Monthly Archives: July 2008

Let there be technology: What’s under Hyundai’s new Genesis sedan

The story of what’s underneath — and inside — the Hyundai Genesis is central to the story of the car and what Hyundai’s trying to do with it. The body-in-white of the Genesis has a larger total body area than the Lexus LS460 and Mercedes S-Class. Yet ten years ago, if we had asked you which carmaker would create a rear-wheel-drive V8 sedan with a body structure that is larger, yet stiffer and lighter than the 5-Series or E-Class, would you have guessed it would be Hyundai?

Of course, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that BMW would be selling all the MINIs it could make, or that Alfa Romeo would sell out a run of $200K supercars. The lesson: the games — plural — have changed for everyone. Follow the jump to find out how the Genesis is the spearhead of change for Hyundai and, if Hyundai gets its wish, the entire luxury segment.

Before we dive inside, we’ll start outside with the Genesis’ design. We remember seeing the HCD-1 in 1992, and thinking, “Wow, a Hyundai…” The stream of HCDs that followed have had us thinking the same thing — meanwhile, we saw almost none of their daring on dealer floors. We were showed slides of Genesis concepts during a presentation in Korea, and some were genuinely stunning. When we got the chance to speak briefly to the designer of the HCD-1, our question was why isn’t the Genesis a little bit… bolder?

The various answers we got from him and several other designers were that, essentially, the Genesis should be considered a test of the Hyundai Luxury System. They wanted a mainstream design that wasn’t extravagant and emphasized proportion, stability and dynamism. Success on all counts. It’s a good looking car — it’s simply not memorable. We were, though, told that a more distinct design vocabulary will come. For now, they don’t want to crash the party with something that will make people wonder, “Um, who invited that?”

A discussion of design led naturally to the issue of badging. We really like the winged Genesis badges, and couldn’t understand why Hyundai didn’t call the thing a Genesis instead of a Hyundai. A few readers have asked the same question, with one commenter nailing it when he wrote, “This is one of the best arguments for a separate brand. I think Hyundai really dropped the ball on this one. A Genesis line (Coupe, Sedan, Veracruz SUV) would make a killing.” Hyundai had considered that exact proposition.

There are a number of reasons why they didn’t follow through. Hyundai hired an outside consultant to estimate the cost of launching a standalone brand, and the number they quoted was $250 million, with a break-even point 13 years hence. For a company focused on delivering a lot for a little, and not selling cars at a loss, that’s a large number to spend in the unscientific arena of penetrating brand consciousness, which is what this would come down to. And we assume that is the necessary number only if the brand succeeds as intended; other standalone brands have spent much more than that to launch in the U.S. and, arguably, still haven’t met their objectives.

Beyond hard cash is the softer, marketing-driven reason: Hyundai of America’s marketing honcho said “We want to use the Genesis to sell 30,000 more Azeras.” When looking for the kind of association that will lead to that kind of sales impact, not creating a separate brand makes sense. A Nissan GT-R can be expected to help shift more 350Zs — certainly far more than the supposed Infiniti version of the GT-R would.

Hyundai wants you to think of the Genesis as a Hyundai, not a Genesis. Initially, in light of the branding, we didn’t realize that — the banners in Korea all read “Genesis by Hyundai,” not “Hyundai Genesis.” Once we understood the sales aspect, it made sense. The Genesis will be sold in a special area of a dealer’s showroom, described at one point as a “well decorated corner.” So it won’t be quite like the Maybach, but looking in that direction. Dealers are installing touch-screen kiosks called iTubes that will mirror information onto laptops, and getting copious tours and training on the car.

They’ll be rehearsing their lines to talk about some of the 20 new technologies that Hyundai created for the Genesis — things about which the typical Hyundai buyer isn’t used to hearing. They’ll also be talking up the segment advantages a buyer would get from what is supposedly a non-premium car. Among Hyundai firsts and segment advantages are:

* HID headlights with auto-leveling depending on the load, and Active Front Lighting that swivels with the steering wheel.
* Navigation with a multimedia controller and MOST fiber optic wiring.
* Parking sensors in front and back.
* Rear back-up camera.
* Brake assist and electronic brake distribution.
* Cooled driver’s seat.
* ZF 6-speed transmission in the V8.
* Sachs Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD) suspension.
* Acoustic laminated glass (windshield and front side windows).
* Auto windshield defogger with humidity sensor and rain-sensing wipers.
* Highest specific output (HP/liter) V8.
* Iridium double-tipped spark plugs good for the life of the engine.
* 5-link suspension with aluminum knuckles, lateral arms, tension arms, and carriers front and rear.
* Electronic active head restraints.
* Proximity entry with electronic pushbutton start.
* Aluminum hood.
* Replaceable “crash box” structures to absorb low-speed impacts and reduce repair costs.
* Roof and side outer panels fused with a continuous laser weld, not spot welding.
* HD radio.
* 500-watt Lexicon LOGIC7 audio system with 17 speakers, a 12-channel digital amplifier, and available 40GB hard drive.
* Three-stage Smart Cruise Control available after a year.

Speaking of that ZF 6-speed, sixth is geared to run laughably low RPMs — on the test track, the V8 was doing 3,500 RPM at 130 mph.

Otherwise, on the tech front, Hyundai has teamed with Microsoft to work on future car entertainment systems. According to Hyundai, things like voice-controlled connectivity between mobile devices will be available in the U.S. from 2010. The Genesis also has a “cluster ionizer” — but we didn’t press that button for fear it would zap us back to the scene of our parents’ courtship.

That’s a lot of gadgetry for a Hyundai. Or, Hyundai would probably like you to think that used to be a lot of gadgetry for a Hyundai. Some readers have made much of the troubles Hyundai had with the Excel. Yet if things had really been that thoroughly awful, Hyundai wouldn’t be here anymore. Forget about Yugo — anyone remember Renault, Peugeot, and Fiat?

During our time in Korea, we got a kick out of the story of Chung Mong-koo, Hyundai’s chairman. He headed Hyundai Motors’ after-sales service division for 20 years when the company was focused on volume more than quality. When he took over the company, he had long experience with the company’s quality problems and knew just what needed to change in order to make better cars.

