I’m really not a hypermiling type of guy – I usually drive a twin-turbocharged V6. When the opportunity to drive from Miami Beach to Key West came up, I admit the allure of Key West was more than the chance to get the maximum fuel economy out of a Kia Optima Hybrid and new Kia Rio. Having grown up in Florida, the northern part, I had never been to Key West – got as far as the Everglades a couple of times.
Kia Optima Hybrid and Kia Rio
The cars did not disappoint and Kia threw in the chance to attend GRAND-AM Continental Tire/Kia200 Sports Car Challenge race at the Homestead-Miami Raceway. So how could I refuse?
Optima – Elegant Mid-Size Style With Maximum Fuel Economy The Optima is one of my favorite mid-size cars. Its styling is great and interior is very easy to live with. From my perspective, the Optima style is very sophisticated and European. Coming from the “junior” Korean manufacturer, the Optima is much better looking than the swoopy Hyundai Sonata that has turned so many heads since its introduction in early 2010. My guess is that the Optima style has more staying power than the Sonata which may age pretty quickly.
Adding the Hybrid model to the Optima lineup gives Kia a price-efficient, fuel-efficient combatant in the growing fuel economy battleground among mid-size cars.
All New Rio – Bottom-Feeder No More This was the first chance I have had to drive the all new Rio. As the bottom entry in Kia’s lineup, the Rio has evolved from a cheap, cheap tin can to a very worthy small car. Of course, it is not cheap, cheap any more, but it is reasonably priced. The model we drove was priced a notch above $20,000 but had everything on it including a navigation system, sun roof and leather seats. In previous generations, it would have been unheard of to have this level of equipment available in the lowest priced car from a mainstream brand. With a front seat package rivaling a mid-size car in size, folks are no longer “sentenced” to drive a small car.
The all new Elantra is the top ranked Compact Car in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. As the class winner, its owners indicate there is little they would change about the car with only a few notable exceptions. About 30% of Elantra owners want improved visibility (somewhat compromised by the swoopy styling of the new body). About 25% want more power and a softer ride. About 20% want more infotainment technology. Elantra owners most like the Elantra for its seat comfort, styling and exterior size. Elantra outpoints the second place Volkswagen Golf by a wide margin.
The Azera is the top ranked Large Car in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. Its owners indicate there is little they would change about their new car with a few notable exceptions. About 25% of the owners want more infotainment technology. About 20% want the Azera to be easier to get into and out of. About 30% would like a softer ride in their Azera. They most like the Azera’s seat comfort, tires and wheels and exterior size. The Azera wins its class by a wide margin over the second place Toyota Avalon.
There are no bad cars. It’s been years since I’ve seen a really bad car to be sold as new in the USA. Maybe the not lamented Chrysler Sebring came close before it evolved into the Chrysler 200 for 2011. So, as the new V-Platform Nissan Versa is poised to be launched for the 2012 model year as the lowest price new car available in the USA you wonder if a new car priced so low is a bad car? The answer is a resounding no. But with the Versa and new Hyundai Accent arriving almost concurrently on the market it begs brief comparison.
2012 Nissan Versa Sedan
2012 Hyundai Accent Sedan
The all new Hyundai Accent has just been introduced and it may be the final part of Hyundai’s grand slam in sedans. First the Genesis, winner of AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) in each of its three years on the market. Then the all new 2011 Sonata that won the only President’s Award (highest VSA score ever) given by AutoPacific and then won best in class for the model year. The all new Hyundai Elantra won best in class among compact cars for the 2011 model year. Three out of three isn’t bad. The new Accent is certainly a contender.
First we had the Sonata and now we have the Elantra. The Sonata was the direct hit to the gut but the Elantra is the uppercut that no one saw coming. Gunning for the respect of Hyundai naysayers, the Elantra delivers the quality, fuel economy, and price tag that will change minds and make believers.
While other automakers have raised the price of their new c-segment vehicles to make them in America with a profit, Hyundai has changed the game again. Hyundai seems to be bucking the trend these days of lofty price tags. The Elantra is a stylish value package assembled in the good ol’ U.S. of A. that needs to be at the top of your test drive list.
