Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hyundai Sonata Earns "Greener Choices of 2008" Honors

Hyundai Sonata Earns "Greener Choices Of 2008" Honors

2008 Hyundai Sonata Receives Environmental Honors From The American Council For An Energy-EFFICIENT ECONOMY (ACEEE)

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 02/22/2008 The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recognized the 2008 Hyundai Sonata on its "Greener Choices 2008" list that features widely available gasoline-powered cars and light trucks with automatic transmissions. The Sonata will be listed in the ACEEE's Green Book® Online, an annual consumers' guide to environmentally-friendly cars and trucks.

"The award for our clean, fuel-efficient Sonata recognizes Hyundai's commitment to the environment," said John Krafcik, vice president of Strategic Planning and Product Development, Hyundai Motor America. "Like industry leading quality and safety, environmental sensitivity is another element of the value equation that makes Hyundai such a smart choice for consumers."

The "Greener Choices 2008" list is based on automakers' test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, and other specifications reported by automakers.

The 2008 Hyundai Sonata four cylinder model achieved a green score of 39 out of 100 and is certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV), delivering up to 30 mpg (automatic transmission/highway). The fuel-efficient 2.4-liter DOHC inline-four cylinder engine features four valves per cylinder with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT), giving the engine a very broad powerband, coupled with high fuel efficiency and low emissions.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 780 dealerships nationwide.

ACEEE's GREEN BOOK® ONLINE

The ACEEE's Green Book site (www.greenercars.org) is made possible in part by generous support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting both economic prosperity and environmental protection.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hyundai Cooks Up Quite a Tasty Midsize Morsel

Hyundai cooks up quite a tasty midsize morsel



Question of the day is: Who makes Azera?

If you guessed Bobby Flay on the Food Network, you would be wrong.

Azera is one of the nicer midsize sedans on the market in room, comfort and quiet.

Sadly, it's also one of the best kept secrets in that segment and beyond.

Azera was created by Hyundai of South Korea as the 2006 model year successor to the XG. Remember, the Mercedes-Benz lookalike?

While Toyota and Honda have gone to great lengths to ensure Camry and Accord set the benchmark for bland, Hyundai has taken pains to make Azera fashionable, from the jewel lamps upfront to eye-catching multi-spoked wheels along the sides to curvy deck lid and upscale interior with soft-touch finishes and tight fits that say quality and luxury.

Azera, in fact, is a step up from Camry and Accord, and competes with the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima, as well.

But Hyundai has to get the word out.

We tested the top-of-the-line Azera Limited, with a host of amenities printed in the standard equipment column, from leather, heated, power seats to air conditioning to power mirrors/locks/windows -- with a button in the center console that operates the rear window sunshade.

There's also automatic headlamps, cruise control, split and folding rear seat backs, an AM/FM stereo radio with in-dash CD player/MP3 player, XM satellite radio and power tilt/slide sunroof set far enough back to keep glare out of the cabin.

For the electronically gifted, a $2,750 navigation system package includes power tilt and telescoping steering column, power adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, woodgrain steering wheel and door-sill scuff plates.

Why, however, does Azera offer a tilt and telescoping steering column so you can sit farther from the dash and power adjustable pedals to reach across that distance, and then limit the travel of the power driver's seat so you can't get very far back from the dash? Don't know how those 6-feet-2-inch drivers handle it.

What makes it odder still is that while leg, head, arm, and hip room are very spacious upfront, it's even better in back where you could probably do leg lifts and not strike the front seat. So there's ample room in back to allow the front seat to travel a few more inches without jamming the knees of those in steerage against their sternums.

The other gripe is the seat itself. Soft and cozy with good lateral support but an abbreviated bottom cushion. A few more inches would make for better thigh support. Can't help but feel the engineer in charge of Azera seats was nicknamed "Shorty."

The base GLS Azera is powered by a 3.3-liter, 234-horsepower V-6; the Limited we drove by a 3.8-liter, 263-h.p. V-6 teamed with a 5-speed automatic with manual mode shifting.

Azera's original V-6 needed smoother acceleration without hesitation. The 3.8 has good spirit moving from the light or down the merger lane, but it lets out a little growl if you kick the pedal hard. That is out of character with Azera's luxury image. The mileage rating is 17 m.p.g. city/26 m.p.g. highway, a couple miles per gallon short of ideal, no matter what the gas price is.

When Azera bowed, we felt it needed a few suspension tweaks to soften the ride. With the 2008 version you'll feel a bump or two more than in an Avalon or Maxima, but it's noticeably less harsh than it was.

Handling is decent with minimal lean in corners or wandering the open road. Stability control with traction control is standard, which accounts for the improved road manners. Both also kept footing steady footing when traveling on snow-packed roads. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes also are standard.

The cabin seats four adults in comfort and quiet. Very large front and side glass makes not only for great visibility, it also makes the cabin feel airy and larger than it is. The seats and cabin trim were a light beige, which adds to the feeling of spaciousness, though the light color also shows dirt more easily than dark does.

Cabin amenities include an ashtray, though to be politically correct you can call it a gum holder. There's also a small stowage hold in the lower dash for cell phone/iPod, a pair of compartments under the center armrest along with a power plug, and fuel-filler and trunk release buttons in the driver's door.

The trunk is massive and will hold luggage or golf clubs for a foursome. It looks as if, tipped sideways, it may hold one of those Smarts from Mercedes as well.

Base price of the Limited is $28,550. If you take a pass on the navi package with power pedals and door scuff plates, you can drive away for less than $30,000 -- and less than most of its better known midsize sedan rivals as well.

February 24, 2008

Read Jim Mateja Sunday in Transportation. chicagotribune.com

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Economical Hyundai Elantra PZEV is Best Value in Midsize Class

Economical Hyundai Elantra PZEV is best value in midsize class



MILL VALLEY, California -- It was a trip in memory of the Coast Miwok Indians, the gentle hunter-gatherers who inhabited this place for nearly 5,000 years until the late 18th century, when Western civilization wiped them out along with many of the giant redwoods that once provided bark to cover Miwok huts.

There were no paved roads back then. But there are many now -- some of them winding, twisting, arching, running perilously close to cliff edges, leading to the moral equivalent of a tree museum: the Muir Woods National Monument, one of the last surviving groves of primordial California coast redwoods, now protected by the National Park Service.

It was appropriate, under the circumstance, to take a car that was not as harmful to the ecology of the place as Western civilization had been to the Miwok Indians, whose people and culture have been "indirectly eradicated," according to some local historical accounts. I chose the 2008 Hyundai Elantra GLS PZEV -- with PZEV being a California designation meaning "partial zero emission vehicle."

I'm puzzled by the concept of something being partially zero. But I suppose it's something like PZIP, which, when applied to the documented history of the Miwok Indians, could stand for Partially Zero Indigenous People.

But I digress.

This is a car column, after all, and this week's subject vehicle, by all conventional definitions, certainly qualifies as a car. It has an in-line, four-cylinder, 132-horsepower engine to power its front-drive wheels. It has four wheels. There also are four side doors and a rear end with a traditional notchback trunk. The transmission in the subject car is a four-speed automatic.

But another characteristic of the Elantra, its size, is more difficult to describe. The car began life in 1991 as a compact that looked and felt like a compact. But largely in response to the growth of American bottoms and torsos, as well as in reaction to automotive rivals such as the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla -- all of which have been enlarged to accommodate the widening of America -- the Elantra has expanded its girth too.

The Elantra now is a mid-size automobile, actually on the lower end of mid-size. That means the new Elantra offers genuine rear-seating comfort for adult passengers. That's good news for most adults who have suffered the agony of a cramped, back-seat ride in a compact car.

Also good is that the Elantra's marketing turns out to be more truth than hype. The car does not pretend to be hot or hip. Instead, it proudly presents its credentials as an economy-mobile. Its marketers tout it as the "best value in its class" and as being a "class above the competition." In both cases, they are right.

The Elantra GLS is a relatively inexpensive, high-quality car with a base price of $13,625. Compare that with base prices for the Ford Focus ($14,705), Honda Civic ($14,810), Suzuki SX4 ($14,770) or Toyota Corolla ($15,250).