Are there going to be issues? It’s certainly possible, as with any new car. But Hyundai was hitting the top three in J. D. Powers’ Initial Quality Survey back in 2006, and you get that five years of bumper-to-bumper protection with 24-hour roadside assistance, and that 10-year / 100,000-mile warranty… and $33,000 for the V6, come on — it’s a great deal on paper and continues Hyundai’s tradition of offering more car for less money. In this case, the Genesis is a lot more car.

Other tidbits from our time in K-town:

* The Hyundai Corporation comprises 42 companies, including rolling stock, parts, steel, construction, logistics, finance, R&D, and IT.
* The Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group (HKAG) is the world’s #6 automaker.
* Hyundai made its first car, the Pony, in 1967. Before that it built Ford Cortina and Granada kits imported from Europe.
* Hyundai motors has 6 R&D centers. It also has a proving ground that it “cribbed” from another automaker by looking at Google maps.
* Hyundai’s Ulsan, Korea factory is the world’s biggest by volume, putting out 1.2 million units annually.
* Last year Hyundai sold 1.7 million cars in Korea, 911,000 internationally.
* Iran and Egypt are the largest importers of Hyundais (build kits).
* In 2009 Hyundai will sell an Elantra that runs on LPG in Korea.
* Hyundai plans on having a fuel cell vehicle in production by 2010.
* On creating the Genesis: Hyundai got the idea for it five years ago; designing the body took three years; it cost $500 million to develop and included 23 months of development work; reliability testing ran for 800,000 miles.
* The Tau engine took 100 engineers four years and $260 million to develop.
* Technologies such as direct injection and air suspension were nixed for cost/benefit reasons.
* The Genesis is ULEV II compliant.
* There is no plan for a diesel Genesis in the near future, nor will the Genesis be going to Europe. The car will go to North America, China, and Russia.
* Hyundai is developing paddle shifters, but don’t expect them on the sedan any time soon.
* There is no 4-wheel-drive version planned.
* The guide lines on the reversing camera screen don’t turn when you turn the steering wheel.
* All workers in the paint, body, assembly, and quality departments of the Genesis factory have at least 19 years of experience.
* HKAG has 7 new vehicles planned for the US by 2010.
* Now that Hyundai and Kia each have their own designers, Hyundai is planned to be modern and refined, Kia will be sport and dynamic.
* In spite of the economic climate, Hyundai plans on adding forty new dealers to its U.S. network.

Source: AutoBlog

Hyundai gives 2009 edition substantial boost, but driving fun is limited

Market is those seeking an affordable, feature-packed car

The 2009 mid-size Hyundai Sonata has been improved, inside and out, and seems perfect for Mr. and Mrs. Middle America.

The new five-seat Sonata is pretty much a competent “transportation special” — not a car bought for much driving enjoyment. It has slightly freshened front/rear styling that gives it an upscale, if slightly generic, Asian car look — besides a redesigned interior and revised suspension.

South Korea’s Hyundai also significantly increased power of the front-wheel-drive Sonata’s sophisticated four-cylinder and V-6 engines while increasing fuel economy.

Horsepower of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder jumps from 162 to 175 while estimated city mpg goes up 1-2 mpg to 22 city and 32 highway with either the five-speed manual or five-speed (up from a four-speed) automatic transmission with manual-shift capability.

Horsepower of the 3.3-liter V-6 — sold only with the automatic — is increased from 234 to 249. Estimated city fuel economy stays the same at 19 mpg but rises from 28 to 29 on highways.

The Sonata comes as the base GS, sportier SE and top-line Limited. Prices range from $18,120 to $25,670, with the SE starting at $20,520 and the Limited beginning at $23,970. All models come with either the four-cylinder or V-6.

As is the case with most of its vehicles, Hyundai packs the Sonata with standard features. Even the entry GLS has air conditioning, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system, cruise control, tilt wheel, split-folding rear seat and power heated mirrors, windows and door locks with remote keyless entry.

Safety items include front-side and curtain-side air bags, anti-skid and traction control and anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist for surer stops.

The SE has a sport-tuned suspension with a modified five-speed manual transmission, 17-inch (up from 16-inch) alloy wheels with all-season performance tires, rear spoiler and special seats with leather bolsters, power driver’s seat and telescoping wheel with audio controls. The SE V-6 version adds dual chrome exhaust tips.

The Limited adds a power sunroof, leather seats, automatic climate control, heated front seats and an upscale sound system. It also has chrome-insert body moldings and door handles for a extra flash. A $1,250 navigation system is the only option, besides the V-6. I tested the Limited with the smooth V-6, which ups the price from $23,970 to $25,670.

The more “mature” Limited deletes the SE’s rather worthless rear spoiler, but also the firmer sport suspension — and that leaves the car with a rather mushy ride that average car buyers probably would call “comfortable,” although it allowed sharp bumps to be felt on area expressways.

Steering was quick but had a rather rubbery feel. General handling was good, thanks partly to the all-independent suspension, but this isn’t a car you’d want to push too hard. The brake pedal has a nice linear action.

The SE no doubt feels more athletic, if only because of its sport suspension. But most Sonata buyers probably won’t opt for that model because the Sonata doesn’t attract sporty minded buyers. Rather, it’s designed to mostly draw those who want an affordable, feature-packed car with a smooth, quiet ride and good fuel economy.

And the Sonata has Hyundai’s warranty, which is one of the best in the business, with 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty protection.

The V-6 provides good merging and 65-75 mph passing, and the automatic transmission is responsive. It’s called “Shifttronic,” which sounds like something an American automaker would call an automatic in the 1950s. The four-cylinder won’t make the Sonata as spirited as the V-6, but it has enough power and (also increased) torque to provide decent acceleration.

It’s never a struggle to get in or out, with easily grasped door handles and wide door openings. The redone interior shines, with such things as blue backlit gauges in a refined instrument panel and large, supportive front seats. The new front center console has nicely placed cupholders and lots of storage areas. However, sound system and climate controls should be larger.

Rear-seat room is especially good, although the center of the backseat is too stiff for long trips and is best left to the fold-down center armrest with two cupholders. Rear windows roll down all the way.

The trunk is large but has a rather high opening. The lid is lined and raises smoothly on struts, as does the hood. Folding rear seatbacks enlarge the cargo area.

The Sonata offers lots of value for the money, especially when compared to its more costly Japanese rivals.


