Monthly Archives: April 2007

Hyundai Santa Fe is Ranked Among the Best Small SUVs Tested by Consumer Reports

Hyundai Santa Fe is Ranked Among the Best Small SUVs Tested By Consumer Reports

NEW YORK, April 10 — Newly redesigned, the Hyundai Santa Fe Limited earned a “Very Good” overall rating — surpassed only by the V6-powered Toyota RAV4 Limited — in tests for the May issue of Consumer Reports.

The Santa Fe ranks second overall among some 20 small SUVs recently tested by Consumer Reports, including the highly rated Subaru Forester and Honda CR- V.

“The Santa Fe is quiet, comfortable riding, and it’s refined,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. “It has a versatile interior, yet its exterior dimensions are modest.”

The Santa Fe was one of five small SUVs tested for the May issue. Other vehicles in the group were the Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander, Suzuki XL7, and Dodge Nitro. The RAV4 and CR-V are among the other small SUVs previously tested by CR. As tested, the SUVs ranged in price from $27,662 for the Subaru Forester Sports 2.5XT to $30,745 for the Santa Fe Limited equipped with a 3.3 liter engine.

Though not on par with the Santa Fe, the Forester, Outlander, and XL-7 all posted “Very Good” overall scores. The new Dodge Nitro scored at the bottom of the pack with a “Fair” score.

The May issue also includes updates on three previously-tested minivans — the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, and Chevrolet Uplander. As reported in the Annual April Auto Issue, the Sienna is CR’s Top Pick in the minivan category. It posted an “Excellent” overall score. The Nissan Quest achieved a “Very Good” score and the Uplander is rated “Good”.

Tests and ratings of the small SUVs and the three minivans appear in the May issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale April 10. The reports are also available to subscribers of

Among the SUVs in this test group, Consumer Reports recommends only the Forester. CR does not yet have reliability data on the Santa Fe, Outlander, and XL7. The Nitro scored too low to be recommended. Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Car Reliability Survey of its own subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The redesigned Santa Fe is a big improvement over the old model. With an interior now big enough for a third row seat and excellent fit and finish, it is a refined and versatile package. The Santa Fe Limited ($30,745 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price as tested) was tested with an optional 242-hp, 3.3-liter V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission that deliver very good acceleration and smooth shifts — but only 18 mpg overall in CR’s fuel economy tests. The Santa Fe’s third-row seat is suitable only for children, with a low cushion and very little leg room. The SUV has 37.5 cubic feet of storage area with the second- and third-row seats folded. Braking is very good overall.

The high-end Sports XT is the only Forester to currently offer electronic stability control. It is also quick and handles nimbly. But the ESC kicks in too late to prevent the SUV’s tail from sliding. The Forester Sports XT ($27,662 MSRP as tested) is powered by a refined 224-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers acceleration matching that from many V6s. The four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The Forester has a substantial amount of cargo space for its size — 32.0 cubic feet with the 60/40 rear seat folded forward. Braking performance is very good.

he redesigned Outlander is greatly improved and is now a competitive entry in this class. It has a refined, responsive powertrain and agile handling. The Outlander XLS ($30,615 MSRP as tested) is equipped with a 220- hp, 3.0-liter V6 that delivers smooth power and very good acceleration. It’s mated to a slick, six-speed transmission. The interior is roomy and offers a tiny, third-row seat. With all the rear seatbacks folded, the Outlander has 33.5 cubic feet of storage space. Braking is very good.

The redesigned XL7 has moved past its truck roots and is now based on the Chevrolet Equinox. But it’s longer than the Equinox and has enough room for a usable third row. Different suspension tuning gives it improved ride and handling over the Equinox. The XL7 Luxury ($29,284 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 252-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine that provides ample performance. The XL7 pulled CR’s 3,500-pound test trailer to 60 mph faster than any vehicle in this group. The five-speed automatic transmission shifts very smoothly. Cargo room is 36.5 cubic feet, and both 60/40 second-row and 50/50 third-row seatbacks fold forward for additional storage space. Braking distances are fairly good.

The Nitro shares a platform with the Jeep Liberty and has bold styling but otherwise falls flat. Handling is clumsy, and the ride is snappy and unsettled. The driving position is awkward, and fit and finish are below par. The Nitro SLT ($28, 875 MSRP as tested) is equipped with a 210-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine that feels sluggish and gets 16 mpg, the group’s worst. The four- speed transmission shifts smoothly but isn’t particularly responsive to part throttle downshifts. Cargo area expands to 39.5 cubic feet by folding the 60/40 rear seatbacks. The tailgate rises for access to the cargo area, and the floor pulls out for loading. Stopping distances from 60 mph were long on both dry and wet pavement.