It was a good drive as test drives go. The Elantra GLS PZEV proved competent on Marin County's twisting, winding roads. Its handling was sure, albeit lacking the precision that some throttle jockeys demand in everything, including minivans. But drivers mindful and accepting of the fact that the Elantra is an economy car meant to be used as an economy car will find little to complain about with this one.

It is the genuine article, much as the Miwok Indians who once lived in, loved and honored this place were genuine articles, real examples of how humans, if left to the better angels of their nature, could live in peace with their environment.

Who knows? If ever we are wiped out by some invading force, or eliminated through our own carelessness and selfishness, and, somehow, a sample of an Elantra is discovered and cranked to life, future anthropologists might conclude: "Aha, Hyundai. This was a company that cared."

Warren Brown / The Washington Post

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sonata's Sunrise

Sonata's sunrise



When I got behind the wheel of the 2008 Hyundai Sonata, I was pleasantly surprised. Granted, it was a decked out Limited model with leather seats and XM Radio. But still. During the test week, it was hard for me to reconcile the fact that the beautiful, peppy, well-appointed car I was driving was actually a Hyundai.

I could have sworn I was driving a Honda Accord. Except that the Accord has a base price of $20,360, and the Sonata starts at $17,670. The Limited model bases at $22,470 with the four-cylinder engine, but heated leather seats and an automatic transmission come standard at this price point. To get an Accord with those items, you’ll have to shell out more than $26K.

While the exterior of the Sonata is a dead ringer for the previous generation Accord, squinty taillights and all, the interior is something special. The level of detail was surprising, and I particularly liked the reverse stitching on the comfortable black leather seats.

The placement of the gauges and dials is ideal, and I could easily adjust my side mirrors and the HVAC without having to stretch in either direction. The one suggestion I have is that the controls on the door should light up at night. There were a couple times that I wanted to lock or unlock the doors, and I couldn’t find the switch in the dark. I also wasn't a fan of the glowing green gauges. It seemed a bit bright and a bit of a throwback to Hyundai of yore. I wanted something a bit more elegant to match the overall elegance of the vehicle.

I'm currently in the process of moving, so the one thing I noticed and really, really appreciated was the 16.3 cubic-feet of cargo volume. I could fit four to five boxes (the size of a paper box) in the trunk and still have space for hanging clothes. Perfect, because that's about all I can haul up and down three flights of stairs in one trip.

Another nice thing about the Sonata is the way it handles in snow. And heaven knows I've certainly been able to test that this winter. My alley is never plowed, and from the inches and inches of snow to the current bevy of ice, the Sonata kept its footing and didn't get stuck. Considering this is a front-wheel drive vehicle, I think there's room to be impressed.

On the road, the 2.4-liter, 162-horsepower four-cylinder engine under the hood isn't going to win any races, but it's perfectly peppy and has a nice bit of acceleration. The one area where I could tell this was a Hyundai is with the road and engine noise. A touch of some sound quieting material would go a long way here because I only got hit with the excess noise on hard acceleration and when stumbling over the Chicago potholes.

Fuel estimates for the Sonata with the four-speed automatic ring in at 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. This is good, but if you’re going to stick with the Sonata/Accord comparison, it should be noted that the Accord gets 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with a five-speed manual transmission.

There were times that the engine in the Sonata was a little loud or I could feel a little feedback from the road, but overall, this midsize offering from Hyundai was very solid. And it's only going to get better for 2009.

First, the interior gets a massive upgrade - just enough elegance to let you know Hyundai has arrived. Then, the horsepower in the four-cylinder engine increases by 13, yet the fuel economy increases as well. The new estimates state that the 2009 Sonata will get 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The best part is, you don't have to wait forever to get it. At the Chicago Auto Show, Hyundai announced that the new Sonata will be on sale later this month.

I really liked the 2008 model, and I'm guessing you can probably get a really good deal on a new car right now since they're trying to make room for the new model. But, some of the things that I didn't love about the 2008 model look like they'll be fixed for 2009. So, if you can hold out for a couple more weeks, it might be worthwhile to compare the deal you can get with the upgrades that are coming. Either way, you'll have a winner.

February 20, 2008
BY JILL CIMINILLO Chicago Sun Times - Autos Editor

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Long-Term Test: 2007 Hyundai Azera

Long-Term Test: 2007 Hyundai Azera



Inside Line spent 12 months and 18,000 miles with the 2007 Hyundai Azera Limited. This is the most luxurious car from Korea yet, a front-wheel-drive sedan equipped with the kind of luxury amenities that used to be the exclusive signature of Lexus. The Azera looks the part, thanks to voluptuous sheet metal that makes you forget all about Hyundai's cheap-and-cheerful image. And yet the story of the Azera is all about value, just like every other Hyundai. Our long-term test taught us that there are both good and bad things about value.

Why We Bought It
Hyundai first introduced the 2006 Hyundai Azera as a replacement for the XG, the Korean company's previous luxury sedan. Based on the platform of the Hyundai Sonata, the Azera represented a kind of breakthrough in prestige for Hyundai. And when the 2007 Hyundai Azera arrived with a number of minor updates, we took the opportunity to add an example to our long-term fleet.

Our full test of the Azera made it clear that this sedan is the best bang for the buck in its segment. Of course, we've become accustomed to Hyundai's ability to deliver more for less in almost every vehicle category. The important question here for us would be to evaluate whether this strategy could be effective in a luxury vehicle. Could the Azera provide everything we expected of a luxury car, from features to ride quality? Reliability and durability are also part of the luxury-car equation, as the success of Lexus has demonstrated.

Would the 2007 Hyundai Azera lose its edge over the competition after its affordable-luxury recipe had been tested daily for 12 months? We would find out.

Durability
We wasted little time putting our new Hyundai to the test. High altitudes, desert heat and cold-weather testing were added to the driving agenda alongside daily commuting.

Senior Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed was first in line. He set off across the desert and mountains from Los Angeles to Denver in the Hyundai over the middle of December. Snow fell heavily as he ascended to an elevation of 11,000 feet in Dillon, Colorado. Reed reported on the long-term blog pages, "We were creeping along at 5 or 10 mph when a tractor-trailer in front of us lost traction and drifted across our lane. I had to goose the 3.8-liter V6 and get into loose snow on the roadside to dodge it. It was pretty scary."

Reed made further notes in the logbook when he reached his destination. He wrote, "We spent a lot of time in the snow. The Michelin Energy MXV4 tires offered surprisingly good traction over the white stuff and felt unexpectedly poised on the ice. The Azera's stability control was working overtime, but didn't seem too intrusive. Ice built up in the wheelwells and made the tires rub noisily, but that's my only complaint. The Hyundai proved to be a more adequate snow car than I ever imagined."

Now that our Hyundai held its own in the cold and at high elevation, we sent it into the desert. Senior Editor Ed Hellwig was at the helm for this trip. He noted, "After an impressive first leg from Los Angeles to Phoenix, the Azera completed the return trip as smoothly. I didn't go light on it, yet when I made it home there was still nearly a quarter tank of gas left after the 408-mile trip. According to the computer, the Azera could have gone another 80 miles. That's some serious range."

Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton is one of our drivers who specializes in instrumented testing, so he spends much of his time pushing the limits of vehicles. He is also a well-documented enthusiast of sport sedans and believes in car design that makes performance a priority. Yet after a long-distance drive in the Azera, Walton noted: "After a night in the Azera, I couldn't help but notice how my shoulders relaxed, my grip loosened (on the steering wheel) and my attitude changed within about five minutes. Maybe we've taken this sport sedan thing too far. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I should be quiet now."

Luxury details are strewn about the cabin of our Azera. From the faux-wood accents to top-stitched leather upholstery, the Hyundai Azera clearly is out to make an impression. At the same time, none of the practical aspects of luxury travel are forgotten, so there's a gigantic trunk and even a sunshade for the rear window.