* Prices: $18,120-$25,670

* Likes: Higher fuel economy. More power. Revised styling and interior refinements. Well-equipped.

* Dislikes: Average ride and handling for most models. Small sound system and climate controls. High trunk opening.

July 5, 2008
BY DAN JEDLICKA Chicago Sun-Times Auto Editor

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan: First Drive

One thing was clear long before we first set eyes on the Hyundai Genesis premium rear-wheel-drive sedan prior to the April 2007 New York International Auto Show: the Genesis four-door phenomenon is only partially about driving the car.

This big Hyundai (not the smaller and rather unsurprising coupe replacement for the Tiburon, which is also inexplicably called Genesis) had better be ready for the toughest critics in the world to peel its business case apart like a pile of kimchi and analyze every bit of it for credibility. Hyundai has big notions of what the Genesis sedan can accomplish, and the company needs to convince a mess of people to jump on board. With the U.S. intended to buy just under 40 percent of all Genesis four-doors per year (more or less 30,000 units), this event is only slightly less important than Hyundai’s unassuming launch into the U.S. market in 1986 with the two-door Excel hatchback.

Following a really well-executed drive event and information download at the HyundaiKia proving grounds outside of Seoul, we feel honest in giving the bigger Genesis a solid eight out of ten score. We were allowed free rein through obstacle courses and around the high-speed 43-degree banked oval, and we did so back-to-back with not only the 375-horsepower Genesis 4.6-liter V-8 and 290-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6, but also with a 268-horsepower BMW 530i, 272-horsepower front-wheel-drive Lexus ES350, and 275-horsepower Infiniti M35. This all proved enlightening, to say the least. (We also have to mention that while being bussed to the drive location, we spotted a Maybach 62 in the heavily guarded R&D parking lot. Talk about your benchmarks.)

Project “BH,” as the upmarket sedan is called internally, started back in 2003. Our firsthand knowledge of BH dates back to late November 2005 when we were brought to the then new Namyang design center to eye the final three full-scale models and give our opinions and our pick. Turns out our pick was the version put forth by the HyundaiKia Engineering & Design Center in Irvine, California. And thank goodness that one won out in the end, because suffice it to say that the other two non-California versions were really dumpy. The California BH is handsome work from any angle, to our eyes representing a lot of what the BMW 5-series design should have been. We could do without the very Korean-taste gleaming grille treatment and slightly cheap-looking wheels, but the full package is hot stuff.

So, from the start of BH sightings and showings we’ve liked this car a lot from the outside. Having the Lexus, BMW, and Infiniti on hand, though, allowed us to get inside all four in quick succession and make our judgment. In short, the Genesis sedan’s interior wins in the balance. What we mean is that there are individual categories among the many where one of the other three cars beats the Genesis, but overall the Genesis interior feels like more of a whole and well-cared-for product. In every single passenger dimension you can think of, too, the Genesis gives more room without feeling at all bloated.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that we’re as much enamored of the inside as we are of the outside. Whereas BMW interiors are only now beginning to awaken from their deep gray funeral-parlor world, the Genesis is simply handsome and enjoyable to look at and live with. In the case of the Infiniti M35, the interior is fine but weirdly incongruous with the exterior form, especially with its swathes of wood veneer and the step effect of its dashboard. Lastly, the Lexus ES350 interior–despite the model’s popularity that in theory would indicate the opposite–is almost embarrassing in its dated un-handsomeness versus the really attractive Genesis approach.

Now, we drive. The first two hurdles were a brisk double lane-change and then a slalom set. This was a great baptismal, since it showed right away where the Genesis stands among these three competitors, or versus a Mercedes E350, Audi A6, and so on. BH chassis director Baeho Jeong and his team have done some excellent work balancing cushioning and dynamics. In this pair of tests the Genesis V-6 and V-8 proved themselves almost identical in feel to the 530i, the heavier V-8 approaching the sensations of a 550i. With the Genesis wheelbase at a class-leading 115.6 inches (overall length at 195.9 inches is roughly five inches longer than any competitors mentioned here), this agility was slightly surprising to us. The Hyundai dynamicists have incorporated aluminum steering and suspension knuckles, aluminum front link arms and brackets, a sophisticated five-link suspension geometry at all four corners (as on the Lexus), and a simple yet solid all-around Amplitude Selective Damping system. The best of the cars through these first two sections was definitely the Infiniti M35, though we are again left a little conflicted over the overall package and image of the Infiniti brand. At a glaring opposite end of the spectrum handling-wise was the Lexus ES, which was heavy and laborious through both the lane-change and slalom exercises. Hyundai engineers also confirm that the suspension feel for North America will be less soft than the Korean setup, so the final U.S. version may be even better than what we drove at Namyang.

Hyundai executives repeatedly mentioned that the Lexus was their chief benchmark target, with the BMWs a close second. All we can say, at least based on the Lexus ES present at the test, is that the Genesis out-handles and out-drives the ES quite easily. Then on the rough pavement section at the proving grounds, the Lexus on its factory-issued wheel and tire setup transmitted almost thunderous road noise to the cabin. While the ASD system of the Genesis works as well comfort-wise as the Infiniti or Lexus in a straight line or gentle curves while cruising, it is calibrated to a fairly unsophisticated rebound feel over bumps. The default damping on the 530i with its straight-six was noticeably the best of the bunch, though one would hope so at a base price tag approaching $50,000. Hyundai aims to bring the V-8 Genesis to the U.S. this summer starting at just under $40,000. The already satisfying 3.8-liter V-6 sedan, however, is our favorite bottom-line choice and set to begin at roughly $33,000.

Hitting the big high-speed oval at the R&D center shed yet more light on the Genesis sedan’s credentials. Both the V-6 and V-8 with outstanding six-speed ZF automatics are great cruising powerplants, the V-6 reaching 140 miles per hour after some waiting, the V-8 shifting to sixth gear right at 140 mph on its way up to a 155-mph v-max. While the V-6 idles at 625 rpm, and more quietly than any car in this class at just under forty-two decibels, under acceleration it shows (as the new V-6 in the CTS Caddie showed us) just how much harder it has to work to compete with V-8s. The new Tau 4.6-liter V-8 is right in range of the biggest players in this class so far as acceleration, responsiveness, cabin noise, and fuel efficiency are concerned (17 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway, according to the EPA; 19/27 for the V-6). The V-8 Genesis sedan also boasts a respectable 0-60 acceleration time estimated at 5.8 seconds. Initial dealer orders for the car in the States show a 70 to 30 percent V-8 to V-6 split, but Hyundai expects that to balance out over time to a 40-60 split in favor of the V-6.

