Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Hyundai Azera

The 2014 Hyundai Azera ranks 9 out of 10 Affordable Large Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of published reviews and test drives of the Hyundai Azera, as well as reliability and safety data.

Automotive writers are impressed with the 2014 Hyundai Azera’s stylish, comfortable interior, but are disappointed with its lackluster handling.

The Azera is powered by a V6 engine, and test drivers note that it delivers fairly strong, linear acceleration. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and earns praise for its smooth shifts, though some say it shifts a bit slowly. The 2014 Azera gets an EPA-estimated 19/29 mpg city/highway, which is on par for an affordable large car. Test drivers say the Azera has a comfortable ride on smooth roads, but that the ride can be harsh on rough pavement. Critics don’t think the Azera is as fun to drive as other cars in the class, and they write that it has numb steering and leans noticeably while cornering. They do think the Azera has strong brakes.

Critics write that the Hyundai Azera has very sophisticated interior styling, though some note that a closer inspection reveals a number of cheap-feeling plastic materials. As with most affordable large cars, automotive journalists write that the Azera’s front and rear seats are comfortable and very roomy. They add that the back seat offers a generous amount of legroom and plenty of headroom for tall passengers. At 16.3 cubic feet, the Azera’s trunk size is on par for the class. The 2014 Hyundai Azera comes standard with leather upholstery, power-adjustable, heated front seats, a 6-inch LCD display, a rearview camera, proximity key, push-button start, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB/iPod port, satellite radio and dual-zone automatic climate control. Available features include navigation, an 8-inch touch-screen display, a 14-speaker Infinity audio system, rear parking sensors and a panoramic sunroof. Test drivers think the audio, climate and navigation controls in the Azera are user-friendly, and they say the Infinity audio system provides exceptional sound quality.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hyundai Santa Fe 2015 Road Test Review | Time to Harden Up

Laid back and a destination where the cosmopolitan stand alongside tree-hugging hippies, Byron Bay isn't typically a place to go hardcore.

Hyundai's new Santa Fe SR managed to look the goods when unveiled last week in the pristine coastal township.

This is the first SUV to wear Hyundai's fledgling SR badge, following in the tyre prints of the Veloster, i30 and Accent models.

Changes are primarily skin deep, although product planner Andrew Tuitahi points out that the changes mean the "Santa Fe SR looks, corners and stops harder".

Prices are yet to be announced before its arrival early next year, but the SR will be the hero of the MY15 range which has just been released. The line-up has been tweaked with revised pricing, which has seen the base model stay at $38,490 while mid- and top-spec variants have risen slightly.

The MY15 Santa Fe has received a "rolling technical change" rather than a mid-life facelift, and only Hyundai trainspotters will pick the difference.


Three trim levels - Active, Elite and Highlander - have been retained. We spent our time in the top-shelf Highlander variant, which accounts for nearly half of all Santa Fe sales.

It's spacious, with seven seats, and offers excellent head, leg and shoulder room in the front two rows. Like the majority of seven- seaters, the rear two pews are best left to kids due to confined leg room and the nimble body required when climbing into the back (but they do get their own air vents).

The colour 17.7cm touch-screen deserves plaudits for ease of use, and the Santa Fe's operations are simple and straightforward.

Highlander models have electric seat adjustment, while the driver has tilt and reach adjustment of the steering wheel.

Hard wearing areas have plastic finishes, which is actually handy for families due to its ease of cleanliness, as are the leather-clad pews.

On the road

Not much was wrong with the Santa Fe previously, but Hyundai tweaks its models for Australian conditions and MY15 variants have new front wheel bearings, redesigned front knuckles, and changes to various suspension bushes. The electric power steering also has a faster 32-bit processor.

Would most drivers notice the difference? Probably not. It's stiffer than the old model, more responsive when you rip into a corner and less prone to understeer, which is handy information at the family barbecue but most would never get close to testing the SUV's boundaries. Still, that makes it a safer car and it feels confident on gravel and bitumen.

We only drove the diesel variant, but it's the obvious choice with its burly and near instant throttle response.

SR dynamics

Engineers overhauled the Santa Fe brakes to feature Brembo four-piston monobloc front callipers and two-piston rears. They pull the anchors on matte-black 19-inch alloys shod with Michelin Latitude Tour tyres.

Combined with H&R performance springs, it results in stopping distance reduced by 8% from 60kmh, and an SUV which corners harder and feels remarkably more nimble.