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Website; the magazine’s auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at

© Consumers Union 2007. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.

Source: Consumer Reports

Hyundai Moves Up

G. Chambers Williams III: Hyundai moves up

An upscale SUV from Hyundai?

Yes, indeed.

Arriving now at your local dealers is the all-new Veracruz, a seven-passenger, midsize crossover that begins just under $27,000.

Hyundai says the vehicle was benchmarked against the luxury Lexus RX 350.

Now, I’m not ready to tell you that the Veracruz is quite as good as the Lexus, even though the folks at Hyundai are convinced of that. They gave me a chance to drive the RX and the Veracruz back to back for comparison, and the RX won rather easily.

But with prices starting $11,000 less than the RX 350, and with a similarly equipped Veracruz running $7,700 less than the base RX, the Hyundai does come across as quite a value.

That doesn’t mean that many of the 9,000 customers who buy the RX 350 every month would check out the Hyundai first, and perhaps choose it instead. Those who would buy the Lexus and those who would choose the Hyundai are entirely different customers and won’t be cross-shopping these two vehicles.

But when compared with two popular crossovers that Veracruz shoppers might consider – the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander – the Hyundai model still rings up as a bargain.

The base Veracruz GLS model with front-wheel drive lists for $3,265 less than a similarly equipped Highlander, and $3,712 less than the Pilot.

Here again, though, Hyundai has a hard sell ahead of it when trying to take customers away from the top Japanese brands. Honda and Toyota customers are loyal and probably wouldn’t consider a Hyundai any more than a Lexus customer would.

Where Hyundai is going to be successful with the Veracruz – and make no mistake, the Veracruz is going to be a great success – is with customers who cross-shop it with many of the other crossovers on the market, particularly the domestic models such as the Ford Edge, Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia, Chrysler Pacifica and Buick Rendezvous.

Unfortunately, Hyundai is still fighting an unfair perception on the part of many consumers that its vehicles are somehow lacking in quality, especially when compared with the main Japanese brands, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda.

J.D. Power quality rankings in the past few years solidly refute that notion, but Hyundai knows it has an image problem and will have to continue to prove itself to consumers who have that negative view of the company’s products.

Those who have bought Hyundai products within the past few years, particularly since 2000, know better, and are among the smartest and most-astute car buyers on the planet. That’s because Hyundai offers top-quality vehicles at what amounts to bargain prices and also throws in the nation’s best warranty, which covers the drivetrain for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles.

The Veracruz is the third SUV in the Hyundai lineup, joining the entry compact Tucson and midsize Santa Fe. The Veracruz is built on a stretched and widened Santa Fe chassis to allow for a roomy third row of seating, letting it to hold up to seven people comfortably.

It has more total cargo volume – 86.8 cubic feet with the second and third rows of seats folded – than all of its direct competitors except for the Pilot (87.6 cubic feet), which has the edge because it’s built from the architecture of the Honda Odyssey minivan. The Veracruz even has more cargo space than the full-size Mercedes-Benz GL500.

It’s also among the most powerful midsize crossover utility vehicles.

Under the hood is a 3.8-liter V-6 engine rated at 260 horsepower and 257 foot-pounds of torque. This is a version of the engine found in the Azera, Hyundai’s full-size premium sedan, which competes with the Toyota Avalon.

That’s more than the 244 horsepower of the Pilot, the 240 horsepower of the Nissan Murano and the 215 horsepower of the current Highlander. (The redesigned, 2008 Highlander, which will arrive later this year, will have 270 horsepower, however.)

The Veracruz’s engine is connected to a new six-speed automatic transmission, another feature distinguishing it from its competitors, most of which have five-speed automatics, including the Pilot and the Highlander (both the current model and the 2008).

The six-speed in the Veracruz comes with a manual-shift feature, too, which isn’t available with the Pilot, Highlander or Murano (which has a continuously variable transmission with no discernable shift points).

Fuel-economy ratings of the Veracruz are nearly the same as those of its competitors. Using the 2007 EPA formula, the Veracruz is rated at 18 miles per gallon city/25 highway vs. 18/24 for the Pilot, 19/25 for the ’07 Highlander and 19/24 for the Murano. No ratings have been released for the 2008 Highlander.

Hyundai claims to have a quieter cabin in the Veracruz than the Pilot, with levels of noise and vibration that match or exceed those of the Lexus RX.

Safety is one of the strongest points of the Veracruz, which already has achieved the top five-star crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in frontal- and side-impact testing for all front and rear passengers. The Veracruz scored four stars in the rollover ratings, which is the highest any of the crossovers have received.