There were hiccups in the presentation of the interior cabin, but the problems came as the result of our own lapse in judgment. Our decision to choose a beige interior was a mistake for a car that must endure daily abuse from a wide range of drivers, especially since the circumstances rarely encourage respectful treatment.

Significant wear on the floor mats and carpet was noticeable soon after the Azera arrived, and persisted throughout our term with the car. The interior was just too difficult to keep clean, and this went for the leather-upholstered seat as well. What began as a mysterious black smudge across the back of the driver seat (believed to be from someone's belt) resisted three attempts at cleansing with leather care products.

The stained interior also drew our attention to some other cosmetic issues we had with the Azera.Beyond the questionable choice of leather, we noticed some flaws in the dashboard, and door panel misalignments were also apparent. Stereo buffs among us were further disappointed by the performance of our Infinity sound system. For all its luxury, the Azera apparently remains a value-driven vehicle. The selection of lesser, slightly more affordable interior materials no doubt is cost-effective, but our test showed that these choices compromised our expectations of quality. The 2007 Hyundai Azera was far from the Toyota Avalon-style car the Hyundai XG had been, yet it didn't seem capable of being the Lexus from Korea that we had hoped for.

Yet however much we critiqued the quality of its presentation, the Azera never faltered mechanically. Prescribed maintenance called for service every 7,500 miles. We averaged a mere $65 per visit to our preferred dealer, Cormier Hyundai in Carson, California. Our only unscheduled visit followed the passenger side mirror falling off. To this day we don't know the cause, though we spent more than $600 to replace it.

Total Body Repair Costs: $642.93
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $130.27
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Door molding replaced under warranty
Non-Warranty Repairs: Broken passenger side mirror assembly replaced
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 1
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
The Hyundai Azera performed with consistency, recording nearly identical results from its first test at 1,000 miles and its final test with the odometer showing more than 18,000 miles. We recorded a stopping distance of 123 feet from 60 mph during its final test. This marked a 9-foot improvement from a year earlier and the only significant change across the gamut of performance evaluations.

All things considered, the Azera's acceleration from a standing start was especially strong. We reached 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and the quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds at 93.8 mph. Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton mentioned following the test, "It's not difficult to spin the front tires on an aggressive launch. Upshifts are quick and even feel as if the throttle is momentarily closed between gears to smooth out the surge of power."

As usual, dynamic tests consist of laps around the skid pad and a run through the slalom. On the skid pad, the Azera developed 0.78g of lateral force with significant understeer at its limit. This is a good number for the segment. Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot tested the sedan during its final visit to the track. Upon recording 61 mph through the slalom, he proclaimed, "61 mph is slow. But man, the Azera isn't about being fast. No, it's about being smooth, like a fat man who can dance. I like this Korean Buick."

We entered the test expecting 19 mpg around town and 28 mpg on the highway. After 18,000 miles our 20-mpg average was on the low end of that range. On multiple occasions we reached 32 mpg, which exceeded any claims on the window sticker and showed it was possible to drive the Azera efficiently. We just didn't drive that way very often.

Best Fuel Economy: 32.4 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 12.4 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 20.2 mpg

Retained Value
Edmunds' TMV® calculator values the Azera at $21,838 after 18,530 miles. This equates to 27 percent depreciation from its original MSRP and ranks it just behind its competitors in resale worth.

Our Toyota Camry depreciated by a similar 26 percent margin at the conclusion of its long-term test, although it had an additional 3,000 miles on the odometer.

True Market Value at service end: $21,838
Depreciation: $7,932 or 27 percent of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 18,530

Summing Up
A year with the Azera reminded us that there are two sides to value. The bright side offers features unexpected from a car in this class, like rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and a rear window shade. On the dark side we find misaligned panels, material choices of questionable quality and poor stereo performance.

Nevertheless, the Azera's noteworthy performance and high feature content ultimately outweighed the evidence we found of the car's relatively inexpensive nature. It offers an affordable touch of luxury to the average four-door family sedan, not to mention a strong engine and comfortable ride. Twelve months of flawless mechanical performance also influenced our willingness to forgive its cosmetic flaws.

The 2007 Hyundai Azera made a positive impression on us, yet we're still not willing to think of it as a premium car. It's attractive and certainly as reliable as a Hyundai Sonata, but it doesn't yet have a character to call its own.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hyundai Veracruz Wins MotherProof.com Award as a Top New Vehicle Choice for Families

Hyundai Veracruz Wins MotherProof.com Award as a Top New Vehicle Choice for Families



FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 02/13/2008 Motherproof.com, a site dedicated to providing women and mothers with useful and entertaining new car reviews, recognized the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz as a top new vehicle choice for families at the 2008 Mother Proof Awards.

The annual Mother Proof Awards selects the year's best new vehicles for families across a broad range of categories. The Veracruz was awarded the "Top 3-Row SUV or Crossover" vehicle in a special presentation by Kristen Varela, Mother Proof's editor and "chief mother," during Women's Day at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show.

"The Hyundai Veracruz has proven itself as a great family vehicle," said Scott Margason, national manager of product planning, Hyundai Motor America. "It combines everything families are looking for in a Crossover Utility Vehicle - safety, quality, luxury and affordability -- in a sophisticated, stylish package."

The Veracruz was selected by Motherproof.com's team of mom-reviewers based upon criteria recognized in Mother Proof reviews - ease of entrance and exit for all passengers, LATCH connector usability, ease of seatbelt use for kids in boosters, as well as other relevant family friendly features.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 780 dealerships nationwide.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Up Close: Hyundai's New Navigation System

Up Close: Hyundai's New Navigation System



Hyundai readily admits it's late to the navigation game. As recently as 2007, top-of-the-line models like the Veracruz and Azera didn't have any system, while competitors offered it all the way down to their compact cars. That's changed: The Veracruz, Santa Fe and Azera offer navigation for 2008, while the restyled Sonata features an even more advanced system for 2009.

The Sonata's system is the real deal. At the Chicago Auto Show yesterday, I spoke with Patrick Newland, the engineer who designed it, and he said it's a proprietary system that will make its way across Hyundai's lineup in several years. Strictly speaking, the LG systems in other Hyundai models are a stopgap measure, Newland said. (The Genesis' high-end system, meanwhile, is yet another, separate unit dedicated just to that car.)

I checked out Newland's brainchild. It sits high in the Sonata's dash on a 6.5-inch screen -- not as big as the 8-inch screen in the Accord, but competitive with most others. The graphics are first-rate, with clear labels for streets and landmarks, though individual buildings aren't outlined, as they are on Toyota's navigation system. Newland says Hyundai put a premium on usability, and it shows: There's a POI button on the main map to bring up points of interest, and under the Setup display there's a full help menu with descriptions of each button. Should you need to find an intersection, the system allows you to input the city it's in. That's helpful. I've used systems without a city input, and if you can't remember the exact name of each street (boulevard, lane or avenue?) you can get stuck with every 3rd and Main from here to Cleveland.

The system uses a touch-screen, and it's pretty adept at figuring out what you're trying to do. I wish Hyundai had placed a few more shortcut buttons along the side, though. Honda is a champion of this, as most of its navigation systems employ a joystick to scroll the map. The Sonata's system works like most others, so you have to hold your finger on the map to move around. Sigh.

On the audio menus, the radio presets display their stations, so instead of 1 through 6 you have 93.1, 104.3, etc. That's nice, especially if you forget your presets like I do. On satellite radio, you can punch in exactly which station you want with a number pad instead of having to browse a list of 100-plus channels. (If you prefer, you can do that, too.)

Unfortunately, Hyundai doesn't break out the radio presets onto hard buttons above or below the screen, so setting a station requires holding your finger down on the on-screen button. Other systems that do this prove especially vexing - if you're driving and hit a bump, you're back to whatever old station was there.

All told, this isn't a bad start. I'm looking forward to seeing how well the system routes us around Chicago. Some of my favorite ones have become hopelessly befuddled with foul weather or tricky one-way roads -- and if the system can't get you where you need to go, all those tidy graphics start to look a lot less friendly.

