Monthly Archives: June 2009

Hyundai Genesis and Elantra Named AutoPacific 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award Winners

Hyundai models top Audi and Ford competitors in respective categories

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 06/29/2009 Automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific named the Hyundai Genesis and Hyundai Elantra 2009 Ideal Vehicles in their respective categories. In the Aspirational Luxury Car category, the Hyundai Genesis beat out top rivals including the Audi A5 and A4, Volvo XC70 and Cadillac CTS, while the Hyundai Elantra topped the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Kia Spectra in the Compact Car segment. Additionally, the Hyundai Sonata finished second in the Premium Mid-Size Car segment.

AutoPacific’s fourth annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA) rank auto manufacturers for how closely their 2009 model-year cars or trucks came to matching owners’ expectations and criteria. To determine the winners, AutoPacific asked owners to rate their new car or truck on how close it came to “ideal” in 15 different categories ranging from power and acceleration to safety features and storage. The vehicles that customers said they would change the least were considered the most “ideal.”

Hyundai has created two vehicles that owners say are nearly perfect just the way they are: their ideal vehicle,” said George Peterson, president, AutoPacific. “Owners of the Genesis and Elantra indicated through AutoPacific’s survey that they are driving a vehicle that meets their expectations, meaning they desire little to no change to their vehicle.”

“Having our models recognized for AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Awards is a testament to the hard work and dedication that goes into all the vehicles in the Hyundai lineup,” said Scott Margason, director of Product and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “At Hyundai, we strive to exceed customer expectations in safety, quality and performance and look forward to continuing to develop more award winning vehicles.”

Hyundai’s Genesis sedan sets a new benchmark in the premium car category. With a starting price of just $33,000, Genesis includes performance and luxury features typically found on vehicles costing thousands of dollars more.

The Hyundai Elantra has unsurpassed standard safety in the compact segment and is equipped with six standard airbags. Elantra includes many extras like standard audio auxiliary input jack – all at an affordable price point any customer will appreciate.


AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing and product-consulting firm. Every year it publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies for the automotive industry. The firm also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Additional information can be found at


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

Hyundai a Rising Star in Auto Industry

Sheds longtime second-rate brand status

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. has finally shed its former reputation as a second-rate brand to become one of the world’s premier auto manufacturers.

“There are a lot of people who are convinced that Hyundai simply [couldn’t] build a decent car,” the auto Web site wrote in a recent review of the 2009 Hyundai Genesis. “Not that I blame them; twenty years ago Hyundai was peddling the Excel, a car that cost $45 to build,” and was made out of materials of questionable quality.

But in a total turnaround, car experts today suggest that with Hyundai, people are getting BMW or Mercedes-Benz quality in a package that often costs tens of thousands of dollars less. Especially in today’s market, reputation for quality and value goes a long way for cash-strapped consumers.

Lapping up Awards

Hyundai has won numerous industry accolades in recent months, underscoring its rapidly ascending brand appeal and reputation.

It began with Jan. 11, when the Hyundai Genesis was named 2009 North American Car of the Year at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Genesis came in number one on the judges’ rating scale with 189 points, followed by Ford Flex with 180, and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI with 131 points.

A panel of 50 automotive reporters from the United States and Canada selected the award based on a number of factors including innovation, safety, design, and driver satisfaction.

Hyundai was also named in the 2009 list of “Top 10 Tax Refund Cars” by Kelley Blue Book’s Web site

“It’s an honor to be recognized alongside luxury brands such as Porsche, Audi, Lexus, and Infiniti by a trusted automotive resource like,” Derek Joyce, manager at Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement.

The awards continued into May, when Hyundai cars were awarded the 2009 Rising Star honors as it jumped 11 spots over their 2008 finish. The Hyundai Genesis won the Aspirational Luxury Car award and the Hyundai Sonata was presented with the Premium Mid-Size Car award by AutoPacific, an automotive consulting firm, in its “2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Award” series.

The Rising Star award is given to automakers that incorporate the most improvements in areas customers look for in a car. The cars were judged in 48 different categories to assess car owners’ satisfaction.

“These are difficult times, with news of automaker bankruptcies, companies restructuring, and dealer closures a daily occurrence,” George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, said in a statement.

“Clearly, the dynamics surrounding the Vehicle Satisfaction Award in 2009 are far different from anything we’ve seen in many years. Winners needed to overachieve to earn their awards.”

During the same month, Hyundai’s Entourage minivan was listed among the three “Best Family Cars for 2009” by Parents Magazine and The Entourage costs less and offers more features than all of its competitors, Parents Magazine said on its Web site.