Standard safety features include electronic stability control with traction control, four-wheel disc antilock brakes, and side-curtain air bags for all three rows of seats. Hyundai is the leader in providing stability control as standard equipment on its vehicles, with 73 percent of its 2007 models so equipped vs. 42 percent of Honda’s vehicles, the closest competitor.

HTSA estimates that 80 percent of fatal SUV rollover accidents could be prevented by having stability control in all of the vehicles, and that with ESC in the entire fleet of cars on the road, 10,000 lives could be saved annually.

The Veracruz’s exterior styling is similar to that of several of the newer crossovers, including the RX 350, the Edge and Acura MDX. The car was styled by Hyundai’s California design studio for American tastes, but is being built in Hyundai’s home country, South Korea, and is sold in Europe and Asia as well as North America.

n other markets, the main engine is a diesel; but because of stricter U.S. smog regulations, that engine is not offered here.

Inside, the Veracruz has premium features and materials that give it a luxury look and feel. It is here that the vehicle has the closest comparisons to a more expensive vehicle such as the RX 350. Leather seats are optional, and there is wood-grain trim.

Among luxury options are a power rear liftgate, automatic climate control, a backup warning system and a keyless entry/start system like the one found in many luxury vehicles. The key can be left in the pocket; the doors unlock as the person with the key fob approaches.

The base audio system comes with a single-disc CD player that is MP3-capable, and it also has an auxiliary jack for connection of an iPod or other portable audio player. There are a couple of audio upgrades available. XM satellite radio is standard.

Also optional is a good rear DVD entertainment system, though. It has an 8-inch screen that drops down from the ceiling, and a pair of wireless headphones is included.

One flaw, though, is that no factory-installed navigation system is yet offered with the Veracruz. Hyundai says it’s working on adding an in-dash nave system as an optional feature.

All-wheel drive is a $1,700 option and is available on all models. This system can direct up to half of the torque to the rear wheels, and there is a lock switch on the dash that can force it into the 50/50 mode.

The car has 8.1 inches of ground clearance, which makes it suitable for some light off-road use; but as with most crossovers, this vehicle is a soft-roader, not an off-roader. It’s not suitable for the Rubicon Trail.

The Veracruz comes in three trim levels: base ($26,995, including freight), SE ($28,695) and top-of-the-line Limited ($32,995). With all-wheel drive, prices begin at $28,695. With all options, the Limited model with all-wheel drive tops out at about $38,000.

San Antonio Express-News
G. Chambers Williams III

That’s No Lexus, It’s a Hyundai

That’s No Lexus, It’s a Hyundai

Forget the myth. Hyundai Motor is not a tiny South Korean manufacturer of cheap little cars. It is a giant — the largest car company in South Korea and, as a part of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, the sixth-largest car company in the world.

Nuts & Bolts

Complaint: Hyundai’s problem isn’t the Veracruz or any of the other eight vehicle lines it sells in the United States. Hyundai’s problem is its “we’re cheap” image, which hasn’t been helped by marketing that emphasizes price more than it does the quality and integrity of its products.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent ride handling. Acceleration is excellent in the flatlands, where the Veracruz easily cruises at highway speeds. But the engine gets a bit wheezy in the mountains.

Head-turning quotients: Many Californians thought the Veracruz came from one of the traditional high-end manufacturers. At least one such spectator, in La Jolla, thought it was the latest edition of the substantially more expensive Mercedes-Benz R-Class crossover.

Body style/layout: The Veracruz is a front-engine, mid-size, luxury crossover utility vehicle (a station wagon in reality). It has four side doors and a rear lift-gate. It is available with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, and it comes in three trim levels — base GLS, mid-range SE and high-end Limited.

Engine/transmission: The Veracruz comes with a standard 3.8-liter V-6 engine that develops 260 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 257 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm. It is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Capacities: There is seating for seven in the Veracruz. Maximum cargo capacity is 87 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 20.6 gallons of recommended regular unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: I averaged 23 miles per gallon in highway driving.

Safety: Standard equipment includes electronic stability control, front active head restraints, side and head air bags, antilock brakes and electronic brake assistance.

Price: Base price on the Limited with all-wheel drive is $34,005. Dealer’s price on base model is $34,909. Price as tested is $37,645, including $2,950 in options and a $690 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $34,909. Base price on the comparable Lexus RX350 is $38,000. With comparable options, the RX350 is $43,570. Prices sourced from Hyundai, Lexus,, and

Purse-strings note: Compare with Lexus RX 350, Honda Pilot, Subaru B9 Tribeca, Nissan Murano and, I think, the GMC Acadia. Competitors had better start taking Hyundai seriously.

It is a threat to anyone making cars, economy or luxury.

It can topple General Motors. It can upset Toyota. It already has bypassed Nissan and Honda in global vehicle sales. It is as determined as any company to rank No. 1 on the world’s automotive stage.

