Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hyundai's Early "Car Allowance Rebate System" Trades Show Nearly 60 Percent Improvement in Fuel Economy.

Early trend could translate to annual savings of 69 million gallons of gas, $170 million in fuel costs and more than 600,000 metric tons of co2 emissions

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 07/24/2009 Early statistics from Hyundai Motor America on the U.S. government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, also known as "Cash for Clunkers," show an average 59 percent fuel economy gain between the "clunker" and the new vehicle purchased. Hyundai estimates individual fuel consumption will decrease by 275 gallons per year, reducing fuel costs by nearly $680 annually at current gas prices.

As this program expands industry wide, the energy and cost savings could be considerable if these early trends hold for the 250,000 vehicle sales expected under phase one of the CARS program. Annual fuel consumption in the U.S. could decrease by 69 million gallons, reducing spending by a total of nearly $170 million on gasoline[1], and cutting CO2 emissions by more than 600,000 metric tons.

"While the figures are indicative of early trends only, it is clear that the program, at this stage, is very successful in getting old, low fuel economy vehicles off the road and replacing them with safer and greener vehicles," said Hyundai Motor America President and CEO John Krafcik. "We think these economic and environmental benefits are so compelling, that they will induce Congress to expand or enhance the CARS program past its current endpoint."

Additional statistics from the Hyundai sample prove further that the CARS program is truly removing "clunkers" from the road. Eighty three percent of the initial trades take in a truck, SUV or van and 86 percent of the new vehicles purchased are passenger cars. The average age of a trade-in model is nearly 14 years, and the average odometer reading is more than 140,000 miles. The average "clunker" achieves about 16 miles per gallon according to EPA data, while the average new car sold under the program achieves more than 25 mpg.

Hyundai became the first automaker to honor the government's CARS incentives on July 2 and the novel consumer incentive program accounts for about 11 percent of Hyundai sales so far this month. Nearly a third (32 percent) of the trade-in models reported by dealerships were Ford vehicles, followed by Dodge (23 percent). Lexus, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz are among the other brands delivered as "clunker" trades, demonstrating both the broad appeal of the government program, and the changing nature of Hyundai's product line and buyer demographics. Hyundai's rollout enables buyers to receive the full rebate allocated under the CARS program when an eligible trade-in is exchanged for a qualifying Hyundai model at a participating Hyundai dealership.

The fuel-efficient Hyundai Elantra was the most popular model purchased under the CARS program, making up nearly 33 percent of sales. Elantra recently earned top honors in the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study for the highest initial quality in the compact car segment, and is a "Top Pick" from a leading consumer magazine. With manufacturer incentives and a full CARS rebate for a qualifying "clunker," consumers can purchase a new Elantra for as little as $8,620. Sonata (27 percent) and Accent (19 percent) ranked second and third, respectively, in CARS transactions.

Hyundai accelerated CARS incentives to consumers by several weeks by backing dealerships with short-term cash advances as the government organized the rollout of the program industry-wide. Under the CARS program, consumers qualify for a $4,500 rebate on the purchase or lease of new vehicles that achieve 10 miles per gallon more than a trade-in car or five miles per gallon or more than a trade-in light truck. New vehicles that achieve between 4 to 9 mpg more than a trade-in car, or 2 to 4 mpg more than a trade-in light truck qualify for a $3,500 incentive. See www.cars.gov for complete details.

Thirteen Hyundai models and engine combinations qualify for the CARS incentive program, which requires passenger cars achieve 22 mpg or more combined fuel economy, and light trucks achieve 18 mpg or better combined fuel economy.

* Accent
* Elantra
* Elantra Touring
* Entourage
* Sonata 2.4L
* Sonata 3.3L
* 2010 Genesis Coupe 2.0L
* Tiburon 2.0L
* Tucson 2.0L
* Tucson 2.7L
* Santa Fe 2.7L
* Santa Fe 3.3L
* Veracruz

Five Hyundai models achieve 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway –Accent, Elantra, Elantra Touring, Genesis Coupe 2.0L and Sonata 2.4L. Hyundai ranks third in corporate average fuel economy according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, so consumers will realize further cost savings by stepping into a more fuel-efficient model than they currently drive.

The CARS incentive program complements all existing special incentives and financing options from the manufacturer, including Hyundai Assurance, which allows consumers to return their vehicle if they unexpectedly lose their income, and Hyundai Assurance Gas Lock, which offers a year's worth of gas at a guaranteed price of $1.49 per gallon. Visit www.Hyundai.com for details.


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 790 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, Hyundai Assurance is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

North American Car of the Year Hyundai Genesis Earns Highest Ranking Among New or Redesigned 2008 and 2009 Vehicles

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 07/22/2009 J.D. Power and Associates announced today that the Hyundai Genesis is the highest ranked 2009 all-new or redesigned vehicle in the inaugural Vehicle Launch Index(SM) (VLI). This result comes after the Hyundai Genesis significantly contributed to Hyundai's high marks in the J.D. Power and Associates' 2009 Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS) announced in June in which Hyundai was the highest ranked non-premium nameplate. On July 16, 2009, Genesis was also designated J.D. Power's most appealing midsize premium car in the 2009 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study(SM).