Breeding Success

Despite a depressed market, Hyundai increased its 2009 sales by 2.07 percent over the prior year.

“Hyundai’s success is the result of a cohesive strategy clearly designed to differentiate the firm from its competitors, combined with a willingness to make substantial investments to carry out the plan,” Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a Knowledge @ Wharton (KW) report.

While some global automakers are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Hyundai took bold moves to change negative perception with innovative programs that appealed to customers.

“South Korea’s Hyundai Motors appears to be gaining on the pack with bold marketing and broad-based initiatives to improve quality,” the KW report said.

Hyundai bought Kia Motors, another South Korean competitor, and escaped the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s relatively unscathed. “Hyundai emerged from the crisis with new strength to address its problems,” the report suggested.

To boost sales, Hyundai gave its customers a 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty, compared to the typical 3-year, 30,000 mile warranty offered by its competitors.

“It was risky, but a powerful impetus to improve quality,” John Paul MacDuffie, another University of Pennsylvania professor, said in the report. “They pulled it off and it helped them make a major jump forward.”

Last year, Hyundai promised to repurchase cars from buyers under a financing or lease agreement, if the buyer were laid off from his or her job. This gave new impetus to those would-be buyers who were hesitant to purchase a new car.

“When you try harder, sooner or later, you get noticed,” said Professor John Zhang in the KW report. “Hyundai will soon, if not already, become a force to be reckoned with for the U.S. and Japanese manufacturers because it gives the most bang for customers’ money.”

By Heide B. Malhotra
The Epoch Times

Year Of The Hyundai

The auto industry may be in shambles, but not everyone who makes cars is suffering.

When the latest J.D. Power and Associates quality survey came out Monday, the big news was Hyundai’s trouncing of quality stalwarts Honda and Toyota.

The Korea-based automaker was the highest-ranked non-premium nameplate in the study, beating such notables as Mercedes-Benz, Ford Motor, Honda and Toyota. It received the fourth-highest rank overall behind Lexus, Porsche and Cadillac.

Surprised? John Krafcik isn’t. The president and chief executive of the South Korea-based automaker’s U.S. unit, he says Hyundai’s top rank simply reflects what he’s known for the past few years. “Our cars research really well … and when you finally get in the car and drive it, it stands up to that research.”

With the American auto industry in shambles, Hyundai has stood out as one of the few automakers (Audi and Subaru would join it) to remain stable as of late. Arch-rivals Toyota and Honda report faltering sales for the year so far (down 39% and 34%, respectively), but Hyundai sales are down just 7.9% year-to-date. Its market share has increased too, reaching 4.2% in the first five months of this year, up from 2.9% during the same period in 2008, according to Autodata, a New Jersey-based market research firm.

Hyundai executives have said they aim to boost U.S. market share to 5% by the end of the year. Japan’s Big Three–Toyota, Honda and Nissan–stand to lose the most if they make good on that goal. Lexus, down 47% for the year to date, is another big target. “They’ve extended their portfolio, done clever marketing, added fillers, gone up-market, gone down-market, gone left-market and gone right-market,” says Lincoln Merrihew, senior vice president at research firm TNS.

And they’ve made better cars. Hyundai was one of the big movers on the survey, up from its 13th-place rank last year. Its score of 95 PP100 means Hyundai owners reported 95 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 114 last year. The survey covers problems reported in the first 90 days of ownership for more than 80,000 new-vehicle purchases nationwide.

Hyundai–the fifth-largest selling automaker in the world–is still pushing to offer affordable and reliable vehicles to Americans concerned about potential job loss and volatile gas prices. Lately it has also emerged as a contender that offers an alternative to drivers opposed to paying a premium for a luxury nameplate.

The success of the new upscale Hyundai Genesis mid-size sedan is key. It helped engage an entirely new kind of driver–one who wants all the trappings of a Lexus, say, but feels slightly guilty about its insignia.

“We started noticing a reluctance to buy a badge,” Krafcik says. “Consumers are questioning the brand premium.”

Hyundai executives took a risk in launching the $33,000 sedan on the cusp of a bona fide recession, but sales numbers have been strong. Last month, it sold 2,079 units nationwide (several hundred more than competitors like the Lexus GS and Lincoln MKS), spurred on, no doubt, by its distinction as North American Car of the Year and by Hyundai’s novel “Assurance” program, which allows customers to return their new Hyundai vehicles if they lose their job after the purchase.

“If you say Hyundai, people used to say crappy cheap car, but now they go, ‘Oh these are the guys that are willing to buy back the car if I’m out of work. These are my buddies. They understand my life,'” says Robert Passikoff, the president of Brand Keys, a market research firm in New York.