There are no diesel engine enhancements, and it won't get a dual exhaust system (which we saw this week) because it means dropping the full-size spare, but that won't worry the target audience - which is mums and dads who primarily want the faster looks.

What do you get?

Standard kit is still seven airbags, stability control and a host of associated safety technology, hill descent and ascent control, full-size spare, 10.9cm touch-screen, cruise control, auto lights, 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming and a reversing camera with parking sensors.

Elites now get an automatic tailgate, while the Highlanders have lane departure warning system and automatic parallel parking functionality added to the previous complimentary kit of 19-inch alloys, a panoramic glass roof, Xenon headlights, LED rear lights, auto-dimming side mirrors, electric adjustment for the front seats, and heated front and second-row seats.

The SR will get a sports body kit, Brembo brakes, H&R performance springs and Oz Racing wheels with Michelin tyres.

Hauling the family is a pleasure in the Santa Fe. There is a great nook in front of the gear shifter, perfect for phones and other gear, which is close to a USB port and auxiliary jack, along with two 12 volt plugs.

Other storage boons are a deep centre console, pockets in the doors able to cope with bottles, a sunglasses holder, a pair of cup holders in the console, along with another two which pop out from the fold down arm rest in the rear.

Dropping the rear seats is easy, with a handle in the back, and the middle row also has a 40/20/40 folding function. With all seven seats upright there is minimal boot space, but there is ample flexibility for a range of equipment or furniture.

Funky factor

External massaging includes a darker chrome grille along with daytime running lights and cornering lights across the range.

Yet the obvious stand-out is the SR, with its body kit, groovy alloys and red Brembo brake callipers.

The lowdown

Starting with good cars, Hyundai just keeps making them better with incremental improvements. The Santa Fe remains an attractive seven-seat SUV with excellent specification levels.

Adding another string to the bow is the SR with ticks the most important boxes for buyers in this genre: it looks sporty and fast.

What matters most

What we liked: SR body kit and alloys, internal flexibility and comfort, easy to drive, automatic tailgate.

What we'd like to see: Lower beltline to improve outward vision for littlies in the back.

Warranty and servicing: Five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with one year roadside assist. Servicing intervals are annual or every 15,000km. Lifetime capped- price servicing is available, starting from $379 for the diesel and $310 for the petrol.


Model: Hyundai Santa Fe.

Details: Mid-size, all-wheel, seven-seat drive sports utility vehicle.

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 141kW @ 6300rpm and peak torque of 242Nm @ 4250rpm; 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel generating 145kW @ 3800rpm and 421Nm @ 1800-2500rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

Consumption: 9.0 litres/100km (petrol, auto and manual); 6.6L/100km (manual diesel); 7.3L/100km (auto diesel).

CO2: 209g/km (petrol models); 174g/km (diesel manual); 192g/km (diesel auto).

Towing capacity: 2500kg (m), 2000 (a), tow ball rating 100kg.

Bottom line: Petrol - Active (m) $38,490, Active (a) $40,990. Diesel - Active (m) $41,490, Active (a) $43,990, Elite (a) $48,490, Highlander (a) $53,240.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 21, 2014 – Toca Marketing Group, the Chicago-based design and customization company that strives to push the limits of aftermarket fabrication, has revealed its 2015 Genesis for the 2014 SEMA show. In creating its latest Toca Signature Edition vehicle, the company has raised the Genesis’ performance and luxury benchmarks, creating a vehicle that breaks down barriers of innovation in the pursuit of perfection.

With an emphasis on fine detail, Toca worked to design and build a car that goes head-to-head with the German super sedans that are considered the auto industry’s performance benchmark. Dubbed “Steel Phoenix,” the car uses Hyundai’s “Tau” 5.0-liter V8 as the powertrain’s foundation. Toca engineered a one-of-a-kind Garrett twin turbo setup for the vehicle, complete with a full ARK Performance catback exhaust system, boosting the power output to 600 horsepower. By adding an AirRex digital air suspension system, the car sits lower to the ground on ultra-high performance Toyo rubber, wrapped around custom 21-inch COR 3-piece wheels. Complementing the car’s twin-turbocharged performance, Toca added a custom 8-piston front and 6-piston rear brake set up from Neo Motorsport.

