Carmaker Unveils Revamped Elantra

2009 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai is enjoying good times — and no wonder.

Here’s a company that offers well-built, well-appointed, economical cars and SUVs for not a lot of money, at a time when most of us are looking for the most for our hard-earned bucks.

And that extends to some new models that you might not have heard of.

Hyundai recently introduced the all-new Veracruz large crossover, which is intended to do serious damage to the sales of Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.

The Veracruz, with prices ranging from around $27,000 to $35,000, is prompting comparisons with far more expensive crossovers — namely, the Lexus RX350. Some magazines have said it at least equals the Lexus in styling, content, value and quality.

It has three-tiered headlights, a sculpted bumper and an interesting grille that includes a curved portion that houses the Hyundai “Flying H” logo. Its roofline is not unlike the one found on the Infiniti FX series of crossovers.

Standard equipment includes electronic all-wheel drive; proximity key; rain sensing wipers; mirrors mounted on adjustable pedals; full power everything; an audio system that includes an AM/FM, XM Satellite radio, CD and an MP3 player; a 260-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 (rated at 17 mpg city and 24-highway); heated power side mirrors; and side curtain bags.

Another new model is the Azera GLS, an entry-level variant of the popular mid-size sedan that starts at $24,235 with a five-speed transmission and a 3.3-liter V-6 that is rated at 21/28. New this year for Azera for 2008 is a standard XM satellite radio.

The Elantra also was all new last year. For 2008, electronic stability control is standard in SE trim, and brake assist has been added to the standard ABS system for the SE model. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard on all models, and the Elantra SE premium plus Leaher Package replaces the Elantra Limited model. If you want a nice surprise, check out the new 2007 Elantra. This is a car that lists for between $13,395 and $16,895, and is better equipped than some cars selling for about half as much more. It has front and rear side curtain air bags, adjustable head restraints, full-power equipment, remote keyless-entry system, tilt steering wheel, rear center armrest with cup holders, center console with two-tier storage compartment, and more.

It’s got so much interior volume that the federal government places it in a class size above the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic — there’s more interior volume than you’ll find in Acura’s TL entry-level luxury car.

And don’t think you get all this in a “Plain Jane” car. The new Elantra is curvaceous, not flat and angular as some compact cars seem to be. It’s got a flowing character line along each of its flanks and an aggressive-looking grille. Inside you’ll find interiors with two-toned themes and touches of aluminum trim.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter, 132-horsepower four-cylinder engine with mileage ratings of 28 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway. Prices range from $13,395 to $17,845.

Another star of Hyundai’s lineup this year is the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe small crossover, which was new last year.

For 2008, the power tilt and slide sunroof has been made standard on the Limited trim level, the LG navigation system will be available on the Limited staring in the first quarter of 2008, and premium seat cloth is now standard on the SE. A 605-watt Infinitiy Logic 7 CD changer audio system with 10 speakers is now standard on the Limited.

The Santa Fe has several competitive advantages: It offers a third-row seat, which is a big deal for shoppers these days; two transmissions and two engine choices — both are V-6s: a 2.7-liter, 185-horsepower version (rated at 21 mpg city/26 highway) and a 242-horsepower model (rated at 19/24); and, of course, a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty.

It also comes with a full complement of safety equipment, including electronic stability control, anti-whiplash active head restraints and six air bags, including side air curtains.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
By Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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