The Vehicle Launch Index quantifies how well 2009 new vehicles–including new entries to the market, all-new and redesigned models–perform during the first eight months after launch. Genesis' performance in the IQS and APEAL studies is significant because VLI includes the key factors of vehicle quality and design, included in both studies. The VLI also examines various factors that are critical to the financial success of a launch, including turn rate, vehicle revenue, dealer gross profit, incentive spend, credit quality and residual value.

"Genesis represents everything Hyundai knows about engineering, building, and launching great automobiles," said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and chief executive officer. "Awards like VLI help reaffirm what we're hearing from the marketplace – that Genesis has been a tremendous success in generating incremental sales, building the Hyundai brand, and satisfying our most demanding consumers."."

The J.D. Power and Associates VLI recognition will join the growing number of Genesis honors and accolades including North American Car of the Year, Kiplinger's Best New Model for 2009, AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award, and more. Hyundai's Genesis sedan sets a new benchmark in the premium car category. With a starting price of just $33,000, Genesis includes performance and luxury features typically found on vehicles costing thousands of dollars more.

The VLI looks at 2008 and 2009 model-year vehicles first sold between January and October 2008. Vehicles must be all-new or major redesigns and must sell at least 5,000 units during the first eight months to be included.

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai cars and sport utility vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 790 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We Get a Ride in Hyundai's New S-Class Fighter

We hang a right and head west onto the 10 freeway in Santa Monica toward the beach. The on-ramp is downhill, two lanes wide and drag-strip straight.

Suddenly I'm pinned to the large leather seat as the 2011 Hyundai Equus downshifts from 6th gear to 2nd and its 368-horsepower 4.6-liter Lambda V8 yanks the big sedan toward the Pacific. I look at the tach. Its needle is sweeping quickly through its arc as a muted V8 rumble chases us from behind. At 6,500 rpm, the transmission delivers a quick but smooth upshift just as we reach the traffic lanes of Interstate 10.

"Is that floored?" I ask, one eye still on the dials.

"That's floored," says John Krafcik.

He should know -- he's driving. The left seat of the Equus is still off-limits to American journalists. But Krafcik is more than just our chauffeur; he's the president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, and the man basking in the glow of the company's recent success. He's also the guy who's going to sell the Equus in the United States, taking Hyundai north of the $50,000 barrier for the first time.

On Sale in a Year
With John's right foot still buried in the thick carpet of the Equus, the sedan delivers another smooth shift at redline. I check the speedometer; it's reading about 140 and climbing. Can't be, I think to myself. The car feels quick, but not that quick. I clutch the door panel while my brain tries to catch up. Then I realize the speedometer is in kilometers per hour, so I start doing math.

Krafcik keeps his foot down and his mouth moving. "The car is still about a year away," he says, talking about the possible timetable for the introduction of the Korean-built luxury sedan in the U.S. "And we'll most likely sell it here as the Equus." Equus is Latin for "horse," and the car's entry into the U.S. market has been the worst kept secret since Henry Ford leaked word about the flathead V8 back in 1931. We're told the official official announcement of the car's sales future in the U.S. will come in mid-August.

At 160 km/h, Krafcik finally backs off. That's about 100 mph, and from the passenger seat I'm impressed with the ride and stability of the Equus. It's a bit firmer than I thought it would be. It's not quite as tied down as a Hyundai Genesis, but it's not the floaty Korean-market limo I was expecting. You definitely feel the road, although there's a little less rebound control than there should be.

Traffic is light as we reach the short tunnel that marks the transition from the I-10 west to the northbound Pacific Coast Highway. We enter the darkness and then quickly burst into the noontime California sunshine again. I ask about the suspension tuning. "It's not quite really ready yet," says Krafcik. "Right now our engineering team is on a cross-country drive with an Equus, an S-Class, a 7 Series and a Lexus LS. We're there with the interior, but they are fine-tuning the ride and handling. Make no mistake, our targets are those three cars and our ride and handling will be more in the direction of the LS 460 L."

Ballsy. The strategy, not the driving. Hyundai has decided to take on three of the best sedans in the world.

Priced Right
Still northbound on PCH, we're cruising within the 50-mph speed limit and past the Malibu beachfront homes of Hollywood's super-rich. This is S-Class and 7 Series country, and Krafcik knows it. All around us are the people he must convince to buy a Hyundai instead of a Benz, Bimmer or Lexus.

It'll be tough, and Krafcik hedges his bet. "Our goal with the Equus isn't volume," he says while passing a black Mercedes-Benz S550 on the right. "It's image. We want to show the world we can make the finest sedans in the world."

He's right about one thing, because the interior of this Equus is up to the challenge. The fit and finish is exceptional. The leather is soft. The seat is cush and comfortable, if a little flat, and the headliner is an acre of Alcantara suede, just like you get in an S65 AMG. There's even French stitching on the leather-wrapped dash. The metallic trim on the center stack and console is plastic and not real aluminum, though. It looks good, but should be the real thing.

