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Hyundai’s New People Mover: Entourage

The Kia Connection Gives Hyundai a New Minivan
Hyundai‘s Entourage, the minivan that almost didn’t happen, was introduced at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show, where AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents took a first look.
Hyundai also used the venue to introduce the latest Accent hatchback, and both entries get Internet marketing support with their own websites. Entourage continues Hyundai’s the company’s formula of value pricing and high levels of standard safety equipment. Though Hyundai is comparatively late to a mature but also highly competitive segment, the Entourage offers a competitive package and checks all the necessary boxes. Our first look at the Entourage reveals a minivan with a competitive package, though the fit and finish are not at best-in-class levels yet.

Hyundai and Kia Product Sharing
This example of product sharing between Hyundai and Kia may increase overall Hyundai Group volumes, but could also increase HMA sales volumes at the expense of Kia volumes. It remains good news for HMA dealers and bad news for KMA dealers. In the final analysis, HMA is estimating full year sales in the range of 40,000 units and Kia (with two wheelbases) is in the range of 60,000 units. As one wag at KMA said, “We’ll get whatever Hyundai can’t sell.” With only a badge differentiating the two products, in-plant flexibility between the products should not be much of a problem.
The good news for buyers is that both entries offer a competitive package. After all, KMA – the lead American brand on Sedona/Entourage development – admits that the Honda Odyssey was the competitive benchmark. If you can’t beat ’em, copy ’em!
The competition in this segment is intense, and as Nissan learned with the Quest, sticking with the segment standard format is a must. Though expectations can be exceeded, as Chrysler and Honda have done over the years, but they cannot go unmet without nailing an entry to the showroom floor. See Mazda’s MPV for an example of what happens when the package is compromised. Hyundai, however, is delivering a competitive entry that will stick to the company’s value proposition, with a high level of standard safety features and a long warranty.
Competitive Powertrain
Entourage gets a standard 242HP 3.8L all-aluminum V6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, which keeps it in the upper ranks of competition. Entourage is offered in front-wheel-drive form only, which is also true of about half of the minivan entries out there. The minivans from General Motors and DaimlerChrysler offer optional AWD, but those from Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Toyota do not. Hyundai describes the platform as purpose-built in its materials, but it has some commonality with the latest Sonata, and the Entourage itself is based on the second-generation Kia Sedona, launched for the 2006 model year. The Entourage measurements put it nearly on top of the Odyssey’s, though it is a bit smaller than the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, or Nissan Quest.
Modern Feature List
The Entourage includes the required folding third row (which does flip and folds into the floor, getting the very cute name of Hyundai Hideaway) and a one-touch setup for the second-row. Among the available convenience features are power sliding doors and liftgate, rear-parking sensor, power adjustable pedals, power sunroof, DVD rear-seat entertainment, and leather seats (heated in front).
Hyundai offers all entries with a high level of standard safety features, and the standard-equipment list for the Entourage includes six airbags (the curtain airbags extending to all three rows), ABS with EBD, and stability and traction control, along with convenience features like triple-zone air conditioning, cruise control, and captain’s chairs in the second row.

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