Monthly Archives: June 2007

Hyundai’s Efficient Elantra

Hyundai’s Efficient Elantra

No other car in its class offers the same price for performance as the sporty and eco-friendly Elantra

Up Front

If you’re looking for a budget-price car for commuting, or for the high school or college grad in the family, the Hyundai Elantra is one of the best choices on the market. It’s inexpensive, sporty, relatively safe, and has a roomy rear seat and trunk. Plus, some versions of the 2007 Elantra have pollution ratings in the same range as hybrid vehicles.

The Elantra’s price is right, especially if you go with a plain version of the car with a stick shift (more later on why it’s worth considering a stick shift for a young owner). Hyundai is offering a $1,000 rebate on the Elantra through July 2, a big discount as a percentage of the car’s low price.

The base price of just $13,995 for the most basic Elantra GLS includes power windows and locks, but air-conditioning and a decent sound system cost extra. A better bet is probably the midrange Elantra SE, which starts at just over $16,000 and comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a six-speaker CD system with an auxiliary jack, cruise control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The fanciest version of the car, the Limited, which has leather upholstery and heated front seats, starts at $18,495.

Quality is also good. Hyundai’s overall rating dropped precipitously in the latest version of J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality survey, which came out on June 6. The company fell from third place to No. 12, largely because of glitches that have shown up in the red-hot Santa Fe as the model’s sales have soared.

The Elantra, however, continues to be highly rated, tying with the Toyota (TM) Corolla as the runner-up in the compact-car segment. The Honda (HMC) Civic was top rated (no surprise there), but Honda and Toyota are impressive company for the Hyundai to be in.

The Elantra, now in its fourth generation, was redesigned for the ’07 model year, and is now slightly longer, wider, and taller. In fact, the ’07 Elantra is big enough to qualify as a midsize sedan, according to the government classification system, while the Civic and Corolla are still classified as compacts.

The Elantra’s standard engine is a peppy 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder that puts out 136 horsepower—unless you buy one in California, Maine, New York, Vermont, or Massachusetts. In those states, the car has a SULEV certification (for Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle/Partial Zero Emission Vehicle), which means it runs 90% cleaner than the average new model.

In California, the car also has a PZEV certification (for Partial Zero Emission Vehicle), for which few vehicles qualify. Both ratings are government jargon meaning that the car emits virtually no pollution. But the trade-off of the ultra-clean version of the engine is that its horsepower drops to 132.

Not surprisingly, the Elantra is fuel-efficient, too. It’s rated to get 28 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway. In 204 miles of mixed, mainly highway driving, I got 29.8 mpg. That’s impressive, though both the Civic and Corolla have higher mileage ratings. I got 32.9 mpg in the Corolla and 33.1 mpg in the Civic.

Elantra sales haven’t been great, though that’s partly because this is a year of transition from the old to the new model. Sales were up 5% to 9,317 in May, but for the first five months of the year, they fell 7.9%, to 40,315 cars.

The Sonata, Tiburon, and Tucson all had declining sales during the same period. Hyundai’s hottest model so far this year is the Santa Fe SUV, which saw its sales nearly double, to 35,912 through the end of May. The Accent compact is up 28.1%, to 14,859, and the new Entourage minivan is selling reasonably well.

The $1,000 rebate, which started on June 1, makes the Elantra look a lot more attractive vs. the Honda Civic and Mazda 3, neither of which is being pumped up with rebates. However, the Elantra still faces stiff competition. Through July 2, Ford (F) is offering a $2,500 rebate on the Focus (plus another $500 for recent college grads), and Toyota is offering $750 off on the aging Corolla. And through July 9, General Motors (GM) is offering $1,000 to $1,500 off on the Chevy Cobalt.

Behind the Wheel

The Elantra is a fun little car to drive. The steering is tight, and the car handles better than most econo-boxes on curvy roads and during hard cornering. It isn’t really fast: My best times in accelerating from zero to 60 were around 8.6 seconds. But that’s quick for an economy car, and the Elantra’s small size makes it feel quicker than it actually is.

Obviously, this is no Porsche. The stick shift is sloppy. You sometimes have to search to get it into gear, and at one point I didn’t get it entirely into reverse and it popped out of gear when I started backing up.

The car doesn’t feel as solid as a Civic or a Corolla on bumpy roads. Once when the right front tire plunged into a deep pothole, there was a sickening thud that felt like it would damage the steering mechanism if it happened often. I never had that feeling driving over the same backroads in the Civic or Corolla.

The Elantra is smooth and quiet on the highway. I, of course, would never exceed the speed limit deliberately. But, absolutely inadvertently, I was cruising along a four-lane highway not far from my house one evening, and one of my favorite DJs on my local community radio station was spinning Van Morrison’s version of Gloria and I got into it—and found myself bopping along at 95 mph. I kept cruising along at that speed for two or three minutes, and the car didn’t seem to strain at all. The cabin was far from silent, but highway noise wasn’t loud enough to interfere with my radio-listening. And the ride remained relatively smooth.

The Elantra’s interior is solidly made and well designed, with lots of attractive molded storage spaces, cup holders, and elements to make it look distinctive while also being practical. The driver’s seat is comfortable, and the rear seats are surprisingly roomy. With the driver’s seat set for my height (5 feet 10 inches), I had more than ample knee space in the driver’s-side rear seat. Headroom is good, too, and there’s plenty of space to slide your feet under the front seats.

The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 pattern to create a hauling space with a sizable pass-through to the trunk. As in the Chevy Cobalt and a few other cars, the seatback release is in the trunk, where it’s less likely to be released by accident by children during a long drive. There are nets on the backs of the front seats for holding magazines, but no map and magazine holders built into the sides of the rear doors.

Buy It Or Bag It?

There are better cars in the class than the Elantra. The Honda Civic comes to mind, but the Civic costs a lot more. If money is tight, the Elantra offers excellent value, especially if you buy before July 2 and your Hyundai dealer gives you a deal. Also, keep in mind that Hyundai offers one of the best warranties of any carmaker.

The Elantra’s average recent selling price is $15,406, according to the Power Information Network, after an average cash rebate of $1,169. That’s about the same as the Toyota Corolla ($15,706), but the Corolla is bland and is being redesigned for the ’08 model year.

