Vehicle Satisfaction Award:

New Hyundai Santa Fe Raises the Bar

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The Hyundai Santa Fe (@hyundaisantafe) was the first Korean brand vehicle to win AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award. That was in 2001. There have been four generations of the Hyundai Santa Fe selling 1.6 million units in the USA. All have been successively better than its predecessor. The 5th Generation Hyundai Santa Fe, the 2019 model, has just been released and all Hyundai dealers should have them in their showrooms by the end of August 2018.

2019 Santa Fe – a REAL SUV 

Hyundai Motor America product planners rightly concluded that the previous generation had gotten too soft and sporty. The stylists of that fourth generation sacrificed utility for style making the windshield faster and making the side glass narrower. This gave the impression of a smaller vehicle.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe moves away from the swoopy, sporty look of the 4th generation.  It evolves to a style that is stronger and more confident looking.  Clearly, the fact that a vehicle is a crossover – meaning unit body construction instead of the traditional SUV body-on-frame construction – does not detract from its SUV-ness.

The windshield is stiffer which improves ease of getting in and out. The side windows are larger due to a lower belt line. This provides better all-around visibility. The vehicle is a bit larger and the final result is a crossover SUV that is within a half-inch here and a half-inch there of its facing completion. There are no deficiencies in its package.

Loaded With Technology Still Reasonably Priced 

As is customary with Hyundai products, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is loaded with the latest technology and especially new safety technology. The 5th generation has Hyundai’s SafetySense suite of features as standard equipment. This adds to the vehicle’s cost and subsequently its price, but HMA management says its dealers find customers are accepting slightly higher prices for the improved safety features.

When you check all the boxes and get the highest model and all the features, prices can move a bit above $35,000.  This still seems like a value. At this price point the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe feature set includes Hyundai SafetySense, head up display, memory heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation system, premium sound and others.

Interior Design Top Notch 

The interior design shows attention to detail found in more expensive XSUVs. The instrument panel is a double cockpit design with a sweeping concave area holding the instrument cluster in front of the driver. There is a spacious shape mimicking the driver’s area in front of the front seat passenger. This is a design that is very difficult to get right in production because the fit and finish on each side can be very difficult to line up. The Santa Fe examples I saw were all very well aligned.

Enough Oomph for Most Driving Conditions 

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is powered by either a 185-horsepower 2.4L DOHC Naturally Aspirated 4-cylinder or a 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder. The examples we drove were the 2.0L Turbo four mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. With 235-horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque the Santa Fe performed better than expected at the high altitudes where we drove the vehicle.

Hyundai was not shy about taking the Santa Fe on rough roads. Dirt, washboards, the Santa Fe handled it all with no problem. The final proof that the Santa Fe is a very capable XSUV off-road was a steep hill climb over dirt, mud and rocks. No problem. While almost no owner of a Hyundai Santa Fe will ever take their vehicle on a climb like this one, the vehicle is capable of relatively aggressive off-roading and more.

All-in-all, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is an outstanding replacement for the outgoing 4th generation Santa Fe and should help Hyundai improve its truck mix from 43.5% July 2018 calendar year to date to 50% in pretty short order.

Future Hyundai XSUVs Will Push Truck Mix over 50%

Santa Fe cannot achieve that mix increase alone. There will be several additional XSUVs added to the Hyundai truck line-up. There will be a very small XSUV positioned below the small, and very successful, Hyundai Kona. There will be the Hyundai Nexo fuel cell XSUV. There will be a larger three row seven/eight passenger XSUV above the Hyundai Santa Fe. Finally, Hyundai is very serious about competing in the


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All-New 2017 Honda CR-V – Improved Across the Board

