South Korean carmakers have come a long way in a relatively short time. And they've earned their current success by offering cars that are built well, competitive in price and even more competitive in features.
Hyundai, the subject of this particular rant, has developed from the old and unloved Pony and Stellar of the 1980's, and their later and rather bizarre "relax, you'll get there someday" jingle I took to mean that, undoubtedly unconsciously, Hyundai was admitting their cars were lacking in oomph. Yes, Hyundai used to be a joke, automotively speaking.
Now, however, Hyundai and its stablemate Kia are doing to the Japanese (and other) carmakers what the Japanese carmakers did to the Once Big Three – and, later, the European luxury car makers – starting back in the 1970's. They're beating them at their own game, and they're doing it by building vehicles people like and want to own, not just because they may undercut the competitions' prices.
But one thing Hyundai didn't offer until recently (not counting its more up market Genesis entries) was a car designed to quicken the pulse of the "practical enthusiast", the he/she/it for whom driving is more than just getting from here to "there and back again" (sorry, Tolkien..), but who still wants a vehicle that offers at least four doors and works as more than just a corner carver.
Hence the Elantra Sport (sedan) and the Elantra GT Sport. more...
It drives like a Volkswagen Jetta GLI, and it feels like a German car in its construction. But it's not German - it's from South Korea, proving once more that the "traditional" automakers had better be taking the Hyundai/Kia twins very seriously lest they end up on the government dole.
The car under discussion here is the Hyundai Elantra Sport, the winner of the Best New Sport/Performance car from AJAC's Canadian Car of the Year awards - an annual fall TestFest that also resulted in the more "pedestrian" Elantra winning its category as well. Quite a feat for a company whose cars used to be the butts of many automotive jokes (though that was a long time ago now!).
This means I have a certain amount of egg on my face - never a good thing when you have a beard! more...
Hyundai's Ioniq green car is so new we don't even have a published price for it in Canada yet, but it's worth waiting for because the hybrid is so good to drive I kept forgetting it's an earth saver.
Heck, I liked driving the Ioniq so much that, after all my hybrid humour and hammering over the years, I figure I'm risking a lightning bolt from above just for saying I like this car. And isn't that ioniq, er I mean ironic?
The Ioniq may also be quite iconic in the world of hybrids, in that - according to Hyundai - it offers three variations on its theme: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric and, again according to the company, it's the only hybrid on earth that offers a dual clutch automatic transmission, in this instance a slickly-shifting six speed. This is especially interesting in a market niche dominated by continuously variable transmissions (CVT) that may help increase gas mileage but usually decrease the driver's involvement significantly.
Hyundai Canada's sample was of the straight hybrid variety, which means it (and the plug-in version) comes with a new Kappa 1.6 litre four-cylinder, direct injection engine. The electric motivation to which its output is attached like a conjoined twin gets uses a lithium-ion polymer battery the company says allows for pure electric driving for up to 40 kilometres (in the Plug-in Hybrid version). more...
It may not be particularly sporting when stacked up against the likes of the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace, but Hyundai's 2017 Santa Fe Sport costs a lot less and still manages to offer a lot of good stuff - including some fun - to its potential buyers.
The Sport - a moniker that distinguishes the two row, five seat Santa Fe from the three row XL version - is said to have "over 350 all-new parts with new features" as well as 11 per cent better fuel mileage and, of course, new standard equipment.
There's plenty that isn't new, of course, but that isn't because Hyundai has become cheap (well, I really don't know their motivation) but because the Santa Fe's current generation is a pretty darn compelling vehicle already - a vehicle that, like the company that builds it, has earned its success. more...
So this is how they do it!
Hyundai and its sister carmaker Kia have come a long way in a relatively short time, from the days in which their wares were basically automotive jokes until today, where they're whipping members of the established competition on a regular basis. And if you've ever wondered how they do it - which also (purely coincidentally, I'm sure) is their current advertising theme - one drive in the 2017 Elantra will show you why.
And while I hate the ad campaign, in which they dump all over their apparently dimwitted and stereotyped competition (just tell me why you're better than them and spare me the dirt), I certainly can't argue with the vehicle quality.
I'm not surprised, really. A few years ago, Kia hired a guy named Peter Schreyer away from a long and honoured career with Audi and the Volkswagen group, where he was responsible for creating some of the most beautiful Audis ever, and he's also behind the exquisite styling of the past few years' worth of Kias. more...
The "fluidic" design is mostly gone, but what Hyundai has left in its new generation of Sonata is a simpler-looking yet still handsome sedan that, in the company's tradition, offers a lot for the money.