The majority of the Genesis sedans Hyundai sells are loaded with upgrades that push the price well above $40,000 according to the company. And the coupe version of the Genesis, a $22,750 306-horsepower rear-wheel drive sports car meant to compete with the likes of the Ford Mustang and Infiniti G37, has achieved critical praise.

It all bodes well for the Equus, the larger, plush sedan Hyundai showed at the New York International Auto Show and plans to bring to the U.S. market in the next two years.

The next step, Krafcik says, is to create a second brand under the Hyundai banner in which to sell luxury vehicles, much like Toyota did with Lexus and Honda did with Acura. With the way things are going, it may not be much of a reach.

Hannah Elliott

Hyundai is the Highest Ranked Non-Premium Nameplate in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study

Hyundai Elantra earns highest initial quality ranking in its segment

J.D. Power and Associates announced today that Hyundai is the highest ranked non-premium nameplate in the 2009 Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS) and is ranked fourth among all nameplates. Hyundai owners had fewer problems with their vehicles than any other non-premium car or truck brand.

In addition to Hyundai’s strong overall showing, the Hyundai Elantra earned the award for the highest initial quality in the compact car segment. The all-new Hyundai Genesis significantly outperforms the average midsize premium car.

This year’s ranking marks the second time Hyundai has been the highest-ranked non-premium nameplate in the last four years, and the second time it finished among the top four overall nameplates, having also achieved these levels in 2006. Highlights this year include a top ranking for the Hyundai Elantra in the compact segment, and a top three segment performance for the Hyundai Accent, which ranked second in the highly competitive sub-compact car segment.

The IQS study measures 228 attributes, including the overall driving experience, engine and transmission, and a broad range of defect and design problems reported by vehicle owners.

“Outperforming all of our competitors once again is a reflection of the dedication of all Hyundai team members,” said John Krafcik, Hyundai’s President and CEO. “We’re particularly delighted with the strong launch of Genesis, the North American Car of the Year, which surpassed several luxury competitors. We are also thrilled with how well the fuel-efficient Elantra and Accent scored.”

2009 Hyundai Genesis – First drive: An impressive effort, but still a gamble for Hyundai

Everyone talked about a crisis of confidence. Everyone had an opinion as to what banks, governments and central banks from Maine to Mars had to do to put confidence back into the markets.

That’s what was going on in the world when we got our first drive in the Hyundai Genesis. It is a bold gamble by the rising Korean car company that is confident it can make an attractively priced luxury car, and then go out into the schoolyard and selectively tweak the established class presidents like BMW and Mercedes.

On many fronts, the Genesis should have the establishment worried.

The Genesis is nearly 196 inches long and rides on a 115.6 inch wheelbase. It is a comfortable 74.4 inches wide. To put that in perspective, the car is about the size of an Acura TL, Cadillac STS, and the BMW 5. That is heady territory for an upstart firm that also cranks out the $11,000 Accent. But in driving the car, or even walking around it, you would not guess it is that big.

Interested parties can choose from a responsive 3.8 liter, 290 horsepower V6 or a 4.6 liter 375 horsepower V8 — the firm’s first solo venture into eight cylinders. Both are tied to very smooth six-speed automatics. The V6 we drove seemed to have plenty of get-up-and-go when we floored it away from a tollbooth. Look for zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds. The V8 will hit 60 in 5.7 seconds. Both seemed very refined and silent workers. The 6 is rated at 18-27 mpg by the EPA and the 8 at 17-25 mpg.

Luxury abounds inside, especially at the prices charged. There’s virtually every amenity that one could want, and it’s all just a short reach away. The instruments are easy to read and there is ample room for a 6′ driver, and a 6′ passenger can fit into the rear seats. We think if you took your boss out to lunch in one he would never guess that he was riding in a Hyundai.

“Boy, this car is quiet,” said our fellow auto writer about a dozen times during our test drive. In fact, it was more peaceful inside than the Jag XF that we were also testing at the time. Hyundai kept us on smoothly paved interstates and side roads during our drive, so there was no chance to test the handling of the car. We got the impression that the emphasis is on a soft ride, and the Genesis is not into carving up back roads.
There is a huge trunk out back with 16 cubic feet of storage space — more than enough to stock the house for the next Sunday NFL party.