No, it's not quite as nice inside the Equus as in the interiors of the luxury sedans it has targeted in the marketplace, but it's close, and the Equus should undercut those sedans by $20,000 or more. Krafcik won't get specific on price, but says enough for us to guess that the 2011 Hyundai Equus will start at $48,000 and top out at about $58,000.

"Our challenge is to make sure it doesn't become the next VW Phaeton," Krafcik notes. Keeping the price under $60,000 seems to be a key to achieving that goal. "There will be two packages," he continues. "A base car and one with all the backseat stuff."

That "stuff" includes a reclining rear seat, fold-out tables, and radio and climate controls built into the rear armrest. The Lexus LS 460L offers a similar package, although it's really only for those who would rather be driven than drive themselves.

Wider Than S-Class
Stopped at a red light, I take the opportunity to look around a bit more. The odometer reads 1,792 km (a little over 1,100 miles). The A-pillars are carved carefully to permit a panoramic view ahead. There are heated and cooled front seats with three-level temperature adjustment. There's a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, wood on portions of the steering wheel rim and an elegant clock on the center stack. I can't hear the engine, which is idling at 600 rpm. The window switches, shifter, iDrive-like interface controller and navigation system are all plucked right from the Hyundai Genesis. The gauges are similar to the ones in the Genesis, as is the four-spoke steering wheel. And there's a "Sport" button just to the right of the shifter.

I also notice that the car feels spacious. Nice and wide, which it is. In fact at 74.8 inches wide, the Equus is the same width as a BMW 7 Series and a full inch wider than the Lexus LS and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The light turns green. Krafcik accelerates away, only part throttle this time. And the Equus moves off like an upscale luxury sedan powered by a V8 should -- with authority. Upshifts from the six-speed automatic are nearly imperceptible and the V8's flat torque curve gets the Equus back up to 50 mph well ahead of Malibu's afternoon traffic of surfers.

We're not surprised. The Equus features the same powertrain we've praised in the Genesis, and it feels just as good in this larger package. What is surprising is that the larger Equus weighs only 200 pounds more than a Genesis, which makes it easy to calculate some educated guesses about its acceleration times.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis V8 we last tested hit 60 mph from a standstill in 5.9 seconds (5.7 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and finished the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 101 mph. After some 'rithmetic on our part, we expect the Equus to hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds (5.9 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and cover the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 99 mph. Not slow, yet certainly slower than an S550, a 750i or an LS 460.

Also from the Genesis0 are the rack-and-pinion steering with old-school hydraulic assist (still our preference over electric-assist systems) and four-wheel disc brakes. The Equus also has air suspension, although only Genesis sedans sold in Korea are equipped with this feature.

Looks Like a Lexus
Just past the Malibu Country Mart (made famous by TMZ), a guy in a Porsche 911 Turbo pulls alongside us. He's checking out the car. Our car -- the Hyundai. And he's not the only one. Since we hit Malibu, there's been no missing the ability of the Equus to make people look. Even the tourists in their rented Grabber-Blue Mustangs know this Hyundai is something special.

It may be a dead ringer for a Lexus LS from the rear, but the Equus certainly has enough street presence for valets to keep it up front. "The two character lines in the side are from the California studio," says Krafcik. "In fact, there's more U.S. influence in the design of the Equus than the Genesis." There's certainly enough chrome on its flanks to back up that statement.

And it looks larger than it is. At 203.1 inches long, the Equus is just a fraction of an inch longer than a Lexus LS 460 L and nearly 2 inches shorter than a Mercedes S-Class. Meanwhile, its 119.9-inch wheelbase falls between the dimensions of the long-wheelbase LS and the short version. Even the short-wheelbase 7 Series has an inch-longer wheelbase than the Equus.

Full Speed Ahead
Once we reach Pepperdine University, we flip around and head south toward Santa Monica again. It's now that I realize how quiet the Hyundai's interior is. At 100 km/h (about 60 mph) over the smooth asphalt that is PCH, all I hear is some tire slap from the 18-inch Hankooks.

Time to ask about that Sport button. "It's for the suspension," says Krafcik. "Push it, see what happens."

I do, and suddenly the Equus is the floaty Korean-market limo I was expecting. "Wow, big difference," I say, pushing the button again and getting the air suspension back into Sport mode. "Don't go there."

Krafcik first came to Hyundai Motor America in 2004 as the company's vice president of product development and strategic planning, and his home garage is stuffed full with a Porsche 911 C2S (997) and a Caterham 7, so I know he knows what I mean.

And at that moment Krafcik nails the throttle and redlines a couple of gears. "Feels good, huh?" he asks.

Yeah, he knows.

By Scott Oldham

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hyundai Genesis Coupe - Korean Exotic

As the Hyundai Genesis sedan marked the Korean company's entrance to the rarefied luxury league, the Genesis Coupe shows the world that it can build a semi-exotic sport coupe that is the equal of all comers. From the Mitsubishi Eclipse to the Infiniti G37, the Genesis Coupe rips 'em up.

Hyundai's next-generation Tiburon is rumored to be a fun little pocket rocket based on the Veloster concept from 2007, and may even be called something else entirely. It's all OK because the Genesis Coupe will make you forget there ever was a Tiburon, no matter how good the front-drive GT has been all of these years.