Entering and heading through the steeply banked curves of the oval at top speeds on fairly sturdy standard eighteen-inch Dunlop tires, the Genesis required a slightly firmer hand at the wheel, with a little more steerage to the right required to stay on the perfect line. This is a sign of a lower-tech steering setup, but it is honestly not a black mark. How often will you be driving at 140 mph on a 43-degree banking for half a mile? Off the banking at tippy-top speed on the flats, either Genesis is a fine contender for any buyer in this part of the market.

Complementing the widespread use of aluminum (including the engine hood) and a consequent contained curb weight for its size of 3748 pounds (4006 pounds for the V-8), the Genesis boasts a heavily streamlined coefficient of drag of 0.27, which is top of its class. We noticed an acceptable level of wind noise off the front pillars and side mirrors. In addition, the extensive use of high-tech adhesives for joining chassis sections and sheetmetal is reflected in equally class-leading torsional and bending rigidity. NHTSA has just awarded the big Genesis a five-star rating, too, in all front and side impact tests. One particular luxo touch that we noted immediately is the substantial laminated windscreen and front window glass. Opening and closing the front windows is an absolutely silent operation a la Rolls-Royce. Genesis is also the first car for sale in the U.S. with major use of fiber-optic technology for onboard systems, reducing the complexity and weight of a traditional wiring harness.

As a side note, the Genesis sedan has been on sale in South Korea since January, and it had 10,000 advance orders when deliveries started. Customers are still willing to wait two months to get their car. By 2009, there will be a stretch version of the Genesis sedan (VI is the name internally) to replace the current and still popular Equus in South Korea, China, and the Middle East. The front-drive Equus with iron-block V-8 sells for the equivalent of $80,000 U.S. dollars and is the most expensive domestic car available. The Genesis four-door–stretch or normal–is by comparison a huge step up in the Korean premium image, and Hyundai is hoping this home market enthusiasm translates in more mature markets. Meantime, the BK Genesis Coupe we featured in the May 2008 issue of WINDING ROAD starts U.S. deliveries in early 2009.

And herein lies the challenge for the larger Genesis in the U.S. Are buyers for this style of car ready to see all the pluses this product obviously represents? Or will they automatically shell out the extra bucks and go for the Bimmer or the Lexus, unable to see past the Korean tradition in America of cheaper durable goods? The Japanese succeeded over a twenty-year period and are now conquerors. Hyundai has fewer funds to spend in support of such a long campaign in search of high-margin credibility, but it absolutely needs to take on the challenge or the Genesis effort will fizzle like a Volkswagen Phaeton or Ford’s Merkur franchise. A first step is to retrain Hyundai dealers and service people to be as top-notch as a Lexus or Mercedes store, not to mention dressing up the sales environment a bit. Then the residuals on Hyundais also need to improve significantly, a trend that has already begun.

In truth, what has led to the Genesis sedan being launched as a Hyundai flagship and not as its own brand is the sheer cost to adequately set up a luxury brand these days. When Hyundai finished the initial due diligence back in 2005, it projected a cost of $2.5 billion and then twenty years to actually turn a clear profit. General manager of the HHyundai North America team H.C. Kim and others tell us that once we’ve had three full years of Genesis sales in the U.S. that only then will the idea of a separate Genesis division be proposed with all the requisite number crunching and dealer input.

For now, we like what we see and enjoy what we’ve driven. A key marketing angle Hyundai wants to press home for the Genesis is that it approaches the size of a BMW 7-series in packaging, gives the performance of a 5-series, and costs the price of a 3-series. All true.

Source: Winding Road

Value, warranty give Azera high marks in class

The Azera is a full-size sedan that continues to elevate the rising consumer confidence in Hyundai vehicles. The Korean manufacturer has rebuilt itself from a rather auspicious beginning in the early eighties into a real competitor in the American market.

Where it was once fraught with quality issues, it is no longer a brand precariously teetering on extinction — but rather a brand excelling at offering value with some of the most far-reaching warranties in the market.

Clearly, the Azera garnishes its overall high marks for value. You get a lot of good, reliable vehicle with Hyundai Azera. Add to that the newer, better options available to enrich the driving experience as well as the highest frontal offset impact safety rating in the class and it is not hard to see why the Azera should be on consumers’ radars.

On the outside, I would put Azera in the middle of the road for looks. There is very little going on here that is establishing an attitude or inspiring enthusiasm. Having said that, it is amazing what good value will do to temper acceptable, and even likable, exterior style. Azera does nothing to make itself look bad, but there is little that is really memorable about its exterior style.

As Hyundai’s flagship sedan, the Azera does offer more roomy interior spaces than a typical midsize family sedan. This extra cabin room is where the most obvious value in Azera comes through.

Inside the cabin, Azera is roomy and quiet. I found there to be very little road noise inside, with the exception of some pavement under construction, the cabin setting is pleasingly calm.

Drivers will find a refined dash design that is easy to see. I found controls and switches to be easily accessible and the new steering wheel controls offer additional convenience. Seating in my Limited trim level tester was for five with plenty of room for front and rear passengers. The rear seat 60/40 split offers extended storage from the huge trunk.

Refinement in the cabin can be found in the optional leather upholstery that added an appreciated level of sophistication to this Hyundai. Seats in front were heated and power adjustments for the driver made getting comfortable a breeze.

All Azeras come standard with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine. Delivering 263 horsepower to the front wheels, I thought the five-speed automatic transmission did a nice job of handling quick accelerations very smoothly. For most people, acceleration from this V-6 is going to be plenty to keep them happy. Hyundai says Azera will reach 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, while my tests were not scientific, I’d have to agree with them. It has some surprising pop given the price tag on the Azera is thousands less than cars the same size.

The Azera’s powerful V-6 is another part of that touted ‘value’ equation I mentioned. If you can deliver solid performance and reliability and big interior spaces, most consumers will, and should, dismiss a few shortcomings on the exterior styling. I was willing to overlook plenty given the price.