The hot-selling Honda Civic is the best car in the segment, in my opinion, but isn’t being discounted by most dealers and costs an average of $18,806, $3,400 more than the Hyundai. The Mazda 3, another sporty, well-built Japanese model, costs an average of $18,878 and carries an average discount of only $664, according to the Power Information Network (PIN, like BusinessWeek, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP)).

Competing domestic models are cheaper largely because they carry bigger average discounts. For instance, the Ford Focus is going for an average of just $14,538 after an average discount of $2,370, while the Chevy Cobalt sells for an average of $13,992 after a $1,733 discount, according to PIN. However, the Focus is an aging model that Ford has allowed to languish, and the Cobalt, while redesigned for the ’05 model year and solidly built, isn’t as much fun to drive as the Elantra.

The domestic compact I like best is DaimlerChrysler’s (DCX) new Caliber, which costs about two grand more than the Elantra. The Caliber sells for an average of $17,445 with an average discount of just $509. It isn’t great fun to drive, but it’s new, has a practical station-wagon-style design, and is available with all-wheel drive.

If you’re buying an Elantra for a student, consider saving money by going with the stick shift. True, as some readers have pointed out, manual transmissions are disappearing from the U.S. But not overseas, where they remain popular, and in some places dominant. I’ve seen American tourists at rental car desks angrily demanding a car with an automatic transmission when none was available. Being able to use a stick shift is an important part of a student’s international education, like learning a foreign language. Also, of course, any economy car is more fun to drive with a stick shift.

Editor’s Rating: 4/5

The Good: Low price, fuel-efficient, fun to drive, great warranty

The Bad: Doesn’t feel as solidly made as a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla

The Bottom Line: Dollar for dollar, one of the best compacts on the market

by Thane Peterson BusinessWeek

Mid-New Car & Truck Buyers Guide: Hyundai Driving for Success With Many Models

Mid-Year New Car & Truck Buyers Guide: Hyundai driving for success with many models

The spotlight is plenty crowded at Hyundai these days as the company introduces one new car or truck after another — sometimes before the public’s even gotten used to the one announced only a short time before.

Hyundai is considered to be on the ascend these days, and it is trying to make sure it doesn’t miss a single niche.

So rather than pick one or two cars that’s been overlooked at Hyundai, I’ll introduce you to the newer models to re-familiarize you with all that has happened at one of the world’s busiest auto company.

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

The Veracruz, with prices ranging from $26,995 to $34,695, looks as if it costs far more than that.

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

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

Another new model is the Azera GLS, an entry level variant of the popular mid-sized sedan that starts at $24,895 with a five-speed transmission and a 3.3 liter V-6 that is rated at 21/28. New this year for Azera are side view mirrors with side marker indicators added to the Ultimate Package, steering wheel audio controls standard on all models, and contrasting gray stitching on cars equipped with black leather. The Azera is designed to compete with Toyota’s Avalon.

If you want a nice surprise, check out the new 2007 Elantra. This is a car that lists for less than $14,000 for starters — and is better equipped than some cars selling for about half as much more. It’s got front and rear side curtain air bags, adjustable head restraints, full power equipment, remote keyless entry system, tilt steering wheel, rear center armrest with cup holders, center console with two-tier storage compartment and more.

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

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

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

Another star of Hyundai’s lineup this year is the all-new 2007 Santa Fe small crossover.

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

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

The new Santa Fe has more flowing lines than its predecessor; you don’t see the odd character lines or sharp angles and odd wrinkles that were part of the previous car.

Inside, there’s more luxury and comfort than you might expect: dual zone climate controls; blue backlighting for all interior gauges, switches and buttons; and soft-touch, high quality materials and low-gloss surfaces through the car.

Prices range from $20,945 to $27,945.

What’s Coming in 2008

The big news during the next model year will be the long-awaited arrival of Hyundai’s first true full-size rear-wheel drive sedan. A concept version was called the Genesis, but it’s possible that name may be changed. Still, the car is expected to look a lot like the sleek, expensive looking Genesis concept sedan that was a hit at the New York International Auto how.

Both V-6 and V-8 versions will be offered, with the V-8 engine having horsepower well in excess of 300 horsepower.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
By Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

2007 Hyundai Tiburon V6 Quick Drive

2007 Hyundai Tiburon V6 quick drive

Tiburon is the Spanish word for “shark” and when the original Tiburon was introduced in the mid 90s, it represented a daring take on how to style a sports coupe.

It had thrown conservative design out the sunroof and sliced the envelope in half with its shark-fin spoiler.

When looks matter, inside or our, this machine delivers.

Sharks never stop moving even while they sleep, and that’s fitting because the styling of the latest Tiburon makes it look like its speeding along even at rest. This isn’t a coupe version of some sedate sedan, and as such its designers were free to play.

Scandalous lines electrify its presence, and it demands attention with a low ride, big wheels and dual-outlet exhaust at the rear.

Metallic trim throughout the tastefully restrained cockpit lends itself to the cars overall sporting spirit, and the loaded tester also came with power windows, locks and mirrors, air conditioning, heated leather seats, automatic climate control, keyless entry, and an air quality system.

Build quality is very good, and aside from a few dated switches and controls, interior construction feels the part of a higher priced machine.

Under the hood is a familiar 2.7 litre V6 engine that generates 172 horsepower.

That’s four-cylinder output for many competitors, but the little six is eager to rev, delivers decent mileage and sounds pleasing.

It’s not lightning quick nor particularly smooth, though power is adequate once the revs start to climb.

The test car spun the front tires through a tight six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission is available.

The chassis is composed, solid and eager to play, clearly tuned for performance first, and comfort second. These goals are well met, as the Tiburon goes exactly where you point it without a fuss.

At the end of the day, it is a coupe- meaning limited room for more than one friend and their things. Your author measures 5″9′ and 220 lbs- and if you’re much bigger than me, you’ll feel cramped.

But as a complete package, this Tiburon will be hard to beat, with the combination of Hyundai’s warranty coverage, sporting attitude, quality, styling and features. It’s a highly energetic vehicle that’s a real treat to drive.

This shark’s been around, but its teeth are still sharp.

Hyundai Veracruz The New LUV

Hyundai Veracruz The New LUV

LUV? What is LUV??

And no, we are not talking about some new chat lingo or cell phone texting shorthand. LUV stands for Luxury Utility Vehicle.

As the market exploded for the traditional SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle), many consumers wanted the power and performance of these popular automobiles but also wanted the style and comfort of there preferred automobiles.