It's hard to argue with that strategy, and judging from how many Sonatas there are on the road it's probably pointless to argue it. Fortunately, the new Sonata isn't just a plain deal, it's also a very nice family sedan. So what if it might not stand out as much as the outgoing version? And it isn't as if this is a bland or ugly car; it's actually quite handsome, just not as in your face as the previous generation.
The new Sonata is available with two engine choices in Canada. There's a two liter turbo four for those who want sportiness in their drive, and a 2.4 liter four for those whose needs are more basic. Hyundai Canada's sample wore the "Limited" livery, which meant it had the 2.4 liter engine. more...
It's big, bold and equipped very well, but is Hyundai's new Genesis sedan enough to lure customers away from the established European and Japanese competition?
Time will tell, but this second-from-the-top line Hyundai is, if nothing else, a big and bold attempt at elevating the South Korean carmaker's profile in higher echelons of the marketplace than it has been known for traditionally. And why not? Hyundai makes good cars and has come a long way in a relatively short time - and don't forget what Toyota and Nissan did some 25 years ago when they stunned the market with their first kicks at the luxury car can: the Lexus LS 400 and Infiniti Q45.
The new Genesis is also a tad derivative, though that's hardly a sin unique to Hyundai. Besides, it's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in which case the good folks at Audi should be feeling plenty flattered.
But not necessarily worried. more...
It may be getting a little long in the tooth compared with its newer competitors, but Hyundai's Tucson "cute ute" SUV/crossover is still worth inclusion on your shopping list if you're looking in this market niche.
Hyundai made its recent name - as opposed to its much-derided early name - by offering good vehicles that come with more stuff stuffed into them than the competition. This tactic continues to this day, though the competition has certainly not been sitting on its haunches and watching this assault happen without fighting back. And that's undoubtedly why this older generation - it hasn't seen a complete upgrade in a few years now and so is probably due - isn't quite as upscale compared to the competition as it was when freshly minted. But it still does a great job at a reasonable price. And how bad can that be? more...
Stretch a Hyundai Santa Fe enough to add a third row, keep it powered by a good V6 rather than downsizing to a four banger, and what do you get? The "giant economy sized" edition of the popular Korean crossover SUV.
And there's nothing wrong with that! Santa Fe has been a good vehicle for years now, and this newest generation is easily the best yet. It isn't surprising, either, considering the leaps and bounds the South Korean car makers have been making in quality and "compellability" over the past decade or so.
The new for 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0 T rolled off with the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada's Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year honours at least year's Canadian Car of the Year TestFest, and it was a deserving winner. more...
Hyundai's Elantra GT continues the Korean company's winning ways of the past few years. In fact, it copped the prize in its category at the 2013 Canadian Car of the Year, following up on the Elantra sedan's overall "Canadian Car of the Year" and North American Car of the Year awards for 2012.
Needless to say, it's a heckuva car and yet another example of just how far the Korean manufacturers have come in a relatively short period of time. more...
Hyundai Accents the Positive with Winning Entry
Hyundai appears to be on a definite roll. Not only has the company released a series of terrific vehicles over the past couple of years, it also walked away with three "Best of" vehicle awards at the 2012 Canadian Car of the Year competition held at the end of October.
One of those winning vehicles is Hyundai's new Accent, a terrific little car that was voted Best New Small Car (under $21,000), beating out such worthy competitors as the Fiat 500, Kia Rio 5 and Nissan Versa Sedan. more...
New Elantra Leaves Reviewer Elated
Who'd have thought that "Fluidic Sculpture" could be synonymous with "Great looking"? Yet when it comes to the exterior styling of the fifth generation Hyundai Elantra, that's exactly what the result is.
"Fluidic Sculpture" is how Hyundai's marketing folks refer to their new vehicles' swoopy sheet metal, made most prominent over the past while by the highly popular Sonata. But unlike the Sonata, the new Elantra looks fantastic. It's sporty and elegant at the same time, hardly the stuff one might associate with a "Corolla-class" econobox.
What's even better is that the rest of the car is just as good. more...
Hyundai's Seductive Sonata Storming the Streets
Hyundai's Camry-and-Accord-killer Sonata appears to be on the way to becoming a huge success for the Korean automaker, and it's easy to see why.
I can't remember the last time I saw so many of a brand new car on the road so quickly, which certainly bodes well for the 2011 Sonata. And having spent a week behind the wheel, I can see why people are falling for it: it's built and equipped well, carries a reasonable price and is nice to drive. more...