As for prices, Hyundai can put you in a well-equipped base model V6 for $32,250. The base V8 slides out the door for $37,250, with fully loaded ones breaking the $40,000 mark. We think that latter figure is heavy coin for a Hyundai. It is interesting to note that nowhere on the outside of the vehicle does it say Hyundai. There is the familiar Hyundai symbol on the trunk lid, and the Genesis name just below the right rear tail light. Hmmm. Perhaps Hyundai is considering one day making Genesis a stand-alone model like Lexus or Acura, but that is something they deny, citing the huge set-up cost.
Or maybe, we wondered, the company wants to keep people guessing, “What was that car?” That might create a subtle buzz that could pull people into the showroom thanks to an advertising blitz in upscale magazines. Our bet is that Hyundai is really targeting not BMW or Mercedes, but the Toyota Avalon, lower scale Acuras and other introductory luxury makes. And don’t forget, it doesn’t hurt to have something in the lineup for Azera owners to move up to.

The Genesis is an impressive first effort, but how many customers will trek into a Hyundai dealer for luxury wheels? People investing that much money want the name and the symbols on the car, the kind that says they are doing well and want you to know it. On the other hand, successful shy people, like A Prairie Home Companion’s Norwegian Lutheran bachelor farmers would love the Genesis — nothing that screams fancy, but nice nonetheless and a heck of a lot more comfortable than riding a John Deere.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe – Joy Ride The New Breed

Hyundai’s Genesis Picks Up Where The Silvia Left Off

Can the new Hyundai Genesis coupe fill the shoes of the 240SX? While most of Japan is going green and discontinuing all the turbo and sport compacts cars, Hyundai comes out of left field to offer us the new Genesis Coupe. No it’s not a Tiburon, far from it. With the Silvia/240SX line coming to an end, Hyundai’s noticed that there was a huge following that is now left with no new car option. Silvias were great because they were an inexpensive sport compact, with a turbo 4-cylinder and rear-wheel-drive layout. Since then no manufacturers have been offering anything with all those characteristics. It’s about time someone offers an affordable turbo RWD car to the tuning breed like you and me. Just about any other affordable (under $25k) car is either FWD or just kind of `light on its feet’.

Although, Hyundai isn’t everyone’s top brand, it’s hard to ignore the potential of this car. With a $22k price tag, it’s hard to even consider a FF Civic or any other new car in that price range. It’s hard to even think of another RWD car from Asia at that price range (turbo or not).

So you’re wondering what’s the car actually like? Jon and Sean were lucky enough to be invited to Willow Springs Raceway to drive the Genesis at the launch event. Unfortunately for me, I was too sick to attend. But that didn’t stop Hyundai. I was even luckier, being flown to Vegas for another Genesis launch at Spring Mountain Raceway.

Although the car comes in at a pig weight of 3,300 pounds, on the track the power and weight was balanced so you don’t even feel the weight. I took the Genesis on the road course, autocross course, and was even allowed to practice drifting in it. This is definitely a fun car. The V6 version has a butt load more horsepower and it’s noticeably different, but I’d opt for the cheaper turbo four-cylinder version myself.

One of my favorite things about the car is the factory Brembo brakes (on track package vehicles). You know those Brembo brakes that come factory on the STI, Z33, and Evo? Well, those are the Brembo F40 and F50 calipers. That’s the old two-piece design. The newer ones on the Genesis are the Brembo monoblock M4 calipers made from one piece of metal. Two-piece calipers are made from two pieces and the bolted together. They have a higher tendency to flex under load. Moving back to rear, the Genesis is equipped with a 4-piston rear caliper. That’s something Nissan, Subaru, and Mitsubishi didn’t get from Brembo.

So I’ve heard lots of rumors that the Genesis was coming with the same 4B11 engine from the Mitsubishi Evo. Well, it’s time to put all those rumors away. The turbo 4-cylinder Genesis comes with the Theta engine (G4KC), not a 4B11. Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and Chrysler joined forces to form GEMA (Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance), a shared engine manufacturer. Once the layout of the 4-cylinder engine was designed, each company tweaked with it to suit their own needs. Mitsubishi has the 4B11, Chrysler has The World Engine, and Hyundai has the Theta. So both the Theta and 4B11 come from the same group, and same bloodline, but they are two different engines. Furthermore, I talked to fabricator Gary Castillo of Design Craft Fabrication who’s already begun building both the V6 and the inline four engines. Gary assured me that although the 4B11 and Theta engines are similar, they are still quite different. Think of the two engines as more like brothers than twins. Not only are the manifold bolt patterns different, the head designs are completely different. But that’s not to say the Theta engine won’t have the same aftermarket support that the 4B11 is getting.

The fate and success of this car really comes down to the aftermarket support. Both show and and go parts are already in the works. HKS built a full car for the SEMA show last year and this year Rhys Millen is piloting a Genesis in the Formula Drift series.