The ever changing world of car consumers demanded that car manufacturers keep up with the demands of a fast paced society and recognize that while the demands placed on multi income families required a vehicle which could be used for many utility purposes, the drivers still wanted style and class in their automotive choice.

The answer came from quite an unexpected source. Hyundai, long known for small compact economy cars, introduced an entire line of cars to meet this growing demand for the best of both worlds. The Hyundai Veracruz is the top of the line in their LUV series of vehicles.

Debuted in South Korea in 2006, this functional yet stylish auto is now available in the US starting back in 2007. When first launched, this Hyundai was mistaken for a Lexus or other more expensive cars. This, many believe, was Hyundai’s intention and it is believed by car experts that this is the launch of an entire new line of cars by Hyundai which will compete with other luxury car manufacturers such as Cadillac, Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, and Lincoln.

The other automobiles in this new LUV line of cars is the Santa Fe series as well as the Azera series. The Veracruz, however is the largest in the LUV line until the proposed Portico series which is scheduled for launching in 2009.

But for now the Hyundai Veracruz is the top of the line LUV and deserves a serious look for those car consumers who want performance and comfort in their cars as well as raw power and versatility.

But how does it really stack up against the other cars in this class? After all, if the Lexus RX 350 is indeed the target, does the Veracruz meet the mark or miss the target completely?

Most experts agree that the Hyundai Veracruz does indeed meet expectations and performance standards of any car in the LUV class. While the looks of the car, as judged by some, is generic and forgettable, on power, performance, quality and safety issues, the Veracruz is a car to consider if looking for a cheaper option to the Lexus or other luxury car in this class.

At a starting base price of around $27,000 the Hyundai Veracruz is an enticing option in this market and many will love the LUV.

Sat, 16 Jun 2007, 14:34

Hyundai Motor America Continues Its Fight Against Pediatric Cancer WIth The 2007 Hope On Wheels Tour

Hyundai Motor America Continues Its Fight Against Pediatric Cancer With The 2007 Hope On Wheels Tour

With 28 Nationwide Stops Planned For 2007, Hyundai Hopes To Surpass $10 Million In Total Contributions Since The Program’s Inception

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 06/18/2007 Hyundai Motor America and its dealers announced their recommitment to the fight against pediatric cancer with the 2007 Hope On Wheels tour. Hope On Wheels is the united effort of more than 750 Hyundai dealers to raise awareness for kids battling pediatric cancer.

This summer, 28 ceremonial donation events will take place at pediatric cancer research institutions across the country to celebrate children’s lives and treatment milestones by capturing their colorful handprints on a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe. As part of each ceremony, regional Hyundai dealers support the life-giving work being done by these hospitals with donations raised through the sale of Hyundai vehicles. In addition, Francesca Arnaudo, a two-time cancer survivor now 11 years old, will once again be the Hyundai Hope On Wheels spokes-kid for 2007.

Since the inception of Hope On Wheels in 2004, the tour has visited more than 70 hospitals nationwide and collected more than 300 handprints at “handprint ceremonies.” Hyundai and its dealers have contributed more than eight million dollars to research institutions across the country to date. In 2007, Hyundai expects to reach $10 million in total contributions.

“Fifty years ago children with standard risk leukemia had very little hope of surviving, but with the aid of pediatric cancer institutions across the nation they now have close to a 90 percent chance of being cured,” said Dr. Leonard Sender, M.D., medical director of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) Cancer Institute. CHOC is an ongoing beneficiary of Hyundai’s pediatric cancer efforts and recently received an all-new Hope On Wheels Santa Fe. “With the donations and generous aid we receive from organizations like Hyundai, our facility and others can continue to conduct the research and innovative forward-thinking that enable us to provide our patients with the best clinical care and preventative tools.”

“We are excited and proud to continue our ninth year commitment to helping children who have overcome or are battling pediatric cancer,” said Steve Wilhite, chief operating officer, Hyundai Motor America. “Providing financial assistance is just the first step. Hyundai plans to be personally and emotionally committed to the Hope On Wheels campaign as we raise awareness and support in multiple communities.”

The complete list of 2007 Hope On Wheels tour stops, including benefiting hospitals will be updated on


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.

G. Chambers Williams III: Elantra Excitement

G. Chambers Williams III: Elantra excitement

If you’re looking for a compact sedan in the same class as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra, there’s a great entry that many of you probably haven’t even considered.

It’s the redesigned 2007 Hyundai Elantra.

And if this car isn’t on your list, perhaps because you have some lingering concerns about Hyundai’s quality or reliability, take out your pen and put it on that list anyway. Quality is no longer an issue with Hyundai products – and hasn’t been for several years.

A careful shopper would go drive an Elantra, check out the long list of standard equipment, look at the great fuel-economy ratings and then compare the price with one of those Japanese competitors.

Then, a truly savvy consumer probably would choose the Hyundai.

For under $17,000 (plus freight), our test model, the Elantra SE, came as well-equipped as some premium cars costing thousands of dollars more, and with an outlay of just under $20,000, you can turn the Elantra into a near-luxury compact complete with leather interior.

That price brings you the Limited model, which also includes a 220-watt premium audio system and power-heated outside mirrors.

But even at the price of our test vehicle, you get more for your money than most of you would have thought possible.

Maybe some acquaintances would tease you about buying a Hyundai, but with the low monthly payments and the savings at the gas pumps, you’ll have the last laugh.

Among standard features on our SE model (base price $15,695 plus $600 freight) were tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, power windows/mirrors/door locks (with remote), air conditioning, cruise control, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls, and both seat-mounted and side-curtain air bags.

A few of the Elantra’s features are not even offered on some of its competitors. Hyundai continues to amaze consumers with the value it offers in its vehicles, most of which have more standard content and available options than their competitors for hundreds to thousands of dollars less.

Even the base Elantra GLS model, which begins at $13,395, comes with lots of standard equipment, including the front seat-mounted side air bags and side-curtain air bags for both rows of seats, although air conditioning, a necessity here in Texas, is a $900 option.

2007 Hyundai Elantra sedan
The package: Compact, four-door, four-cylinder, front-drive, five-passenger economy sedan.

Highlights: Redesigned for 2007, this is Hyundai’s most popular model. It’s roomy and quite well-equipped for an economy car. It even can be equipped with a leather interior, and the price stays under $20,000.

Negatives: No engine upgrade offered for sportier performance.

Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder.

Transmission: Five-speed manual; four-speed automatic optional ($1,000).