Fuel economy is less than impressive at 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Base priced at $24,235 to $27,335, the Azera delivers a big bang for the buck with outstanding safety and the class’ best long-term warranty.

BY JOHN STEIN SouthtownStar Auto Editor
Source: Chicago Sun Times

First ride: Pre-Production Hyundai Genesis Coupe

On Thursday we had the chance to ride in the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, California. The exterior of the pre-production model appears fairly complete – save for the odd trim piece here or the yet-to-be finalized grille there – and the overall feel was solid and refined.

The interior features color schemes that were also on display in the production versions of the 2009 Genesis Sedan, which we spent the day test driving from Santa Barbara to Buttonwillow and back.

The coupe was clearly unfinished, as evident by the stickers throughout the interior stating that certain panels should not be considered final production items.

The center console was mostly complete in brushed aluminum and included an Infinity Fosgate audio system with XM Radio.

The engine was a version of the Lambda 3.8-liter V6, tweaked to provide more than the 290-horsepower on tap in the Genesis Sedan. It was displayed in an unvarnished manner, since the engine cover that will no doubt show up underhood, has not been finalized yet. Like a tiger cub, the V6 has a throaty growl that defies expectations, without being over the top.

Driving the roadcourse at Buttonwillow displayed great handling characteristics, begging for even harder corners. The suspension development is well on its way as displayed on the elevation changes that require hard braking and then a sharp turn left on the back stretch of the mile-long roadcourse.

Braking displayed great stopping power, and this was not even the high end Brembo kit that will show up on the GT model!

We can’t wait to get into the production model of the Genesis Coupe for a complete review.

by Mark Elias

G. Chambers Williams III: 2009 Sonata is classy competition

If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative to the popular Japanese midsize sedans, Hyundai has a suggestion: How about the redesigned 2009 Sonata?

Priced generally about $3,000 less than a comparably equipped Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, the newest Sonata offers the same kind of comfort, convenience, fuel economy and performance as those more expensive sedans, yet a price that seems more in line with what consumers need in an economic downturn: more value for the money.

And choosing a Sonata over one of those Japanese models doesn’t mean you have to give up anything just to save money. The Sonata is every bit as nice as an Accord or Camry, and maybe even better, in some critics’ estimation.

For instance, Ward’s Auto World magazine gave the new Sonata its 2009 “Interior of the Year” award in the category of “Best Redesign,” quite an honor for the South Korean automaker.

“This award is particularly gratifying for our team, who started with a world-class car, listened to customer feedback telling us they wanted an improved interior, and went to work to make the 2009 Hyundai Sonata stand up and stand out against every other car in its class,” Dan Vivian, Hyundai Motor America’s director of design engineering, said in an announcement about the award.

It’s an all-American redesign: The work was done at Hyundai America Technical Center Inc. in Michigan. The 2009 Sonata was the Hyundai product program led by the North American design team, the company said.

The car is built here, too — at Hyundai’s plant near Montgomery, Ala.

While this is not a complete redesign of the Sonata — the exterior remains much as it was for 2008 — the interior is entirely new.

“The focus of the redesign of the 2009 Sonata was on the interior, where Hyundai’s designers re-crafted the cabin area to create an upscale ambience for the driver and passengers,” the company said in its description of the work that led to the Ward’s honor.

The new instrument panel “borrows design cues and rich materials from the premium Hyundai Veracruz crossover utility vehicle,” the automaker said. The Veracruz was an all-new vehicle for 2008.

“We were inspired by the beautiful forms of the interior in the Veracruz and challenged to deliver comparable design execution in the mainstream Sonata,” said Chris Zarlenga, chief of the Michigan design studio. “Great design does not have to cost a great deal of money to the company or the customer.”

The interior is quite elegant, and it’s functional, as well. My only real complaint was with the driver’s side seat cushion, which was too short for my thighs, and as a result was a bit uncomfortable for me. I never rode on the passenger side, but it’s the same bucket seat, so the problem would be duplicated there. Some cars now have adjustable seat-cushion lengths, a perfect fix for this nuisance.

Rear-seat passengers who rode with me in the new Sonata said they were comfortable, and they had sufficient legroom as long as the front seats weren’t all the way back on their tracks.

The Sonata’s roomy interior is on par with large sedans such as the Toyota Avalon. Hyundai notes that the car’s interior volume actually qualifies it as a “large car” under the EPA’s classification system.

There is a large trunk, as well. Its 16.3 cubic feet is more space than in the trunks of key competitors, including the Accord, Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu.

The audio system is ready for your iPod or other MP3 player, with an auxiliary input jack. But it also has a USB port in the center console storage compartment, which allows for playing of MP3 music files directly from a jump drive and for charging the iPod and other devices that can recharge via a computer’s USB port. I found this helpful in recharging the battery in my mini-HD camcorder.

When an iPod or other MP3 device is attached to the USB port, tracks can be selected using the controls on the Sonata’s steering wheel. The information that shows up on the iPod’s screen is shown on the car’s audio-system screen. This will keep you from looking down at and fumbling with the iPod while you’re trying to drive.

Also new are automatic climate control zones for the driver and front-seat passenger, as well as separate front-seat heaters.

My test vehicle came with the new touch-screen navigation system ($1,250), which has voice-recognition capability that allows the operator to set the destination or even change audio selections, by voice command.

The front cup holders were redesigned, making them larger. Gauges and switches have a cool blue backlighting.

Fuel economy is one of the Sonata’s greatest attributes. Our top-of-the-line Limited V-6 test vehicle (base price $25,670 plus $675 freight), with a 3.3-liter V-6 rated at 249 horsepower and 229 foot-pounds of torque, had EPA mileage of 19 miles per gallon city/29 highway — nearly as high as the four-cylinder ratings of some of the Sonata’s competitors. This engine is linked to a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift feature.

The Limited also is available with the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, with 175 horsepower and 168 foot-pounds of torque. Its EPA ratings are 21 city/32 highway with the base five-speed manual gearbox and 22/32 with a five-speed automatic. The five-speed automatic replaced the four-speed from the 2008 model.

Hyundai added the four-cylinder Limited model to the lineup for 2008 to appeal to consumers who want the luxury of the Limited, but don’t particularly want the slightly thirstier V-6 engine.

