New Hyundai Elantra Gets Timid


Hyundai Elantra at CastleCheck most of the boxes needed to win in the highly competitive compact car segment and the 2017 Hyundai Elantra does not miss many chances to excel.  Following the mantra of “democratization of technology” Elantra has most of the high tech infotainment and technology features available.  When you pop for them all, the retail price is $26,750.  This is a lot for a compact car of a decade ago, but not bad for the fully loaded Limited model of the all new Elantra.  For those not wanting or needing the full equipment load, the starting price is around $17,000.

Good Ease of Use  For a person reasonably familiar with today’s cars, the Elantra is easy to figure out.  It might not pass the rental car test where you should be able to start the car, turn on the headlights, adjust the radio and air conditioning system on a stormy night at Hertz, but it comes close.  Easy to understand and use are the keynotes of Elantra design.

Created to provide a destination for buyers wanting to downsize, Elantra has all the features with the possible exceptions of cooled seats and adaptive cruise control that brings you to a full stop and then proceeds when traffic moves forward.  For buyers wanting to upgrade, everything is there.  For a price.



Easy to Drive  Elantra is quiet, solid, comfortable.  It handles very well on aggressive back-California roads.  It is acceptably fast.  It has an automatic 6-speed transmission with its base 147-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder engine.  (There is an eco model available with higher fuel economy powered by a 128-horsepower 1.4L 4-cylinder turbo mated to a 7-speed EcoShift dual clutch transmission with limited feature availability).

The interior package is similar to a mid-size car of the prior generation (it is rated mid-size by the EPA). In fact, Elantra has about the same interior size of a Cadillac CTS and is bigger than a BMW 3-Series or Audi A4.  Interior materials are a notch above what used to be expected in this class of car.  The upper surface of the instrument panel is soft, but adjacent materials are hard while pretending to be soft.  The trunk is large, but accessed through a small opening due to its relatively fastback design.

Comprehensive Feature Availability  There is a 4.5-inch multi-color display between the gauges in the instrument cluster.  In the center stack, there is either a 7-inch or 8-inch monitor depending on features selected.  Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces are avaiilable.  To enhance the sound of your music there is Harman’s Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology.  Nice… very comprehensively done.

No Longer Head-Turning  Elantra is good looking, but not head-turning like its predecessor.  In the rear view, Elantra gets lost in traffic.  Its distinctive front view is highlighted by its large trapezoidal grille opening and LED accents on higher trim models.  Functional outboard vents in the front fascia direct air over the front wheels and help aerodynamics.  Vertical LEDs accent the outboard vents in top of the line models.  But overall, like the larger Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai has become more timid with its new compact car entry.

Elantra GT Coming  Coming in Fall 2016 is the Elantra GT with a 200HP 4-cylinder turbo and distinctive front and rear styling and unique interior trim.  The GT model will have a DSG

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AutoPacific Presidents Award logo blog.jpg
Hyundai_2010_Sonata_PA.jpgTUSTIN, 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: and
Dan Hall 714.838.4234 or 800.576.AUTO
Deborah Grieb 734.446.6940
AutoPacific Presidents Award logo blog.jpg

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Our Sonata Test Car Gets Mistaken For a Mercedes-Benz


Hyundai_2011_Sonata_flyer.jpgHyundai 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!

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First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Delivers


Sexy and Strong. And a Hyundai.
Hyundai has is developing its sense of style, seen in Genesis and followed up with the 2011 Sonata. This Sonata offers style inside and out, interior space and functionality, and entertaining driving dynamics. Easy on the pocketbook and easy on the eyes should be a killer combination.
Hyundai calls this design philosophy fluidic sculpture. Aside from sounding a bit like a physics experiment, the result is an expressive sedan in a sea of sameness. Though the grille could be called over-complicated, the sculpture in bodysides and hood is refreshing, one of the youngest of automakers. The chrome strip that runs below the window line, over the front quarter panels, and all the way down to heavily detailed headlights is a particularly attractive–and difficult to manufacture–element. This Sonata looks more expensive than it is. Even better, this exterior is matched with an equally good-looking, feature-laden interior.
The Sonata will offer four-cylinder power only, a brave choice. The 2.4L example we drove will be followed up by a turbo 2.0L and a hybrid by the end of the year. Details will be revealed at the 2010 New York auto show, but Hyundai has promised “substantially” more than 250HP from the turbo 2.0L.

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2009 Hyundai Sonata: Refreshed from the Inside Out

Among our recent drives was an afternoon in the Chelsea-Ann Arbor, Michigan, area in a newly revised Hyundai Sonata. Reaching dealers as I write this, the 2009 Sonata doesn’t change dramatically on the outside, but offers a more comfortable interior, revised suspension, and both more power and better fuel efficiency. All the right buttons are checked, but were they successful? Our first spin around the neighborhood leads us to say yes, though there are niggles to be found, too.


The new Sonata gets a deeper grille and taller rectangular headlights, more chrome trim all around, and a very slightly revised lower rear fascia. The changes bring a VW Passat to mind, but these subtle changes make for a more grown up and refined Sonata. The taller, more vertical grille and headlights help the hood creases look less clumsy and make for a more imposing face. Changes to the rear are so subtle as to be irrelevant; there are new taillights, but the shape is the same.

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Kia’s Latest Optima Unveiled in Detroit


Reality and Fantasy on Kia’s 2006 North American International Auto Show Stand
Alongside a vision for a small car-based utility in the form of the Soul concept, Kia introduced the second generation of its Optima sedan at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents at the show have reported back on their first look.
The Optima was first launched for the 2001 model year, and is related to the Hyundai Sonata. After serving Kia well for a little more than five years, the latest version arrives at dealerships in spring 2006 as a 2006.5 model year vehicle. An international version went on sale in late 2005. Though the Hyundai Sonatas sold in this market are now built in this market and those sold internationally are built in Korea, Optima production continues solely in Korea.
Differences between the Optima offered in the States and that in international markets are minimal. Compared with the first generation, Optima brings a longer wheelbase and a some extra width, resulting in a bit more interior passenger room and more cargo volume in the trunk. The U.S. Optima is available with the Global Engine Alliance 162HP 2.4L DOHC 16v I4 and the updated 185HP 2.7L V6. The I4 can be had with a five-speed manual transmission, but most models will be equipped with the four-speed automatic.
The new Optima is no longer the clone of the Hyundai Sonata its predecessor was. Clearly, Hyundai Motor Corporation is using the introduction of the new Optima to further differentiate Kia from Hyundai. The new made-in-America Sonata is clearly more upmarket than the Optima. It is larger and has a larger V6 engine. While Kia likely would have preferred a larger, more powerful Optima, the new car will fit with its lineup strategy very well.

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