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The 2017 Honda CR-V goes on sale in December 2016.  It’s predecessor, the fourth-generation 2016 Honda CR-V, is on track to sell about 380,000 crossover SUVs in 2016. It is the highest volume crossover SUV and one of the top selling vehicles in the market. In AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award Research the CR-V achieved a score of 690.  This is a fourth place showing in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV segment.  Nissan Rogue (712), Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester place ahead of the 2016 CR-V. In AutoPacific’s 2016 Ideal Vehicle Award Research the CR-V was tied with Rogue in third place (1134 points).   The class leading Subaru Forester (1175) and Mazda CX-5 scored higher.2017 Honda CR-V F34 VV2017 Honda CR-V FV VV

Each year, AutoPacific surveys new car and light truck buyers to determine what changes they want in their vehicle. It is particularly interesting to compare the changes that owners want to their vehicle when it is just about to be replaced by the next generation.  Also, AutoPacific’s research can be measuring stick on how well a manufacturer’s product planners, engineers and designers understand their customers.  Using AutoPacific’s research to determine what changes people wanted in their CR-V, let’s see how well Honda did with their update.

Source: AutoPacific - Radar Chart Showing Changes 2016 Honda CR-V Owners want Compared with Competition

Source: AutoPacific – Radar Chart Showing Changes 2016 Honda CR-V Owners want Compared with Competition

Technology – Still a Challenge as With Most New Generation Vehicles: As with many vehicles these days, technology is a love it/hate it affair. About 25% of 2016 Honda CR-V owners want more advanced technology than now. About 30% want the technology they have to be easier to use. The 2016 CR-V has the HondaSensing suite of driver assistance technologies available.  The 2017 version expands on that adding a blind spot information system to the affordable EX model. Technology is still an area that requires a great deal of work, and the 2017 Honda CR-V improves on its predecessor.  About 25% of CR-V’s competitors want more advanced technology as well.  Among competitors, about 34% of 2016 Ford Escape owners want easier to use technology.

Driver’s Seat Visibility – Excellent View: Visibility is a key component in the acceptance of new crossover SUVs. About 29% of 2016 Honda CR-V owners want better driver’s seat visibility compared with 27% for competition. The previous CR-V was very competitive, but AutoPacific concludes the fourth generation CR-V is better. The driver’s seating position is excellent.  The hood has been redesigned with more character that gives the driver more reference points in front. Honda has always been generous with glass and it appears the windows are larger. The 2017 CR-V should see better results next year.

Power and Fuel Economy – Going Turbo: About 20% of 2016 Honda CR-V owners want more power and acceleration and about 10% would sacrifice power and acceleration for better fuel economy. About 29% of 2016 Nissan Rogue owners want more power and acceleration. The 2017 Honda CR-V adds a 190-horsepower turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder in all but the base LX model. The turbo 4 gets both better fuel economy and acceleration and feels sprightlier than its predecessor.   2017 results should be even better than 2016.

 Ride and Handling – Improved Dynamics: About 20% of 2016 Honda CR-V owners want easier handing and a softer ride. This compares to just 14% of the owners of its primary competitors wanting easier handling and softer ride.  Honda has improved the ride and handling giving the 2017 CR-V a solid ride with crisp sporty handling. It is not a pillow-soft ride by any means, but gives the confidence that the vehicle will do what the driver demands.

Passenger Roominess – More Rear Seat Room: About 20% of 2016 Honda CR-V owners want more passenger room. This compares with about 24% of competition (about 32% of Ford Escape owners want more passenger room). The 2017 Honda CR-V has 2.1-inches more rear seat legroom while increasing the overall length of the vehicle by 1.2 inches. The rear seat seems much more spacious and the 2017 Honda CR-V should fare even better in AutoPacific’s 2017 research.

Exterior Styling – More Distinctive – Upscale: Looking at the all new CR-V, the at-a-glance impression is “more of the same”. CR-V, however, adopts Honda’s more aggressive and distinctive front end design with a heavy dollop of chrome. The taillights are a blatant evolution of the 2016 CR-V. About 16% of 2016 CR-V owners want more distinctive styling. 23% of owners of the 2016 Ford Escape, for instance, want more distinctive styling. It is probably safe to say that the 2017 changes to the CR-V will move the needle towards the more distinctive area.