The big draw of the Limited model for most consumers is the leather interior, which includes seating surfaces and steering wheel. They are as nice as the seats in many entry premium sedans.

Electronic stability control is standard on all models, an important safety feature that some competitors still offer only as an option. It’s designed to help the driver keep the car from leaving the highway and rolling over in a panic situation.

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 an option.”

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

Standard convenience items include air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and cruise control.

The Limited adds even more, including the automatic climate control, Infinity six-speaker 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.

The only significant extra on our car was the navigation system. Total sticker, with options and freight, was $27,685.

It doesn’t cost that much to buy a Sonata, though, as prices begin at just $18,795 (including freight) for the base GLS model with a four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual gearbox. With the five-speed automatic, prices begin at $19,995.

2009 Hyundai Sonata

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

Highlights: Hyundai’s popular family sedan gets an update for 2009 that brings a completely new interior and some other engineering and performance tweaks. This is a great value in the midsize segment with lots of standard amenities and decent fuel economy, especially with the four-cylinder engine.

Negatives: Short-term ownership can be costly because of worse-than-average depreciation.

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

Transmission: Five-speed manual; five-speed automatic; five-speed Shiftronic automatic

Power/torque: 175 HP/168 foot-pounds (I-4); 249 HP/229 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/32 highway (I-4 manual); 22 city/32 highway (I-4 automatic); 19 city/29 highway (V-6 automatic)

Base price range: $18,795-$26,345, including freight

Price as tested: $27,685, including freight and options (Limited V-6 model with navigation)

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 III – San Antonio Express-News

Genesis signifies rebirth for Hyundai

It was a sunny day, and the hot dry heat of the desert radiated off the black pavement at the Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, Calif. A Pearly white BMW 7-Series lined up next to the cone, with the journalist behind the wheel revving the engine. I hopped into the driver’s seat of the car to the left of 7, hooked my seat belt and toed the starting line.

I watched the gray-haired man in front of me raise his arms, and I felt a rivulet of sweat drip down my back. From the heat, yes, but also from the nervous sense of anticipation.

I had never drag raced before, and here I was pitted against a BMW… in a Hyundai.

I was focused on the man in front of me, left foot on the brake, right foot hitting the gas pedal, bringing the tachometer up to 1,500 rpm.

His hands dropped, and I simultaneously took my left foot off the brake and jammed my right foot on the accelerator. Pedal to the floor, I beelined for the finish line. Halfway through the quarter-mile stretch, I spared a quick glance at the white car next to me, and I was stunned. I was ahead of the BMW 7-Series by about 2 feet, and the gap was curiously widening.

I won my first drag race while driving an all-new 2009 Hyundai Genesis, which has a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds.

I didn’t fare so well the second time around. Switching places with my colleague, I tried a turn in the 7. And lost. Time after time, I watched the competitive auto journalists take turns in both cars. Each time, the Genesis won the race.

Some might argue that the extra 900 pounds or the extra 2.5 inches in length carried by the 7 account for its noticeable sluggishness. I’d like to point out that the 7 also has more than 50 additional horsepower. And it still didn’t win.

While this newest Hyundai isn’t quite in the same league as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai wanted to prove that this Korean car could hold its own against the Germans. I’m pleased to say the automaker succeeded.

New for 2009, Hyundai introduces the full-size, rear-wheel-drive Genesis as a kind of halo car with a base price of $33,000. But, in true Hyundai form, that base price gets you a whole lot of goods. From leather seating surfaces to front and rear side-curtain airbags, the Genesis is packed with standard luxury and safety features. Heated front seats, fog lights, iPod USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth and automatic headlights are all standard.

Base engine in the Genesis is a 3.8-liter V-6 that delivers 290 horsepower. To upgrade to the 4.6-liter V-8 engine, you’ll tack on $5K to the price tag, but you’ll also add some additional standard items, such as ultra-premium leather seats, power sunroof, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a Lexicon 14-speaker surround sound audio system.

While the V-8 model doesn’t require that you put premium fuel in it (thank goodness), Hyundai does, however, note that it will perform better with the premium grade fuel. Fill it up with regular and you can expect a respectable 368 horsepower. Fill it up with premium and you’ll go up to 375 horsepower. Personally, that’s not enough of a difference for me to opt for the $4.75 per gallon fuel vs. the $4.55 per gallon fuel.

During the press preview, which included more than 300 miles of street driving as well as a couple hours of track time, we had the opportunity to drive both the V-8 and the V-6 Genesis. My driving partner and I grabbed a fully loaded V-8 model for the first leg of the road trip. From twisty-turny mountain roads to desert straight aways, the V-8 was absolutely brilliant. Accelerating up hills, passing at high elevations and maintaining constant highway speeds were a breeze. My partner and I were both incredibly impressed with the road manners and performance of the V-8 model.

On the way back from the track, we grabbed a V-6, and we were no less impressed. Sure, there was a little more effort required to pass or accelerate up hills, but for a V-6, it did a darn good job. And, since it’s a little bit lighter, it was a little easier to fling the V-6 model around the twisty-turny bits.

On the racetrack itself, both the V-8 and V-6 were more than up for some spirited driving. I never would have thought of taking a large Hyundai sedan on a racetrack, but the Genesis was perfectly at home.

In addition to the drag race and actual track time, the folks at Hyundai prepared another comparison test for us at Buttonwillow, setting up a slalom course and bringing in a Mercedes-Benz E350 with a V-6 engine that delivers 268 horsepower. I started with the V-6 Genesis and took a couple turns on the course. I took the speed up between 35 and 40 mph and noticed that the V-6 model virtually glided around the cones. It was a smooth and continuous S-curve that the car just seemed to float through.

The V-8 model added some power to the slalom, and the course became a bit more aggressive. I pushed around the cones, keeping the speed closer to 40 mph. The course was more fun, and the car held the lines pretty well.

I finished with the E350, and in addition to being uncomfortable in the driver’s seat, I didn’t think the car held the line as well. I kept the speed between 35 and 40 mph, and it required a bit more effort to keep the E350 on course. Plus, there was some definite tire squealage that I didn’t notice with either of the Genesis models.