Hyundai has been hard at work in the product-planning department, and is well aware of our community of tuners. In mid-2010 they will be releasing a Spec R version of the Genesis. It will come with track-tuned suspension, 19″ alloy wheels with performance summer tires, Brembo brakes, a Torsen limited-slip differential and R-Spec badging. To further reduce cost and weight, they should also come without back-up indicators in the rear bumper, Bluetooth, automatic headlights, cruise control, trip computer, chrome interior accents and steering wheel audio controls.

It’s hard not to appreciate the efforts Hyundai is making for everyone. With their ridiculously generous warranty, you don’t have too much to worry about with reliability, even with a turbocharged car. And since economic times are tough Hyundai is offering the Assurance Plan where they’ll pay three months car payments or buy your Genesis back, if you should lose your job. Now only if they would pay all the car payments, due to having a lousy paying job than that would be perfect for me.

Faster Facts
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

The Sticker Starting at $22,000

The Power 210hp 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder; or 306hp 3.8L V6

Weight3,294 lbs. (4-cylinder turbo); 3,389 lbs. (V6)

Layout Front engine, rear wheel drive

Gearbox 6-speed manual or automatic with Shiftronic

Stiff Stuff MacPherson strut dual link with springs (front); five-link design with gas struts (rear)

Rollers 18″ alloy wheels; 19″ alloy wheels (on track model)

Stoppers 12.6″ (front) rotors and 12.4″ (rear) rotors; optional Brembo monoblock 4-piston calipers with 13.4″ (front) rotors and 13.0″ (rear) rotors

Efficiency 21/30mpg (4-cylinder turbo); 17/26mpg (V6)

The Pack Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mitsubishi Lancer, and Nissan Altima

Deep Thoughts Forget Hyundai’s past; their future is now with the Genesis.

By Charles Trieu
Super Street Online

Review: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T

The development process behind an automobile differs slightly from company to company, but when it came time to render the 2010 Genesis Coupe 2.0T, it seems Hyundai engineers sat down with a Oujia board and channeled the spirit of Toyota’s old AE86 Corolla. Laugh all you want, but ask yourself–when’s the last time you’ve seen an affordable import sports coupe that didn’t send power to the front wheels?

While the six-cylinder Genesis Coupe may have premium GT aspirations (both the Infiniti G37 and BMW 3-series are benchmarks), we prefer the premise behind the entry-level 2.0T. Simply put, it’s a sharp, inexpensive, rear-wheel-drive coupe that, with a little work, can become whatever you want. Much like how the AE86 is still revered by track stars, gymkhana kings, and drift masters, Hyundai expects the Genesis Coupe to serve as a tuner’s blank slate.

With four variations of the four-cylinder car alone, Hyundai–which ironically code-named the Genesis Coupe “BK”–truly allows you to have it your way. Those on a shoestring budget obviously will look at the base 2.0T model, which carries an amazingly low price tag of $22,750, including destination. That price point throws it into the same arena as the Mitsubishi Eclipse ($20,249), Nissan Altima Coupe ($22,470), and, for a while anyway, the Pontiac G6 Coupe ($24,800). As always, the Hyundai comes with a long list of standard features (Bluetooth, satellite radio, and an USB audio input are but a sampling), but one–rear-wheel drive–remains unique.

Hyundai says that rear-wheel drive will become a hallmark of the Genesis “sub-brand,” but few components on the 2.0T model are shared with the luxury sedan, apart from the five-link independent rear suspension. The Coupe still uses a strut-type independent front suspension, but the dual-link design, reportedly lighter than the sedan’s five-link setup, is unique to the two-door.

So too is the exterior form, which is quite a departure from the conservative Genesis. Critics may deride the Genesis Coupe’s form as aping the new Nissan 370Z or Infiniti G37, but it actually draws most of its inspiration from the HCD-8 concept shown in 2004. In person, the Genesis Coupe looks wider and more emotive than its competitors, thanks to angular fenders and a unique drop-down window opening behind the doors. The interior’s design motif departs from the sedan’s as well. Although the dash pad may have a nice feel to it, the premium materials found in the Genesis sedan are used sparingly, if at all. We do, however, find the bucket seats nicely bolstered, and in certain models, nicely trimmed.

Motive power comes courtesy of an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 mounted just aft of the front axle. The engine produces 210 hp and 223 lb-ft at 2000 rpm. A Hyundai-developed six-speed manual transmission is standard, and the automatic option is an Aisin five-speed rather than the ZF six-speed in the six-cylinder Genesis Coupe 3.8.

