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Hyundai Blows Into Chicago with Updated Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport SUVs

Korean carmakers aims to stay relevant in fast-moving SUV market.

by on Feb.11, 2016

Hyundai makes a number of changes to the 2017 Santa Fe line, including a new front fascia with a brushed-look grille and new headlamps.

By the millions, American motorists are migrating from conventional passenger cars to sport-utility vehicles and more car-like crossover models. And manufacturers are responding with a flood of new offerings.

So, it’s a challenge to keep existing models fresh and competitive – something Hyundai hopes to handle with the debut of updated versions of two key entries at the Chicago Auto Show. It boasts that the 2017 Santa Fe and smaller Santa Fe Sport models get not only a mid-cycle facelift but enhanced safety, convenience and connectivity features.

Auto Show News!

Hyundai is so upbeat about the prospects for the 2017 updates it is planning to boost capacity, notably adding production of the Santa Fe Sport at its manufacturing plant in Montgomery, Alabama. But it is also readying a slew of new utility vehicles to take advantage of shifting market trends.


First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Tucson

Third-generation CUV should help redefine the brand

by on Jul.20, 2015

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson advances the Fluidic Dynamics design language.

Mention the name, Hyundai, and many American motorists will give you a blank stare. For its first two decades in the U.S. market, the Korean carmaker offered cheap, low-quality and largely forgettable products like the original – and oxymoronic — Excel. But if you’re one of those giving Hyundai the cold shoulder, it may be time to think again.

Along with Korean sibling Kia, Hyundai has delivered a series of surprises in recent months. They topped the charts among mainstream brands in J.D. Power’s latest Initial Quality Study, as well as AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. And one good reason is the Hyundai Tucson.

Reviews You Can Trust!

The second-generation crossover, launched in 2009, was stylish, sporty and surprisingly well-equipped. Now, Hyundai is back with a third-generation Tucson, and with the compact crossover segment becoming increasingly competitive, we headed off to Minnesota for a first drive to see how it stacks up.


First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In

Hyundai plugs in with updated HEV and all-new PHEV sedan.

by on May.26, 2015

Hyundai's second-generation Sonata Hybrid.

Initially slow to embrace alternative powertrain technology, Hyundai is determined to catch up with green rivals like Toyota and Honda. It was the first to market with a retail hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and it is about to update its original Sonata Hybrid for 2016 – while also adding its first plug-in hybrid model.

The timing likely isn’t the best. With gasoline prices running about a dollar lower than a year ago, and likely to say depressed for a while, demand for battery-based vehicles has taken a dive. But based on a day’s drive of the two new Korean models, green-minded buyers looking for alternatives would be well advised to check out the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid.

Stay Plugged In!

The plug-based model, in particular, offers the longest range of any midsize PHEV on the U.S. market and its gas-electric driveline provides one of the smoothest, most transparent rides of any plug-in we’ve so far tested.


First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Sonata

“An athlete in a tailored suit.”

by on Jul.10, 2014

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata's styling may be toned down, but it remains a striking entry in a segment that has typically emphasized bland design.

First introduced in 1985, the Hyundai Sonata was a largely overlooked entry into the crowded midsize market, but that all changed with the launch of the 2011 sedan which quickly put to rest all those bad jokes and nasty reviews the Korean maker earned – often deservedly – during its early year in the U.S. market.

The sixth-generation Sonata broke the rather restrictive mold carmakers used when designing the midsized sedans. Instead of a drab, boxy silhouette, the recession-era Sonata was sleek, curvy and nicely proportioned. And it marked Hyundai’s coming of age as a serious global player – suddenly a serious challenger to top-rated Japanese brands such as Toyota and Nissan.

Reviews You Can Trust!

Now Hyundai is rolling out the Gen-7 Sonata for the 2015 model year, and while it has actually toned down the over-the-top styling that made the outgoing model a visual standout, the Korean carmaker intends to build on the value story that turned Sonata into a major hit for the company.


First Drive: Hyundai Veloster

Quirky little three-door’s fast styling hides fuel sipper underneath.

by on Jan.06, 2012

The Hyundai Veloster looks like a sports car and handles like a sports car, but it sips fuel like an econobox.