While the ride and handling of the Genesis are multifaceted and complex, its design is a study in simplicity. The exterior of the Genesis isn’t radical. It’s actually very conservative with long sleek lines. The turn signals on the side mirrors and bedazzling taillights give an upscale feel, but the most eye-catching feature on the Genesis has to be the grille. It’s an attractive chrome double waterfall, and Hyundai badging is noticeably absent. From the front or side, there is no way you’d guess this car is a Hyundai. The back simply has the circle H badge.

The interior, on several levels, is the real stunner, though. Both test vehicles had the two-tone saddle-and-black interior that reeks of high-end luxury. All of the touch points were solid and attractive, and the cockpit was well configured. I was able to get a great driving position with the power adjustable driver’s seat, and I loved the standard heated front seats that went all the way up the back of the seat.

My only quibble with the interior – and, in fact, with the whole car – was the headliner. The interior of the test vehicle was black and brown, yet the headliner was a light khaki color. This didn’t bother my male driving partner, but if I were choosing an interior I’d have to go with the Cashmere so that the headliner matched the seating surfaces.

The standard audio interface is simple yet attractive, and most of the controls on the center stack are within easy reach. The only dial I had difficulty reaching was the tuning dial, which is a lot closer to the front passenger than the driver.

The center stack is transformed when you upgrade to the Technology Package, which includes the 17-speaker Lexicon discrete audio system, DVD navigation and rear backup camera. The knob that controls the upgraded package looks frighteningly like the knob that goes with the oft-hated BMW iDrive system. So, it was with much curiosity that my partner and I spent some quality time in the parking lot tapping around the system.

BMW should take notes. The Hyundai system is phenomenal. Rather than peeling through layers of screens to get where you want to go, there are clearly labeled buttons surrounding the knob that cut out two or three layers of distracting info screens. The screen itself was brightly colored and the lettering on the screen is san-serif and easy to read.

Hyundai opted to keep the pricing and packaging simple on the new Genesis, and the V-6 model has three main packages: Premium ($2,000), Premium Plus ($3,000) and Technology ($4,000). Since the Premium Plus package includes the Premium package, a completely decked out model will top out at $40,000. The V-8, which starts at $38,000, only has one package available: Technology ($4,000). Thus the top-of-the-line, fully stocked Genesis will cost $42,000.

I know there are naysayers out there who are tsk-tsking at a $40K Hyundai. But I think Hyundai has completely hit the mark with this car. So, all I have to say is: Drive it. You’ll see.

2009 Hyundai Genesis
Engine: 3.8-liter V-6; 4.6-liter V-8
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Horsepower: 290 (V-6); 368 (V-8 with regular fuel); 375 (V-8 with premium fuel)
Torque: 264 lb-ft (V-6); 324 (V-8 with regular fuel); 333 (V-8 with premium fuel)
Drivetrain: RWD
Wheelbase: 115.6 inches
Height: 58.1 inches
Length: 195.9 inches
Width: 74.4 inches
MPG (city/hwy): 18/27 (V-6); 17/25 (V-8)
Pricing: $33,000 (V-6); $38,000 (V-8)

July 1, 2008
BY JILL CIMINILLO SearchChicago – Autos Editor

Quick Test: 2009 Hyundai Sonata

Most Valuable Player

Value has always been a Korean-car hallmark. In the beginning, that meant using killer stereos, giguntous warranties, and used-car pricing to lure customers into miserable cars designed and built by people who were new to driving, let alone automaking. The value pricing and impressive warranty terms (five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage) persists today, though they have arguably become unnecessary. In terms of packaging, feature-content, driving dynamics, and build quality, Hyundais now rival the benchmark blue-chip brands, and in 2006 Hyundai nosed ahead of mighty Toyota in the coveted J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey rankings.

The 2009 Hyundai Sonata is a perfect case in point. All new for 2006, Hyundai has again spent big to keep its bread-and-butter sedan competitive with the new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord sedans that have appeared since then. The 2.4L four-cylinder engine gets continuously variable valve timing on both camshafts, a new variable-volume intake manifold, and other refinements that boost horsepower from 162 to 175 and torque from 164 to 168 lb-ft. EPA fuel economy also increases from 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway to 22/32 with the five-speed automatic, besting Camry and Accord. And it’s not just the numbers that impress. This is a smooth-running, sweet-sounding four that doesn’t shake at idle and never vibrates the steering wheel as many fours do. Acceleration to 60 mph in 8.7 sec feels competitive and unstrained from the driver’s seat.

Big money was spent upgrading the interior with a new center console, some new color choices, and chrome accents that make the Sonata feel like it’s competing in a higher price class. Officially classified by the EPA as a large car, there’s ample room to seat five in comfort and the giant 16.3-cu-ft trunk ranks as best in class (at least until the new Mazda6 sedan arrives, boasting 16.6 cubes). Sonata standard equipment includes stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, heated mirrors, and an XM-ready stereo with USB/iPod connection and auxiliary jack. Our SE added a standard sunroof, 17-inch wheels with a sport-tuned suspension, and automatic headlamps. Fancier Limited models get an optional navigation system this year.

Probably what impresses us most about the 2009 Hyundai Sonata is its sophisticated ride and handling. The control-arm front/multilink rear suspension delivers a ride that’s smooth and supple while providing confident, neutral, and predictable handling. Ultimate grip limits are modest (0.78 g), but the light-effort steering keeps the driver informed of where those limits are. State-of-the-art anti-lock braking with brake-assist helps stop the Sonata from 60 mph in just 124 ft.

Outside, the styling is freshened with new lamps (including jewellike projector-beam headlamps), grille, bumpers, and wheels. It’s a handsome and rich look, but if there’s one place where the Koreans still trail the industry it is in design. There’s not a single detail inside or out that doesn’t look familiar or seem borrowed from another sedan. Who knows? Maybe the Koreans realize they’re trailing the pack in this regard, and that’s why they’re keeping their prices so low. Sonatas open at just $18,795 for a GLS or $21,195 for an SE (ours rang in at $22,235). A loaded V-6 Limited model with navigation still comes in under $28,000. Whatever you spend on a Sonata, you’re getting big refinement and quality bang for your buck.