Cargo Area – Even Better:  2016 Honda CR-V owners are less likely to want more cargo space than the competition – 14% compared to 28%.  The 2017 Honda CR-V adds almost 10-inches to the length of its cargo space.  This makes the all-new CR-V even better than before and substantially better than each of its main competitors.

Overall: The 2017 Honda CR-V has incrementally improved in almost every area. The styling is more distinctive. The powertrain more responsive. The interior is larger within a vehicle that is no bigger than before. Combined with Honda’s outstanding ergonomics, the CR-V, as a product, should be able to sell at about capacity especially at the aggressive pricing Honda has adopted.

Competition does not stand still. The Ford Escape has a substantial upgrade for 2017. The Nissan Rogue is all new for 2017. The 2017 research will show which vehicle’s product development team understood its customers the best and executed the product for them.

 


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2014 Infiniti QX80 Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 Infiniti QX80  is the highest scoring Luxury/Large SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Behind the QX80 are some very impressive competitors: the Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LS, Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, and the GMC Yukon.  This is the second year in a row QX80 has won the VSA for its class.

The 2014 Infiniti QX80 wins or ties in twelve of fifty satisfaction attributes. The QX80 is within one tenth of a rating point in thirteen other attributes. For fifty percent of the satisfaction measurements the QX80 is on top.

The top ten highest ratings by QX80 owners are: vehicle and brand reputation, exterior and interior styling, the overall quality and seating capacity, the perception of reliability and dependability, the vehicles ride, feeling safe while driving, and the exterior color.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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In the “This is Getting Boring Category”, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the highest scoring Mid-Size SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. This is the fourth year in a row Grand Cherokee has won the award.  The Grand Cherokee edges out some very impressive vehicles such as the Toyota 4Runner, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler, and the Nissan Xterra.

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee wins and ties in thirty-three of fifty categories. The Grand Cherokee is within one tenth of a satisfaction rating point in ten other attributes. Jeep’s Grand Cherokee led in just over eighty five percent of the satisfaction categories.

The top ten highest ratings by Grand Cherokee owners are: exterior and interior styling, handling and braking, exterior color and size, the feel of the fabrics and materials, feeling safe while driving, the vehicles ride, and that it is fun to drive.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 BMW X5 Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 BMW X5 is the highest scoring Premium Luxury Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Just behind the X5 is the Lincoln MKT followed by the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GL, Porsche Cayenne and the Mercedes-Benz ML.

The 2014 BMW X5 demonstrates its excellence by winning or tying in thirty-seven of fifty satisfaction attributes. The X5 also comes within one tenth of a rating point with seven other satisfaction attributes. For eighty-eight percent of the data, the X5 is at the top.

The top ten highest ratings by X5 owners are: handling and braking, brand and vehicle reputation, fun to drive, safety rating and features, overall quality, the perception of reliability and dependability, and feeling safe while driving.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 Nissan Rogue Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The all new 2014 Nissan Rogue is the highest scoring Mid-Size Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction research. Finishing behind the Rogue is the Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, and the Mitsubishi Outlander.

The 2014 Nissan Rogue leads its category with twenty-one of fifty wins or ties in satisfaction attributes. The Rouge is also within one tenth of a rating point in seventeen other satisfaction attributes.  Leading in thirty-eight of fifty categories, Rogue demonstrates it excellence in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV category.

The top ten highest ratings by Nissan Rouge owners are: exterior styling and size, the perception of reliability and dependability, the overall quality and handling, seating capacity, ease of loading and unloading cargo, braking, the vehicle reputation, and feeling safe while driving.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 Toyota Highlander Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The all new 2014 Toyota Highlander is the highest scoring Premium Mid-Sized Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. The Highlander finished first against some impressive competitors. Behind the Highlander are the following: Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, Kia Sorento, Toyota Venza, and the Dodge Durango.  This is the second year in a row Highlander has won the VSA.  It also won in the last year of its previous model.  Not bad for a “mature” entry.

