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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

      Going from big to small

    A few weeks back, I attended an event at Hyundai’s technical center which resides outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The reason for my visit was to get a preview of what they’ll be showing at the LA Auto Show (which I’ll be able to talk about later today once the NDA lifts). But Hyundai also offered the chance to drive some of their latest products on a small drive route. I had the chance to drive three models; the Santa Fe, Kona, and Veloster. 

    A quick note about this first drive report. You will not get any impressions on the handling of the three models. The short drive was mostly made up of straight roads around the technical center. You’ll need to wait until I can my hands on the vehicles for a week-long evaluation to see how they fare in the bends.

    First up is the Santa Fe.

    • I’m quite impressed with the work done on the Santa Fe’s exterior as it has much more presence on the road than the Santa Fe Sport it replaces. The square shape is accentuated by a more aggressive grille and a more upright rear end. One downside to the new look is the raised belt line, which reduces the overall glass area and makes the interior feel slightly cramped.
    • Step inside and Hyundai has taken a huge leap forward here. A lot of their current interiors tend to focus more on utility and having controls in easy reach. The Santa Fe adds a bit of style with rounded edges, sculpted sides for the driver and passenger, and brushed metal accents. One nice touch in the Ultimate is a contrasting roofline that looks and feels like a piece of soft linen. One item that hasn’t changed is the controls. They are still easy to find and operate.
    • The front seats are quite comfortable and offer a number of power adjustments to help dial in the perfect position. The rear seat is massive with loads of head and legroom, even with the optional panoramic sunroof.
    • A 2.4L four-cylinder with 185 horsepower serves as the base engine, while a more powerful 2.0L turbo-four pumping out 235 horsepower is available on the higher-end Limited and Ultimate. An eight-speed automatic is standard on either engine, and you do have the choice of either front or Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system.
    • I drove the turbo-four with AWD and found it to be a bit underwhelming. The issue is the noticeable delay with power delivery when leaving from a stop or accelerating suddenly from a low cruising speed. I can’t fully tell if this due to the tuning of the engine, transmission, or combination of the two. It is quite the shame because the engine really shows it has punch when making a pass. 
    • Ride quality is towards the top of the class as the suspension is able to smooth out most rough road surfaces. Road and wind noise are well-muted.
    • There’s a lot to like about the 2019 Santa Fe with its new look inside and out; spacious interior, and smooth ride. The turbo engine does sour my initial impression and has me wondering if you should wait a year until picking the turbo engine. Those who have driven the 2.4L say the engine is slightly sluggish, but I would take that over the mess that is the turbo-four.

    Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided Breakfast, Lunch, and the Santa Fe for this Event.

    Gallery: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

    Year: 2019
    Make: Hyundai
    Model: Santa Fe
    Engine: 2.4L 16-Valve DOHC GDI Four-Cylinder or Turbocharged 2.0L CVVT DOHC Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front or All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000 (2.4); 235 @ 6,000 (2.0T)
    Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 (2.4); 260 @ 1,450-3,500 (2.0T)
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/29/25 (2.4 FWD), 21/27/23 (2.4 AWD), 20/25/22 (2.0T FWD), 19/24/21 (2.0T AWD)
    Curb Weight: 3,591 - 4,085 lbs
    Base Price: $24,750 - $38,800