2009 Hyundai Sonata SE
Drivetrain layout Front-engine, FWD
Engine type I-4, alum block/head
Valvetrain DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
Displacement 144.0 cu in/2359cc
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Power (SAE NET) 175 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque (SAE NET) 168 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Redline 6500 rpm
Weight to power 19.1 lb/hp
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Axle/final 3.77:1/2.75:1
Suspension, front; rear Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Steering ratio 16.9:1
Turns lock-to-lock 3.3
Brakes, f;r 11.0-in disc; 10.3-in disc, ABS
Wheels 6.5 x 17-in, cast aluminum
Tires 215/55R17 93V M+S, Kumho Solus KH16
Wheelbase 107.4 in
Track, f/r 62.0/61.4 in
Length x width x height 188.9 x 72.1 x 58.0 in
Turning circle 35.8 ft
Curb weight 3338 lb
Weight dist., f/r 61/39 %
Seating capacity 5
Headroom, f/r 40.1/38.2 in
Legroom, f/r 43.7/37.4 in
Shoulder room, f/r 57.4/56.9 in
Cargo volume 16.3 cu ft
Acceleration to mph
0-30 3.0 sec
0-40 4.6
0-50 6.6
0-60 8.7
0-70 11.5
0-80 15.0
0-90 18.7
Passing, 45-65 mph 4.3
Quarter mile 16.7 sec @ 84.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 124 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.78 g (avg)
MT figure eight 28.6 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 2175 rpm
Base price $21,195
Price as tested $22,235
Stability/traction control Yes/yes
Airbags Dual front, front side, f/r curtain,
Basic warranty 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 10 yrs/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance 5 yrs/Unlimited miles
Fuel capacity 17.7 gal
EPA city/hwy econ 22/32 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.76 lb/mile
MT fuel economy 23.8 mpg
Recommended fuel Unleaded regular

By Frank Markus
Motor Trend

Hyundai Veracruz Challenges Luxury Crossover Market

If you’re looking for proof of how far Hyundai has come in the last 20 years, go check out the Veracruz midsize crossover. Hyundai’s goal here is to give you Lexus-level accommodations at a Honda price.

Hyundai’s very modest Excel lowballed the car market in the 1980s but wasn’t that great a vehicle. Later models, such as the Elantra, have given the Korean manufacturer real economycar credentials, but to take on the Lexus RX models is pretty gutsy.

Hyundai’s styling has moved from slightly quirky but conventional to pretty attractive and slightly quirky. The Veracruz swoops and curves while the competing Honda Pilot emulates a worn pavement brick. A few styling tricks at front and rear give it an intriguing, eye-catching quality. Look at those sensuous, multi-part headlamp clusters! The flush-mounted taillamps are stretched forward boldly across the rear side panels. Tidy body panel fits and judicious use of chrome impart surprising elegance.

Inside, it’s the same story. The dash swirls and rolls almost dizzyingly, with an unusual elliptical center dash top. The attractive instrument panel features colorful gauges. The easy-to-use navigation system, specially designed for Hyundai by LG, displays a three-dimensional look. The elegantly trimmed seats, convincing looking artificial wood trim, and intelligent use of silvery accents is more than a polite nod to real luxury models.

You can get a Veracruz in three models with typical car company monikers — GLS, SE and Limited. The GLS is the “base” car, but it boasts a long list of standard features. These include power windows and locks; heated power mirrors; keyless entry; tire pressure monitor; 17-inch alloy wheels; and thirdrow seating. A 172-watt audio system with AM/FM/XM/CD is also standard, with three months of XM service included. A host of safety equipment gives the Veracruz top-level, five-star ratings in the government crash tests.

Stepping up to the SE gives you, as you might expect from the name, more “sportiness.”

Because all Veracruz models use the same powertrain, this means larger (18-inch) alloy wheels, a roof rack, automatically dimming rearview mirror, and a center console with a cool box for chilling sodas (no beer, please).

The Limited adds leather seats — the front ones heated. You also get a substantial audio system upgrade to 315 watts with CD changer, power sunroof, power tailgate, blue backlit scuff plates, and more. If the GLS is going after the Toyota Highlander, the Limited is the real Lexus fighter.

All Veracruz models are available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Add $1,700 to the bill for the latter. My test car was a Limited model with all-wheel drive in Liquid Silver.

All Veracruz models share a 3.8-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 generates 260 horsepower and 257 lb.-ft. of torque and employs continuously variable valve timing and a variable intake system.

These high-tech methods get the most out of an engine under a variety of operating conditions. Typical for today’s automatics, a manual shift mode lets you move the car from gear to gear with the touch of a lever — but no clutch is involved.

The EPA gives the 4,431- pound Veracruz all-wheel-drive models fuel economy ratings of 15 City, 22 Highway. Frontwheel drive models get one mpg more for each number. I averaged 16.7 mpg. In the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide ratings, all Veracruz configurations earn a 6 on the Air Pollution scale and a 5 conon the Greenhouse Gases scale.

That’s good enough for a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) rating. If you want superior scores in the Green Vehicle Guide, Hyundai’s modestly priced Elantra rates almost as high as a hybrid vehicle.

The Veracruz is enjoyable for cruising. You sit high, the seats feel great, and it’s eerily silent.

Hyundai used lots of sound insulation and even has a variable engine mount that banishes vibration. They must have taken the Lexus challenge to heart. Compared to Hyundai’s worthy Santa Fe, this is an upscale ride.

What’s the price for all of this? The two-wheel-drive GLS starts at $27,595, including shipping charges — very competitive.

The Limited stickers at $36,445 with shipping — great versus a Lexus, but definitely a lot for a car with the Hyundai badge on the nose. My tester, with a navigation system, floor mats and sunroof wind deflector, came to $38,405.

Hyundai proudly backs up the Veracruz with its now-famous fiveyear, 60,000-mile New Vehicle warranty combined with a 10-year, 100,000-mile Powertrain warranty, seven-year Anti-perforation warranty (less relevant in California), and five years of unlimited-mile roadside assistance.

Are you game? The Lexus RX 350 starts at $38,265 and needs additional option packages to match the Veracruz’s level of equipment. And, it’s a five-passenger vehicle. If the combination of comfort, features, sevenpassenger capacity and lower purchase price matches your requirements — and you have a little bit of a pioneer streak — the Veracruz offers a very tempting choice.

By : Steve Schaefer
San Leandro Times