The 2014 Toyota Highlander leads its category with thirty-one wins and ties out of fifty attributes. The Highlander also is within one tenth of a rating point with ten other categories. This puts the Highlander at the top with forty-one of fifty satisfaction categories – over 80%.

The top ten highest ratings by Toyota Highlander owners are: the vehicle and brand reputation, the perception of reliability and dependability, fun to drive, seating capacity, ease of loading and unloading, durability, vehicle ride, braking, and feeling safe while driving.

AutoPacific’s opinion of the all new 2014 Toyota Highlander is that it is better in all ways than its predecessor, but it follows the Crossover SUV formula pretty closely and does not particularly break any new ground.  One innovative feature is a shelf below the instrument panel spanning the width from the driver’s area to the passenger door.  Also fun are Highlander TV ads featuring Sesame Street characters – a clear attempt to attract families with young children to the vehicle.  “Mom, let’s buy a Highlander!”

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is the highest scoring Hybrid/EV Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle SatisfactionAward research. The MKZ Hybrid finished first against some impressive competitors. Behind the MKZ Hybrid are the following: Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Toyota Avalon HEV, Lexus ES 300h, Infiniti Q50 HEV, and the Kia Optima HEV.  The MKZ Hybrid previously won the VSA in the 2011 model year.

The 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid led its category with fifteen wins and ties out of fifty attributes. The MKZ Hybrid also was within one tenth of a rating point with nine other categories. This puts the 2014 MKZ Hybrid at the top with twenty-four of fifty satisfaction categories.

The top ten highest ratings by Lincoln MKZ Hybrid owners are: exterior color and styling, overall quality and handling, the perception of reliability and dependability, the safety rating and features, the interior styling, environmental friendliness, and feeling safe while driving.

While price is not one of the top ten satisfying attributes, the fact that the price for the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is the same as the V6 model likely goes a long way in creating a warm feeling about the car.  Usually, the hybrid version is a substantial price premium above the gasoline powered models.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 Hyundai Tucson Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The all new 2014 Hyundai Tucson is the highest scoring Compact Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. Coming in behind the Tucson is the MINI Countryman and the Kia Sportage, followed by the Buick Encore, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and the Subaru XV Crosstrek.  The Tucson last won the VSA in the 2010 model year.

The 2014 Hyundai Tucson demonstrates its excellence in the Compact Crossover SUV class by winning or tying in fourteen of fifty satisfaction attributes. The Tucson is within one tenth of a satisfaction point in fourteen other attributes, putting it at the top for Compact Crossover SUVs.

The top ten highest ratings by Tucson owners are: vehicle and brand reputation, the perception of reliability and dependability, overall quality and braking, exterior size and styling, the warranty, the exterior color, and feeling safe while driving.

The expressive styling of the new Tucson continues Hyundai’s move towards more expressive styling making the Compact X-SUV a head-turner in a rapidly growing category.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 GMC Acadia Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 GMC Acadia is the leading Large Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  Coming in behind the Acadia is the Ford Flex, followed by the Chevrolet Traverse and the Mazda CX-9.

In achieving this level of satisfaction, the 2014 GMC Acadia wins in eight categories and ties in eighteen. The Acadia is also one tenth of a rating point in another eighteen satisfaction categories. The Acadia is at the top in over eighty percent of the satisfaction ratings.

The top ten highest ratings by Acadia owners are: seating capacity, exterior styling and color, overall quality and handling, brand reputation, safety rating, interior styling, the perception of reliability and dependability, and feeling safe while driving.

General Motors Lambda entries – GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse – have won the VSA award in three of the past five years with the Ford Flex outpointing them in two of the five years.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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