is generous and the rear cargo area has 23 cubic feet of space that increases to 51 with the rear seatbacks folded. All in all, this is a standout car in a very competitive class.

The 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT is EPA rated 24 MPG city/33 city and has a base price of $19, 800. With option packages, our GT had an MSRP of $26,675.

Gary Rome Hyundai Seeks Permits From Holyoke Council for $10 Million Project

The City Council Ordinance Committee Tuesday (June 23) will hold public hearings on Gary Rome Hyundai's requests for special permits related to a plan to build a $10 million dealership on Whiting Farms Road.


The committee also will discuss developing an ordinance that would give the Fire Department a more organized way to track whether restaurant kitchen exhaust systems are being cleaned properly to reduce chances of grease fires. 

The Ordinance Committee meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Pursuit of the special permits are followup steps after the City Council voted 14-0 May 19 to grant Rome a zone change so he can build the dealership on nearly 19 acres across from Autumn and Lynch drives. The site is up the road from the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside.

One special permit is to allow for a motor vehicle repair garage on nearly 19 acres Rome is buying on Whiting Farms Road across from Autumn and Lynch drives. The other is for new and used cars and trucks and marine and recreational vehicles.

Rome is buying the property from the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department for $2,050,000.
His project will provide 50 new full-time jobs, some part-time jobs, thousands of dollars a years in property tax revenue and an increase in employee payroll to more than $7 million from the current $4.6 million, he said.

His current dealership at 1000 Main St. here will stay open, he said.

Ordinance Committee Chairwoman Rebecca Lisi proposed that the council establish a Commercial Hood and Exhaust Cleaning Fire Prevention and Protection Program.

The proposal would require that companies that are licensed to clean the so-called hood and exhaust areas in restaurants and other commercial kitchens first get a permit from the Fire Department. The permits would cost $25.

The permits would help the department monitor where and when such systems around the city are scheduled for cleanings. The permit would require that cleaning companies submit photos of the hood and exhaust systems before and after the cleanings. The Fire Department would use the list of permits to inspect and ensure the cleaning was thorough, Michael Boucher, Holyoke Fire Department fire inspector, told The Republican and MassLive.com last week.

Currently, with 236 establishments with commercial kitchens here, no organized schedule exists to make sure kitchens' hoods, ducts, filters and fans are free of grease and combustible contaminants, he said.

Also, he said, restaurants and other businesses here with commercial kitchens such as daycare facilities have been getting shortchanged by companies they hire to clean such systems. In every case in which Boucher has inspected kitchens after companies supposedly did cleanings, the hood and exhaust systems clearly had weeks or months of grease accumulation remaining, he said.

Sometimes the outer areas and parts most visible are cleaned but the harder-to-see areas farther inside a duct might have dangerous contaminant build-up, he said.

In such cases, the Fire Department is authorized to shut down a restaurant if public safety is at risk. The department can hit the cleaning company with fines of $100, $500 and $1,000 each time they are ordered to redo the cleaning and the job remains insufficient, he said.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The 2015 Sophisticated Sonata