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    • By William Maley
      Expectation can be a very dangerous thing. You come into something thinking it will blow your mind and more often than not, it comes up short. That’s how I felt during the first few days into a loan of a 2019 Buick Regal GS. What was being presented didn’t match up with my experience. But over the week I had the vehicle, it began to grow on. That isn’t to say some issues need to be addressed.
      At first glance, you might think Buick decided to stick with a sedan shape. But the sloping rear hatch gives away its true identity as a Sportback. This helps give the impression that the Regal is sporty, helped further by short overhangs. By adding small touches such as large front air intakes, GS-specific 19-inch wheels. Brembo front brake calipers finished in Red, and a small lip spoiler, the GS transforms the Regal into looking like a red-blooded sports sedan. 
      The interior sadly doesn’t match up with what is being presented on the outside. While there was some effort to make the GS stand out with faux carbon-fiber trim, special sport seats, and GS badging, it doesn’t quite match with what is being presented outside. Not helping are some cheap plastics littered throughout the Regal GS’ interior. If this was a standard Regal, I may have given it a slight pass. But considering this GS carries a price of almost $43k, it becomes a big issue. The interior does redeem it somewhat with a logical and simple layout. No one had any complaints about whether the controls were confusing or hard to reach.
      Let’s talk about the front seats, The Regal GS comes fitted with racing-style front seat with aggressive side bolstering and faux holes towards the top where the belts for a harness would go into. This design seems more at home in a hardcore Corvette than a Buick. Before you start thinking that the seat design only allows a small group of people to fit, Buick has fitted adjustable bolstering to allow a wide set of body types to sit comfortably. With this and other power adjustments, I was able to find a position that suited me. Over a long drive, the seats were able to provide the right amount of support and comfort.
      The back seats don’t get the same “race car” treatment as the front, but they do offer ample head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space is quite impressive with 31.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 60.7 when folded. The Kia Stinger I drove back in January pales in comparison with 23.3 and 40.9 cubic feet.
      The Regal GS features an eight-inch touchscreen with the new Buick Infotainment 3 system. As I mentioned in my Silverado/Sierra 1500 review, the new system is worlds better than Intellilink. The interface has been cleaned up with simpler graphics and fonts that are much easier to read. Also seeing noticeable improvements is the overall performance. The system is much faster when bringing up different functions or crunching a route on the optional navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE round off the system. 
      With the effort Buick has put in, you might have the feeling that the Regal GS has something special under the hood. That isn’t the case. Under the hood of the GS is GM’s venerable 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet. While the V6 packs 40 more horsepower than the 2.0L turbo-four from the last-generation model, it is also down 13 pound-feet. This absence becomes apparent when you decide to sprint away from a stoplight or exiting a corner as you need to work the engine to get that rush of power. A numb throttle response doesn’t help. If you resist from attack mode, the V6 reveals a quiet and refined nature. But again, you will need to work the engine when merging or making a pass.
      Before someone shouts “put a turbo on it”, Buick cannot do that as there isn’t enough space in the engine bay due to the design of the platform. We’ve known about this issue since 2016 when Holden was gearing up to launch the Commodore - its version of the OpelVauxhall Insignia.
      The nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with unobtrusive shifts when going about your daily errands, but offers up snappy shifts when you decide to get aggressive. A glaring omission on this sports sedan is the lack of paddle shifters. 
      Fuel economy for the 2019 Regal GS is 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. I saw an average of 20 during the week. This can likely to be attributed to the test vehicle having under 1,000 miles on the odometer. 
      On paper, the Regal GS’ handling credentials seem top-notch with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and a GKN all-wheel drive system featuring a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential. The latter allows a varying amount of power sent to each rear wheel to improve cornering. In the real world, the GS is more Grand Tourer than Gran Sport. While the sedan shows little body roll, its reflexes are slightly muted due to a nearly 3,800 pound curb weight. The steering provides a decent amount of weight when turning, but don’t expect a lot of road feel. What about that AWD system? For the most part, you really won’t notice working unless you decide to push the limits or practice your winter driving skills in a snowy and empty parking lot. 
      Thanks to the CDC system, the Regal GS’ ride is surprisingly smooth. With the vehicle in Tour, the suspension glides over bumps and imperfections. The ride begins to get choppy if you One area that I’m glad Buick is still focusing on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent. 
      The 2019 Buick Regal GS is a case of expectations being put too high. Despite what the exterior and sports seats of the interior may hint at, this isn’t a sports sedan like a Kia Stinger GT or something from a German luxury brand. But my feelings began to change when I thought of the GS as being more of a grand tourer. It has the ingredients such as a refined powertrain, a suspension that can be altered to provide either a comfortable or sporty ride; and minimizing the amount of outside noise.
      There lies the overall problem with Regal GS as Buick doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a sport sedan or a luxury sedan with grand tourer tendencies? This confusion will likely cause many people to look at something else which is a big shame.
      How I Would Configure a 2019 Buick Regal GS.
      My particular configuration would be similar to the vehicle tested here with the Driver Confidence Package #2, Sights and Sounds, and Appearance packages. The only change would be adding the White Frost Tricoat color, which adds an additional $1,095 to the price. All together, it comes out to $44,210.
      Alternatives to the 2019 Buick Regal GS:
      Kia Stinger: The big elephant in the room when talking about the Regal GS. For a similar amount of cash, you can step into the base GT model with its 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive setup (AWD adds $2,200). I came away very impressed with the styling, performance on tap from the V6, and handling prowess. Downsides include the interior design being a bit too minimalist and the ride being a bit rough. Volkswagen Arteon: The other dark horse to the Regal GS. There is no doubt that the Arteon is quite handsome with flowing lines and sleek fastback shape. Having sat in one at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I found it to be very roomy and upscale in terms of the interior materials. I hope to get some time behind the wheel in the near future to see how it measures up in handling. Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Regal GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Buick
      Model: Regal
      Trim: GS
      Engine: 3.6L V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,800 
      Torque @ RPM: 282 @ 5,200
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany
      Base Price: $39,070
      As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00
      Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00
      Appearance Package: $485.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Expectation can be a very dangerous thing. You come into something thinking it will blow your mind and more often than not, it comes up short. That’s how I felt during the first few days into a loan of a 2019 Buick Regal GS. What was being presented didn’t match up with my experience. But over the week I had the vehicle, it began to grow on. That isn’t to say some issues need to be addressed.
      At first glance, you might think Buick decided to stick with a sedan shape. But the sloping rear hatch gives away its true identity as a Sportback. This helps give the impression that the Regal is sporty, helped further by short overhangs. By adding small touches such as large front air intakes, GS-specific 19-inch wheels. Brembo front brake calipers finished in Red, and a small lip spoiler, the GS transforms the Regal into looking like a red-blooded sports sedan. 