The turbo-four provides a fair amount of power, but delivers it in a very sedate manner. Acceleration lags until the turbo spools, but even then, you’re not thrown into your seats by a wall of torque. Speed gradually accumulates until you reach the upper echelons of the tachometer, where the little engine that could runs out of steam. You’ll want to avoid those areas of the tach, as the engine grows buzzy and slightly coarse (our tester’s shift knob vibrated incessantly) as it nears redline.

Sadly, power doesn’t increase if you opt for the 2.0T Track model, but the ride stiffness does. Hyundai cranks up the front and rear spring rates by seven and eighteen percent, respectively, and adds a Torsen limited-slip differential. The only visible elements of the Track package are 19-inch aluminum wheels (with summer compound tires) in lieu of the standard 18-inch units; a rear-deck spoiler; and large, red, Brembo brake calipers.

All that hardcore equipment suggests the base car isn’t a handler, but that isn’t the case. The car remains sharp and taut through corners, although there’s little, if any, feedback given through the steering wheel. The ride is generally compliant over most broken road surfaces, but the car feels slightly harsh over expansion joints. Little wind noise permeates the Coupe’s cabin, although there is a surprising amount of road noise transmitted.

Still, we’re thinking additional sound insulation won’t be the first modification most buyers spring for. In fact, Hyundai’s offering a “tuner-ready” R-Spec model this summer that offers even less content. R-Spec cars will come with all the go-fast goodies offered on the Track, but won’t include things like fog lamps, Bluetooth, cruise control, and the trip computer. The R-spec’s $23,750 sticker is $3000 less than a 2.0T Track, leaving more room within a buyer’s budget for upgrades.

Regardless of which flavor you choose or modifications you install, there’s plenty about the Genesis Coupe to like. It’s an affordable, attractive sports coupe, with the unique appeal of rear-wheel drive. Only time will tell, but we imagine this Hyundai could someday be revered by the tuner crowd, much like the AE86.

By Evan McCausland

Hyundai Elantra Touring wagon is a looker

While I’m admittedly partial to the offerings by our domestic carmakers, if a really attractive looking foreign car is introduced, I’m not about to ignore it. Recently Korean automaker Hyundai started delivering a new vehicle to dealers, and it is one handsome crossover/station wagon.

The vehicle I’m speaking of is the subject of today’s column – the 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring. I first heard about the Touring from Rob, my son, who lives in Kalamazoo. Knowing that I’m going to replace my Neon in the months to come and knowing that I’m looking for something economical with a little more utility, he steered me to the Touring. Following a lunch date with Rob in Kalamazoo a few weeks back, I drove over to the local Hyundai dealer and briefly gave the new car the once over. Indeed, it did look nice. Time did not permit me to stay and take the car for a test drive. I postponed that pleasure for a later date.

On a warm sunny day recently I found a few moments and stopped by Signature Hyundai and arranged for a test drive of a new Elantra Touring. The new vehicle was introduced earlier this spring and is arriving at dealers now in increasing numbers. Signature had two models, one on their Napier Avenue lot and one on display at the Orchards Mall.

The model on the lot, and the one I took for a spin, was dark gray with only three options: the Premium Package that included a power tilt and slide sunroof, heated seats and 17′ alloy wheels ($1,500); floor mats ($95); and mudguards ($85). With a starting price of $18,600, the aforementioned options and a destination charge of $695, the Monroney sticker on the side window came to a reasonable $20,975. Sweetening the deal was a $1,500 rebate or 60-month’s financing at 4.39% interest.

I was especially pleased to note in the Elantra Touring’s catalog that the interior can be purchased in beige. That is good news to buyers like myself who won’t purchase a car with black or dark gray interiors. The model I test drove had the gray interior. Fortunately it was a cool day and I survived nicely. Didn’t even have to turn on the standard air conditioning.

Speaking of standard equipment, the Touring comes nearly loaded with no-charge good stuff. Things that make the car so attractive — in addition to its great looks – are the many safety and comfort features on the car. Here are items of note: outdoor temperature gauge, split rear seat, lighted vanity mirrors, express down power windows, cruise control, ABS, electronic stability control, traction control system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and sport-tuned suspension. All that safety equipment enabled the Touring to garner five stars in driver/passenger frontal crash ratings and four stars on the side crash and rollover tests.

On my brief test drive, I found the Touring to be a competent driver. Power from the two-liter, four-cylinder engine is rated 138 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 137 pounds-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm. The five-speed manual with B&M Racing brand sport shifter is standard; the four-speed manual is optional. With only 138 horses under the hood, you would expect performance to be sluggish with about 3,000 pounds to pull around, but the Touring is a frisky mount and provides more than adequate power. You won’t mistake the engine under the hood for a Hemi V-8, but its performance will please you most of the time, especially when you realize that you’re getting 23 mpg in town and up to 31 on the highway. The engine burns regular fuel and the gas tank holds 14 gallons.