Source: KickingTires

2009 Hyundai Sonata's New Touch-Screen Display Enhances XM Radio Listening Experience

CHICAGO, Feb. 6 -- XM, the nation's leading provider of satellite radio, announced today that 2009 Hyundai Sonata buyers will experience an enhanced XM radio listening experience through the vehicles available color, touch-screen navigation display. The Sonata's navigation display, unveiled today at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, will make for a richer XM listening experience.

The brand-new display on the 2009 Hyundai Sonata allows listeners can use the high-resolution touch-screen display to easily scan through XM's more than 170 channels of entertainment. The display will feature sophisticated graphics, making it easy to glance at the XM channel name, song title, artist name, and category to select music, sports, talk, news, comedy or traffic and weather.

"XM fans will truly appreciate the enhanced user experience through the Hyundai Sonata's new touch-screen display. Now, listening to XM Radio in the vehicle is richer and easier than ever before," said Joe Verbrugge, senior vice president, automotive partnerships and international operations, XM Satellite Radio.

XM has been standard on all Sonata models since 2007. Every Hyundai equipped with XM Satellite Radio also comes with a three-month complimentary subscription.

This is the first time a navigation system has been incorporated into the Sonata.

The 2009 Hyundai Sonata will be on display throughout the 2008 Chicago Auto Show.

About XM

XM is America's number one satellite radio. Broadcasting live daily from studios in Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, Nashville, Toronto and Montreal, XM's 2008 lineup includes more than 170 digital channels of choice from coast to coast: commercial-free music, premier sports, news, talk radio, comedy, children's and entertainment programming; and the most advanced traffic and weather information.

XM, the leader in satellite-delivered entertainment and data services for the automobile market through partnerships with General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Porsche, Ferrari, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota, is available in 140 different vehicle models for 2008. XM's industry-leading products are available at consumer electronics retailers nationwide. For more information about XM hardware, programming and partnerships, please visit www.xmradio.com.

Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements in this press release include demand for XM Satellite Radio's service, the Company's dependence on technology and third party vendors, its potential need for additional financing, as well as other risks described in XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.'s Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 3-1-07. Copies of the filing are available upon request from XM Radio's Investor Relations Department. Programming is subject to change.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hyundai Veracruz Earns 'Best New Family Vehicle' Honors

Hyundai Veracruz Earns 'Best New Family Vehicle' Honors

2008 Hyundai Veracruz Recognized by Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com for Being Safe, Roomy and Affordable

Fountain Valley, CA, 02/12/2008 -- Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), the leading provider of new- and used-vehicle information, named the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz to its first list of "Best New Family Vehicles."

From a long list of vehicles, the expert editors of Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com selected this year's 10 Best New Family Vehicles by evaluating each on factors such as safety, interior space, price, resale value, fuel efficiency, capability and, importantly, kid-friendliness.

"If you're intrigued by the idea of treating your family to premium accommodations at mass-market prices, you'll want to check out the seven-passenger Veracruz mid-size crossover," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst, Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "The quiet, comfortable, well-appointed Veracruz starts just under $28,000, offers a long list of desirable options and is backed by a reassuringly comprehensive warranty that includes 100,000-mile powertrain coverage and five-year, 24-hour roadside assistance."

When introduced in 2007, the all-new seven-passenger Veracruz, took the auto industry by storm, raising the bar on what consumers could expect in the premium, midsize crossover segment. Building on that momentum, the Veracruz got even better in 2008, adding an all-new navigation system, designed for Hyundai by LG, one of the world's leading electronics manufacturers. The Veracruz comes with a standard 3.8-liter V6 engine, a third row seat, an AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio®/CD/MP3 audio system that includes six speakers, as well as plenty of advanced safety equipment. The Veracruz utilizes the latest in active and passive safety technologies, including standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) for impressive stopping distance for a vehicle of its size, anti-whiplash active front head restraints and six airbags with side air curtains that protect all three rows during side impacts. The vehicle also received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) five-star frontal and side crash ratings in the sport utility vehicle segment.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 780 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

KELLEY BLUE BOOK (WWW.KBB.COM)

Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, has provided vehicle buyers and sellers with the new and used vehicle information they need to accomplish their goals with confidence. The company's top-rated Web site, kbb.com, provides the most up-to-date pricing and values, including the New Car Blue Book® Value, which reveals what people actually are paying for new cars. The company also reports vehicle pricing and values via products and services, including software products and the famous Blue Book® Official Guide. Kbb.com is rated the No. 1 automotive information site by Nielsen//NetRatings and the most visited auto site by J.D. Power and Associates eight years in a row. No other medium reaches more in-market vehicle shoppers than kbb.com; nearly one in every three American car buyers performs their research on kbb.com.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hyundai Sonata a Midsize Sedan for the Mass Market

Hyundai Sonata a midsize sedan for the mass market



"What are you driving this week?" a friend asked me the other day, not an odd question since I get a new vehicle each week for testing.

"It's the Hyundai Sonata sedan," I replied.

"Is that the one that looks like a Jaguar?" he asked.

"Well, it used to," I said.

The exchange was a surprise to me because until then, I thought maybe I was the only one who had noticed similarities in the styling of the previous generation of the Sonata and the baby Jaguar, the X-type sedan that arrived in 2002.

That Sonata was replaced for 2006 by a new generation with all-new styling, and the similarities to the exterior of the Jag disappeared.

But even without looking much like the X-type, the 2008 Sonata is a much better value -- and probably even a better car -- than the X-type sedan, which costs up to $17,000 more.

Maybe that's why Jaguar is being forced to drop the X-type for poor sales, while Hyundai is preparing to introduce yet another generation of the popular Sonata, whose top model, the Limited, has leather seats and other amenities that usually are reserved for luxury models such as Jaguars. (The redesigned Sonata will arrive this fall for 2009.)

Yes, there still seems to be some stigma attached to driving a Hyundai, but it's not really fair. I hear it all the time from people I recommend Hyundai products to -- "Yeah, maybe it's a good car, but I just can't be seen driving around in a Hyundai."

Well, OK. If having a certain name on your car outweighs the value and practicality of your purchase, then go buy a Honda, Toyota or even a Jaguar.

But if you want one of the finest mass-market midsize sedans on the market, swallow your foolish pride and consider the Sonata.

Our test vehicle was the new four-cylinder Limited model, whose base price is $22,995, including freight. It was added to the lineup for 2008 to appease those who want all the luxury trappings of the Limited, but don't particularly want the V-6 engine, which uses more fuel.

The V-6 Limited costs $1,825 more; the main difference, besides the six-cylinder engine, is that it comes with a five-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder Limited has a four-speed automatic.

The other difference, of course, is fuel economy. The four-cylinder Limited is EPA rated at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway, while the V-6 is 19 city/28 highway.

Since fuel prices began their climb to $3, several manufacturers have tweaked their midsize-sedan lineups to offer four-cylinder engines in models that have all the available upscale amenities, including leather interior, automatic climate control, upgraded audio systems with multidisc CD changers and so forth. It used to be that these models also came with the uplevel engine.

Our test car's 2.4-cylinder engine, with 162 horsepower and 164 foot-pounds of torque, had more than enough power for everyday driving, even on some hilly roads. I never felt that anything was missing. In fact, I thought my test vehicle had the V-6 engine the first day I drove it, as I didn't even look at the provided copy of the window sticker until that evening.

The leather seats -- front and back -- were a dark slate gray and quite elegant. They just as easily could have been in a Jaguar X-type or Lexus ES 350.

The front bucket seats were quite comfortable, unlike those of some entry-level midsize sedans I've tested recently.

My only complaint is that Hyundai should have ditched the four-speed automatic and used the five-speed for both the four-cylinder and V-6 models. The four-cylinder engine would have even better highway fuel economy with a five-speed automatic, as the fifth gear is a second overdrive.

This is an elegant-looking vehicle inside or out, making the package seem a lot more expensive than it is.

One place the Sonata beats the X-type is in rear-seat legroom. I sat in the back of my Sonata, with the front seats all the way back on their tracks, and had about 3 inches between my knees and the back of the front seat. Three average-size adults can fit in the back seat fairly comfortably, which is something I can't say for the X-type.