Power/torque: 138 HP/136 foot-pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock, with electronic brake-force distribution standard.

Electronic stability control: Not offered.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted and side-curtain for front and rear, standard.

Length: 177.4 inches.

Cargo capacity: 14.2 cubic feet.

Curb weight: 2,721-2,747 pounds.

Fuel capacity/type: 14.0 gallons/unleaded regular.

EPA fuel economy (2007 formula): 28 mpg city/36 highway.

Major competitors: Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cobalt, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Kia Spectra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Volkswagen Jetta, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki Forenza.

Base price range: $13,395-$16,845 plus $600 freight and options.

Price as tested: $17,380 including freight and options (SE with automatic).

On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

But even a well-equipped GLS, including automatic transmission ($1,000) and a preferred-equipment package ($1,500) that adds the air conditioning, a 172-watt AM/FM/compact-disc audio system with steering-wheel controls, cruise control, fog lights and dual illuminated visor mirrors, lists for just $16,495, including freight.

In between the base GLS and uplevel Limited is the SE model, which comes with the features of the preferred package, along with some other extras, including leather shift knob, 16-inch alloy wheels and a trip computer.

Our tester came with the optional four-speed automatic transmission; the base transmission is a five-speed manual.

Both transmissions give the Elantra impressive EPA fuel-economy ratings of 28 miles per gallon city/36 highway.

Also available but not included on our test car is a premium package ($1,150), which adds a power sunroof and heated seats. With the automatic transmission and premium package, the SE lists for just $17,845. The biggest difference between the SE and the Limited at this price is that the SE has cloth rather than leather seats.

Frankly, I prefer cloth seats in the hot climate of Texas, but the leather does give the interior a luxury look.

So if you want the leather, even the Limited model can be had for well under $20,000 if you leave off the automatic transmission and the “sun and sound” package ($1,300), which brings the sunroof and 220-watt stereo.

Base price of the Limited is just $16,845, which includes the leather seats, door panel inserts and armrest, along with the front-seat heaters. This is a remarkable price for a car this well-equipped. Even with the automatic transmission, it’s still just $18,295.

The restyled Elantra isn’t a radical departure from the previous generation, but it does borrow some from Hyundai’s flagship Azera sedan. Hyundai says the Elantra’s new look also has some features in common with the 2007 Santa Fe.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 138 horsepower (except in California and a handful of Northeast states, where it has lower emissions and a 132-horsepower rating).

Another great thing about the Elantra is that even though it’s priced to compete in the compact sedan segment, its 112.1 cubic feet of interior space, including the 14.2 cubic-foot trunk, give the car an official EPA classification as a midsize sedan.

It has more interior space than the Civic (102.9 cubic feet) and Corolla (103.8). In fact, it even has more interior volume than the midsize, entry-luxury Acura TL sedan (110.4), which is built on the same chassis as the Honda Accord.

The new model also is 2 inches wider and 2.2 inches taller than last year’s version, which helped increase interior space. Front and rear shoulder room also were improved, and the rear bench seat is more comfortable for three people than it was last year.

Cargo space also has been increased. The trunk is now 18 percent larger than the Civic’s and 5 percent bigger than the Corolla’s, Hyundai says.

Including the Elantra, Hyundai now has introduced seven new or completely redesigned models in just two years. It’s the last part of the company’s so-called “24-7” program that promised seven new models in 24 months.

Others are the Tucson compact sport utility, introduced last year; the redesigned midsize Sonata, which arrived two years ago; the compact, entry-level Accent, whose sedan model showed up last year and whose hatchback version was added for 2007; the full-size Azera sedan, new last year; the redesigned midsize Santa Fe sport utility, whose second generation arrived this past fall; and the Entourage, Hyundai’s first minivan, which made its debut last year as a 2007 model.

The Elantra is a step up from Hyundai’s compact Accent sedan and is intended for people who can afford to spend a bit more.

The front seat-mounted side air bags and the side-curtain are a surprising standard feature for this vehicle class and offer occupants protection from side impacts as well as rollovers. These types of air bags are believed to be capable of reducing fatalities by more than 45 percent overall, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Front seat-mounted side air bags are optional on competitors such as the Corolla and Ford Focus and are not even offered on the Chevrolet Cobalt. Side-curtain air bags are optional on the Corolla and Cobalt, but not available on the Focus.

For now, though, electronic stability control is not available on the Elantra. This emerging technology quickly is becoming standard on sport utility vehicles and at least optional on many other vehicles. Still, the Elantra’s safety features are well above average for its class.

Other safety features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution as well as active head restraints for the front bucket seats, designed to help prevent whiplash injuries.

As with many cars these days, the rear seat has a 60/40 split-folding feature that can expand cargo space from the trunk.

The only option on our test car, other than the automatic transmission, were carpeted floor mats ($85). Total sticker price was $17,380, including freight.

Hyundai offers one of the best warranties in the industry – five years/60,000 miles total coverage, and 10 years/100,000 miles on the powertrain.

G. Chambers Williams III
San Antonio Express-News

Hyundai Is Moving On Up

Hyundai is moving on up

TEST DRIVE | Takes giant leap with the mid-size crossover Veracruz, which offers an array of wonderful amenities to put its interior into the league of a Lexus

The new Veracruz mid-size crossover might cause folks to consider Hyundai able to make vehicles that match in many ways vehicles from automakers such as Toyota and Honda. It’s the type of vehicle Hyundai needs in its major push to considerably upgrade its image.

South Korea’s Hyundai says it’s aiming the Veracruz — named after a tourist-destination Mexican state on the Gulf of Mexico — squarely at the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. The Mazda CX-9, Subaru Tribeca and Saturn Outlook also are rivals. So is — dare we say? — the Lexus RX 350.

2007 Hyundai Veracruz

Price: $26,305 – $34,005.

Likes: Surprisingly upscale. Lexus-like interior. Roomy. Sharp styling. Fast. Well-equipped. Third seat.

Dislikes: Average handling. Rather numb steering. Foot-operated parking brake. Rear visibility.

The seven-seat Veracruz has a quiet Lexus-style interior like no other Hyundai interior, with soft-touch materials and excellent fit-and-finish. It’s spacious, with an especially roomy second row seat area. A third-row seat is easily reached via the sliding, split second-row seat and can accommodate two adults in reasonable comfort — at least for shorter trips. It includes its own roof-mounted vents.