You can be forgiven for being surprised. Until now, Hyundai has done well faking humility — rolling out economy cars, wagons and compact sport-utility vehicles for budget-minded consumers. It will continue to serve that segment. Money is money. But there is more money to be made serving the rich — upper-income professionals who traditionally shop Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln or Mercedes-Benz.

Hyundai wants those upscale dollars and is implementing an audacious, risky strategy to get them. It plans to build better luxury vehicles than any existing competitor and to sell those models at prices below that of any segment rival.

Cheeky? Yes. Possible? Consider the 2007 Hyundai Veracruz Limited crossover utility vehicle, which easily runs against the likes of the excellent Lexus RX350 — for thousands of dollars less.

I recently did a day-long, head-to-head driving comparison of the Veracruz and RX350 in San Diego and environs. There were obvious differences. The Veracruz, available with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, has seating for seven people. The RX350, also available with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, has space for five. The Veracruz has more standard equipment — including some that is usually optional, such as third-row seating — than the RX350.

In terms of crash-avoidance and impact-mitigation equipment, the Veracruz matches or surpasses all mainstream luxury vehicle manufacturers. For example, electronic stability control, side and head air bags, front-seat active head restraints, rear-seat head restraints, antilock brakes and electronic brake assistance are all standard on the Veracruz.

In design and creature comforts, the Veracruz — especially the fully loaded Limited edition — is an undisputed winner. It has a longer, more elegantly sculpted body than the RX350. Inside and out, it simply looks better. Inside, it also feels better — more spacious, less cramped than the RX350. The leather-covered seats are comfortable. (Thankfully, here, Hyundai jettisoned the notion that all drivers’ seats should fit the body as tightly as those in a race car. The Veracruz’s seats recognize that many of us are older and that our bodies are slightly larger than they were in our youth.) The Veracruz has every onboard automotive gadget imaginable, except one. At the moment, there is no navigation system. Hyundai has taken some heat for that. And the company is likely to respond by offering onboard navigation as an option in the slightly updated 2008 Veracruz. I understand the concept of the customer always being right. However, in this case, I believe that both Hyundai and its customers are wrong.

Go to a good consumer electronics shop. Look at the portable, easily attachable navigation systems. Most of them are more advanced and more accurate, and have more usable features than the best onboard navigation systems. But the portables, which can be updated more quickly than the fixed onboard models, often sell for half the price.

It thus makes as much sense for car companies to continue installing onboard systems as it does for them to install car phones, which have been surpassed in features, functionality and value by hand-held cellphones. Hyundai needs to save the money it’s going to waste installing onboard systems and use it to do something else.

But who am I to talk? Hyundai, as represented by the Veracruz, seems to be doing quite well following its own sense of what’s right and what works.

Consider the matter of engineering. The Veracruz comes with an easy-breathing, 260-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6. It uses regular unleaded fuel. The engine is linked to a remarkably smooth six-speed automatic transmission. The comparable RX350 comes with a 3.5-liter, 270-horsepower V-6 that requires premium unleaded fuel. That engine is linked to a five-speed automatic transmission. Put another way, the Veracruz is less expensive to operate than the RX350. But it’s every bit as much fun to drive.

Still, the problem for Hyundai remains consumer perception. It has to get consumers into the Veracruz to make them believe. That won’t be easy to do in the luxury vehicle segment. Prestige is important to luxury bias. Fair or not, for the time being, “Lexus” still sounds better than “Hyundai.”

By Warren Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 8, 2007

Hyundai’s New 7-Passenger Veracruz a Sweet Deal

Hyundai’s new 7-passenger Veracruz a sweet deal

Hyundai is positioning its all-new 2007 Veracruz seven-passenger crossover utility vehicle against venerable competition, models such as Honda’s Pilot and Toyota’s Highlander, boasting a better powertrain performance and more safety features, in addition to high-quality craftsmanship and sophisticated styling. Like other manufacturers, Hyundai clearly envisions a still-growing crossover marketplace in the U.S., as the South Korean manufacturer now includes three CUVs in its product portfolio.

On sale now, the new Veracruz is available in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations. The seven-seater may be optioned at three distinct trim levels. Hardly “entry level” in terms of equipment, base GLS models are outfitted with features such as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a multifunctional steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, power windows/locks/heated mirror with turn signal indicators, remote keyless entry and tire-pressure monitoring. This version is impressively priced at $26,995 as a front driver and $28,695 in AWD format.

That same $28,695 entry fee gets you inside a FWD Veracruz SE model, which adds 18-inch wheels, power driver’s seat adjustment, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, front fog lights, roof rack and center storage console with the “Cool Box” feature to the already well-equipped base model. Hyundai Veracruz SE AWD models ring up at $30,395.