Sharing a rear-drive platform with the award-winning Genesis Sedan, the coupe is tuned to be much sportier and more engaging for drivers. It rides on a four-wheel independent suspension system - five links in back like the Germans - that is firm and energetic, but not jarring. Our test car came with handsome 18" alloy wheels, but 19" rollers are optional. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with plenty of surface area suck the car down from speed with confidence. Electronic brake force distribution, traction control, and stability control are available.

Genesis Sedan comes with a choice of V6 or V8 engines, however the coupe offers four- and six-cylinder units. I have no complaints with the verve generated by our 210-horsepower 2.0-litre Turbo-four that provides a unique combination of efficient power with rear-drive balance. Fuel economy is rated 21/30-MPG city/highway. Uplevel models use the sedan's 3.6-litre DOHC V6, which generates 308 horsepower. Four-cylinder engines are matched with a 6-speed manual or 5-speed manumatic transmission; V6s make friends with a 6-speed manumatic.

A reasonably priced sport coupe with rear drive and ample power makes tuner kids giddy when they romp on the throttle in first gear and drive their tires into road goo. The pros will tell you that they think the Genesis Coupe is divinity when it comes to getting all greasy on the track. Fortunately, the same balanced chassis and quick wit that dances to rock is also a pro when it comes to attacking quick on-ramps, mountain passes, or just a favorite backroad.

Exterior styling is reminiscent of the Tiburon, but the car is noticeably larger in person - especially across the front where the car looks Corvette wide and from the rear where thoughts of Aston Martin come to the fore. Two-tier side surfacing, menacing air intakes, and a "Z profile" windowline leave their calling cards. The overall styling was developed during the past few years on auto show concept cars, but it also shares much with the Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS convertible - both intended competitors on the high end.

A twin-cockpit interior is right in line with the sport-luxury exterior styling. Available leather seats (we enjoyed a comfy checked cloth pattern), leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, Bluetooth, USB iPOD interface, keyless push button starting, and silver console surfaces not only look great but also put a stake in the future. Auto up/down power windows, deep cupholders, door cubbies, and a large dead pedal add convenience.

"We think our entry-level Genesis Coupe 2.0T, with its unique combination of rear-wheel drive and four-cylinder turbo power, offers an intriguing alternative to existing front-wheel drive sport coupes," said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. "The 3.8-litre version of Genesis Coupe takes driving to an even higher level, rivaling the capability of premium-performance coupes like the Infiniti G37."

You would be hard pressed to tell the Genesis Sedan and Coupe share the same undercarriage and basic engineering, but it is easy to feel the premium genes that went into the coupe. It offers a firm, but comfortable and precise ride. As with the Genesis Sedan, Hyundai developed a world-class coupe that should make no excuses or apologies. It carries on Hyundai design tradition, including a fabulous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, while aiming directly at Japanese luxury competitors - not to mention the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Dodge Challenger. Equipped with a four-cylinder engine, our test car retails for $22,875. Slide one while you can.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Business Week Review: 2009 Hyundai Genesis

The sporty, well-designed Genesis is a reasonably priced, stylish, entry-level luxury car—and a big step up for Hyundai

Up Front
There's nothing on the market quite like the new Hyundai Genesis. The Korean carmaker's rear-wheel-drive Genesis Sedan, which is all new for '09, is an entry-level luxury car that competes with the likes of BMW, Lexus, and Infiniti. And for 2010, there's the new Genesis Coupe, a smaller, less expensive, sportier, two-door version of the car that's so different from the sedan it almost seems like a separate model. The Genesis Coupe competes with everything from General Motors' new 2010 Chevy Camaro Coupe to the Infiniti G37 and Nissan 370Z.

If you're thinking it's crazy that a Hyundai could challenge such varied and excellent rivals, think again. The Genesis is a sophisticated, well-engineered car with a tight feel, close tolerances around the doors and hood, and a co-efficient of drag of a mere 0.27, making the car's exterior slipperier than most more expensive competitors'. The Genesis Sedan is extremely quiet inside and gobbles up potholes, yet has plenty of verve. And it sells at a much lower price than most of its rivals.

The entry-level Genesis Sedan, which I test-drove, probably has the broadest appeal. It's powered by a fuel-efficient 3.8 liter, 290-hpV6. There's also a V8-powered Genesis Sedan, with a muscle-car-style 4.6-liter, 375 hp engine, but it doesn't seem worth the extra money. The V6-powered Genesis Sedan is as quick as a BMW 328i, which is plenty of get-up-and-go for me. However, the Genesis lacks an all-wheel-drive option, something that's available on rivals such as the Audi A5, Acura TL, and BMW 328xi.

The Genesis Sedan comes only with a six-speed automatic with a manual shifting function. A six-speed stick shift is standard on the Coupe, with a five-speed automatic available with the small engine and a six-speed automatic with the V6. The Coupe's automatics have steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

With V6 power, the Genesis Sedan starts out at $33,000 (compared with $38,000 for the V8-powered Genesis) and comes crammed with standard equipment, including leather upholstery, power accessories, a seven-CD sound system that includes satellite radio and an iPod hookup, dual-zone climate controls, and power-adjustable and heated front seats. The V8 Genesis has even more standard equipment, including rain-sensing wipers, leather dash and door trim, seat memory, and an upgraded sound system.