The 50-50 split third seat folds into the floor without needing to yank the headrests and store them elsewhere.

The Veracruz rides on a stretched rigid unit-body Hyundai Santa Fe SUV platform. It looks slick, with impressively tight panel gaps, although thick back roof pillars partially block rear vision. It’s thus a good idea to often check the large outside mirrors when making moves in traffic. It’s also a good idea to use the turn signals when changing lanes, although even the turn-signal stalk’s clicks sound just right.

The Veracruz comes with front- or electronic all-wheel drive and costs from $26,305 to $34,005. Trim levels are entry GLS, mid-range SE and top-line Limited.

All have a sophisticated 3.8-liter, 260-horsepower V-6 also found in Hyundai’s flagship Azera sedan. The V-6 lets the Veracruz scoot from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and provides good merging and 65-80 mph passing times.

The engine delivers an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 25 on highways, not bad for a vehicle that weighs 4,266 pounds with front-drive and 4,431 pounds with all-wheel drive. Only 87-octane fuel is needed.

The engine is mated to a crisp-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature.

The dual-overhead-camshaft V-6 has continuously variable valve timing and a variable intake system for good response at all speeds. It rides on newly developed semi-active mounts that harness engine vacuum to offset engine vibrations. The result? Subdued engine noise.

Hyundai hasn’t forgotten value for the dollar in its move upscale. For instance, the Veracruz is loaded with comfort, convenience and safety equipment.

Even the GLS has such standard features as air conditioning with separate rear climate controls, cruise control, tilt/telescopic wheel, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers — along with power heated external mirrors and power windows, tailgate lock and doors with remote keyless entry.

The SE adds a power driver’s seat with lumbar support, 18-inch (up from 17-inch) wheels, leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob, automatic headlights and a cooled front center console storage area.

Hyundai throws just about everything in the Limited. It has leather upholstery, power front passenger seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, power tilt/slide sunroof, backup warning system and a power tailgate. It’s even got a windshield wiper de-icer.

Not enough? Then there’s the aptly named $2,950 Ultimate Package for the Limited. Its items include adjustable pedals, power tilt/telescopic wheel, a “family essential” rear DVD entertainment system with surround sound audio and rain-sensing wipers.

STILL not satisfied? Then get the Ultimate Package with the Premium Black/Saddle interior for $3,200.

As for safety, all trim levels get electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock braking with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist — and front side air bags and side curtain bags for all seating rows.

Desirable options exist for versions other than the Limited. It might be hard to pass up the $1,950 Premium Package for the entry GLS. It contains the power tilt/slide sunroof, power driver seat, heated front seats and backup warning system — a good family feature to have.

Likewise, the $3,350 Premium and Leather Package for the SE looks good — if rather pricey. It features the sunroof, leather seats, heated front seats and Infinity CD/MP3 changer audio system. There’s also a $1,600 Entertainment option for the SE that requires the Premium/Leather option but contains the DVD system with a surround sound audio system.

I tested the $32,305 front-drive Limited and found the steering rather numb near the on-center position, although it’s quick enough and there’s a tighter minimum turning radius than the shorter Lexus RX 350’s.

Handling is good, although there’s a fair amount of body sway when taking curves in a spirited manner despite front/rear anti-sway bars. The all-independent suspension provides a firm but supple ride, although the suspension occasionally clunks over large bumps. The brake pedal has a nice positive feel, and stopping distances are OK.

Getting in and out calls for a little extra effort, and occupants sit high. The front bucket seats provide good support, and gauges are easily read. Climate controls are large and major controls are easily reached, especially the driver’s power window controls. However, the low, foot-activated parking brake can hit the side of a driver’s ankle.

The console storage bin is fairly deep and doors have storage pockets. Front cupholders are positioned to avoid spills and are conveniently ringed with blue light during night driving.

The cargo area is impressively large, especially with the third-row seat folded out of the way. And the second-row seatbacks also fold.

The Veracruz makes one wonder if, indeed, Hyundai will attain more Lexus-style polish — at Hyundai prices.

June 9, 2007
BY DAN JEDLICKA Sun-Times Auto Editor

2007 Hyunda Elantra GLS and Limited Road Test

2007 Hyundai Elantra GLS and Limited Road Test

If Toyota has an enemy, it isn’t Honda or Nissan. While each makes cars and trucks that compete in the same segments, sportier Honda and Nissan buyers aren’t all that interested in the equivalent Toyotas. No, Japan’s largest automaker is more about comfort than speed, which is exactly why Hyundai is such a serious threat.

Take the all-new 2007 Elantra, for instance. It not only looks a lot like a Corolla, but it targets Toyota’s compact car customers in identical ways. It’s ultra-comfortable, smooth riding and a relatively good handler, but that’s not all. It’s also more powerful, smoother shifting, larger inside and more upscale, while it delivers more features, higher quality materials, more safety equipment and a lower price, all backed up by a longer warranty with better coverage. Get the picture?

Inside the GLS model that Hyundai provided me, the seat fabric is extremely nice and looks like it will last over time, and I dare you to find more comfortable chairs in the compact class. All the cabin plastics are extremely good for this segment too, while the switchgear is also better than average. Everything is laid out in a logical manner, which makes this car very easy to drive right out of the dealer’s lot. And there’s tons of room up front too.

But it’s your passengers that’ll be truly surprised when they get in behind you, as the Elantra is so roomy all-round that it’s actually classified as a midsize car by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The same can be said for the trunk that, like the interior, holds more than Civic or Corolla, and the standard 60/40 folding rear seats really open up the cargo area for longer items.

Other standard features include power assisted rack and pinion steering, a fully independent suspension system, variable intermittent wipers, a tachometer, power windows all around with an auto down feature for the driver’s window, heated mirrors, map/cargo lights, tilt steering, remote keyless entry with an alarm, an armrest with a storage bin up front and an armrest with cupholders in the back, and driver’s seat height adjustment.

The base GLS model comes standard with a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD player. It’s not a bad system, to say the very least, but for those, including myself, who find the stock unit lacking, I’d highly recommend checking off the $1,700 Preferred Package option box while you’re at the dealership. You’ll get an upgraded 172-watt AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with 6 speakers and a must-have auxiliary input jack. In other markets, this auxiliary jack which allows for an external audio device, like an iPod, isn’t even available. I know people (my wife included) who wouldn’t even consider a car without one of these. Along with aforementioned items, the Preferred Package also offers air conditioning, a tinted upper windshield band, fog lights, cruise control, illuminated visor mirrors, and extendable front sunvisors. There is really no excuse to upgrade. And, if you want air conditioning or a power sunroof on its own, it’ll cost $950 or $900, respectively.