      The interior sadly doesn’t match up with what is being presented on the outside. While there was some effort to make the GS stand out with faux carbon-fiber trim, special sport seats, and GS badging, it doesn’t quite match with what is being presented outside. Not helping are some cheap plastics littered throughout the Regal GS’ interior. If this was a standard Regal, I may have given it a slight pass. But considering this GS carries a price of almost $43k, it becomes a big issue. The interior does redeem it somewhat with a logical and simple layout. No one had any complaints about whether the controls were confusing or hard to reach.
      Let’s talk about the front seats, The Regal GS comes fitted with racing-style front seat with aggressive side bolstering and faux holes towards the top where the belts for a harness would go into. This design seems more at home in a hardcore Corvette than a Buick. Before you start thinking that the seat design only allows a small group of people to fit, Buick has fitted adjustable bolstering to allow a wide set of body types to sit comfortably. With this and other power adjustments, I was able to find a position that suited me. Over a long drive, the seats were able to provide the right amount of support and comfort.
      The back seats don’t get the same “race car” treatment as the front, but they do offer ample head and legroom for most passengers. Cargo space is quite impressive with 31.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 60.7 when folded. The Kia Stinger I drove back in January pales in comparison with 23.3 and 40.9 cubic feet.
      The Regal GS features an eight-inch touchscreen with the new Buick Infotainment 3 system. As I mentioned in my Silverado/Sierra 1500 review, the new system is worlds better than Intellilink. The interface has been cleaned up with simpler graphics and fonts that are much easier to read. Also seeing noticeable improvements is the overall performance. The system is much faster when bringing up different functions or crunching a route on the optional navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE round off the system. 
      With the effort Buick has put in, you might have the feeling that the Regal GS has something special under the hood. That isn’t the case. Under the hood of the GS is GM’s venerable 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet. While the V6 packs 40 more horsepower than the 2.0L turbo-four from the last-generation model, it is also down 13 pound-feet. This absence becomes apparent when you decide to sprint away from a stoplight or exiting a corner as you need to work the engine to get that rush of power. A numb throttle response doesn’t help. If you resist from attack mode, the V6 reveals a quiet and refined nature. But again, you will need to work the engine when merging or making a pass.
      Before someone shouts “put a turbo on it”, Buick cannot do that as there isn’t enough space in the engine bay due to the design of the platform. We’ve known about this issue since 2016 when Holden was gearing up to launch the Commodore - its version of the OpelVauxhall Insignia.
      The nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with unobtrusive shifts when going about your daily errands, but offers up snappy shifts when you decide to get aggressive. A glaring omission on this sports sedan is the lack of paddle shifters. 
      Fuel economy for the 2019 Regal GS is 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. I saw an average of 20 during the week. This can likely to be attributed to the test vehicle having under 1,000 miles on the odometer. 
      On paper, the Regal GS’ handling credentials seem top-notch with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system and a GKN all-wheel drive system featuring a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential. The latter allows a varying amount of power sent to each rear wheel to improve cornering. In the real world, the GS is more Grand Tourer than Gran Sport. While the sedan shows little body roll, its reflexes are slightly muted due to a nearly 3,800 pound curb weight. The steering provides a decent amount of weight when turning, but don’t expect a lot of road feel. What about that AWD system? For the most part, you really won’t notice working unless you decide to push the limits or practice your winter driving skills in a snowy and empty parking lot. 
      Thanks to the CDC system, the Regal GS’ ride is surprisingly smooth. With the vehicle in Tour, the suspension glides over bumps and imperfections. The ride begins to get choppy if you One area that I’m glad Buick is still focusing on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent. 
      The 2019 Buick Regal GS is a case of expectations being put too high. Despite what the exterior and sports seats of the interior may hint at, this isn’t a sports sedan like a Kia Stinger GT or something from a German luxury brand. But my feelings began to change when I thought of the GS as being more of a grand tourer. It has the ingredients such as a refined powertrain, a suspension that can be altered to provide either a comfortable or sporty ride; and minimizing the amount of outside noise.
      There lies the overall problem with Regal GS as Buick doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a sport sedan or a luxury sedan with grand tourer tendencies? This confusion will likely cause many people to look at something else which is a big shame.
      How I Would Configure a 2019 Buick Regal GS.
      My particular configuration would be similar to the vehicle tested here with the Driver Confidence Package #2, Sights and Sounds, and Appearance packages. The only change would be adding the White Frost Tricoat color, which adds an additional $1,095 to the price. All together, it comes out to $44,210.
      Alternatives to the 2019 Buick Regal GS:
      Kia Stinger: The big elephant in the room when talking about the Regal GS. For a similar amount of cash, you can step into the base GT model with its 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive setup (AWD adds $2,200). I came away very impressed with the styling, performance on tap from the V6, and handling prowess. Downsides include the interior design being a bit too minimalist and the ride being a bit rough. Volkswagen Arteon: The other dark horse to the Regal GS. There is no doubt that the Arteon is quite handsome with flowing lines and sleek fastback shape. Having sat in one at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I found it to be very roomy and upscale in terms of the interior materials. I hope to get some time behind the wheel in the near future to see how it measures up in handling. Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Regal GS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Buick
      Model: Regal
      Trim: GS
      Engine: 3.6L V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,800 
      Torque @ RPM: 282 @ 5,200
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: 3,796 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Rüsselsheim Germany
      Base Price: $39,070
      As Tested Price: $43,115 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Driver Confidence Package #2: $1,690.00
      Sights and Sounds Package: $945.00
      Appearance Package: $485.00
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Quarterly:
      Ford Motor Company - Not Reported
      General Motors Co. - Not Reported
      Tesla - Not Reported
      FCA US LLC - Not Reported
      Monthly:
      Audi of America -  Up 0.8% for the month, Down 5% for the year
      BMW of North America -  Down 1.7% for the month, Down 1.2% for the year
      Genesis Motor America - Not Reported
      Honda Motor Co. -  Up 1.9% for the month, Down 0.9% for the year
      Hyundai Motor America -  Up 12.13% for the month, Up 3.10% for the year
      Infiniti USA - Down 11.2% for the month, Down 12.5% for the year
      Jaguar Land Rover North America - Up 5% for the month, Up 5% for the year
      Kia Motors America - Up 0.6% for the month, Up 3.3% for the year
      Mazda North American Operations - Down 3.5%  for the month, Down 13.9% for the year
      Mercedes-Benz USA - 19.5% for the month, Down 4.0% for the year
      Mitsubishi Motors North America -  Down 13.4% for the month, Up 3.2% for the year
      Nissan Group - Down 9.1% for the month, Down 8.3% for the year
      Porsche Cars North America Inc. -  Up 23.3% for the month, Up 5.3% for the year
      Subaru of America, Inc. - Up 7.9% for the month, Up 5.6% for the year
      Toyota Motor North America - Up 0.2% for the month, Down 2.6% for the year
      Volkswagen of America -  Up 2.2% for the month, Up 6.1% for the year
      Volvo Cars of North America, LLC - Up 2.0% for the month, Up 4.7% for the year