If you have been watching sports on TV for the past couple of weeks you cannot have missed the Hyundai spot for Sonata winning AutoPacific’s first-ever President’s Award. Hyundai won the award going away with the highest score ever recorded.
Watch and enjoy…
I’m rarely one to toot my own horn, but I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way: there’s a bit of me in the brand-new 2010 Hyundai Tucson. Once upon a time, not that long ago, I was a product planner at Hyundai who was tasked with finding and developing a new concept direction for the second generation Tucson. The first Tucson, which debuted for the 2005 model year, was a decent if uninspiring small crossover SUV, and Hyundai really wanted to hit the second generation out of the park.
TUSTIN, Calif. (June 10, 2010) – AutoPacific today announced its President’s Award for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. This first-ever honor is the result of a special analysis of Hyundai’s all-new 2011 Sonata that adds consumer credibility to all of the positive accolades recently bestowed upon Hyundai’s most important vehicle to date.
“With all we have seen and read about the 2011 Sonata, AutoPacific felt that it was necessary to put this vehicle to a unique test,” said George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, which has researched driver satisfaction since 1997. “Over the years, we have seen several important vehicles come to market that have attempted to redefine their brands. They are often launched with a considerable amount of hype, but then fail to deliver a customer experience that truly satisfies.”
With the same methodology that AutoPacific has utilized since it began satisfaction research, 975 drivers of the all-new 2011 Sonata rated their cars in 48 separate categories ranging from the basics of comfort and convenience, to performance and environmental friendliness.
“Quite frankly, we were blown away by the results,” said Peterson. “The sheer magnitude of the 2011 Sonata’s score made recognition necessary. With a score 775 out of 1,000, the Sonata exceeded everyone’s expectations. The Sonata’s unique styling was rated almost perfect and was a key driver to its overall superior performance in this research. Clearly, 2011 Hyundai Sonata drivers are extremely satisfied with their purchase.”
But the story does not end there. According to Peterson, these results are extraordinary from an historical perspective as well. “No vehicle has achieved a score of 775 before in our satisfaction research. The Sonata’s top score surpasses anything we have ever seen, including vehicles costing twice as much.”
“Consumer response to the all-new 2011 Sonata shows the strong appeal of Hyundai’s recipe of bold design, great quality, a segment-best 35 miles per gallon, and outstanding residual values,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “This first-ever AutoPacific President’s Award, recognizing the highest score on this survey that AutoPacific has ever seen, is an apt tribute to our California design team, our global engineering team and the 2,700 team members at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama for their fresh thinking and dedication in breaking the mold of the staid and boring mid-size car.”
AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area.
Additional information can be found on AutoPacific’s websites: www.autopacific.com and www.vehiclevoice.com.
Dan Hall email@example.com 714.838.4234 or 800.576.AUTO
Deborah Grieb firstname.lastname@example.org 734.446.6940
Hyundai delivered a pearl white 2011 Sonata Limited to our office today for evaluation purposes. By now, you’ve seen the car’s standout styling and maybe even asked yourself if YOU could see yourself driving a Hyundai. One thing’s for sure, they have come a long, long way and their hits just seem to keep coming.
In any case, I took the car at lunch to run an errand at the store. Ten minutes later, I returned to the strikingly styled Hyundai to find this under the windshield wiper. Yes, you are reading that right: it’s a flyer for a local Mercedes-Benz service and repair shop. I looked around for any Mercedes-Benz vehicles nearby, and there was only one – a black GL450 SUV. Indeed, that was the only other car in sight that also had that flyer on its windshield.
In other words, the new Hyundai Sonata got mistaken for a Mercedes-Benz (probably the CLS)…by a representative of a Mercedes-Benz repair shop! If that isn’t ringing endorsement of the Sonata’s new duds, I don’t know what is.
One big difference between the Sonata and the CLS (other than many tens of thousands of dollars)…the Sonata actually has a big and spacious interior that you can easily get in and out of!