Back to the car itself, I don’t think that the majority of people will purchase the base GLS model because a relatively inexpensive jump to the SE provides so much more that you’d have to be really cash strapped not to take advantage. For starters you’ll get everything the GLS Preferred Package model has plus larger 16-inch 5-spoke alloy rims wrapped in 205/55HR16 rubber, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with really upscale steering wheel controls on a wheel that can also telescope, plus a leather shift knob and a trip computer… all for an additional $2,500 over the base car’s $13,395 sticker price, or just $800 over the aforementioned GLS with the Preferred Package. And if that’s not enough, an $1,150 Premium Package will add a power glass sunroof—with the car’s extremely high-end roofliner fabric wrapping right around the opening, rather than the chunky piece of cheap plastic that normally surrounds sunroof cutouts in this class—and heated front seats to boot (really unusual with cloth upholstery but much appreciated).

Giving the Elantra five-star frontal and four-star side-impact ratings from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association, not to mention a four-star rollover rating, are standard features that are optional on some of its other competitors. You get four-wheel discs with ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), a total of six airbags, including two front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and two side curtain airbags, protecting front- and rear-seat outboard passengers, active front headrests for whiplash protection, adjustable head restraints for all seating positions, and adjustable front-seat shoulder belt anchors.

Now, if you really want to pamper yourself, you should consider the Elantra Limited, yours for the tidy sum of just under $17,000 and one of my test cars for the week. Most noticeable are its leather clad seats, and it’s not the cheap hard leather that most in the compact segment offer, if they have leather at all, but really soft, supple hides with perforations in the seat inserts, all giving the car a rich ambiance. There’s even perforated leather on the door insert. But why stop there?

OK, Hyundai USA did stop there, because in other markets the Korean automaker offers an automatic climate control system that’s oh so cool it glows an eerie shade of blue. Very chic! Although, at least the aforementioned sun visors are illuminated and feature a handy extension to block out rays that would otherwise seep through from behind the rearview mirror. Not much of a consolation prize? Figured.

Well, how about a telescopic steering column to go along with the lesser model’s tilting one? The fact is, every optional feature found in the base GLS and midrange SE can be found as standard in the Limited. But what really sets it apart from the rest is the “Limited” exterior badging that includes a chrome accent rear garnish and the Sun and Sound Package. For $1,300, including a glass sunroof, you get a 220-watt (48-watt upgrade over the standard unit) premium audio system.

A five-speed manual comes standard in all Elantras, even in the top-line Limited, while a four-speed automatic is optional for $1,000. Surprisingly, both are good for the same 28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway fuel consumption rating. Not bad.

When out on the road, acceleration is what you’d expect in this class, decent but nothing awe-inspiring. I noticed that the automatic gearbox lacked a little punch when going up steeper hills, something that a five- or six-speed would probably cure. As of yet, no competitors offer a six-speed in this class, mind you, although Honda’s Civic comes with five forward gears. The Elantra’s automatic gearbox is surprisingly smooth, however, which really fits in with the luxury atmosphere of the top-line Limited model.

The same can be said for handling, which is good enough but hardly spectacular. It rolls a bit when going into corners quickly, and dives somewhat during hard braking. Then again, most cars in this class react similarly, excepting Mazda’s sporty 3 and Mitsubishi’s all-new Lancer. The Elantra rides better than either of these two, however, and I’d even venture to say that it’s the smoothest in the compact class. For commuting back and forth to work in rush hour traffic, I’d opt for comfort over speed any day of the week.

So, while this little Hyundai’s styling won’t be for everyone, it’s so impressive in every other way I think it’ll find a lot more homes than its predecessor, and with Hyundai rating “above average” in J. D. Power and Associates 2007 Initial Quality Study, you shouldn’t be concerned about reliability. If that’s not enough to appease your worries, Hyundai even took the top spot away from Toyota in Strategic Vision’s 2007 Total Quality Index, with the most vehicle segment leaders.

What’s more, its five-year or 60,000 mile bumper to bumper and ten-year or 100,000 mile powertrain warranty is one of the best in the business, padding that comfort zone even further.

So, if you’re on the lookout for a small car, and comfort, quality and dependability are high priorities, check out the Elantra. It’ll surprise you.

June 12, 2007
by Trevor Hofmann / American Auto Press

2008 Hyundai Veracruz Limited AWD Road Test

2008 Hyundai Veracruz Limited AWD Road Test

At first glance, it might seem a bit strange that Hyundai is introducing yet another seven-occupant midsize crossover SUV, being that it recently upsized its Santa Fe to compete directly with the Toyota Highlanders and Honda Pilots of the world. Well, let me assure that your inquiring mind will quickly be put at ease when you see the new Veracruz in its entirety. From the outside in, Hyundai’s largest crossover is like nothing the brand has ever produced before. Its full assortment of standard and optional luxury features, fine attention to detail, high quality materials and rich, upscale styling will finally turn nonbelievers into advocates. Yes, what was previously an upstart from South Korea is now not only capable of going up against the best Japan’s entry-level brands have to offer, but might even be knocking on the doors of the Pacific island’s premium models.

When I initially saw it at the Detroit auto show I couldn’t help but think that Hyundai was vying for Lexus’ RX limelight, as its basic shape seems like it came together after stirring a large dollop of the first RX 300 in with a spoonful of the current 350. Don’t get me wrong, as Hyundai’s latest has a number of unique exterior styling cues too, such as its chrome trimmed smiling grille, and at the other end its rather attractive rear combination taillight clusters; I’d like to see the latter’s LED option, available in other markets, offered here in the U.S. Most I’ve spoken with find it a pleasing design, especially women, and everyone is impressed with how well its panels are put together, with gaps tight and evenly spaced. But really, like I inferred at the onset of this review, everyone I showed it to came to fully appreciate the Veracruz once inside.