Electronic stability control is standard on all models of the Sonata, an important safety feature that some competitors still offer only as an option.

Designed to help the driver keep the car from leaving the highway and rolling over in a panic situation, the stability control system operates "like the invisible hand of God," Hyundai says.

As for including it as standard equipment -- along with front seat-mounted side air bags and side-curtain air bags front and back -- Hyundai's policy is that "Safety is not optional."

Standard convenience items on all Sonatas include air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and cruise control. The Limited adds even more, including the automatic climate control, an Infinity audio system with CD changer and XM satellite radio, heated front seats, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, tilt and telescopic steering column and universal garage/gate opener.

Extras on our car included a power sunroof ($900), carpeted floor mats ($85) and a cargo mat in the roomy trunk ($90).

Total sticker was $24,070, including freight and options. To get even a Camry or Accord with all of these amenities would cost several thousand dollars more.

With the redesign for 2006, the Sonata grew to an interior volume of 121.7 cubic feet. That's actually so big that it's classified a "large car" by EPA standards.

Cargo space is near the head of the class, at 16.3 cubic feet.

The Sonata is the main product from Hyundai's new manufacturing plant in Montgomery, Ala. The company has invested $1.1 billion to build the plant.

Sonata prices begin at just more than $18,000 (with freight) for the base GL model with a four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual gearbox -- the only model in which manual is offered. A four-speed automatic is available in the four-cylinder models for an extra $1,200.

The uplevel engine is a 3.3-liter V-6 rated at 234 horsepower and 226 foot-pounds of torque. It's linked only to the five-speed automatic transmission.

Top speed of the V-6 model is 136.8 mph. The car accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds and has a 0.32 coefficient of drag, making it one of the sleekest exterior designs on the market.

Four-wheel disc brakes with computerized antilock system and traction control are standard on all models.




2008 HYUNDAI SONATA

The package: Midsize, four-door, front-drive, four-cylinder or V-6 powered, five-passenger sedan.

Highlights: Hyundai's popular family sedan offers great value in the midsize segment with lots of standard amenities, styling that makes it look like a luxury car and decent fuel economy, especially with the four-cylinder engine.

Negatives: The four-speed automatic that comes with four-cylinder models is behind the times, as most competitors have five- or six-speeds to achieve better fuel economy; resale values still lag those of the Japanese competitors.

Engine: 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder; 3.3-liter V-6.

Transmission: Five-speed manual; four- or five-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 162 HP/164 foot-pounds (I-4); 234 HP/226 foot-pounds (V-6).

Length: 188.9 inches.

Curb weight: 3,253-3,458 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Cargo volume: 16.3 cubic feet.

Fuel capacity/type: 17.7 gallons/unleaded regular.

EPA fuel economy: 21 city/31 highway (I-4, manual); 21 city/30 highway (I-4, automatic); 19 city/28 highway (V-6).

Base price range: $17,670-$24,170 plus freight.

Price as tested: $24,070, including freight and options (Limited model, four-cylinder automatic).

On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

G. Chambers Williams
San Antonio Express-News

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hyundai Motor America Announces 2009 Sonata Pricing

Hyundai Motor America Announces 2009 Sonata Pricing

Chicago, 02/06/2008 -- Hyundai Motor America announced pricing for the refreshed 2009 Sonata at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show today. The 2009 Sonata features an all-new interior, enhanced suspensions and revised powertrains boasting even more horsepower and improved fuel economy. The 2009 Sonata is now on sale at Hyundai dealerships.

Model Engine Transmission MSRP with freight
Sonata GLS 2.4-liter I4 5-speed manual $18,795
Sonata GLS 2.4-liter I4 5-speed automatic $19,995
Sonata GLS 2.4-liter I4 PZEV 5-speed automatic $19,995
Sonata GLS 3.3-liter V6 5-speed automatic $22,245
Sonata SE 2.4-liter I4 5-speed manual $21,195
Sonata SE 3.3-liter V6 5-speed automatic $23,845
Sonata Limited 2.4-liter I4 5-speed automatic $24,645
Sonata Limited 2.4-liter I4 PZEV 5-speed automatic $24,645
Sonata Limited 3.3-liter V6 5-speed automatic $26,345


"You'd expect that all of these changes and new content would lead to startling new price points for the Sonata," said John Krafcik, vice president, Product Development and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "But that's not Hyundai's business model. With a starting price of just $18,795, including delivery, the 2009 Sonata is very well equipped to compete with the best mid-size sedans on quality, craftsmanship, capability...and of course, value."

The Sonata combines refined design, proven dependability, spirited performance and an extensive list of standard features to increase its appeal to a broader range of customers. For 2009, Sonata raises the bar for value and standard safety technology in the mid-size segment. Hyundai's sales leader boasts new features ranging from standard USB/iPod auxiliary inputs to available navigation and sport-tuned suspension. Combined with Sonata's continued leadership in safety - it remains the only mid-size sedan under $20,000 with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC) - the 2009 American-made Sonata is the smartest choice in the competitive mid-size sedan segment.

The new, second-generation Theta II 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine delivers more horsepower and quicker acceleration. Fuel economy numbers are 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission or the newly available five-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC®. The Theta II is rated at 175 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft. of torque. This high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine now features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Induction System (VIS) for better engine breathing.

Sonata's 3.3-liter V6 engine now pumps out 15 more horsepower and three more pound-feet of torque (249 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 229 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm). This newly refined powerplant features all-aluminum construction, dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, CVVT on both camshafts and stiffer hydraulic engine mounts for optimum power, efficiency and refinement. A variable intake system is added for 2009, which further broadens its power curve, improving off-the-line acceleration and passing performance. New mileage figures for V6-powered Sonatas are 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway.

All V6-powered Sonatas use Hyundai's five-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic transmission, which features an overdrive lock-up torque converter for improved highway fuel economy. The automatic transmission has a new reducing valve and solenoid valve for smoother shift quality while the manual transmission has been refined for more precise shifts.

The pleasant surprises continue inside where Hyundai designers have thoroughly revamped the cockpit to create the ambiance of an upscale, premium sedan. The sophisticated look is achieved thanks to a completely new center console and instrument panel, which borrows design cues and rich materials from the premium Hyundai Veracruz. The Sonata continues to be classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Large Car, truly a "class above" Camry, Altima, Fusion and Malibu (all are categorized as mid-size cars).

Music lovers will welcome the 2009 Sonata's inclusion of standard auxiliary input jacks (3.5 mm mini-jack and USB input) to accommodate and charge audio devices such as iPods®. Other refinements include dual-zone climate controls for the driver and front-seat passenger and two-stage front seat warmers. A new factory-installed touch screen navigation system is now available as well.

The design team added a more refined touch to Sonata's exterior design, with new bumpers, lamps, wheels and grille creating a more elegant, dynamic and taut stance. The unibody design crafted of high-tensile steel features a concave hood design, distinctive rear-door cut lines, strong Z-lined body-to-bumper interfaces and four-barrel jeweled projector lens headlights. New chrome bodyside and bumper moldings match the chrome grille and chrome-accented exterior door handles on Limited models.

On the safety side, 2009 Sonata's front collision performance has been improved by tweaking the design of the engine subframe. Every Sonata also has lifesaving ESC as standard equipment along with six standard airbags. The braking technology package includes four-wheel disc brakes and an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) that includes Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 780 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fuel-Efficient 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring Arrives in United States

Fuel-Efficient 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring Arrives In United States



CHICAGO, February 6, 2008 -- Hyundai Motor America took the wraps off its Elantra Touring five-door compact at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show today. Making its United States debut, the all-new 2009 Elantra Touring is a sportier, more functional variant of Hyundai's popular Elantra sedan, and is slated to hit dealerships in the winter of 2008. Elantra Touring is based on the i30 CW model that was designed for the European market.

"The all-new Elantra Touring is a fun-to-drive, functional five-door," said John Krafcik, vice president, product development and strategic planning, Hyundai Motor America. "Elantra Touring provides buyers a unique offering in the compact segment, raising the bar as Hyundai likes to do in value, safety and quality."