However, you can load up the V6 Genesis relatively inexpensively. A $2,000 package includes such options as a power sunroof, a better sound system with a six-CD changer, seat and mirror memory, stylish leather inserts on the doors and dash, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. A $3,000 package includes all that plus 18-inch alloy wheels. A $7,000 package adds such amenities as a backup camera, parking alerts, self-leveling headlights, a hard-drive-based sound system, a navigation system with traffic alerts, and Bluetooth capability.

Only one $4,000 option package is offered on the V8-powered Genesis. Among other things, it includes a navigation system with traffic alerts, a hard-drive-based 17-speaker sound system, self-leveling headlights, and Bluetooth.

The Genesis is very fuel-efficient. With the V6 engine, the Sedan is rated to get 18 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway (and in 382 miles of mixed driving, I averaged 22.6 mpg).

Among six-cylinder rivals, Toyota's Lexus ES 350 gets 19/27, Honda's Acura TL 18/26, the BMW 328i 18/38, and the Infiniti M35 to 17/25. The Genesis's mileage drops slightly, to 17/25, with the V8 engine.

The Genesis Coupe, which I also briefly test-drove, does even better. It gets as much as 21 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway with a stick shift and a 2.0-liter, 210-horsepower turbo-charged four-cylinder engine (neither of which is offered on the Sedan). The Coupe also is available with a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 306 hp. The V6 powered Coupe gets 17 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.

Safety is another strong point. Standard gear on the Genesis includes antilock brakes and front, side, and head-protecting side-curtain airbags. The Genesis earned the U.S. government's top, five-star crash-test rating in all categories.

The Genesis isn't a big seller, but it's off to a decent start considering how weak the car market is. Sales totaled 8,100 units in the first five months of 2009.

Behind the Wheel
Composed, is how I would describe the Genesis Sedan's ride. It's tuned much more for comfort than sport. The ride remains smooth whether on bumpy back roads or on the Interstate, and the cabin is extremely quiet. Even the smaller engine is powerful enough to inspire confidence. If you need a burst of power, the Genesis performs with no apparent strain.

One of the surprising things about the Genesis is how quick it is. Hyundai says the Sedan will jump from 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds with V6 power (a time I easily matched in my test car) and 5.7 seconds with the V8. The company rates the V6-powered Genesis Coupe at under six seconds. The Sedan's six-speed automatic has the usual manual mode. Unfortunately, there's no sport mode to quicken shifting response, a feature offered by many of the Hyundai's competitors.

The Genesis' cabin is tasteful and upscale. Designers took a risk by offering leather inserts on the doors and dash in the place of the usual wood veneer, but the two-tone leather (coffee on black in my test car) looks good and sets the Genesis apart from its many rivals. Touches of wood trim are available on the gearshift, center console and armrests, combining elegantly with the two-tone leather.

Everything in the Genesis seems sturdy and well-made. The glovebox is double-walled and closes solidly, and the sunroof door has a solid, heavy feel. Trunk space, at 15.9 cu. ft., is ample. But a significant negative is that the rear seats don't fold down, limiting the car's hauling capacity. There's only a small pass-through from the trunk to accommodate long objects.

As in other vehicles in this class, leg, head and shoulder space is adequate for most adults, but legroom may be cramped for long-legged drivers. I'm only 5 ft. 10 in. tall, and I could comfortably reach the pedals with the seat set all the way back. I also found the front seats surprisingly uncomfortable. They're too flat for my taste, with inadequate side-bolsters.

One design touch I like: You can crack the Genesis' rear windows a few inches without any of the horrible wind buffeting you get in most cars.

Buy it or Bag It?
For $40,000, a loaded V6-powered Genesis Sedan has almost every gee-gaw available on models in its class, and you can get the V8 engine for only $2,000 extra on a loaded-up model. Either version of the Genesis is a bargain if you factor in all the standard and optional equipment that's included.

The '09 Genesis Sedan sells for an average of $36,610, according to the Power Information Network (PIN), vs. $37,938 for the '09 BMW 328i sedan, $40,875 for Ford's Lincoln MKS, $47,566 for the Lexus GS 350, $48,260 for the Infiniti M35, and $49,356 for the Mercedes E350 sedan.

If you can get by with a smaller car, the Genesis Coupe is an incredible bargain. It's 14 inches shorter than the Sedan (and, obviously, lacks rear doors), so it's less practical. But it's even tighter and sportier than the Sedan, starts at only $22,750 with a stick shift and the four-cylinder engine, and sells for an average of just $27,170, according to PIN (which, like BusinessWeek, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies)

I know, I know. It's still a Hyundai. The Genesis doesn't have the cachet and history of a BMW, Lexus or Infiniti, and many shoppers will be reluctant to pay so much for a Korean car. But check it out. The Genesis is a big step up for Hyundai.