Hyundai Adds a Dash of Élan to Elantra
Hyundai has certainly come a long way from the days of rust-prone and underpowered econoboxes like the Pony and the Stellar. Heck, they're even taking on the luxury makers now with their excellent Genesis sedan, just like the Japanese some 20 years ago.
The new five door Elantra Touring is a sportier, yet still eminently functional and practical version of the Elantra sedan that not only ups the styling ante, but which also has a little fun injected into it as well. more....
Hyundai Flagship a Smooth and Luxurious “Enterprise”
Perhaps someone at Hyundai is a Trekkie, because its new flagship sedan sure seems to have Star Trek influences.
Heck, besides having a unique (and quite attractive) grille that also just happens to look like it was inspired by a Star Trek Klingon's forehead, the name Genesis itself featured prominently in two Star Trek movies – a device that literally created life from lifelessness.
Maybe that's just the ticket needed to bring some life back to the new car market! more....
Hyundai Accents the Positive
The new Accent is the latest major redesign from Hyundai to up the ante considerably over its previous version. The old Accent was a nice little car, but nothing particularly special, as was expected generally from Hyundai back then. But the most recent Hyundais I've driven, from the reborn Santa Fe and Sonata to the all-new Azera and Entourage, are vehicles that can compete head to head with the competition from anywhere in the world.
This Accent continues that happy trend. If you're looking at something in the Fit/Yaris ball park, this one's well worth consideration. more....
Another Hit for Hyundai with its new Santa Fe?
SUVs may be evil incarnate to some, but that isn't stopping the automotive
industry from continuing to create interesting and, in many if not most cases,
increasingly efficient new versions of the species.
Enter the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe. This isn't just an upgrade of the previous
model, it's a whole new beast, bigger and more upmarket than before and with
a third row of seats that was previously unavailable in a Hyundai SUV. It's
quite the looker, too. more....
Hyundai Entourage – A
Winner of a Minivan
Entourage. According to Webster's, it's "a group of
attendants or associates, as of a person of rank or importance:
The opera singer traveled with an entourage of 20 people." Not
the central figure, then, but the hangers on.
Well hang on! For Hyundai, the word means they're finished
hanging around watching other companies sell minivans, and
are leaping into fray themselves. One would think that if "Hyundai
Come Lately" is going to be noticed in a market already
crowded with good examples, it'll have to be really good.
Fortunately, it is. more...
Hyundai Azera – A
Large Corporate Statement
If you think Hyundai threw down a gauntlet with its new
Sonata, wait'll you see their new flagship, the Azera!
The Korean automaker's brand new premium sedan, the replacement
for the XG350, is a beautiful car, exquisitely executed – a
vehicle that will undoubtedly help propel Hyundai's well-deserved
climb up the ladder of automotive credibility. more...
Hyundai Sonata a Home Run
Hyundai has really upped the ante with its new
The automaker, which was once the butt of jokes,
has been working hard to overcome that past and has been
doing an excellent job of it. Such vehicles as the Tucson
SUV, the second generation Tiburon and even its updated Elantra
and Accent, have gone a long way toward ensuring the company
is taken seriously. more...
Hyundai has upped its SUV ante with the new compact ute
Why, when it already sells plenty of its Santa
Profitability probability, undoubtedly. The Tucson is smaller
than the Santa Fe, as well as being a little more entry
level, so it allows the Korean automaker an opportunity
to introduce a handsome new vehicle and give itself the potential
to move the Santa Fe upmarket. more...
What do you do to make a good value even better? Add a hatch,
if youre Hyundai updating its popular entry level Accent.
When I test drove previous models of the Accent I thought
they were nice vehicles that would make a very good first
car for someone just getting into the market, or a nice second
car for someone who wants a decent commuter vehicle thatll
get the job done without making a fuss or breaking the bank.
It would also work well for folk who tow a little car behind
their behemoth RVs to use for running around once theyve
set up shop in an RV park. more...
2005 Santa Fe Ups Its Own Ante
For the 2004 model year, Hyundai offered a major upgrade
to its popular Santa Fe SUV: a top of the line model that
sports a bigger engine and five speed automatic transmission
also found in the company’s XG350 luxury sedan. And
the result was a very nice SUV, not that the Santa Fe was
a slug to start with.
The Santa Fe GLS 3.5 V6 AWD comes with a 3.5 litre six
cylinder engine (as opposed to the standard 2.7 litre). Horsepower
and torque go from 170 horses @ 6,000 rpm in the base V6
to 200 @ 5,500 rpm, and torque rises from 181 @ 4,000 rpm
to 219 @ 3,500 rpm. The difference is obvious the first time
you tromp on the gas pedal. more...
