Entries in Hyundai (12)
There is no need to rehash the evolution of Hyundai in the American market in the last eight years, that has been done to death. In that time, Hyundai has built a reputation for quality products that provide excellent value. Where Hyundai has really shined, is in providing high levels of content compared to it’s competition at the same price or less.
When Hyundai decided to bring the Equus to the U.S. a few years ago, many said that Hyundai had gone to far, no one would buy a top end luxury car from the brand, they should focus on what they were good at doing, high value cars for mainstream America.
If there was one car in the Equus’ sights it was the Lexus LS series, the original usurper in the top end luxury segment, Hyundai looked at that playbook, and looked to repeat the success. While the Equus did not take off like the original LS, that was partially due to supply constraints and conservative sales estimate from Hyundai corporate. While the Equus was good when compared against the LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class it felt about half to three quarters of a generation behind those two in the quality of materials and some overall refinement.
Come the 2014 mid-cycle refresh and most of the issues have been addressed. There is an upgrade to the quality of materials throughout, though there are one or two striking misses, the aircraft style map lights in the rear being a noticeable one.
The styling has been tweaked, a nice clean up in removing some chrome trim from the front and rear bumpers along with the tail light lenses, gives the Equus a more refined look, the new 19” turbine style wheels look very striking as well. Hyundai have also changed out the headlamps and taillights to LED’s as well.
Inside there is an all new dash, instrument panel and center stack. In Ultimate trim there is a control dial on the steering wheel for the infotainment system’s 9.2” display that provides haptic feedback.
The infotainment system is an up to date system with a 64 gig SSD drive, with 30 gigs reserved for music, videos and photos. The Nav system has “Junction View” giving you a graphical representation of Interstate interchanges and which lane and route to take. Also down in the Nav system menus, there is the ability to see how far a rest stops are down the road.
In the instrument cluster there is a 7” display between the speedometer and tachometer, for additional information, including turn by turn directions from the Nav system. The Equus also is, in Ultimate trim, equipped with a Heads Up Display. If you’ve never driven with a modern HUD unit, it is something that is very nice to have. The HUD unit will display speed, turn by turn directions and blind spot warnings.
If you choose to ride in the back, this is an “Executive Luxury Sedan” after all, there are dual 9.2” displays, power door closure, and four way power lumbar adjustments to the rear seats.
Out on the road the Equus drives well, it feels like a large solid car. There are two drive modes for the suspension, “Normal” and “Sport”. Most people will not move out of the Normal setting and that’s fine, the ride and handling are compliant, and there is no float to the ride. Change to Sport and things firm up, the steering has a little more weight and feel to it, but the change in settings does not transform the Equus into a “Sport Sedan”.
Power for the Equus is the excellent 5.0 liter Tau V8 engine producing 429 horsepower, matched up to an 8 speed automatic transmission. While one would not call the Equus fast, the power is more than adequate, you never feel as if you are laking for power. You can get up to speed quickly, on a two lane road you have plenty of torque to get you around slower cars and safely back into your lane. Merging on to highways is not a problem at at all. Best of all, unlike some other cars in this class the Equus does not require Premium Fuel.
The Equus comes in two trim levels, Signature and Ultimate. Pricing for the two models is $61,920 for the Signature and $68,920 for the Ultimate, that is $1,750 more than the outgoing model. Compared to others in the category the Equus is $11,000 less than the Lexus LS, $33,000 less than the BMW 7 Series and $37,000 less than the Mercedes S-Class.
While many might think that people who would buy a Lexus, Mercedes, Audi or BMW would not be interested in the Equus, according to Hyundai America CEO John Krafcik, they have had a significant amount of conquest business from those other brands.
While at the end of the day the Equus might not be quite as good as the Lexus LS, it’s 95-98% as good and at a much better price point. The interior and ride quality are on par with the outgoing Mercedes S-Class, at a huge savings, without some of the service headaches that come from owning a German car.
The Equus is a player in the market and shouldn’t be discounted, we saw 20+ years ago how the German luxury makers dismissed Lexus, and we saw how well that worked out. Given what Hyundai is doing with their mainstream products, the Equus shouldn’t be dismissed either.