The Elantra Touring, with its modern, sleek styling and fun-to-drive qualities, was developed by Hyundai in response to the growing demand for stylish and functional five-door vehicles, sales of which doubled from 2001 to 2006. Five-door vehicle sales are projected to be strong into the next decade. The Elantra Touring will also be the first five-door compact to offer standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), in addition to a host of other class-leading safety technologies. As with all Hyundai vehicles, the Elantra Touring was designed and manufactured to meet the most stringent quality standards in the industry, exemplifying Hyundai's quality leadership position worldwide.

ASSERTIVE EXTERIOR DESIGN

Flowing curves and strong character lines highlight the broad stance and long wheelbase of the Elantra Touring. The clearly defined, unbroken, rising beltline unifies the vehicle's functional proportions. The effect is an exciting shape that provides a dynamic impression of performance and capability. Elantra Touring has a low coefficient of drag for optimal fuel efficiency at highway speeds and minimal interior noise. Up front, the pronounced dual air intakes flow smoothly into the hood and A-pillar lines. Sharp projection headlamps, fog lights and available 17-inch alloy wheels complete the modern design.

ROOMY AND REFINED INTERIOR

The long wheelbase and generous width of the Elantra Touring, combined with Hyundai's expertise in interior packaging, have produced an interior that delivers class-leading comfort, functionality and practicality. Elantra Touring has the most interior volume (passenger volume plus cargo space) of any five-door in its class at 125.5 cubic feet. In fact, Elantra Touring's cargo capacity is 65.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, more cargo space than many larger wagons and crossovers.

The Elantra Touring was conceived from the beginning as a driver's car. The clarity of the instruments, standard B&M Racing sport shifter, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and a supportive eight-way adjustable driver's seat all contribute to a superior driving experience. For extra clarity, Hyundai's signature blue LCD lighting technology has been used for the central information display and gauge cluster. Two-tone interior trim, with special attention to the upholstery fabrics and materials, delivers a more premium feel. Black and beige are the two interior color choices.

The Elantra Touring is the first compact five-door to offer XM Satellite Radio® and USB/iPod® auxiliary inputs as standard equipment. When an iPod or flash drive is connected through the USB port, which is located in the center storage compartment, not only does it play music through the vehicle's six-speaker audio system, but it also charges the iPod and allows the driver to access tracks with the steering wheel audio controls. This system also allows both driver and passengers to easily view song/artist/title information and control the music from the audio head unit rather than only the iPod itself. The center storage compartment location of the USB assures that iPods can be safely stowed out of sight.

The roomy and functional interior is also a quiet place to be. Based on internal tests, Elantra Touring has four decibels lower road noise levels than Mazda3 five-door.

INTELLIGENT ERGONOMICS

With its leading-edge designs, Hyundai has proven through the years that vehicles do not need to be large to feel spacious, nor carry a premium price when offering intelligently designed interior cabins. The Elantra Touring is just the latest expression of this thoughtful approach, incorporating conveniently located steering wheel audio/cruise controls and column stalks, easy-to-reach heating and air conditioning knobs, as well as conveniently positioned power windows and mirror controls. Even the positioning and precise feel of the automatic gearshift has been optimized. The integrated 172-watt AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio®/CD/MP3 audio system, map pockets and other storage areas round out the car's conveniently and intelligently designed interior space.

Sporty front seats, designed to complement the athletic driving dynamics of the vehicle, and carefully contoured rear seats, provide long distance comfort and support. Hyundai engineers focused not just on the seats' form and function, but also on the stitching, materials and bolstering. The front driver seat is fully height adjustable and includes lumbar support. The result is seating fit for the spirited driving that Elantra Touring inspires.

IMPRESSIVE PACKAGE EFFICIENCY

The Elantra Touring's exterior dimensions (176.2 inches long, 69.5 inches wide and 59.8 inches high) make it a great fit in the compact five-door segment, while its long wheelbase (106.3 inches) means that Elantra Touring offers class-leading interior volume. Elantra Touring features outstanding front legroom and front and rear shoulder room. In addition, every Elantra Touring has 60/40 split folding rear seats that fold when needed for added storage, functionality and practicality.

The Elantra Touring matches best-in-class passenger volume with best-in-class cargo capacity. There is a useful 24.3 cubic feet of luggage space with rear seats upright and a cavernous 65.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. As in any Hyundai, the utility and convenience in the Elantra Touring has not been overlooked, with a stow-and-go removable luggage cover that stores conveniently out-of-site under the trunk area compartment. An optional restraining net is also offered.

The Elantra Touring includes a number of convenient, standard stowage and storage features, including a sunglass holder, two front and two rear cupholders, door bottle holders, dash storage, central console storage, front storage tray, front seatback pockets and a cargo area under-floor storage. For tailgaters, the cargo area also has a power-retained 12-volt outlet, where the vehicle does not have to be turned on, for consumers who desire an outlet to plug in their portable electronic devices.

ENGINE PERFORMANCE

Elantra Touring is powered by the same fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, in line four-cylinder found in the Elantra sedan. This sophisticated 16-valve powerplant employs Dual Overhead Camshafts (DOHC) and Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) for a very broad power band, coupled with high fuel efficiency and low emissions. Elantra Touring is certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV).

TRANSMITTING THE POWER

Hyundai understands that performance means more than just engine output, which is why transmission choices have been optimized for real driving satisfaction.

An ergonomically located gear shift with a SHIFTRONIC® manual feature controls the Elantra Touring's four-speed automatic transmission, delivering confident mode selection and quicker, easier, more precise manual overrides. A unique-in-segment B&M Racing sport shifter delivers smooth, short-throw shift control for the standard five-speed manual transmission.

AGILE STEERING, SUSPENSION AND BRAKING

The Hyundai Elantra Touring offers a dynamic driving experience. A MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension have been fitted to perfectly complement the body structure's high rigidity. Ventilated 11.8-inch front and solid 10.3-inch rear discs with ABS and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) provide excellent stopping power with added handling control.

Elantra Touring delivers high performance steering and adds unique springs, front and rear stabilizer bars and dampers. Elantra Touring features a 24 percent stiffer front spring rate, a 39 percent stiffer rear spring rate, a larger front stabilizer bar (24 mm) and larger rear stabilizer bar (21mm) than the Elantra sedan. Both 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels, with low and ultra-low profile tires, add visual impact and extra grip to the Elantra Touring's sporty dynamics. The result is a car that simply demands to be driven.

Elantra Touring steering character is another key driver of its sporty driving nature. Hyundai chassis engineers focused on delivering an agile feel, with direct responses to driver inputs. That spirit translates to a fun-to-drive character in everyday driving situations. And all drivers will appreciate Elantra Touring's nimble turning diameter - at 34.2 feet it is better than Rabbit's 35.8 feet and Caliber's 37.2 feet.

UNSURPASSED STANDARD SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES

Like every Hyundai, top-tier safety was a key development goal for the Elantra Touring, which is fully equipped to protect driver and passengers. In terms of passive safety, it features dual front, side and curtain airbags, for a total of six protective airbags in the vehicle. The Elantra Touring also features active front headrests, seatbelt pretensioners and seatbelt reminders. The combination of side and curtain airbags, which help protect the head and body during side impacts, can reduce fatalities by more than 52 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Also according to the IIHS, active front head restraints improve rear crash protection.

These passive safety technologies are fully grounded in a state-of-the-art body structure, which includes deformable zones, occupant protection cell and three-way load distribution technology. Further rigidity has been achieved with reinforced A pillars, strengthened bulkhead, front and side members, and strengthened B and C pillars.

The Elantra Touring comes standard with Electronic Stability Control, one of the industry's most effective life-saving technologies. ESC compares the driver's intended course with the vehicle's actual response. It then brakes individual front or rear wheels and/or reduces engine power as needed in certain driving circumstances to help correct understeer or oversteer. NHTSA studies show passenger cars equipped with ESC experience 30 percent fewer fatalities in single-vehicle crashes. Santa Fe, Veracruz, Tucson, Sonata, Azera, Elantra SE, Entourage and Genesis are all equipped with standard ESC. Approximately 73 percent of Hyundai vehicles offered in 2008 come equipped with standard ESC - a commitment to this sophisticated and effective automotive safety technology that is unmatched by any other popular automotive brand.