Business Week

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hyundai Sonata Named Best Budget Family Car by ConsumerSearch.com

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., July 7, 2009 - Hyundai Sonata beat out competitors Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima for the top spot of "Best Budget Family Car" by ConsumerSearch.com, a Web site that analyzes expert and user-generated consumer product reviews and recommends the best products to purchase based on their findings. Sonata received positive remarks from expert reviewers and users including:

* Reliable and well-made
* Roomy, high-quality interior
* Lots of standard features
* Good fuel economy (with base engine)
* Long warranty

The ConsumerSearch.com report sorts through various expert and user reviews, scientific testing by nonprofit and government agencies to identify the Top Four Best Reviewed cars. This year there were four categories: "Best Family Car Overall," "Best Budget Family Car," "Fun to Drive Family Sedan" and "Large Family Car." A family car is defined as a midsize or large four-door sedan with a starting price of around $18,000 up to $30,000.

"If money matters most, experts like the budget-priced Hyundai Sonata better than more expensive big-name sedans, including the Toyota Camry," said ConsumerSearch.com editors. "Critics have a hard time finding anything at all to dislike about the Sonata, especially considering the low price. It's one of the most fuel-efficient, spacious and reliable midsize sedans you can buy, and Hyundai backs it with a longer warranty than its pricey competitors offer." "We are thrilled to receive this recognition as it really demonstrates Hyundai's commitment to providing consumers with high-quality, dependable vehicles that won't break the bank," said Michael Deitz, product manager for Sonata. "The Sonata offers consumers industry leading safety features, superior fuel-efficiency and an award-winning interior packaged in a 'class above' its midsize sedan competitors."

The fuel-efficient Sonata combines refined design, proven dependability, spirited performance and an extensive list of standard features that increase its appeal to a broader range of customers.


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 790 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, the Hyundai Assurance Program is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

2009 Hyundai Tucson Limited 4×4 Review & Test Drive

For 2009, the Hyundai Tucson returns with additional exterior and interior changes that make it even more desirable. These changes include 4-6% improved fuel economy, all-new 16X6in. alloy wheels, 200-watt Kenwood Navigation/Audio System, a more distinctive chrome grille, new tailgate trim, metal grain interior accents, more color choices and new GLS seat fabric. The Tucson SE 4X4 receives standard heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer. An optional B&M Racing sport shifter adds shorter throw-lengths and enhances precision to Tucson's manual four-speed transmission. All Tucson's now come with standard XM Satellite radio and an auxiliary audio input.

The Tucson is a very competitive compact sport utility that rates high against the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Patriot and Toyota RAV4. The Tucson has good looks, a choice of two engines, a fully independent suspension, 4X4 option with plenty of room for up to 5-persons and is fun and easy to drive with excellent fuel mileage. Young families will like the sporty looks and very functional interior.

With gas prices on the rise again and consumers demanding better fuel economy, the 2009 Tucson delivers with a choice of two engines-a 2.0 liter DOHC 'Beta' in-line four-cylinder engine that when mated to the four-speed automatic achieves 20mpg/city and 26mpg/highway. Horsepower is rated at 140 at 6,000rpm, and torque is 136lb.ft. at 4,500rpm.

In addition to the smooth and efficient four-cylinder engine, the Tucson also offers an optional 2.7 liter V6 for improved acceleration and passing power. This 'Delta' series engine has an aluminum block and heads to keep weight down, while four-valve combustion chambers and DOHC ensure ample performance. Horsepower peaks at 173 at 6,000rpm and torque crests at 178lb.ft. at 4,000rpm. I was impressed with the launch in my Limited 4X4 model. The V6 with its standard four-speed Shiftronic automatic four-speed and 4X4 drive now delivers 18mpg/city and 23mpg/highway.

Tucson offers a wide range of transmission choices to suit a variety of customer needs. In the GLS trim with the standard 4-cylinder engine, owners can choose between a precise five-speed manual with an optional B&M Racing Sport Shifter for more precise shifting or a convenient four-speed Shiftronic automatic. This sophisticated unit can function like a conventional automatic, but also has manual controls for a more sporty driving experience. The Shiftronic automatic comes standard with the V6 engine.

The fully independent suspension underpinning the Tucson is excellent for on-road or off-road driving. a robust MacPheson strut front suspension is used in combination with a multi-link independent rear setup that uses trailing arms and multiple links to control wheel geometry precisely through a full range of suspension motion. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs and fade-resistant gas-charged shocks. To help balance the Tucson's handling and minimizing body roll during cornering, front and rear stabilizer bars are standard on all trim levels. The handling dynamics are handled beautifully by a responsive power-assisted rack & pinion steering system with a good feel for the road and minimum boost. Tucson is easy to handle in parking lots and on backcountry trails and has a tighter turning circle, 35.4ft. than a Jeep Patriot 35.6ft., Honda CR-V 37.8ft. or Ford Escape 36.7ft.

Braking from speed is also excellent with power-assisted four-wheel discs brakes. Up front are 11in. vented discs and in the rear are 10.3in. solid discs, with 11.2in. solid disc found in the 4X4 models. Enhancing braking power and control are four-wheel ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution which is hard to find in other compact sport utility vehicles.