“The name ‘Steel Phoenix’ came to me as soon as I saw the redesigned Genesis,” said John Toca, founder and owner of Toca Marketing Group. “The main focus of this build was to zone in on the luxury aspect, while improving performance in parallel. Although I wasn’t overly concerned about pushing crazy horsepower numbers, the custom-fabricated twin turbo setup adds 180 horsepower over the stock motor. Whether you’re driving the car, sitting in the executively-appointed passenger and rear seats, or admiring the car from the outside, this Genesis is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.”

The interior has been given the executive treatment with custom black leather seats complete with contrasting white stitching, carbon-fiber trim panels and a Rockford Fosgate sound system. The vehicle has been refinished with a custom blend of BASF R-M products, giving the paintwork a steel, metallic appearance. Rounding off the exterior appearance, Toca fabricated a unique, all-metal wide body design with matte and gloss black accents.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

2014 Hyundai Accent: New Car Review

The 2014 Hyundai Accent is pretty much the same car that debuted in 2012, but we're still charmed by how it feels like a bigger car than it really is. The ride is smooth, with less harshness over rough surfaces than some other subcompacts. There's adequate room for adults in the back seat, and the hatchback model's rear seat backs fold down to yield a whopping 47.5 cu ft of maximum cargo space. Cars like this are supposed to be just basic transportation devices, but the 2014 Accent makes a case for itself as a substitute for a number of larger vehicles, especially in hatchback form.

Although it hasn't changed a lot, the Accent has received a couple notable tweaks since 2012. Last year, it unfortunately lost its standard rear disc brakes -- rear drums became standard on GLS and GS -- but in brighter news, the Accent gains an optional tilt/telescoping steering wheel for 2014. That's a relief for longer-legged drivers, even though the GLS and GS still come standard with the non-telescoping tilt wheel.

There are plenty of capable small cars vying for your monthly payment, so we recommend test-driving the competition before deciding. But if you're looking for a subcompact that acts like something more, make sure the 2014 Hyundai Accent is on your radar.

What's New for 2014
The Accent gets a standard one-touch triple passing signal this year, as well as sliding sun visors (for side sun protection) and a driver-side blind spot mirror. The GLS Premium and SE models receive LED headlight accents, a driver-side auto-up window and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The SE is also available with a B&M Racing Sport Shifter.

What We Like
Solid fuel economy; nice looks; pleasant ride quality; hatchback's impressive cargo capacity; usable back seat

What We Don't
Steering wheel doesn't telescope on all models; 4-wheel disc brakes not standard on all trims; crash-test scores aren't stellar

How Much?

Fuel Economy
Every Accent is front-wheel-drive and powered by a 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder rated at 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque. The available transmissions are a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic.

Fuel economy has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 27 miles per gallon city/38 mpg hwy with the manual transmission and 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with the automatic. Those are solid numbers, but they used to be even better. EPA downgraded the Accent this year from its previous rating of 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Hyundai Accent is offered as a sedan (GLS) or hatchback (GS and SE).

The GLS sedan ($15,455) comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, 14-inch steel wheels, front-disc/rear-drum anti-lock brakes, a height-adjustable driver seat, heated outside mirrors, keyless entry, power accessories, air conditioning and a 6-speaker audio system with iPod/auxiliary audio connectivity.

Optional on the automatic-transmission GLS only is a Premium package with 16-in alloy wheels, LED headlight accents, rear disc brakes, fog lights, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, premium cloth upholstery, piano-black interior accents and a sliding armrest storage box.

The GS hatchback ($15,705) features roughly the same standard equipment as the GLS sedan.

The SE hatchback ($17,205) gets the items in the GLS model's Premium package plus a rear spoiler, integrated turn signals in the side mirrors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A sunroof and a B&M Sport Shifter are optional.

The Accent comes with standard stability control and active front head restraints, as well as six airbags (front, front-side, full-length side curtain). All Accents have anti-lock brakes, of course, but the GS and GLS trim come standard with less advanced rear drum brakes, whereas the GLS Premium and SE feature 4-wheel disc brakes.

In government crash-testing, the Accent scored four stars out of five across the board. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Accent its highest rating of Good in all tested categories except side impacts, where it garnered the second-highest Acceptable rating.

Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we found the Accent's front seats rather soft (we wonder how they'll age), and their upholstery is a little cheesy, especially the base version. The standard tilt-only steering wheel likely won't work for long-legged drivers unless they like driving with their elbows locked. With the optional telescoping column installed, the Accent becomes more viable for the lanky crowd.

We have no complaints about the gauges, which look crisp and frame an attractive LCD trip computer in every Accent. The controls are mostly straightforward, and the 3-knob climate controls are a model of ergonomics. Materials quality is about average for this class, highlighted by the usual hard plastics. (Check out the related Kia Rio for a more inspired cabin.)