In developing and refining the safety features of the Elantra Touring, Hyundai employed advanced design systems and sophisticated computer simulation, combined with intensive component testing. This is a process used in development of all Hyundai vehicles. From drawing board to prototype testing to final product development, Hyundai uses this extensive process to assure that all its vehicles - including the Elantra Touring - meet or exceed government safety standards, as well as the expectations of vehicle buyers.

THE GOOD STUFF COMES STANDARD

Elantra Touring builds on Hyundai's reputation for offering loads of standard equipment, offering air conditioning, power windows, heated mirrors, door locks, remote keyless entry with alarm, steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio controls, eight-way adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, and plenty of storage compartments. For audiophiles, an integrated 172-watt AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers, USB input and auxiliary input jack are standard. The Premium-Sport package adds a power sunroof with tilt and slide functions, heated front seats and 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/45VR17 tires.

AMERICA'S BEST WARRANTY

The 2009 Elantra Touring is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. In addition, Elantra Touring buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance coverage at no extra charge for five years (no mileage limit) and that service includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses. There is no deductible on any of this coverage.

Monday, February 04, 2008

2009 Sonata: Transformed From The Inside Out For a More Premium and Fuel-Efficient Mid-Size Sedan Experience

2009 Sonata: Transformed From The Inside Out For a More Premium And Fuel-Efficient Mid-Size Sedan Experience



CHICAGO, February 6, 2008 - As gas prices and competition in the mid-size sedan segment surge, Hyundai is introducing its refreshed Sonata at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show today. The 2009 Sonata features an all-new interior, enhanced suspensions and revised powertrains boasting both improved fuel economy and horsepower. The 2009 Sonata will be available at Hyundai dealers later this month.

The Sonata combines refined design, proven dependability, spirited performance and an extensive list of standard features to increase its appeal to a broader range of customers. For 2009, Sonata raises the bar for value and standard safety technology in the mid-size segment. Hyundai's sales leader boasts new features ranging from standard USB/iPod auxiliary inputs to available navigation and sport-tuned suspension. Combined with Sonata's continued leadership in safety - it remains the only mid-size sedan under $20,000 with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC) - the 2009 American-made Sonata is the smartest choice in the competitive mid-size sedan segment.

CHOICE OF TWO MORE POWERFUL AND FUEL-EFFICIENT POWERTRAINS

The 2009 Sonata debuts Hyundai's second-generation Theta four-cylinder engine. The Theta II 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine delivers more horsepower and quicker acceleration, while also improving fuel economy. In fact, the Sonata I4 is now more fuel-efficient than both Camry and Accord four-cylinder engines, delivering an impressive 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway fuel economy rating with the standard five-speed manual transmission or the newly available five-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC®. The Theta II is rated at 175 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft. of torque. This high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine now features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Induction System (VIS) for better engine breathing. A version of this engine also meets Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards.



Theta II 2.4-liter DOHC inline-four cylinder engine

Sonata's 3.3-liter V6 engine has also been improved for more performance and efficiency. It now pumps out 15 more horsepower and three more pound-feet of torque (249 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 229 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm). The first member of Hyundai's "Lambda" V6 engine family, this newly refined powerplant features all-aluminum construction, dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, CVVT on both camshafts and stiffer hydraulic engine mounts for optimum power, efficiency and refinement. A variable intake system is added for 2009, which further broadens its power curve, improving off-the-line acceleration and passing performance. New mileage figures for V6-powered Sonatas are 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway, which represents unsurpassed V6 fuel economy in the mid-size sedan segment.

All V6-powered Sonatas use Hyundai's five-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic transmission, which features an overdrive lock-up torque converter for improved highway fuel economy. Neither Accord nor Camry offer manual-mode operation as standard equipment. The automatic transmission has a new reducing valve and solenoid valve for smoother shift quality while the manual transmission has been refined for more precise shifts.



A NEW, WELL-CRAFTED INTERIOR THAT IS STILL A "CLASS ABOVE"

The pleasant surprises continue inside where Hyundai designers have thoroughly revamped the cockpit to create the ambiance of an upscale, premium sedan. The sophisticated look is achieved thanks to a completely new center console and instrument panel, which borrows design cues and rich materials from the premium Hyundai Veracruz. The Sonata continues to be classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Large Car, truly a "class above" Camry, Altima, Fusion and Malibu (all are categorized as mid-size cars). Even in trunk room, the Sonata shines. Sonata's 16.3 cu. ft. of trunk space give it an eight percent advantage over the Camry, and a 16 percent advantage over Accord.

Music lovers will welcome the 2009 Sonata's inclusion of standard auxiliary input jacks (3.5 mm mini-jack and USB input) to accommodate and charge audio devices such as iPods®. Among the other refinements are the addition of dual-zone climate controls for the driver and front-seat passenger, and two-stage front seat warmers. A new factory-installed touch screen navigation system is now available as well.

More contrast has been added to the Camel and Gray interiors, and for the first time ever, Cocoa Brown is available. The front cupholders are also upgraded for more capacity and holding power. Hyundai's signature blue backlighting for interior gauges, switches and buttons highlights the vehicle's modern interior design.

SUPPLE RIDE, AGILE HANDLING

An advanced four-wheel independent suspension system combines a supple ride with sharper handling and steering response for Sonata GLS and Limited models. Up front is a double-wishbone system with coil springs, revalved, twin-tube, gas-filled hydraulic shock absorbers, and a larger 26 mm stabilizer bar. The system's lower control arms increase handling precision while reducing vibration, and bushing size has been increased to better absorb the shock from road impacts.

In back, a new sophisticated multi-link system provides excellent handling along with superb ride quality and noise isolation. The rear spring rates have been increased by five percent, shocks revalved and the sway bar thickened from 15 mm to 16 mm. All together, this suspension now provides superior control of ride motions for a more dynamic driving experience.

The high-performance Sonata SE becomes an even more exciting and willing partner for enthusiastic drivers with its own unique sport-tuned suspension. The new sport-tuned suspension features a 15 percent stiffer front spring rate, 10 percent stiffer rear spring rate, unique strut valving at all four corners and 27 mm front and 17 mm rear stabilizer bars along with unique 17-inch alloy wheels and tires.

All Sonatas also now have quicker ratio steering for a crisp feel on turn in.

SOPHISTICATED EXTERIOR DESIGN

The design team added a more refined touch to Sonata's exterior design, with new bumpers, lamps, wheels and grille creating a more elegant, dynamic and taut stance.

The unibody design crafted of high-tensile steel features a concave hood design, distinctive rear-door cut lines, strong Z-lined body-to-bumper interfaces and four-barrel jeweled projector lens headlights. New chrome bodyside and bumper moldings match the chrome grille and chrome-accented exterior door handles on Limited models. The model range offers a choice of seven new colors.



UNSURPASSED ACTIVE AND PASSIVE SAFETY

On the safety side, 2009 Sonata's front collision performance has been further improved by tweaking the design of the engine subframe. The Hyundai Sonata is expected to earn the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) top five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts. This accomplishment was made possible by Sonata's strong body structure and advanced airbag technology. Sonata delivers an unsurpassed commitment to both active and passive safety technology. Every Sonata has lifesaving ESC as standard equipment. This is important because NHTSA has reported that ESC results in 35 percent fewer single-vehicle crashes and 30 percent fewer single-vehicle fatalities in passenger cars.

The Sonata also features a state-of-the-art braking technology package. The package includes four-wheel disc brakes and an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) that includes Brake Assist, which provides maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to automatically adjust the braking force to front and rear axles based on the vehicle loading conditions.

In the event that a crash is unavoidable, the Sonata features six airbags-including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags-along with active front-seat head restraints. Other passive safety features include shingle-style rear-seat head restraints for improved visibility, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, front-seat seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and a rear-seat Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for child seats.