Anteing up $32,995 (FWD) or $34,695 (AWD) yields the comprehensive Limited package, which brings leather upholstery, power front passenger seat adjustment, heated front seats, a 315-watt Infinity audio system, power sunroof, power tailgate, automatic temperature control, windshield wiper de-icing, a conversation mirror and reverse warning. Chrome and brushed metal enhancements are also thoughtfully designed throughout.

Veracruz GLS models can be ordered with a $1,950 Premium Package that brings a sunroof, power driver’s seat, front seat heaters, leather wrapped steering wheel/shift knob and reverse warning. At the SE level, this package becomes “Premium and Leather,” commanding $3,350 while adding leather seats and an Infinity audio system, in addition to the GLS’s Premium offering. Additionally, a $1,600 Entertainment Package tacks on rear-seat DVD entertainment, a 115-volt outlet and a conversation mirror (to enable front seat passengers to see rear seat passengers when talking. The Premium/Leather gear is required for the Entertainment Package to be checked.

Finally, Veracruz Limited models get exclusive rights to the $2,950 Ultimate Package, which delivers adjustable pedals, memory settings, a power tilting/telescoping wheel, rain-sensing wipers, proximity key, lighted door scuff plates and the 115-volt outlet and the conversation mirror. Another $250 yields Premium Black/Saddle interior materials.

All models are powered by an all-aluminum 3.8-liter V-6 engine shared with the Azera sedan and rated for 260 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque in front of a six-speed automatic transmission. Continuously variable valve timing helps optimize intake valve operation, while the variable intake system enhancing cylinder “breathing” at both low and high engine speeds. Semi-active engine mounts decrease motor vibration and, as Hyundai gleefully proclaims, allows the Veracruz to idle with less noise and vibration than a Lexus RX350. The transmission includes sporty Shiftronic manual control, and fuel economy rates at 18/25 city/highway miles per gallon as a FWD vehicle and 17/24 mpg with the AWD system.

That electronic all-wheel-drive setup includes a lock mode splitting torque 50:50 front to rear.

The unibody chassis, MacPherson front suspension, multilink rear independent suspension, gas-charged dampers, front and rear stabilizer bars, 245/65-series 17-inch tires and rack-and-pinion steering ensure carlike composure and crisp handling over a variety of road conditions. The optional 18-inch wheels maintain the same 245mm width tire, but the aspect ratio drops to 60 (lower profile).

Safety equipment is plentiful, including dual front air bags, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact air bags, head curtain air bags protecting all three rows, standard electronic stability control with traction control and adjustable active front head restraints that help reduce whiplash.

Three-point seat belts hold all occupants in place and second- and third-row headrests are adjustable. Solidifying Veracruz’s safety are the five-star safety ratings in both front and side impact collisions awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Sue Mead
April 6, 2007

Hyundai Looking to Build More Confident Brand

Hyundai Looking To Build More Confident Brand

Hyundai’s Genesis Concept, unveiled at the New York International Auto Show, is a dissertation in sheet metal about where the Seoul, Korea, company sees itself in the North American market.

The car, a production version of which will see the inside of dealer showrooms next year, is a sleek sedan with design suggestive of BMW and Audi. If the car demonstrates how much the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based Hyundai Motor America wants a piece of the near-premium car market, Hyundai marketers say a larger goal is more consideration among consumers and a more confident brand image.

The company’s new VP marketing, Joel Ewanick, who had been group director of brand planning at Hyundai’s erstwhile agency, Richards Group, says the company is counting on the new agency–to be announced next week–to develop a brand essence that transcends the 10-year/100,000-mile Hyundai Advantage warranty for which the company may still be most famous.

He says the company must increase consideration, while building awareness of the breadth of Hyundai’s offerings, which includes three SUVs, four sedans, a minivan and a sports coupe.

“At the end of the day, we are looking for an agency that can bring an idea,” says Ewanick. “We no longer think we need to make model advertising the sole message.”

He says Hyundai branding needs to close a “perception gap” between the truth about Hyundai vehicles and what consumers think they know about a brand that has relied on price and an industry-leading warranty to battled–mostly with success–collective memories of its shaky past.

“It’s one thing for people to be aware of you and another to put you on the list; that’s what we are working for,” he says. “We have had success, but we need to accelerate the momentum.”

Indeed, after several years of brisk growth in U.S. sales and market share, Hyundai’s 2006 sales were flat, though the company posted record sales for the month just passed, with 41,984 vehicles delivered–a 22% increase versus February, and a 57% improvement versus March 2006.