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata appeals to a wider range of customers than ever before. From the base model 2015 Sonata 2.4-liter to a new range-topping Sport 2.0T Ultimate that offers class-above features such as hands-free smart trunk, smart cruise control, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel, the 2015 Sonata aims to please.
“A strong value proposition has always been a cornerstone for Hyundai and the 2015 Sonata continues that tradition,” said Bob Pradzinski, vice president of national sales, Hyundai Motor America. “Our customers are also asking for advanced safety and technology features, so we broadened the 2015 Sonata model line to include more premium comfort and convenience features on the upper trim levels. The mid-size sedan segment is incredibly competitive and we made a conscious effort to deliver a world-class mid-size sedan at an outstanding value.”
Interior design
Confident, energetic lines define the 2015 Sonata’s exterior and are complemented inside the cabin by a premium interior with a special emphasis on ergonomics. Intuitive buttons and controls are placed on the center stack, which is angled toward the driver to make the controls easier to reach. Hyundai’s core interior design principles are safety, intuitiveness and simplicity and the Sonata delivers.
To create a unified experience inside the cabin, designers met with various suppliers to make sure all buttons and switchgear have a consistent feel. The height of the display screen for the audio display or 8-inch navigation system and instrument cluster are optimized for visibility and reside on the same plane to enhance readability during a quick glance. These ergonomic enhancements help the driver remain focused on the road ahead and provide confidence behind the wheel.
Exterior design
GaryRomeHyundai.com/hyundai-vehicle-models/
A larger, more refined grille with a wide air intake defines the face of the 2015 Sonata. Simple, harmonious lines adorn the exterior while hinting at the improved dynamic performance and human-machine connection Sonata provides. Taut, horizontal rocker panels reflect the chassis’ increased stability and surefootedness while the signature Sonata beltline is now stretched tight to accentuate the sedan’s strength.
The coupe-like roofline remains, but it is balanced by a larger window graphic that emphasizes the roomier interior. Horizontal lines in the rear underscore Sonata’s width and give the car a planted look.
Shoppers looking for a traditional design will appreciate the 2015 Sonata SE’s exterior styling that includes standard LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear lip spoiler and chrome surround for the day light opening.
Sonata Sport features a more aggressive front grille and bumper, side rocker extensions and side chrome molding. Sport models powered by the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine feature dual exhaust while Sport 2.0T models feature a unique rear bumper fascia, quad exhaust tips and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Sport model is expected to be the most popular Sonata.
Convenient technology
The 2015 Sonata embodies Hyundai’s Modern Premium brand direction by providing convenient technology formerly reserved for luxury sedans in the mid-size segment without the premium price tag. Switching the high beams on and off manually doesn’t seem like a hassle but Sonata’s high beam assist allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road and let the headlamps deliver maximum visibility without accidentally blinding oncoming traffic. Bright LED daytime running lights give the 2015 Sonata’s face a premium look.
Smart trunk gives drivers a convenient hands-free way to open the trunk while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground. The owner simply needs to approach the Sonata’s trunk with the key fob in a purse or pocket and wait three seconds. The trunk will automatically open, making it easy to place groceries or luggage inside when hands are full.
Top safety pick
The 2015 Sonata is rated as one of the safest cars on the road today. The 2015 Sonata was named a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK+, when equipped with optional forward collision warning, by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2015 Sonata brings a new level of safety and refinement to the midsize sedan category.
“The TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation recognizes state-of-the-art safety,” said IIHS president Adrian Lund. “The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is not only engineered to protect people when crashes happen but with its optional forward collision warning system rated basic in our tests, this car can help drivers avoid some of the most common kinds of collisions altogether.”
IIHS rates vehicles in a moderate overlap front crash, small overlap front crash, side impact and rollover test and evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impact collisions. Additionally, IIHS evaluates available front crash prevention systems that aim to prevent a crash or lessen its severity.
Winners of the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award must earn Good ratings for occupant protection in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, no less than acceptable in the small overlap test, and at least a basic rating for front crash prevention.
“Occupant safety is at the forefront of Hyundai design and engineering,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, Corporate and Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “Sonata’s TOP SAFETY PICK+ recognition reinforces our dedication to occupant safety and integrating our accident prevention technologies makes the 2015 Sonata one of the safest midsize sedans on the market today.”
Sonata’s suite of safety features aims to help prevent accidents and maximize the safety of its occupants in the event of a collision.

Article Source

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gary Rome Hyundai Seeks Permits from Holyoke Council for $10 Million Project

The City Council Ordinance Committee Tuesday (June 23) will hold public hearings on Gary Rome Hyundai's requests for special permits related to a plan to build a $10 million dealership on Whiting Farms Road.

The committee also will discuss developing an ordinance that would give the Fire Department a more organized way to track whether restaurant kitchen exhaust systems are being cleaned properly to reduce chances of grease fires.

The Ordinance Committee meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Pursuit of the special permits are followup steps after the City Council voted 14-0 May 19 to grant Rome a zone change so he can build the dealership on nearly 19 acres across from Autumn and Lynch drives. The site is up the road from the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside.

One special permit is to allow for a motor vehicle repair garage on nearly 19 acres Rome is buying on Whiting Farms Road across from Autumn and Lynch drives. The other is for new and used cars and trucks and marine and recreational vehicles.

Rome is buying the property from the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department for $2,050,000.

His project will provide 50 new full-time jobs, some part-time jobs, thousands of dollars a years in property tax revenue and an increase in employee payroll to more than $7 million from the current $4.6 million, he said.

His current dealership at 1000 Main St. here will stay open, he said.

Ordinance Committee Chairwoman Rebecca Lisi proposed that the council establish a Commercial Hood and Exhaust Cleaning Fire Prevention and Protection Program.

The proposal would require that companies that are licensed to clean the so-called hood and exhaust areas in restaurants and other commercial kitchens first get a permit from the Fire Department. The permits would cost $25.

The permits would help the department monitor where and when such systems around the city are scheduled for cleanings. The permit would require that cleaning companies submit photos of the hood and exhaust systems before and after the cleanings. The Fire Department would use the list of permits to inspect and ensure the cleaning was thorough, Michael Boucher, Holyoke Fire Department fire inspector, told The Republican and MassLive.com last week.

Currently, with 236 establishments with commercial kitchens here, no organized schedule exists to make sure kitchens' hoods, ducts, filters and fans are free of grease and combustible contaminants, he said.

Also, he said, restaurants and other businesses here with commercial kitchens such as daycare facilities have been getting shortchanged by companies they hire to clean such systems. In every case in which Boucher has inspected kitchens after companies supposedly did cleanings, the hood and exhaust systems clearly had weeks or months of grease accumulation remaining, he said.

Sometimes the outer areas and parts most visible are cleaned but the harder-to-see areas farther inside a duct might have dangerous contaminant build-up, he said.

In such cases, the Fire Department is authorized to shut down a restaurant if public safety is at risk. The department can hit the cleaning company with fines of $100, $500 and $1,000 each time they are ordered to redo the cleaning and the job remains insufficient, he said.