To clarify this point, after taking part in the press event and then more recently living with the Veracruz for a week, two days of which included a weekend getaway, I took a cue from the previously mentioned Detroit introduction, at which time Hyundai showed a reality TV-style video that started off with a few families taking part in what appeared to be a market research study held in a conference room, answering questions about what they would like in a new SUV, and finally ended up with each family living with the new Veracruz (badges removed) for a day. After all of the accolades, each was asked which brand they thought created this nameless crossover, at which point all named luxury nameplates and most, not surprisingly, picked Lexus. My imagination getting the better of me, I thought of a good friend who is extremely well off (just recently sold his 12,000 square foot home with a separate theatre room and an indoor swimming pool, located in one of this city’s best neighborhoods), and could buy any vehicle he could ever dream of owning if cars mattered that much to him. They don’t, and neither does showing off his wealth (something I just can’t help but admire) and therefore he drives a previous generation Lexus RX 300 (and only moved up from a Grand Cherokee because he didn’t like the white faced gauges in the newer model). Lately, however, he’s been questioning me on other vehicles in this class, as it’s time for something new. An opportunity to hold my own case study just couldn’t be riper.

I pulled my friend aside at church and asked him to come outside to look at a new crossover. His wife caught on to what we were up to and eagerly joined us, so the three of us headed out to the parking lot to check out the Veracruz. My friend, not realizing what it was or which company produced it immediately liked the overall shape and commented on how much it reminded him of his RX 300. He got in behind the wheel and was even more impressed with how nicely everything was laid out, the quality of all the materials, especially the optional saddle leather and the soft-touch dash plastics that even extend down below the steering column, the upscale buttons, knobs and switches and attractive Lexus-like vents, and as he proceeded to slot the key into the ignition, was even more awestruck by the optional proximity sensing key fob (a regular remote comes standard), and the fact that he didn’t need a key to start it up. He backed out of the parking spot and the rear parking assist started to beep as we approached a barrier, causing positive comments from his wife. A tight turning radius, at only 36.7 feet, made negotiating surrounding cars easy.

Sitting up front in the passenger’s seat I felt like the car salesman I once was (I was once willing to do anything to get into the car business), riding along and pointing out features, making sure to comment on how smooth the transmission shifts were and how powerful the engine was. Coaxing him to apply a little throttle, a wide grin stole across his face as the continuously variable valve timing equipped 260-horsepower 3.8-liter, 24-valve, DOHC V6 with 257 lb-ft of torque catapulted the Veracruz up the hill with a great deal more energy than he was used to. Just the same, it was wonderfully quiet and impressively smooth thanks to the comfort-oriented suspension boasting gas shocks all-round and a multi-link setup in the rear. The ultra-slick-shifting six-speed automatic added to the refinement, and he was even more impressed to see a manual shift mode feature. The Veracruz’s accurate rack and pinion steering and surprisingly agile independent suspension setup, not to mention standard 18-inch alloy wheels and tires, held to the road well during his test drive, giving him, and his wife who admitted to being extremely comfortable in back, a positive experience overall.

Back at the parking lot, my friend poked and prodded the Veracruz, enjoying the optional power rear liftgate, the quality of the carpeting and trim in the rear cargo area, and how easy lifting and lowering the third row of seats was. Asking if it was difficult to climb into that third row, I asked him to try it out himself at which point he did just that. We were all impressed that he fit in comfortably (well, I already knew he would as we’re about the same height and I fit in the third row with room to spare). He commented that some of the SUVs he already tried out didn’t offer room for his feet in the rearmost seats, something I’ve experienced all too often, but not so for the Veracruz.At the end of his half-hour session with Hyundai’s latest, my friend walked away thoroughly impressed, and seriously considering foregoing the Mercedes-Benz GL he was previously interested in, for a Veracruz. It didn’t hurt that Hyundai only wants $37K for the fully loaded example I showed him, while the GL starts at $53,175 and will top the hundred thousand mark if fitted with the same features (and, in all fairness, others the Veracruz doesn’t offer). While I don’t think Hyundai will be able to pull away every premium buyer, despite offering a vehicle with premium quality features and extremely good build quality, I was impressed with my friend’s reaction and wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up driving his very own Veracruz next Sunday.

And not being the savvy salesman I once was, I didn’t do the best job going over the details. I forgot to mention its standard traction and electronic stability control, ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs with EBD, anti-whiplash head restraints and six standard airbags that include curtain-type airbags protecting all outside occupants and result in five-star frontal and five-star side-impact crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), or the fact that you can lock out the optional all-wheel drive system in extremely slippery conditions for extra grip, or its automatic headlights, standard power tilt and slide glass sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, intermittent rear wiper, dual zone automatic climate control … although I did show him the rear controls on the back of the center console, which just happen to incorporate rear radio controls and a slot for the optional entertainment system’s DVD player. I didn’t mention the standard XM-equipped audio system either, that also boasts a CD/MP3 player. He’d want the top-line system anyway, which gets four additional speakers made by Infinity no less, for a total of ten, plus a six-disc, in-dash changer and external amp pumping out 605 watts of power. It’s impressive to say the least, and comes standard with the Limited.

I also pointed out the optional 115-volt plug in the cargo area, ideal for camping trips, and he noticed the audio controls on the steering wheel spokes and the leather-wrapped steering wheel on his own, not to mention the quality of the optional premium saddle leather; a high-quality cloth is standard. Personally I found the eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat on my tester exceptionally comfortable, thanks to a really supportive shape and the addition of an adjustable lumbar support. My friend, used to his Lexus chairs didn’t complain, so this is a good sign too. With the Limited package, the passenger’s seat is also power adjustable.

The Limited also gets electro-chromic side mirrors, although the convenient puddle lamps and integrated LED blinkers are standard fare. The chrome door handles are top-tier options, mind you, and segue well before opening the Limited’s doors and seeing the attractive metal scuff plates with optional lighted Veracruz embossed script. When sitting inside, the Limited also pampers with a memory system for the power tilt and telescoping steering column, power mirrors and driver’s seat … something else I forgot to mention … but it’s not connected to the power operated pedals for some reason. Yeah, I’m a bit rusty from my days on the showroom floor, but my enthusiasm for the car already had him wondering whether I would get a commission on the deal if he was buying.

Also unmentioned, the top-line Veracruz gets a Homelink garage door opener, plus I also didn’t take the time to fold down the 60/40 split second row, which shows off an amazingly spacious loading area with a flat load floor. Incidentally, the Veracruz is taller and wider than the majority of vehicles it’s up against, and has the most interior room of any vehicle in its class, at 150.6 cubic feet. Still, I can’t help but mention that Hyundai’s own Santa Fe delivers about 60-percent more cargo room behind the third row. C’est la vie, as the Veracruz’ third row is more spacious, and the larger CUV serves up significantly more cargo room behind the second and first rows.