Steve Wilhite, who became Hyundai Motor America’s COO last August, says the company’s brand efforts need to create a mosaic out of discrete brand truths. “Each piece is wonderful by itself, but in the hands of a mosaic artist, you step back and get a much richer picture of what’s going on.”

Pieces he’d like to include in the big picture are safety technology–“The fact that electronic stability control is standard in 70% of our vehicles”; technological innovation, value and financial security via its 10-year warranty. “We are looking for an agency that knows how to tell those stories in the context of Hyundai; we need to be much more brand-centric than model-centric,” he says.

“If we walk through [the Javitz Center], very few people would be able to name all nine of our products. If I went to the prototypical soccer mom and asked her to tell me the name of our minivan, I’d guess one or two percent would know it. Electronic stability control is the single most important new safety technology since the deployment of seat belts. We haven’t told that story.”

He added that the company hasn’t talked about its gains in active and passive safety or its production quality. “It’s a function of a lack of confidence. And it’s gotta change.”

by Karl Greenberg, Friday, Apr 6, 2007 5:00 AM ET

Hyundai Looking At Diesel Lineup

Hyundai looking at diesel lineup

Engines would be hybrid alternative

NEW YORK — Hyundai may offer diesel engines across its U.S. lineup of cars and trucks as an alternative to gasoline-electric hybrids if it can clear cost and technical hurdles, the automaker said Thursday.

Steve Wilhite, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor America, said while Hyundai was developing its own hybrid technology, diesels made better financial sense for its customers.

“The highest priority on my personal wish list is bringing our diesel technology to the United States, and I’d like to bring that across all of our products,” Wilhite said in an interview at the New York auto show. “It just seems like a much more elegant solution to me than a hybrid.”

Every major automaker has been working on new diesel models for the United States as the federal government has finalized strict new emissions rules and lawmakers consider tougher fuel economy standards.

Honda Motor Co. has said it will offer a new diesel engine in 2009, and German automakers have been promising several diesel variants.

Wilhite did not say when he hoped production of Hyundai diesels might start.

Wilhite, who had been global marketing manager for Nissan before taking the Hyundai post in August, said if a diesel option costs about $1,000, it would pay for itself in fuel savings. Diesels and hybrids can post 40% better fuel economy than gasoline engines in some vehicles, but hybrids cost $2,000 to $3,000 more than standard models.

“Fundamentally, you don’t get a payback on a hybrid,” Wilhite said. “In a diesel, you more than cover the premium.”

Wilhite also said that while Toyota Motor Co. has been successful with its Prius hybrid, part of that success has come from government tax incentives and state rules, especially in California, that allow hybrids in carpool lanes.

California ended that benefit last year, and USA Today recently reported that Priuses with permits for carpool lanes were worth $4,000 more on the used car market. Toyota has offered incentives on the Prius this year, and boosted the offers to up to $2,000 on Wednesday.

Hyundai already sells diesel models in Europe and Asia, but Wilhite said the company was still working on ways to meet the strict new U.S. standards.

Wilhite said Hyundai was targeting sales of about 500,000 vehicles in the United States this year, after recording flat sales of 455,000 in 2006. A run-up in the value of the Korean won currency forced Hyundai to raise its prices, which Wilhite said helped transaction prices but stunted sales.

While the company has expanded its lineup steadily and will add a near-luxury, rear-wheel-drive sedan in a couple of years based on the Genesis concept shown at the auto show, Wilhite said he had no desire to jump into the pickup market as Toyota, Honda and Nissan have done.

April 6, 2007

Jaguar, Hyundai to Offer HD Radio

Jaguar, Hyundai to offer HD Radio

Hyundai and Jaguar are adding HD Radio, a digital radio service pioneered by Columbia-based iBiquity Digital, as an option for luxury model vehicles, the automakers said at the New York Auto Show.

HD Radio offers higher quality audio through digital receivers. The two manufacturers are the second and third to adopt the technology — BMW is already including it as an option in its entire 2007 line.

iBiquity launched HD Radio in 2004, and there are 1,200 stations nationwide that broadcast in the format. There are 11 in Maryland.

Radio stations that use HD broadcast both analog and digital signals, so all users can still listen. But HD Radio receivers can produce CD-quality audio because the receivers can sort through interference that occurs when signals bounce off objects, reducing static and fading, according to iBiquity.

Hyundai will include the technology option in its rear-wheel drive sports sedan scheduled for a 2008 release, according to a company release.

Jaguar will offer it in its 2008 luxury XJ sedan.