      Brands (Quarterly):
      Alfa Romeo - Not Reported
      Buick -  Not Reported
      Cadillac -  Not Reported
      Chevrolet - Not Reported
      Chrysler - Not Reported
      Dodge - Not Reported
      Ford - Not Reported
      Fiat - Not Reported
      GMC - Not Reported
      Jeep - Not Reported
      Lincoln - Not Reported
      Ram Trucks - Not Reported
      Tesla - Not Reported

      Brands (Monthly):
      Acura - Down 3.7% - 12,759 MTD / 86,526 YTD
      Audi - Down 0.3% - 19,409 MTD / 101,440 YTD
      BMW - Up 4.7% - 24,842 MTD / 199,865 YTD
      Genesis - Not reported
      Honda - Up 2.5% - 128,537 MTD / 831,765 YTD
      Hyundai - Up 12.3% - 57,340 MTD / 390,668 YTD
      Infiniti - Down 11.2% - 8,660 MTD / 71,718 YTD
      Jaguar - Up 7% - 2,020 MTD
      Kia - Up 0.6% - 53,405 MTD / 358,249 YTD
      Land Rover -  Up 4% - 6,456 MTD
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      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Quarterly:
      Ford Motor Company - Not Reported
      General Motors Co. - Not Reported
      Tesla - Not Reported
      FCA US LLC - Not Reported
      Monthly:
      Audi of America -  Up 0.8% for the month, Down 5% for the year
      BMW of North America -  Down 1.7% for the month, Down 1.2% for the year
      Genesis Motor America - Not Reported
      Honda Motor Co. -  Up 1.9% for the month, Down 0.9% for the year
      Hyundai Motor America -  Up 12.13% for the month, Up 3.10% for the year
      Infiniti USA - Down 11.2% for the month, Down 12.5% for the year
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      Kia Motors America - Up 0.6% for the month, Up 3.3% for the year
      Mazda North American Operations - Down 3.5%  for the month, Down 13.9% for the year
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      Mitsubishi Motors North America -  Down 13.4% for the month, Up 3.2% for the year
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      Subaru of America, Inc. - Up 7.9% for the month, Up 5.6% for the year
      Toyota Motor North America - Up 0.2% for the month, Down 2.6% for the year
      Volkswagen of America -  Up 2.2% for the month, Up 6.1% for the year
      Volvo Cars of North America, LLC - Up 2.0% for the month, Up 4.7% for the year

      Brands (Quarterly):
      Alfa Romeo - Not Reported
      Buick -  Not Reported
      Cadillac -  Not Reported
      Chevrolet - Not Reported
      Chrysler - Not Reported
      Dodge - Not Reported
      Ford - Not Reported
      Fiat - Not Reported
      GMC - Not Reported
      Jeep - Not Reported
      Lincoln - Not Reported
      Ram Trucks - Not Reported
      Tesla - Not Reported

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      Audi - Down 0.3% - 19,409 MTD / 101,440 YTD
      BMW - Up 4.7% - 24,842 MTD / 199,865 YTD
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      Honda - Up 2.5% - 128,537 MTD / 831,765 YTD
      Hyundai - Up 12.3% - 57,340 MTD / 390,668 YTD
      Infiniti - Down 11.2% - 8,660 MTD / 71,718 YTD
      Jaguar - Up 7% - 2,020 MTD
      Kia - Up 0.6% - 53,405 MTD / 358,249 YTD
      Land Rover -  Up 4% - 6,456 MTD
      Lexus - Down 1.5% - 25,025 MTD  / 160,760 YTD
      Mazda - Down 3.5% - 23,292 MTD / 161,847 YTD
      Mercedes-Benz - Up 22.9% - 24,612 MTD / 172,008 YTD
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      MINI - Down 34.2% - 2,827 MTD / 20,410 YTD
      Mitsubishi - Down 13.4% - 8,613 MTD / 79,710 YTD
      Nissan - Down 8.9% - 90,220 MTD / 744,198 YTD
      Porsche - Up 23.3% - 4,956 MTD / 35,213 YTD
      Smart - Down 45.6% - 56 MTD / 552 YTD
      Subaru - Up 7.9% - 64,106 MTD / 403,631 YTD
      Toyota - Up 0.4% - 184,179 MTD / 1,200,552 YTD
      Volkswagen - Up 2.2% - 31,188 MTD / 215,796 YTD
      Volvo - Up 2.0% - 8,795 MTD / 58,915 YTD
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Model Sales
      Vehicle
      July-19
      July-18
      2019 YTD
      2018 YTD
      Accent
      1,830
      1,873
      16,736
      16,698
      Elantra
      11,579
      13,753
      96,550
      113,481
      Ioniq
      2,891
      1,198
      10,490
      9,797
      Kona
      6,377
      4,173
      43,466
      19,366
      Nexo
      21
      0
      140
      36*
      Palisade
      4,464
      0
      4,847
      0
      Santa Fe
      9,644
      8,275
      77,215
      67,460
      Sonata
      6,976
      9,548
      54,108
      63,783
      Tucson
      12,629
      11,360
      78,583
      81,273
      Veloster
      929
      943
      8,533
      6,402
      *Includes Tucson Fuel Cell sales
      Sales Summary
        July-19 July-18 2019 YTD 2018 YTD Hyundai 57,340 51,137 390,668 378,923
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