As one who drives long distances quite a bit, I often have to depend on the caffeine in a big bottle of Mountain Dew to keep me awake. Happily, the Touring has two big expandable cup holders in the center console. A slew of cubbyholes were thoughtfully placed throughout the passenger area and in the rear compartment. The center console armrest concealed two hidden compartments. Out back, by the tailgate, three covered storage areas are available to hide valuables. I appreciated the option on the power sunroof that enabled me to use it in the tilt position or in the open position. A classy, high-end touch.

If I had to find one complaint, it would be in the front seats. They are really firm. My rear prefers cushions a little softer and not quite so flat.

Other than that, the Hyundai Elantra Touring is one fine automobile. With an industry-leading warranty, good marks from both the government and from Consumer Reports, with a very attractive body and interior, there is little to fault this newest station wagon, – er, crossover -on the market. If you want to buy a car with a high North American materials content, the Touring is not for you. Only 1% of the vehicles have pieces and parts from North America. At the Ulsan, Korea, assembly plant, over 96% of the Touring is Korean-sourced.

If you need a small, economical and well-designed utility vehicle and you aren’t reluctant to buy a foreign-made vehicle, then the Touring may be your steed.

Dar Davis
Herald Palladium

Hyundai Accent reliable, easy on the wallet

MUNCIE — A Muncie resident who works in Indianapolis, Mike Stults puts in more than his share of “windshield time,” and his 125-mile round-trip commute tests a car’s reliability.

Last month, Stults bought a 2009 Hyundai Accent to drive back and forth to his job at Enzon Pharmaceuticals, where he is a maintenance supervisor and security administrator.

The new Accent is the fifth Hyundai that Mike and his wife, Genessee, have bought at Gaddis Hyundai of Muncie over the past nine years.

“These cars have been a godsend to me,” Stults said. “I have looked at hybrids, but I paid $11,800 for the Accent, which gets 34 to 35 miles per gallon on the highway, so it’s hard for me to justify the higher price of a hybrid.”

The Accent’s price is comparable to that of a used car, he said.

“A used car that’s reliable enough to drive as many miles as I do would cost at least $9,000 to $10,000 — not much less than I paid for the Accent, which was new,” he explained. “I need a car that’s dependable, and in nine years, we’ve never had any Hyundai that we’ve owned in the shop for anything other than normal maintenance.”

While Stults chose the Accent mainly for its low cost of ownership, he has also found the car safe, comfortable and pleasant to drive.

“With my previous car, which was also an Accent, I hit a concrete barrier at 50 to 55 miles per hour; the car was a total loss, but I walked away without a scratch,” he said. “The Accent is also very quiet on the highway, and it’s comfortable and easy to relax in after working all day.”

Jim Raines, sales representative at Gaddis Hyundai, said the Accent offers more than many people expect.

“For under $12,000, you get side-impact and side-curtain airbags, air conditioning and a great warranty,” he said. “As is typical with Hyundai, value is the big story here — the Accent is an inexpensive car that’s also a wonderful car to own.”

The Accent three-door hatchback is available in two models: The base Accent GS starts at $9,970; the Accent SE has a base price of $15,070.

The Accent four-door sedan, available only in GLS trim, starts at $12,920.

All come with a 110-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is optional.

Other standard features include six airbags, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, tire pressure-monitoring system, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, four-speaker audio system and rear defroster.

Additional features of the Accent SE three-door include air conditioning, fog lights, tilt steering, rear washer/wiper, XM satellite radio, a six-speaker audio system and a B&M Racing sport shifter.

The four-door Accent GLS has many of the same features as the three-door SE, except the sedan has standard 14-inch steel wheels and optional 15-inch alloy wheels instead of the SE’s standard 16-inch alloy wheels. Also, four-wheel antilock brakes and power mirrors, both standard on the SE, are optional on the GLS.


Can’t Afford a Porsche? Step This Way for Hyundai’s New Coupe

June 11 (Bloomberg) — So you’ve been window-shopping on Porsche’s Web site, eyeing a new 911. The Carrera S starts at $87,000 and you want it with the seven-speed double-clutch transmission, an additional $4,000. And how could you buy your dream car without the full interior leather package for $2,100?

Then you notice that unopened 401(k) statement on your desk and are reminded that, despite Porsche tastes, you’re on a Hyundai budget. That’s the sound of brakes screeching.