Baltimore Business Journal – 3:57 PM EDT Thursday, April 5, 2007
by Scott Dance

Hyundai Adds XM as Standard Feature on All-New Veracruz and Future Premium Sports Sedan

Hyundai Adds XM as Standard Feature on All-New Veracruz and Future Premium Sports Sedan

XM also now available on 2007 Azera, Elantra, Santa Fe and Sonata models

NEW YORK, April 5 — XM , the nation’s leading provider of satellite radio with more than 7.6 million subscribers, today announced its continued expansion as a factory-installed, standard feature across the Hyundai vehicle lineup. New vehicles with standard XM include the all-new Veracruz midsize crossover on sale now and Hyundai’s upcoming premium sports sedan. A concept of the future sports sedan was revealed today at the New York International Auto Show.

XM Radio is already a standard, factory-installed feature on all 2007 Azera, Elantra, Santa Fe and Sonata audio systems.

Hyundai customers come to expect unique and innovative style and technology, along with performance, comfort and safety across our diverse product portfolio,” said John Krafcik, vice-president of product development and strategic planning, Hyundai Motor America. “The addition of XM Satellite Radio to these models is yet another great feature to enhance the already excellent value offered by all of Hyundai’s vehicles.”

Hyundai was the first automotive brand to announce plans to make XM Radio standard across the board,” said Steve Cook, executive vice president, Automotive for XM. “The addition of XM’s coast-to-coast programming is another feature to remind Hyundai buyers that they are enjoying one of the best new car values on the market today. By the end of 2007, all Hyundai factory audio systems will feature XM’s 170-plus channels of commercial-free music, news, sports, talk, and entertainment.”

Every Hyundai model equipped with factory-installed XM Radio comes with a three-month trial subscription.

About XM Satellite Radio

XM is America’s number one satellite radio company with more than 7.6 million subscribers. Broadcasting live daily from studios in Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Toronto and Montreal, XM’s 2006 lineup includes more than 170 digital channels of choice from coast to coast: commercial-free music, premier sports, news, talk radio, comedy, children’s and entertainment programming; and the most advanced traffic and weather information.

XM, the leader in satellite-delivered entertainment and data services for the automobile market is available in 140 different vehicle models for 2007 through partnerships with auto manufacturers, including Infiniti. XM’s industry-leading products are available at consumer electronics retailers nationwide. For more information about XM hardware, programming and partnerships, please visit

Hyundai Motor America

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 755 dealerships nationwide.

Hyundai Sets Record March With 41,984 Sales

Hyundai Sets Record March With 41,984 Sales

Fountain Valley, Calif., 04/03/2007 Hyundai Motor America today reported its best March ever with sales of 41,984 vehicles, up 22 percent over February. The all-new Santa Fe and Accent were up 109 percent and 57 percent over March 2006 respectively.

“Once again we are pleased to see such a strong March given the continued challenging sales conditions across the country,” said Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai’s vice president of National Sales. “We are excited to finish off the first quarter with such momentum and feel poised for continued sales growth in the second quarter with the launch of our new midsize crossover Veracruz and continued strong performance from one of the freshest product lineups in the industry.”

All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America’s Best Warranty. Hyundai buyers are protected by a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and a 7-year/unlimited-mile anti-perforation warranty and 5-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance protection.

Following is the sales breakdown for March 2007:














































Hyundai Unveils Concept Genesis Premium Sports Sedan

Hyundai Unveils Concept Genesis Premium Sports Sedan

Rear-Wheel Drive and V-8 Engine Promise World Class Dynamics and Refinement

NEW YORK, March 4, 2007 – Hyundai presented the world debut of Concept Genesis during a press conference at the New York International Auto Show today. The concept car heralds the future architecture and design of a rear-wheel drive premium sports sedan scheduled to grace the Hyundai lineup in 2008.

“Concept Genesis extends our product range into new territories from a performance, design and packaging perspective,” said Steve Wilhite, chief operating officer, Hyundai Motor America. “When it arrives in 2008 it will catapult Hyundai into competition against some potent rivals, and Genesis is up for the challenge.”

Concept Genesis rides on a prototype of Hyundai’s all-new rear-wheel drive platform, signaling the brand’s desire to broaden its appeal to discerning driving enthusiasts. Concept Genesis is powered by Hyundai’s newly developed Tau DOHC 32-valve V-8 powertrain. Concept Genesis marks the beginning of premium performance for the Hyundai brand.

“Concept Genesis is a manifestation of Hyundai’s extraordinary desire to deliver world-class products across all model segments,” said John Krafcik, vice president, Product Development and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “With Genesis, we’ve got a unique product position — an all-new, highly capable, rear-wheel drive platform; a high-performance powertrain; and premium, progressive design – all at a price starting well under $30,000.”

New Rear-Wheel-Drive Architechture Is A First For The U.S.