We had the opportunity to do a local media drive in the all new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, this is the five passenger version of Hyundai's compact to midsized crossover. There will be a seven passenger version coming out later in 2013 that will just be called the Santa Fe.
We put about 100 miles on the Hyundai on our local drive, and we like what we saw, we hope to have the chance to spend more time with it later in the year.
Hyundai has been on quite a roll these past few years, and with the new 2012 Elantra, they are looking to to move the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic aside to become the leading compact car from Asia. The U.S. manufactures are on the case this time though as the new Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus are very strong competitors in this market now. So how good is the new Elantra? Watch the video and find out.
Have a look at the slide show of all the pictures we took of the Elantra as well.
April 15th is usual a day that most American’s look on with dread. I believe the number is something like 65% of people in the US wait till the last day they can, to file their income taxes.
Rather than have any worries about that, we had filed ours over a month before the date, we were invited out to Hyundai’s Technical Center in Ypsilanti Michigan for a briefing on the new 2011 Sonata, and then a chance to drive the car over a 70 mile loop.
The big news for the all new Sonata, other than the killer styling of the car, was that there would be no V6 option for the it. Because of this decision the engineers were able to make some basic changes to the architecture of the frame, and save a significant amount of weight without compromising the structure.
In previous generations of Sonata’s less than 20% of the cars were ordered with V6’s, yet the car had to be designed with the V6 in mind for structure and crash standards. By making the decision to go with a four cylinder only philosophy, Hyundai were able to bring the car in at 3199lbs, which is a couple hundred pounds less than some of their competition. With a 198 horsepower engine that gives a power to weight ratio of 16.2 pounds per horsepower, which the best in class for four cylinders in a C segment car.
The “fluidic sculpture” design works really well on the Sonata. In a segment where design is not the strongest attribute of any of the cars in the North American market, there are a few that are good, but nothing that is a George Foreman like haymaker, the Hyundai comes close to being that knockout.
While the overall profile of the car is quite organic, there are character lines throughout, such as on the body side, the grill, and trim elements that carry seamlessly from nose to tail. The “jewelry” in the headlights and taillights is something you normally associate with a car costing twice as much.
On the inside the material quality is good. In Limited trim the leather is quite nice, and the touch panel control with sat nav was nice. If were to pick nits the screen could be a bit larger, but it never feels small. With the GLS and SE trim models we also had a chance to sample, the cloth interior was nice, nicer than what we’ve sampled in the Ford Fusion, but, given how good the rest of the car is, you would have hoped it could be just a tick or two better. It’s nice, don’t get us wrong, we just didn’t come away thinking, this is nice cloth, like say Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe we currently have in for review.
Transmission choices are a dual clutch automatic, what Hyundai calls the SHIFTRONIC (A6MF2), or a 6 speed manual for the 37 people that will order a manual in the car. We aren’t joking about that number of people ordering manuals. At our briefing, 37 was the number of orders, year to date, for manuals in the Sonata. The manual will be in the order of 1-2% of all Sonata’s sold in the US.
On the road the 2.4l inline four has adequate power. We say adequate as enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the 276 horsepower turbo version coming later this year. For 95% of the people who buy the Sonata the power is fine. Being a four cylinder the horsepower and torque numbers are higher in the range than we like for every day driving, and probably higher than most American’s are used to as well. Horsepower peaks at 6300 rpm and peak torque isn’t till 4250 RPM’s. Mileage for the car is 22 city 35 highway for the automatic, we got around 32mpg in our spirited driving on some two lane backroads west of Ann Arbor.
The overall driving dynamics for the car are solid. It’s no sports car, and even in the sport “SE” trim, which has a 10% stiffer ride calibration, it’s not going to wow you. But, for a family car it does have some connective feel to the road, and that’s not often found in this segment.
Hyundai continue to provide great value for money across their range. With a starting price of $19,915 including freight charges for the GLS with the manual and $21,915 with the automatic, to a loaded up Limited with sat nav, premium audio and XM for $28,115, it’s no wonder that Hyundai’s market share has jumped to almost 4.5%, with a forward trajectory that looks like a hockey stick.
Given the malaise going on at Toyota and Honda these days, it’s little wonder that Hyundai has “the big MO” (momentum) carrying it forward. If they continue to execute as they have, try to grow to fast, or become to arrogant, then their future will continue to be very bright.