Where is it written that fuel efficiency has to mean boring? Why does saving money at the gas station mean conforming to normal? Why can’t a fuel sipper also be fun to drive?

Hyundai’s product planners must have asked themselves those questions. And they decided to say “no” to convention.

A Little Automotive Weirdness!

How else to explain this little bit of weirdness that Hyundai calls the Veloster? Even the name is a weird. The guys at the local Salvation Army looked at the back – with its very noticeable Veloster nameplate – and still asked what it was. Velociter? Velociraptor? And it has three doors. Not two doors and a hatch, but three actual doors. More on that later.


Driving the 2011 Hyundai Equus

Putting on the miles…in style.

by on Sep.08, 2010

Hyundai moves into the premium segment with the launch of the 2011 Equus.

To be brutally honest, there was a time when we’d only clock the minimum number of miles necessary for a review of a new Hyundai product.  What else could you say about cars of the early Pony era other than “cheap and cheerful.”

That began to change with the debut of the first-generation Santa Fe, and by the time the latest Sonata sedan rolled into our driveway we were sorry to let it go back into the press fleet.  So, when Hyundai gave us a chance to drive a pre-production version of the 2011 Equus, the maker’s first super-premium luxury sedan, we jumped at the opportunity, even if it meant a quick round-trip to South Korea. (Click Here for that first drive.)

That trip it was Hyundai that cut things short, promising to give us a bit more driving time once the first production car arrived in the States.  We finally got that opportunity, recently, clocking some significant miles driving along the Central Coast of California. It was a great chance to test the metal and mettle of the 2011 Hyundai Equus, the boldest example yet that the Korean carmaker intends to evolve beyond the limited confines of the economy car segment.

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And if our drive proved anything it’s that Hyundai is a force to be reckoned with.  Is this the car the competition should fear and loathe?  No, the 2011 Equus is not going to take down the best of the German and Japanese fleets, but as with the original Lexus LS400, two decades ago, this is a shot over the bow that can’t be ignored.


First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Korean carmaker charges into the battery-electric segment.

by on Jul.19, 2010

Tap the “Start” button and an assortment of lights and gauges pop to life, but all in near silence.

As we slip the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid into gear and slowly squeeze the throttle, the sedan begins to creep forward, the tires crunching on the tarmac at the maker’s Namyang Proving Grounds, an hour outside Seoul.

Slapping the accelerator towards the floor, the 2.4-liter I-4 engine under the hood suddenly roars to life, the car launching aggressively down the pavement and hitting 60 in just over 9 seconds – not much off the time of the standard, gasoline-powered 2011 Sonata. takes a test drive in the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. braved the long flight over to Seoul, followed by the drive to Namyang to get an early drive in the 2011 Hyundai Sonata.  Though it’s actually the second gasoline-electric model in the maker’s line-up, an earlier battery version of the Elantra has so far been offered only to domestic Korean buyers.  The ’11 Sonata will be the first Hyundai hybrid earmarked for the U.S. – though as also reports, it won’t be the last. (Click Here for more on Hyundai’s aggressive plans to expand its hybrid line-up.)

The conventionally-powered version of the 2011 midsize sedan, the seventh-generation Sonata, is quickly proving to be a smash hit for the Korean carmaker – “the most highly-rated model we’ve ever seen,” according to George Peterson, of the consulting firm, AutoPacific, Inc.  But the Sonata line is about to grow, with the addition of both a 2.0-liter turbo and the new Sonata Hybrid.

Already a striking design statement, the gas-electric model is even more visually distinctive, with a blacked-out hexagonal grille, unique head and taillamps and extensive aerodynamic revisions that reduce the Sonata’s drag coefficient from 0.28 to 0.25.  (To put that into perspective, this roughly 10% reduction in wind resistance is itself responsible for boosting fuel economy by 5%, according to Hyundai engineers.)

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The new Blue High-Tech system has some technological differences from existing hybrids, as well.  To start with, Hyundai has adopted a manganese-doped lithium-polymer battery pack, rather than nickel-metal hydride batteries.  That helped the maker reduce both the size and weight of the pack by about a third even though the lithium batteries will hold about 15% more energy.

Lithium-ion, a variation of Hyundai’s polymer battery, will only begin showing up later this year on even more advanced plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles.