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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    First Drive: 2014 Hyundai Equus

    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    July 18, 2013

    Hyundai is building a competitor to the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class?

    That was my first thought when the Korean automaker announced their luxury flagship, the Equus was coming to the U.S. a few years ago. I was wondering if Hyundai was bitting off a bit more than they could chew. Going after the stalwarts of the luxury flagship was not an easy task, just ask the Volkswagen Phaeton.

    However the Equus has turned out to be more of a Lexus LS than Volkswagen Phaeton. Sales of the model last year are seven percent of the total luxury flagship market and is stealing customers away from the likes of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. Why? Hyundai focused on its major strength on offering a whole lot car of for the money with the Equus, a formula employed by both Lexus and Volkswagen with different results. With a base price of $61,900, the Equus undercuts many of its competitors by an average of around $15,000.

    gallery_10485_672_615315.jpg

    Now entering its third year in the U.S. marketplace, Hyundai is doing a mid-cycle refresh to keep the Equus fresh in light of new and refreshed models on the marketplace. How does it fare? I recently found out this past week at Hyundai's Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan as Hyundai invited us to take a first drive in the 2014 Equus.

    The 2014 Equus mostly looks the same as the model that was introduced back in 2011; a conservative, yet handsome luxury sedan. The most obvious change in the design is up front where Hyundai designers changed the grille and bumper, added a set of fog lamps, and dropped the chrome accents on the bumper. The other change of note is a set of nineteen-inch turbine wheels that add a touch of class.

    gallery_10485_672_1322732.jpg

    The Equus' interior also saw a number of changes for 2014. Starting up front, the 2014 Equus gets a redesigned dashboard and center stack that gives off a more premium feel. There is a larger 9.2 inch screen for the infotainment system and new seven-inch screen in the instrument cluster. Equus Ultimate models get a 12.3 TFT screen in the instrument cluster, a heads-up display system, and a haptic feedback dial on the steering wheel.

    gallery_10485_672_1224017.jpg

    Moving to the back seat, Hyundai dropped the reclining back seat with the footrest and is just offering reclining for both back seats. There is also a new rear console that folds down and provides controls for the rear climate control and audio system. Seated in the back, I found myself being very comfortable and having more than enough head and legroom, even with the seat reclined. Those looking for more backseat luxuries should look at the Equus Ultimate, since it adds dual 9.2 inch screens and power door closure.

    Taking off from the technical center to begin the drive, I found the Equus to be very spritely. Leaving a stoplight, the Equus moves with authority like any luxury car should. Making a pass or merging onto a freeway was no sweat. This is thanks to the Equus' 5.0L Tau V8 with 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque.

    gallery_10485_672_1127121.jpg

    An eight-speed transmission is paired with V8 and sends the power to the rear wheels. The eight-speed is very smooth and seamless, what you expect in a big sedan. The shift logic worked brilliantly. Whether I buried my foot into the throttle or lightly touched it, the transmission went about its way with no sweat.

    The ride is up to par in the luxury flagship class. A revised air suspension system and bushings help make you and your passengers feel like you're driving on glass. Also, the Equus is eerily quiet at speed. Those who are hoping for a sporty drive with those revisions will be disappointed. The Equus leans when cornered and the steering really isn't set up for it. If handling is at the top of your priorities, you should be looking at the Germans.

    gallery_10485_672_474623.jpg

    As for safety, the Equus has the usual assortment of features; nine airbags, stability control, traction control, brake assist, lane departure warning, and pre-collision warning. The Equus also comes with blind-spot warning with rear-cross traffic alert as standard equipment. Hyundai says the Equus is the only car in its class with this feature standard.

    Also standard in the Equus only is Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start. The system uses radar to monitor what is in front and bring it to a full stop if it detects the vehicle in front is coming to a stop. Once the vehicle is moving, the system will accelerate the Equus back to its set speed. I can attest this system works very well as the Equus was able to stop to start back up with no problems at all.

    The price? Much lower than you think. $61,920 will get you into the base Equus Signature and $68,920 for the upper level Equus Ultimate. Those prices include three years of no-cost maintenance with someone picking up the Equus and leaving you with a loaner till your vehicle is done, and three years of Hyundai's BlueLink Assurance Connected Care.

    At first, you might have laughed at the notion of a Hyundai luxury vehicle. But after driving the 2014 Equus, I can say it's the real deal. While it might not be most distinctive nor the sportiest luxury sedan, Hyundai nailed the basics; smooth ride, powerful engine, number of luxury appointments and features, and value for money. The big question remains: Will the Equus take a place in history along side the Lexus LS by moving the barometer of what a flagship luxury sedan can be or will it suffer the same fate as the Volkswagen Phaeton; a capable entry into the marketplace but ignored due to it not having the brand equity needed to command the premium price?

    Disclaimer: Cheers & Gears was invited to a first drive event by Hyundai Motor America and provided the vehicles, breakfast, and lunch for the event.

    Year - 2014

    Make – Hyundai

    Model – Equus

    Engine – 5.0L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Tau V8

    Driveline – Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 429 HP (Premium Fuel)/421 HP (Regular Fuel) (@ 6,400 RPM)

    Torque @ RPM – 376 lb-ft (Premium Fuel)/365 lb-ft (Regular Fuel) (@ 5,000 RPM)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/23/18

    Curb Weight – N/A

    2014 Equus Pricing:

    • Equus Signature - $61,920
    • Equus Ultimate - $68,920

    Includes $920 Destination Charge

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Great review, interesting placement of the hood lifting struts. Over all I see a take of the BMW body style and the fit and finish based on the photo's looks good.

    Question for you, did they have anyone over 6'2" tall to sit in the back seat as the picture shows the head rest really close to the ceiling and while the foot room looks good, my gut tells me that once 6'6" tall me got set in the front seat, no one tall could sit in the back seat.

    Also does that dial on the rear control panel work like the BMW joystick control or is it really far easier to use as I find the BMW interface to be very confusing and not user friendly with their joystick.

    My other questions is that you say this is no driving machine like the Germans, so is it as soft as the Cadillacs of old float ride or a bit stiffer. Since I have not driven a Lexus in a while I really only have reference to American Float luxury cars like the Town Car or DTS. Where does the ride fit in comparison to these auto's

    Two grammar items that just do not read right to me.

    Taking off from the technical center to begin the drive, I found the Equus to very spritely.

    I believe we are missing "be"

    Making a pass or merging onto a freeway was no sweat.

    This just reads weird in the paragraph, maybe changing to "Passing or merging onto a freeway was no sweat."

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    I like the updated dash and center stack. It gives it more their own look, and less Lexus copy, and the wood doesn't look so cheesy. It is no S-class and never will be, but it is sort of close to the Lexus LS, and for $61,000 that, is the price of a loaded XTS, and you do get 429 hp, rear drive and the 8-speed.

    I think the car has great value for money, although the people at this price point and above aren't shopping value.

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    Since I have not been in a Lexus LS is the ride like a Float ride of America or a bit firmer but clearly as you state in your review not a driving machine of the Germans.

    I truly do not remember what the VW Paeton was like since it was so long ago that I test drove one and found no room for a big person like me.

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    I think the only reason the Phaeton died was because it started at $68K and the Passat ended at about $38K when the Phaeton was discontinued. I actively wondered why VW priced the Phaeton at Audi A8 levels then, when NOBODY would buy a VW at Audi prices. As for the Equus itself, it really looks like a larger and probably better Genesis sedan. The market will almost certainly accept $61K to start since the competition insists on $75K+ these days.

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    for as huge as those wheels are, they look too small for the car.

    Have to agree with you Drew here that especially on the black car these rims look undersized. Better on the silvery white car but still look small and yet it does not look like you can get much bigger unless you run the run flat tires.

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    It'll probably survive and continue to sell here if it does decently in South Korea.

    I"m guessing this will be somewhere between Lexus LS and Phaeton. Hyundai won't kill it because they're persistent, but it won't reach LS level of sales over the long term.

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    Gone are the days when Hyundai made cheap, crummy cars. I'm still amazed their reliability is as good now as most other quality automakers. I do have an issue with the continued shrinking of the windows. Pretty soon, we'll have to look through tiny little slits.

    Darn nice looking car, though.

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    Gone are the days when Hyundai made cheap, crummy cars. I'm still amazed their reliability is as good now as most other quality automakers. I do have an issue with the continued shrinking of the windows. Pretty soon, we'll have to look through tiny little slits.

    Darn nice looking car, though.

    Welcome to Cheers and Gears Robert! :D Look forward to your posts.

    I have to agree with you that the whole slab side small windows for safety is an ugly look and I really do not see that much safety added by having the metal go that high.

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      Santa Cruz offers two powerful, flexible and efficient powertrains. The standard powertrain is a 2.5L direct-injected in-line four-cylinder engine with an estimated 190+ horsepower and 180+ lb.-ft. of torque. This engine couples to an eight-speed hydraulic automatic transmission for quick acceleration and superb efficiency. Santa Cruz also offers a 2.5L direct-injected turbocharged engine with an estimated 275+ horsepower and 310+ lb.-ft. of torque linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). This DCT includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual shifting control by the driver.
      Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission
      The eight-speed transmission for the standard 2.5-liter engine provides quick and crisp shifts for an engaging and efficient driving experience. This automatic transmission adds ratio range at both the top and bottom of output speeds allowing for extra thrust off-the-line and a quieter, more fuel-efficient trip on the interstate. A multi-disc and individually controlled hydraulic channel torque converter improves responsiveness by expanding the direct connection band, while a downsized oil pump and double ball bearings minimize frictional losses.
      Advanced HTRAC® AWD and Towing Capability
      Both 2.5L four-cylinder and 2.5L four-cylinder turbo models offer HTRAC® all-wheel drive capability for complete confidence when pursuing adventures of all kinds or for that extra peace of mind when driving in an unexpected snowfall. The HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. The Sport setting gives a more agile feel by sending more torque to the rear wheels, for a sporty, dynamic experience. This system has a wide range of torque distribution variability, tuned for conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill starts. For those customers who like to tow their weekend gear with them, the 2.5L 4-cylinder is rated at 3,500 lbs. for towing and the 2.5L Turbo AWD model boasts a generous 5,000 lbs. of towing capability.
      Compact Dimensions Yield Superb Maneuverability
      Santa Cruz makes efficient use of its compact dimensions by offering high utility with excellent maneuverability. Its shorter wheelbase and smaller overall footprint make it a joy to maneuver and park in challenging urban parking, with an exceptional curb-to-curb turning radius of only 20.0 feet.
      Specification (in.)
      Santa Cruz
      Tacoma
      Ridgeline
      Frontier
      Length
      195.7
      212.2
      210.0
      205.5
      Width
      75.0
      75.2
      78.5
      72.8
      Height
      66.7
      70.7
      70.3
      70.1
      Wheelbase
      118.3
      127.4
      125.2
      126.0
      Bed Length
      Upper 48.4
      Lower 52.1
      60.4
      63.6
      59.4
      Footprint Area
      (sq. ft.)
      101.9
      109.7
      114.6
      103.9
                         
      Responsive and Refined Chassis Tuning
      Santa Cruz was developed with a focus on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance for a wide variety of urban and off-road, multi-surface driving conditions. The shorter wheelbase, short overhangs and wide track create a planted stance that results in exceptional agility in urban environments. These specifications also provide confident agility when traversing off-road terrain. Available 20-inch alloy wheels with wide, all-season, all-terrain tires give surefooted, agile handling character on a variety of road surfaces. Available 18-inch wheels with more voluminous tire sidewalls for off-road adventures are also available.

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      It is surprising to think it has been over six years since Hyundai first showed the Santa Cruz pickup concept at the Detroit Auto Show. But today, Hyundai has unveiled the production version. The automaker isn't calling this a truck, instead using the term "Sport Adventure Vehicle". To us, it's a truck.
      We need to start with a bit of a reality check. The Santa Cruz is not a direct competitor to the likes of Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, or Toyota Tacoma in terms of measurements. Compared to those models, the Santa Cruz is around 10 to 17 inches shorter in length. Overall height is around 3 to 4 inches shorter. The bed measures 4.3 feet, which is about foot shorter than the Ranger. There is also an in-bed trunk like the Ridgeline.
      The model is based on the recently redesigned Tucson crossover, which explains why it shares the front end styling - complete with headlights in the massive grille. That also means it shares the same engines as the Tucson. Here's the lineup,
      2.5L four-cylinder:  estimated 190+ horsepower and 180+ lb.-ft. of torque Turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder: estimated 275+ horsepower and 310+ lb.-ft. of torque The N/A 2.5 comes with an eight-speed automatic, while the turbo makes do with an eight-speed dual-clutch. Front-wheel drive is standard, while HTRAC all-wheel drive is optional.
      The interior looks very modern and comes with an eight-inch touchscreen in the center stack. Optional features include a 10-inch touchscreen and TFT instrument display. 
      Hyundai is keeping mum on pricing until the Santa Cruz launches sometime this summer.
      BTW: If you're wondering why the Santa Cruz took so long to reach production, I recommend this piece from Autoblog which delves into this.
      Source: Hyundai
      Hyundai Unveils Segment-Shattering Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle
      Highly-anticipated Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle Shatters Both SUV and Truck Segments, Creating an Entirely New Vehicle Category Multi-utility, Secure Open Bed Provides Diverse Gear-Carrying Flexibility Powerful and Efficient 2.5L Turbo Powertrain with HTRAC® AWD Capability Available Cutting-edge Connectivity, Convenience and Active Safety Features Compact Footprint Provides Superior Maneuverability in an Open-bed Configuration Proudly Built at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) in Montgomery FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Apr. 15, 2021 – Hyundai today unveiled its highly anticipated Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle. The 2022 Santa Cruz breaks new ground within the SUV, Truck and Crossover segments by offering a true Sport Adventure Vehicle unlike anything else in the U.S. market. Santa Cruz boasts bold yet sophisticated design, powerful and efficient powertrain options, a flexible open bed for gear, cutting-edge connectivity and a highly maneuverable all-wheel drive platform that is equally at home in urban and adventure-focused environments. The Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle begins production in Montgomery, Alabama in June and will be available for sale in summer. The addition of Santa Cruz to HMMA production will add an estimated 1,200 jobs to the U.S. economy. Hyundai is also creating an early reservation system for the U.S.-market Santa Cruz in late April at https://www.hyundaiusa.com/.
      “Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open all new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole. Open-bed flexibility coupled with closed-cabin security meets the changing everyday needs of its adventure-oriented buyers, while powerful and efficient engines and superb maneuverability ensure it is a pleasure to drive in urban or off-road environments. Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one,” said Jose Munoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America.
      Why Santa Cruz?
      Santa Cruz was developed to be the ultimate Sport Adventure Vehicle, a moniker confirmed in Hyundai’s early consumer research. The research found consumers, often living in urban environments, whose lifestyles include the need to escape to weekend adventures of all kinds. Many of these customers carry various gear and equipment that is better suited to an open bed rather than a typical SUV bodystyle. These buyers want versatile transportation that is equally flexible for urban, adventure, occupational or even home improvement gear. Santa Cruz features a secure, open bed area which includes a lockable tonneau cover, hidden bed storage and versatile bed extension accessories. At the same time, these customers still value the secure utility of a compact SUV, with its comfort, passenger space, fuel efficiency and parking ease. Santa Cruz, with its unique, bold design, created an entirely new segment that meets these specific buyer needs like no vehicle before it.
      Everything about Santa Cruz reflects a duality of purpose in its design execution. This all-new category-bending vehicle holds a variety of imagery in balanced juxtaposition:
      Urban life connectivity with escape to outdoor adventure Work and play flexibility Tough yet alluring demeanor Roominess with maneuverability Open cargo area and secured, lockable storage Towing capability and fuel efficiency The forward view of Santa Cruz deploys a hidden lighting signature that becomes visible within the grille only when illuminated. The daytime running lamps (DRLs) present a parametric jewel design with high-tech precision detailing. A bold, cascading grille anchors the front view, supported by a skid plate element in the lower front fascia. Voluminous hood and fenders further communicate an imposing first impression.