Concept Genesis features a rear-wheel-drive architecture, its first application in a U.S. Hyundai model. Rear-wheel drive provides a 53:47 front/rear weight distribution for optimal handling as well as more refined steering characteristics. Concept Genesis’ premium handling and steering performance is further controlled by Electronic Stability Control (ESC), the industry’s most important new safety technology. Hyundai leads all popular car brands in the standard application of ESC, with more than 70 percent of 2007 Hyundai sales volume featuring this life-saving technology as standard equipment.

ESC continually analyzes road speed, steering input, throttle position, lateral yaw rate and other factors. An onboard microprocessor determines if the vehicle is starting to understeer or oversteer, and can brake appropriate wheels and reduce engine power to keep the vehicle safely on course.

Utilizing ultra high-tensile steel in critical areas in the unibody provides Concept Genesis with a 12-14 percent higher dynamic torsional rigidity and a lower body-in-white weight than the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. This stiffer, lighter, larger body provides a terrific foundation for world-class dynamics and lowering noise levels inside the vehicle.

TAU V-8 Powertrain

Adding to the Concept Genesis’ performance factor is the all-new Tau 4.6-liter V8 engine mated to a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® manual control and a limited-slip differential. The Tau delivers well over 300 horsepower to fit the demands of performance-oriented consumers. This powertrain combination will launch Genesis to 60 miles per hour in well under six seconds. The Tau engine is built with flexibility for the future. Future Tau variants may offer larger displacement, forced induction options and other technology enhancements.

Innovative And Sophisticated Sport-Tuned Suspension

Genesis features a suspension design that is among the most sophisticated and refined anywhere, at any price. The front five-link suspension features upper and lower arms linking the front wheels to the chassis. This artfully articulated arrangement creates a virtual king pin axis which dramatically reduces unwanted kickback through the steering wheel as well as improving responsiveness. The five-link independent rear suspension is equally sophisticated, enabling precise suspension geometry for an incredible level of ride and handling prowess. The capabilities of the advanced front and rear-suspension are maximized through driver selectable dynamic settings allowing tailored ride and handling characteristics according to need … or desire.

Modern Design

Genesis’ design is a progressive interpretation of the modern rear-wheel drive sports sedan. To match its dynamic powertrain capabilities, Genesis combines strong, sculpted forms which integrate precise details, natural materials and innovative lighting to provide a well-crafted, premium design aesthetic.

Safety Features

Maintaining Hyundai’s emphasis on delivering leading safety technology, Concept Genesis boasts world class active and passive safety features to both prevent accidents, and maximize the well being of its occupants in the event of a collision. The Genesis continues the Hyundai tradition of standardizing key life-saving active safety technology such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with traction control, eight airbags and active headrests.

Concept Genesis is brought to a halt by large four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). The 12.6-inch front rotors have single-piston floating calipers and the rear brakes feature 12.4-inch rotors with single-pistons.


  • Advanced adaptive cruise control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Eight airbags
  • Heat / cool seats
  • High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with adaptive leveling
  • Push-button start
  • Navigation with backup camera
  • Electric parking brake
  • Bluetooth technology
  • USB / Auxiliary input jack
  • HD Radio™ Receiver
  • XM Satellite Radio®
  • Infinity® Discrete Surround Audio System

Genesis Premium Sports Sedan Specifications

  • Configuration: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports sedan
  • Wheelbase: 2935 mm / 115.6 inches
  • Overall length: 5005 mm / 197.0 inches
  • Overall width: 1863 mm / 73.3 inches
  • Overall height: 1490 mm / 58.7 inches
  • Track, f/r: 1575 mm / 62.0 inches, 1580 mm / 62.2 inches
  • Wheels: 20-inch multi-spoke
  • Engine type: V8
  • Estimated horsepower: Well over 300HP
  • Estimated torque: Over 300 lb. ft.
  • Displacement: 4.6 liter
  • Block material: High pressure die casting aluminum block
  • Cylinder head material: Aluminum
  • Valvetrain: Dual Over Head Cam (DOHC)li>Valve timing: Continuous variable valve timing
  • Variable induction system
  • Fuel delivery: Multi-port fuel injection
  • Estimated 0-60 mph: well under 6.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 130 mph (restricted)
  • Recommended fuel: Unleaded
  • Transmission type: ZF 6-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC manual control
  • Suspension: Front multi-link (5-link) / Rear multi-link (5-link)
  • Stabilizer bar (front/rear): 26 mm/18 mm
  • Weight distribution front to rear: 53:47
  • Brakes: Power-assisted 4-wheel disc
  • Front brake diameter (mm / in): 320 / 12.6 ventilated disc
  • Rear brake diameter (mm / in): 314 / 12.4 solid disc
  • Steering type: Speed-sensing rack-and-pinion
  • Steering ratio: 14.86

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 750 dealerships nationwide.