All Tucson models ride on 16X6in. aluminum wheels wrapped with 215.65R16in. all-season radials with 235/60R16in. standard in the Limited models. That's not bad for a compact sport utility and it helps with upgrading the looks in comparison to the competition.

The optional 4X4 system is one of the best of the competition. For maximum all-season traction and fuel economy, the Tucson 4X4 models come with an electronic torque management system that routes up to 99% of the power to the front wheels. As road conditions or torque demand changes, the system automatically diverts up to 50% of the power to the rear wheels. This on-demand system operates quickly and unobtrusively by monitoring the throttle position, wheel angle, wheel slippage and routes power to the axle offering the best traction. The 4X4 system can be manually locked into 4X4 drive for a continuous 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels for off-road and very slippery road situations. The system automatically disengages when ABS is activated to provide optimal braking performance.

Besides excellent mechanicals under the skin, the new 2009 Hyundai Tucson looks good.

The purposeful exterior has a strong, urban presence. The new distinctive grille and standard alloy wheels enhance its appearance and flexibility. There is a large rear hatch for easy loading and unloading with a convenient flip-up rear window which eases loading of small or long items. Both SE and Limited models provide more amenities with new unique alloy wheels, wider tires, as well as fog lamps, bodyside cladding, bodycolored door handles and mirrors, and chrome rear accent trim. The Tucson looks great from any angle.

Tucson's five-passenger interior is a handsome blend of comfort, thoughtful features and utility. It echoes the sleek athleticism of the exterior, with matte-black accents on GLS trim and new metalgrain accents in SE and Limited versions. Illuminated power window and door lock switches, combined with high legible analog instrumentation aid in functionality and convenience. Drive comfort is a top priority in the Tucson's design, as evidenced by the eight-way adjustable seat with lumbar support and tilt-adjustable steering column. There are even grab handles above all four-doors, that's an extra touch.

Versatility is another hallmark for Tucson. It delivers an impressive 102.6cu.ft. of passenger interior volume, which surpasses Nissan Rogue at 97.5, Ford Escape at 99.5 and Jeep Patriot at 101.7cu.ft. The standard 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback makes it easy to accommodate passengers and cargo. Single-lever operation and shingle-style headrests that remain in place speed the conversion from passenger to cargo use. Tucson has greater cargo space behind the front row at 165.5cu.ft. compared to Patriot's 54.2 and Rogue's 57.9cu.ft. Tucson is ready to haul gear with an easy-to-clean composite floor load floor. Underneath the load floor is an additional sectionalized storage area with the spare tire positioned below. Plenty of storage bins, compartments and eight-cup/bottle holders are positioned throughout the interior, as are three 12-volt power plugs. Comfort and convenience features include a two-tier front storage console; two cupholders are positioned nearby, with one more in each door pocket. The rear armrest also includes two cupholders.

Other standard features in the Tucson Limited that I tested include automatic temperature control with outside temperature readout, heated/power-remote side mirrors, remote keyless entry with alarm, AM-FM-XM 6-CD changer with MP3 with auxiliary jack, cruise control, trip computer, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, power sunroof, metalgrain interior trim, illuminated vanity mirrors, front intermittent windshield wipers/washer/deicer, rear wiper/washer, dual map lamps, and cargo cover.

The optional 200-watt Kenwood in-dash navigation/audio system has been added and was developed exclusively for Hyundai by Kenwood and combines audio, navigation, an auxiliary input into a single head unit, SD card slot and 700MB internal memory. Standard safety features include electronic stability control and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, LATCH system for child seats, 3-point safety belts for all seats, front airbags for driver/front passenger and active headrests.

In the fast growing but competitive compact sport utility segment, the new 2009 Hyundai Tucson has quickly gained the respect of the competitors from the US and Japan with its excellent looks, first-rate powertrains, fully independent suspension, strong braking system and fully functional and versatile interior.


Price: MSRP $25,620
Type: Compact SUV
Where Built: South Korea EPA Class: Sport Utility Vehicles


Length: 170.3 in.
Width: 72.1 in.
Height: 68.1 in.
Wheel Base: 103.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 7.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3548 lbs.
Front Head Room: 38.5 in.
Front Hip Room: 52.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 56.6 in.
Rear Head Room: 38.8 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 56.3 in.
Rear Hip Room: 51.2 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.1 in.
Rear Leg Room: 37.2 in.
Luggage Capacity: 22.7 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 66 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Size: 2.7 liters
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 173 hp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 178 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4000 rpm
Maximum Payload: 1280 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 2000 lbs.
Drive Type: 4WD
Turning Circle: 35.4 ft.
Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.2 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 18 mpg / 23 mpg / 20 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 309.6 mi. / 395.6 mi. / 344 mi.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6: Shocking competence

We were out taking some photos of the Hyundai Genesis early one morning. A woman passing by asked, "What kind of car is that? I don't see a name badge on the front?"