The good news is that, even if the financial markets aren’t cooperating, some carmakers are. For those yearning for a recession-priced plaything, a certain South Korean carmaker would like you to take note of its sub-$30,000 Genesis Coupe.

Hyundai’s new coupe, an offshoot of the $32,250 Genesis sedan (which won the 2009 North American Car of the Year award), promises attainable fun in lousy times.

This is Hyundai’s first attempt at a true-blue, rear-wheel- drive sports car, especially notable considering the carmaker once served as an automotive punch line along with Yugo and Lada. (The ugly, front-wheel-drive Tiburon/Tuscani impressed no one.)

The new coupe comes in two distinct varieties: the punchy 2.0T and the more powerful 3.8. The 210 horsepower, turbocharged, four-cylinder version has a basement price of $22,750. The 306-hp, 3.8-liter, V-6 tops out with extras around $31,000.

On a sun-flooded day in upstate New York, I took out a king-of-the-hill 3.8 Track model to see what the Koreans have wrought. Road-racing extras include a stiffer suspension, better-stopping Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential, a rear spoiler and 19-inch alloy wheels fitted with summer performance tires.

While available with a ZF six-speed automatic gearbox and paddle-shifters, I opted for a six-speed manual.

In the early 1990s, Hyundai hired outspoken basketball star Charles Barkley as its celebrity spokesman, but it’s clear from my first highway off-ramp that the cars can now speak for themselves.

The Genesis tips into the turn easily, feeling stable and well planted. Its inherent understeer is manageable even as the curve gradually tightens. Better, the tires lend plenty of grip and I never feel like the Genesis is going to suddenly spring an unpleasant surprise — the limits of its performance are easily identifiable.

While certainly not lazy, neither is it too sharp nor tightly wound — a good sports car for beginners. (Don’t buy into the word “Track” in the name. I doubt you’ll be taking it to the local road course to frolic with the Porsche GT3s and Dodge Vipers.)

Light Weight

Steering is tight and smartly responsive. The Genesis’s relatively light weight of fewer than 3,400 pounds helps it handle a series of S-turns with finesse.

I slam on the brakes in a straightaway, seeing how it would handle a panic-style stop. The pedal has a bit of extra give, yet a rubber-burning moment later, I’m at a full halt. Nice.

Next up, I rev the motor, dump the clutch and the car suddenly goes sluggish as a rear wheel slips. The car lurches down the road like a father-and-son team in a three-legged race.

Ah well, there’s a reason it’s not yet a Porsche contender.

The major fault seems to be an over-involved traction- control system, which gets awfully intrusive when it senses wheels not hooking up with the asphalt. I turned the system off by punching a button and achieved a better run, though the operation is still less than supple, as if the transmission and engine torque aren’t quite in agreement.

Hyundai says the Genesis will make zero to 60 miles per hour in a rather lackadaisical 5.5 seconds, but I don’t think I managed even that in my attempts.

Stretching Out

The short-throw manual is okay, but set too far back on the center console to shift naturally. Those who like to stretch out in the black leather seats will also note the lack of a telescoping steering wheel.

The standard amenities are generous for the price, and include automatic windows, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls and USB ports for digital music players.

Which brings us to styling: The Genesis is definitely a product of the East. Similar to its competitor the Nissan 370Z, the swooping headlights look vaguely weapon-like, like something you’d find on the belt of a ninja.

Globular Curves

Yet whereas the Nissan’s sloping roofline and various folds look purposeful, the Hyundai’s mix of globular curves and sharp creases read like a designer’s desperate search for an identity. It’s not a travesty, but it isn’t super cool either.

While Hyundai says it benchmarked the car against the Infiniti G37 and Mazda RX-8, the Nissan 370Z seems its most obvious head-to-head challenger. In that case, the Nissan is faster, has more horsepower and looks much hotter.

The most basic 370Z, however, is more than $30,000 before you’ve added a single option, right where the fastest Genesis Coupe tops out.

So, while it’s neither Carrera beautiful nor blistering fast, Hyundai’s latest is a pretty painless way to get into the sports-car game.

The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track at a Glance

Engine: 3.8-liter V-6 with 306 hp and 266 pound-feet of torque.

Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with paddle-shifters.

Speed: 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds.

Gas mileage per gallon: 17 city; 27 highway.

Price as tested: $30,250.

Best features: Capable handling with lots of standard features.

Worst feature: Off-kilter styling.

Target buyer: The driver who wants Brembo brakes and 300- plus horsepower on a budget.

Jason H. Harper
Bloomberg News