THREE ENHANCED, WELL-EQUIPPED MODELS

From the well-equipped GLS, to the sport-focused SE, to the downright luxurious Limited, the 2009 Sonata lineup addresses the needs and desires of mid-size sedan customers with a highly competitive mix of features and benefits. Each model delivers a level of standard equipment that is a cut above competing models.

SONATA GLS

The 2009 Sonata GLS continues to provide value and a sizable price advantage compared with its four-cylinder competition, undercutting the lesser-equipped base 2008 Honda Accord and 2008 Toyota Camry. All Sonata models have offered standard ESC since May 2005. This is important, as NHTSA claims ESC is the most effective lifesaving technology since the seatbelt. In comparison, Toyota still offers ESC only as an option on the 2008 Camry, while Honda Accord has only recently matched Sonata with standard ESC on the new 2008 Accord, more than two years after Sonata made this commitment to active safety technology leadership.

Sonata features a new, sophisticated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine matched to a smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission, with a new five-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic transmission optional.

The Sonata GLS features an impressive array of standard active and passive safety features including ESC, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), six airbags, ABS and active front head restraints. Other standard features include power windows, door locks and outside heated side mirrors, keyless entry with alarm, an AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB/iPod® auxiliary inputs, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback, air conditioning, cruise control and tilt-adjustable steering column.

The Popular Equipment Package includes automatic headlights, chrome window belt moldings, woodgrain interior accents, power driver seat with adjustable lumbar support, steering wheel audio controls and a trip computer. A sunroof is also available.

SONATA SE - I4 OR V6 PERFORMANCE, REMARKABLE VALUE

The sport-focused SE adds a unique sport-tuned suspension as standard equipment, matched with a smooth-shifting B&M Racing five-speed manual transmission (2.4L four-cylinder) or optional five-speed automatic (3.3L V6). Other performance-oriented SE features include 17-inch alloy wheels with unique, handling-focused 215/55R17 all-season performance tires, rear decklid spoiler, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, special cloth seats with leather bolsters, and an eight-way power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support. SE tires feature stiffer sidewalls and a unique tread design for more responsive steering and capable handling. The Sonata SE V6 adds dual chrome exhaust tips.

Other standard features include automatic headlights, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, chrome window belt moldings, telescoping steering wheel and a trip computer. The Premium Package includes an AM/FM/XM/6-CD Changer/MP3 audio system with USB/iPod® auxiliary inputs, six speakers, subwoofer and component amplifier, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and an electrochromic auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink® and a compass.

SONATA LIMITED

The feature-packed Sonata Limited is a fully equipped luxury model for mid-size sedan buyers who want it all-at a great price. The interior features luxurious leather seating surfaces, a standard Infinity AM/FM/XM Satellite/6-CD Changer/MP3 audio system with six speakers, subwoofer and component amplifier, an eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats and power sunroof. Other upgrades include automatic temperature control, an electrochromic auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink and compass, sliding center armrest, premium scuff plates and 215/55R17 tires. The Sonata Limited is so well equipped that the only option besides the engine choice is a navigation system. Sonata Limited four-cylinder and V6 models feature a five-speed automatic transmission with the added control of SHIFTRONIC manual shifting.

WARRANTY

The all-new 2009 Hyundai Sonata is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, five-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. In addition, Sonata buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance coverage at no extra charge for five years (no mileage limit) that includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Long-term Weekend: 2008 Hyundai Veracruz

Long-term Weekend: 2008 Hyundai Veracruz

For the past week, Southern California has been rainy and wet. That's why I took our long-term 2008 Hyundai Veracruz home for the weekend.

Unlike most of the people who travel to L.A. every day for work, I happen to live at the 4000-foot elevation mark, which means I'm more at risk of getting snowed in and left stuck at home when rainy days turn into freezing rainy nights.

Rewind to last Thursday: It was ten o'clock at night; I was driving up home in my MINI Cooper. It was raining and the clouds were low. The famous 15 highway was covered in fog as I started to climb the dangerous part of the highway known as the Cajon pass. The temperature dropped, and the roads became super slushy. I couldn't see the lines, and my speed dropped to 35 mph. Big trucks were passing me on both sides, and I felt uneasy because I couldn't see the road in my little car. I eventually got home only to learn that this rain was going to stick around over the coming weekend.

So the next day at work I decided I needed a vehicle to get me through the next few days since I have a chance of getting snow where I live. I've been snowed in before, but that's only because I had a lowered vehicle with a body kit and there was no way to move that in eight inches of snow. I didn't want to have that feeling of being stuck. That's why I took our newest long-term vehicle, the AWD 2008 Hyundai Veracruz with just a little over 3000 miles on it.

Luckily, my drive home wasn't super wet. I left the office just before a huge rainfall had come in. The roads were wet but the sky was oddly clear as I started my climb up the Cajon pass. The Veracruz made its way up the steep highway, and I noticed a drop in power from its 3.8-liter V-6 as the altitude changed. I had to give it a little more gas to maintain the steady speed I required. The power was still great as it kept climbing, but it's that dropping power I hate feeling when my foot stays in one location on the gas. That's when I shifted into manual mode. The vehicle just took off as it kept climbing the pass, and I had no more loss of power as my foot rested on the gas pedal.

The Veracruz proved to be quite useful throughout the rest of the weekend. As the Los Angeles and Orange County valleys were battling the heavy downpours, our desert valley was just high enough to get the sun for most the day. In the distance, we could see the clouds were coming, and it gave us enough time to run around town to get some errands done. We loaded up the Veracruz with two of our dogs for a trip to the vet. I made the mistake of handling the keys to my mom on the way home. I couldn't pry the keys out of her hand as we went from store to store for the rest of the day. (I think she liked it.)The storm rolled in and we stayed home for the night. Sunday morning was another sunny day for us in the high desert, but we could see the clouds were on their way. We escaped the house once again to do some grocery shopping before the rain reached us. As soon as we walked out of the store, the rain started to fall and we rushed to pack the Veracruz with our bags. We had two carts full of water, soda, and food, and we didn't manage to fill the rear cargo of the Veracruz. It's that deep and can hold a lot.

My biggest fear was this last night of rains. All week long, the news reported there would be a chance of snow as low as where I live. The night came and rain fell. I was expecting to see a white blanket over our neighborhood when I woke up Monday morning (since this was the largest of the cells according to the weather folks). Instead, we had a sunny morning again and the snow never fell. But in the distance I could see those clouds again, and I knew I'd have to make my way through them to get into the office.

What I think:

Starting Mileage: 3771
Ending Mileage: 4057
Price tested (our vehicle): $38,320
Avg Fuel Consumption: 18.7 mpg

I like the Hyundai Veracruz. Its not a huge looking SUV, but it can hold a lot. The interior is not cheep looking and it's nicely laid out. The wood trim mimics that of the Mazda CX-9 and isn't overly done -- clean and simple. The dash is laid out nicely too, although the climate and audio layout reminds me of the silhouette of a transformer's head. Climate control buttons are very easy to navigate around, and I love fact that the rear seating has its own climate-control options. There are a lot of little hidden cubby holes in the center console also. Above the rearview mirror is a second concave mirror that you could use to watch children or pets without moving your rearview for safety. This worked great when we took the dogs to the vet.

The Veracruz is easy to drive, and power is great for highway and surface street driving. I did experience some loss of power when going up the steep mountain in auto, but when I switched to manual the power from the V-6 really shined through. It was almost a different beast, and the manual mode gave it a sporty feeling.

The Hyundai has almost the same shape as the Mazda CX-9 and my favorite crossover, the Subaru Tribeca, with the long sloping front window and rounded rear hatch. It doesn't stand out from the crossover pack in terms of styling, but plays it safe with its less than copycat features. The Autodim exterior side mirrors have to be my new favorite must-have feature for any vehicle. They defiantly produced less glare from headlights during night driving.

The Hyundai Veracruz I tested has a lot of standard creature comforts and still manages to be under $39K. In my opinion, it's worth every cent.

January 28 2008
Source: TruckTrend