My response was that, "It's a Hyundai Genesis. They didn't put a badge on front intentionally. They want you to see the car and do what you just did; that is, ask 'What is it?' "

Some of Hyundai's earlier large-sedans bore resemblances to Jaguars (the XG 350), but the Genesis definitely causes you to pause a moment and notice resemblances to Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

Hyundai designed the Genesis sedan to be in the image of BMW's 5-Series, the Lexus GS, Infiniti M cars and Mercedes E-Class. However, it's priced and sized to compete with Chrysler's 300C, the Lexus ES, Cadillac CTS, and Mercedes C-Class.

There's no question that today's test car, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6, is an intriguing vehicle.

It's a full-sized rear-wheel-drive sedan with a 4.6 liter, 375 horsepower V-8. That V-8, with 333 lb.-ft. of pulling power, is relatively fuel efficient, being rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway. It may have been a filling quirk, but we pulled 27 on a highway trip, perhaps thanks to the steep overdrive sixth gear in the six-speed automatic transmission.

After people find out that this vehicle is a Hyundai, and a very nice looking one at that, they generally ask how much it costs.

Our test car - the more expensive 4.6 V-8 - has a sticker price of $37,250. Ours didn't have the only option, a $4,000 technical package, that turns out to be aptly named and well thought out. It adds xenon headlights, a trip computer, navigation, front and rear park assist, a cooled driver's seat, rear view camera, Bluetooth and upgraded Logic 7 sound system.

Then they have a sticker-shock reaction. "Thirty-seven thou for a Hyundai! That's a lot of money. Are they kidding?"

It is. And they aren't kidding in the least. Hyundai is making a run at the upscale market, starting with this sedan and continuing with the coupe version.

Hyundai came into the North American market with a terrible small car. They were so bad that most observers (me included) concluded that the brand was finished in this country.

To its credit, Hyundai's Pooh-Bahs went back to the drawing board - and did some serious marketing planning while they were at it. They knew they had one more shot at best and the only way they could convince American consumers that they had a worthy product was to make it long on quality. The result was the company's then-amazing 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and a lineup of cars that could compete in the small and mid-sized segments.

And their big cars - the XG 350 and Azera - weren't so bad, either. Now comes the Genesis. It's a serious bid by Hyundai at expanding its market reach.

If you're a brand snob, the Hyundai logo doesn't have that cachet yet; however, if you buy one now, it may have that cachet by the time - many miles down the road - when you're ready to trade it.

You're starting to see buyers' comments mentioning that the Genesis is a "value proposition" and has an amazing "price point."

Sales of the Genesis (8,100 to date) are encouraging. Overall, Hyundai sales were up nine percent in May (over April's numbers) as the auto industry starts to show signs of a modest rally.

Want to go fast? The V-8 will get you from 0-to-60 m.p.h. in just under six seconds. Handling? It's fine. Hyundai has a five-link system, front and back, that gives you a comfortable ride. While not a sports sedan, it does OK when pushed to an avoidance maneuver.

I generally prefer to travel in the driver's seat and really avoid rear-seat time; however, this is one vehicle I'd make an exception for. The rear seats and legroom are fine.

The two-tone leather treatment on the Hyundai dash - a feature that carries over to the door panels - is distinctively nice.

Hyundai used a distinguished award - the North American Car of the Year - as a jumping-off point for my favorite commercial from the last Super Bowl: The Angry Bosses. The spot showed furious executives at Lexus and BMW seeing the headlines that Hyundai ("It's Hyun-Day, like Sun-Day") had won the award.

A decade ago, members of the New England Motor Press Association generally agreed that the early Acura TL was dollar-for-dollar as good a buy as you could find. I've got no problem transferring that badge to this Genesis. After all, it needs something on that grille.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Gary Rome, of Gary Rome Hyundai of Holyoke Named Walk Chair For The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk

Urges Local Businesses Take the First Step to Help a Good Cause

Springfield, MA (June 29, 2009) - The Massachusetts Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) named Gary Rome chair of its 2009 Northampton Light The Night® Walk, the LLS annual fundraising event each fall to raise money for cancer research and patient services. Mr. Rome is hosting a complimentary summer BBQ at his Holyoke dealership on Saturday, July 11th at 11:00 a.m. for guests to learn how they can be involved.

LLS holds walks each fall in approximately 230 communities across the United States and Canada. Participants at the walks carry illuminated balloons - white for survivors, red for supporters, and gold to remember those who have died - to honor and commemorate lives touched by blood cancer. The Northampton Walk will take place on Sunday, September 13th at Look Memorial Park in Northampton, MA. Last year's Northampton Light The Night Walk raised more than $55,000 and the Massachusetts Chapter raised more than $1,050,000 throughout its six walk locations.

"Light The Night is a great way to build a spirit of caring and cooperation among employees as they help others," said Rome. "I am honored to serve as the chair to and look forward to encouraging commitment from local businesses and corporations."

The funds raised through corporate and individual contributions help to find cures and better therapies for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to provide information, education and support for patients and their families.

"Light The Night Walk gives hope to patients and their families and lets them know they are not alone in their battle against cancer," said Rebecca Longworth, Campaign Manager.

To find out more about forming a team or participating in a Light The Night walk, or to attend the recruitment BBQ on July 11th, contact the Light The Night Staff at the Massachusetts Chapter at 508-810-1342 or visit www.lightthenight.org/ma.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society world and provides free information and support services. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the