On the negative, this is a weighty vehicle at 4,431 pounds, although it hardly feels cumbersome. The extra weight also helps when towing the CUV’s 3,500 pound maximum. Also, for such a large vehicle I enjoyed slightly better fuel economy than the EPA’s estimated 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway rating, only needing to fill up the 17.2 gallon tank once during my entire week of driving, other than during a two-day road trip over to Bellevue, Washington. And another bonus going to the Veracruz over its premium-class rivals, it only needs regular grade gas.

During my test week there were a small number of things that disappointed, although none would be deal breakers. First off, the top-line Limited model optioned with the unique saddle brown leather can only be coated in metallic black, silver, beige or bronze paint (and it kind of conflicts with the silver), and the beige standard leather is the only interior hue available for all colors in the Limited model. The light blue or khaki, also available on the GLS would better suit the saddle leather; the base Veracruz gets the option of gray or beige leather.

Also, there’s no auxiliary jack for an external audio device, like an iPod. This is inexcusable in any new car; especially considering that this model is targeting families that will no doubt include teenagers … hmmm … maybe this is a bonus after all. And while the kids are grieving you can console them, literally, by dipping into the cooled center console under the armrest to retrieve cold beverages for everyone (and you can turn the air conditioning vent inside the storage bin off if you’re not using it for this purpose). Just above that you’ll find a shallow covered tray for stowing smaller items, that’s trimmed with a very Lexus-like velveteen cloth. Oh, and that velvet lining covers pretty well every lidded storage area in the cabin … very upscale stuff that Mercedes-Benz didn’t even offer in their ML until recently, and Lincoln still doesn’t now with their new MKX crossover (and other than adaptive headlamps and a massive sunroof, the Lincoln interior feels positively dowdy compared to the Veracruz).

Some buyers looking to move down market from premium brands will be disappointed that the wood grain trim isn’t genuine, although others will be happy that Hyundai chose not to deplete any hardwood rainforests in order to satisfy luxury gluttons, and the faux stuff is pretty realistic looking just the same. The Veracruz also doesn’t feature any wood on the steering wheel, popular with the well-to-do, or a full-length panoramic sunroof, critical for spoiling the kids. On that note the rear seats aren’t powered either, and there’s no air conditioned ventilation blasting through perforations in the leather … an atrocity! And no massage function? OK, in all seriousness I can live without all of these things, and if I didn’t test cars for a living I probably wouldn’t have even thought they could be had. But it does seem odd that there aren’t any optional 19- or 20-inch rims?

Also unlike top-tier premium SUVs, the Veracruz doesn’t include front parking assist sensors, an electronic parking brake or a powered third row, plus on the safety front other items aren’t offered, like knee airbags, adaptive front headlights that rotate in order to light up corners, a lane departure warning system, a blind spot warning system, an automated distance regulating cruise control system, or a pre-collision safety system like some high-end crossover SUVs will charge you through the nose for. While most of us can do without such exclusive and expensive hardware, some will complain that Hyundai also doesn’t offer a navigation system. Yeah, hard to believe they’re giving up such a prime opportunity to profit, but as I mentioned to my friend, you can purchase an aftermarket nav system for somewhere in the vicinity of $350 that’s better than most of the in-car ones, and fits into your pocket when traveling. Just the same, Hyundai promises a navigation system in the near future(probably by the mid-cycle upgrade, or about two to three years from now). I should add that without a nav system there’s also no rearview camera, another premium grade nicety.

In the end, nothing I mentioned would stop me from buying a Veracruz if I was in the market for a seven-occupant crossover SUV. Add to its many features an extremely strong “above average” nameplate rating by J. D. Power and Associates in its 2007 Initial Quality Study, plus a superb first-place ranking in Strategic Vision’s 2007 Total Quality Index, with the most vehicle segment leaders, and Hyundai is a good bet. Still, if these third party research firms aren’t enough to convince you, try a five-year, 60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty on for size.

Truly, Hyundai is doing everything right. The Koreans appear as fastidious about quality as the Japanese, and possibly driven by an even more competitive spirit. The Veracruz is the perfect example of this spirit in the metal, the result being a crossover that bests pretty well everything in the entry-level class, and quite a few premium offerings that cost thousands more. I can’t help but feel sorry for the competition.

June 9, 2007
by Trevor Hofmann / American Auto Press

Hyundai SUV Earns Insurance Industry’s TOP SAFETY PICK Award

Hyundai SUV Earns Insurance Industry’s TOP SAFETY PICK Award

ARLINGTON, Va., June 11 — The 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe, a midsize SUV, meets the criteria to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s TOP SAFETY PICK designation. The Santa Fe earned the top rating of good for front, side, and rear crash protection and is equipped with electronic stability control. Now 21 cars, SUVs, and minivans earn TOP SAFETY PICK status.

“The performance of the Santa Fe makes good on Hyundai’s promise to provide the highest level of safety to its customers,” says Institute president Adrian Lund. The Hyundai Entourage and twin Kia Sedona also earned TOP SAFETY PICK for minivans. The Institute recognizes vehicles with this award to help consumers distinguish the best overall choices without having to sort through multiple crash test results.

“Criteria to win are tough because they are intended to drive continued safety improvements such as high crash test ratings and rapid addition of electronic stability control, which is standard equipment on the Santa Fe,” Lund says. The Santa Fe also is equipped with side airbags as standard equipment to protect the heads of people in all three rows of seats.

Redesign improves rear crash performance: Hyundai engineers redesigned the Santa Fe’s seat/head restraints to improve performance in rear impacts. The seats and head restraints in this vehicle’s predecessor model were rated poor overall. The new seats include head restraints designed to automatically move up and toward the heads of people in the front seats during a rear impact. These new seat/head restraints are rated good overall.

How vehicles are evaluated: The Institute’s frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle’s overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a Hybrid III dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented SID-IIs dummies, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle’s structural performance during the impact. Injury measures obtained from the two dummies, one in the driver seat and the other in the back seat behind the driver, are used to determine the likelihood that a driver and/or passenger in a similar real-world crash would sustain serious injury to various parts of the body. The movements and contacts of the dummies’ heads during the test also are evaluated. Structural performance is based on measurements indicating the amount of B-pillar intrusion into the occupant compartment.

Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry — the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seat/head restraints with good or acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck.

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