Well, hasn't Hyundai been cutting a swath in the automotive
marketplace recently? And judging by my experience with the
offerings, it seems well on the way to carving out quite
a respectable niche in automotive history.
Hyundai likes to say it offers more car for less money and
the '04 Elantra is pretty good evidence of that. more...
It must be tough being Hyundai and trying to overcome the Rodney
Its tough to get respect, that is. After all, while
Hyundai may be Koreas largest automaker, its
facing a real challenge in a marketplace teeming with terrific
cars; it has to offer quality and value comparable to longer-established
marques whove had decades to refine even their entry
level vehicles. more...
Hyundais Santa fe has always been a nice SUV, but
for 2004 the Korean carmaker has added really to
that description. All it took was some tasteful upgrading
of the interior and the addition of the running gear from
the companys XG350 luxury sedan.
A luxury sedan? Yep. This year, the Santa fe is also available
with that other cars very nice 3.5 liter six cylinder
engine and five speed automatic transmission, along with
assorted other interesting tweaks and wrinkles. more...
Hyundai Tiberon Tuscani
Ups its Sporting Ante
Hot on the heels of its hot new Tiburon design, Hyundai
has offered kind of a version 1.5 in the racy
It's basically the high end Tiburon, but with a few new
tweaks and toys added to sweeten the deal. And, as with the garden
GS-R I drove last time, it's a blast to drive.
This version comes in what Hyundai refers to as Tuscani
Yellow, which is a racy and bright shade that nearly
cries out Hey, Officer! Come and get me! This
can be like poking at fate with a pointy finger if, like
me, you tend to have a foot made of one of the heavier elements.
If anyone still has doubts that Hyundai is serious about
being taken seriously as a real player in the automotive
marketplace, their new Tiburon should dispel them.
The version of the new Tiburon that I drove for a week is
not only terrific looking, its fully equipped and,
best of all, its fast and fun to drive. It was the
top of the line GS-R model (you can also get base, SE, and
GT models) and if there was something Hyundai had forgotten
to put in it never leapt out at me. more...
Hyundai continues to prove it's making strides against
the competition with its entry into the luxury sedan market.
And with the 2004 XG350, it's proving that while it's knocking
on the door - it isn't quite ready yet to come into the house.
But, ah, they're sure making some nice vehicles!
Will the XG350 do the job for them of bringing mainstream
credibility to the marque?
It's hard to say. It's a heck of a good start, and a darn
nice car, but considering its price and features there are
other cars out there that offer more refinement for the same
dollar. The Honda Accord springs to mind. more...
Santa Fe Introduces Front Driver
Last year, the Hyundai Santa fe entered the market as an
affordable four wheeler.
This year, the Korean carmaker is tweaking its first SUV,
offering a two wheel drive version for people who want the
convenience of an SUV but who don't plan to go off-road or
drive through a lot of snow. This is the version I recently
test drove and it seems like a decent vehicle, though I must
confess that I preferred the four wheel driver. more...
Who'd have thought that Hyundai would have the wherewithal
to tackle the best selling Honda Accord and Toyota Camry?
It does, if the $18,324 Sonata LX I've been driving for
the past week is any indication. This four door sedan is
handsome, performs well, seems well built, and offers just
about all the toys you could want. And that's just the beginning.
Hyundai Elantra Offers Bang for the Buck
The 2002 Hyundai Elantra is a good example of how the Korean
auto company has started to mature.
Time was when Hyundai cranked out Ponys with few horses
and Stellars that weren't particularly. But that was then
and now Hyundai is threatening to give the Japanese giants
a real run for your money. And that's good news for consumers.
2001 Santa Fe Gets
Big Things Right
The 2001 Hyundai Sante Fe is no Acura
Then again, it doesn't pretend to be. The $20,499 Sante
Fe is priced only a bit more than half the MDX's sticker
- and even the respected Mazda
Tribute/Ford Escape twins are about four grand more than
So how much do you sacrifice to save that money? more...
Hyundai's Accent on Economy
Korea's leading automaker's entry level model has a tough
job. It has to offer as much as possible for as little as
possible, while assuring potential customers that their modest
investment won't turn around and bite them a few miles down
To that end, Hyundai's 2001 Accent does a good balancing
act. On one hand, it's a sporty-looking (in a dumpy way)
and fairly stripped down three door hatchback, while on the
other it displays good fit and finish and offers more than
adequate power and performance. more...