We generally don't have high hopes for subcompacts in the technology department, and the Accent illustrates why. It's nice that you can get Bluetooth in the sedan, for example, but it costs extra, and it's not even available in the cheapest hatchback model, the GS. At least the 6-speaker stereo sounds decent and includes an iPod/USB hookup. If you keep those high-tech expectations low, you'll probably find the Accent satisfying enough.

The Accent's back seat is one of its strongest suits, accommodating normal-sized adults with unusual ease. Cargo space is impressive across the board, ranging from 13.7 cu ft in the sedan's trunk to 21.2 cu ft behind the hatchback's back seat -- and an enormous 47.5 cu ft with the rear seat backs folded, dwarfing the maximum cargo capacity of rivals like the Sonic and Fiesta.

Under the hood, the little 4-cylinder remains quiet and reasonably well-behaved even at high rpm, though it sometimes feels a little short on energy for passing or merging. The automatic transmission will be the most popular choice, but it blunts the engine's performance. We recommend the more responsive manual if you can shift your own gears.

On the road, the Accent's compliant suspension makes for a fairly smooth ride, while the cabin is respectably quiet at highway speeds. Due to those soft underpinnings, however, the Accent isn't as entertaining in corners as athletes such as the Sonic and Fiesta. That may not bother you, but do pay close attention to the Accent's steering and see if it feels alright. We think it's a little too light and numb for its own good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

'15 Hyundai Sonata Eco 1.6L Turbo

We’ve fired up the machinery for the 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition, now in its 21st year, and Hyundai’s improved 1.6L turbocharged “Gamma” 4-cyl. makes a compelling argument as a hybrid alternative, with a base sticker price of $23,275.

Last year, we started sharing informational spec sheets reviewed by WardsAuto editors as they judge each entry. The tally is a moving target, but we likely will end up with more than 40 new or improved engines to consider this fall. Winners will be announced in December.

The Gamma turbo, driving the midsize Sonata sedan, has come to our Michigan office and currently is under review. Here’s the sheet editors have been studying as they decide whether this 1.6L engine is deserving.

Hyundai gave us this engine to evaluate two years ago in the Veloster Turbo, and it didn’t make the cut, partly because the competition was fierce among 4-cyl. turbos.

That was the year we picked 2.0L turbos from GM, BMW and Ford. Hyundai engineers took this engine back to the woodshed to make some adjustments, and it returns with less horsepower in a bigger vehicle that is about 400 lbs. (181 kg) heavier, the new Sonata Eco, which is tuned for fuel efficiency.

On paper, given these factors, this engine should feel underpowered and sluggish. Hyundai turbocharged direct-injection engines have disappointed us for being raucous without feeling all that powerful.

But a number of editors have driven the Sonata Eco, and their reviews are favorable. To date, the car has delivered 31.2 mpg (7.5 L/100 km).

It’s balky off the line due to turbo lag/accelerator calibration, but editors say the engine is quiet, smooth and plenty powerful, even in Eco mode. Sport mode is more fun, with transmission shift points coming at higher RPM, but fuel economy is bound to suffer.

So then the question is, does this version feature enough new technology to merit a close second look compared with the Veloster Turbo reviewed two years ago?

Hyundai folks briefed us on this engine and said they redesigned the intake runners to reduce weight and improve airflow into the turbocharger. They also switched to an electric wastegate for more accurate boost control and to step up mid/high-load fuel efficiency.

The improved engine also has a higher compression ratio and a low-friction roller chain, both of which help boost fuel efficiency.

The Veloster Turbo used a 6-speed dry DCT while the new Sonata gets a 7-speed DCT with a higher torque capacity (246 lb.-ft. [334 Nm]). Hyundai says the new Sonata is the first midsize sedan using a 7-speed DCT.

Note also the horsepower peak still doesn’t arrive until 5,500 rpm after a fair amount of caning. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen 1.8L turbo-4 that won last year reaches peak hp by 4,800 rpm.

The 1.6L’s competition this year, besides VW’s excellent 1.8L turbo, will be Mini’s 1.5L 3-cyl. turbo, Alfa Romeo 4c’s 1.7L 4-cyl. turbo, Ford Fusion’s 1.6L turbo I-4 and 2.0L turbo-4s from Volvo, VW, Audi, Toyota, Subaru and Mini.