      In profile, Santa Cruz signals a sporty yet capable spirit. The A- and C-pillars present faster forward and rearward rakes than typical open-bed utility vehicles. Large 20-inch alloy wheels with a multi-faceted, triangular design are surrounded by armor-like wheel arches, conveying both wheel-articulation potential and off-road capability. Powerful body side volumes contrast with precise triangular sheer-edged surfaces and tight radius character lines.
      From the rear, a horizontal “T” lighting signature adds visual width and distinguishes Santa Cruz from anything on the road. The functional rear open bed area features secure, lockable in-bed storage, integrated corner bumper steps and a lockable tonneau cover, seamlessly integrated with the overall design. The rear tail lamps are embossed with: “Designed in California” as a testament to the passion of Hyundai’s California-based design team. Small, discrete design details such as this can be found throughout the exterior and interior.
      Interior Design
      The interior of the Santa Cruz expresses a sophisticated and refined appearance. The contrasting rugged yet refined motif matches the boldness of the exterior, boasting a technical ambience that appeals to those who appreciate cutting-edge technologies in their daily lives. It features an enveloping dual-cockpit design that encapsulates each passenger. Design teams focused on ease of ingress and egress and ergonomic comfort on long drives. The premium center stack display features an edgeless infotainment screen appearance, with an impressive 10 inches of visibility. The optional center digital cluster display also measures 10 inches. Under the rear seats is convenient, in-cabin storage. Completing the premium ambience is an available Bose® audio system.
      Powerful and Efficient Powertrains
      Santa Cruz offers two powerful, flexible and efficient powertrains. The standard powertrain is a 2.5L direct-injected in-line four-cylinder engine with an estimated 190+ horsepower and 180+ lb.-ft. of torque. This engine couples to an eight-speed hydraulic automatic transmission for quick acceleration and superb efficiency. Santa Cruz also offers a 2.5L direct-injected turbocharged engine with an estimated 275+ horsepower and 310+ lb.-ft. of torque linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). This DCT includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual shifting control by the driver.
      Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission
      The eight-speed transmission for the standard 2.5-liter engine provides quick and crisp shifts for an engaging and efficient driving experience. This automatic transmission adds ratio range at both the top and bottom of output speeds allowing for extra thrust off-the-line and a quieter, more fuel-efficient trip on the interstate. A multi-disc and individually controlled hydraulic channel torque converter improves responsiveness by expanding the direct connection band, while a downsized oil pump and double ball bearings minimize frictional losses.
      Advanced HTRAC® AWD and Towing Capability
      Both 2.5L four-cylinder and 2.5L four-cylinder turbo models offer HTRAC® all-wheel drive capability for complete confidence when pursuing adventures of all kinds or for that extra peace of mind when driving in an unexpected snowfall. The HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. The Sport setting gives a more agile feel by sending more torque to the rear wheels, for a sporty, dynamic experience. This system has a wide range of torque distribution variability, tuned for conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill starts. For those customers who like to tow their weekend gear with them, the 2.5L 4-cylinder is rated at 3,500 lbs. for towing and the 2.5L Turbo AWD model boasts a generous 5,000 lbs. of towing capability.
      Compact Dimensions Yield Superb Maneuverability
      Santa Cruz makes efficient use of its compact dimensions by offering high utility with excellent maneuverability. Its shorter wheelbase and smaller overall footprint make it a joy to maneuver and park in challenging urban parking, with an exceptional curb-to-curb turning radius of only 20.0 feet.
      Specification (in.)
      Santa Cruz
      Tacoma
      Ridgeline
      Frontier
      Length
      195.7
      212.2
      210.0
      205.5
      Width
      75.0
      75.2
      78.5
      72.8
      Height
      66.7
      70.7
      70.3
      70.1
      Wheelbase
      118.3
      127.4
      125.2
      126.0
      Bed Length
      Upper 48.4
      Lower 52.1
      60.4
      63.6
      59.4
      Footprint Area
      (sq. ft.)
      101.9
      109.7
      114.6
      103.9
                         
      Responsive and Refined Chassis Tuning
      Santa Cruz was developed with a focus on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance for a wide variety of urban and off-road, multi-surface driving conditions. The shorter wheelbase, short overhangs and wide track create a planted stance that results in exceptional agility in urban environments. These specifications also provide confident agility when traversing off-road terrain. Available 20-inch alloy wheels with wide, all-season, all-terrain tires give surefooted, agile handling character on a variety of road surfaces. Available 18-inch wheels with more voluminous tire sidewalls for off-road adventures are also available.
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
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