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William Maley

Review: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

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Hyundai had set itself a high bar when it launched the sixth-generation Sonata for the 2010 model year. It stood out from a crowded field of midsize sedans with an exterior shape that resembled a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. The Sonata also boasted a comfortable interior, loads of technology features, a good selection of engines, and a nice balance between comfort and sport. Replacing this model would be a tough task and one Hyundai wasn’t able to meet. When the seventh-generation model rolled out at 2014 New York Auto Show, you could hear the cry of a sad trombone. The new Sonata had gone conservative in its design. Compared to Chevrolet, Honda, and Toyota that rolled out bold styling on their sedans, the Sonata went backwards with a conservative look.

Hyundai realized they need to make some drastic changes to Sonata to give it a fighting chance not only against other sedans, but from the growing demand for crossovers of all sizes. This brings us to the 2018 Sonata Limited. It was time to find out if Hyundai had found that magic once again.

This being a refresh, Hyundai couldn’t go completely crazy in terms of the design language, however the updates really help the Sonata have more presence. Up front is bolder with a new hexagonal grille surround, chrome grille slats, new sculpting on the hood, and deep cuts in the bumper for LED fog lights. The side profile retains the chrome trim that runs through the headlights and around the windows. Hyundai made some drastic changes for the rear by smoothing out the trunk lid and moving the placement of the license plate to the bumper. 

The Sonata’s interior retains the basic shape of the outgoing model, but changes have been made to freshen it up. The center stack boasts a revised control layout and all trims get a three-spoke steering wheel. Previously, only the Sport trim got this wheel design. It would have been nice if Hyundai was a little bit more adventurous with the design, but I’m willing to forgive some of this feeling as the controls fall easily into hand. Interior materials are about average for the class with a mix of hard and soft plastics.

The front seats were designed with long-distance comfort in mind with a fair amount of seat padding and just the right amount of firmness. Power adjustments for both driver and passenger are standard on the Limited and offer a generous range of adjustments. Space in the back is quite roomy and there are some nice touches such as manual window shades. The Sonata has one of the largest trunks in the class with 16.3 cubic feet of space on offer.

All Sonata’s come with a 7-inch touchscreen featuring Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system. Our test Sonata Limited had the optional 8-inch screen with navigation. The current BlueLink system has been with us for a few years and its interface is beginning to look somewhat dated, but the system is still one of the best when it comes to overall usability with large touchscreen buttons, bright screen, and a simple interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Sonatas except the base SE.

Sonata offers one of the widest range of powertrains in the segment with three gas engines, a hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Our Sonata Limited came with the base 2.4L inline-four producing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. The engine provides adequate power for around town and rural driving. You will need to step on it when making a pass or merging onto a freeway as torque resides higher in the rev band. The six-speed automatic goes about its business smoothly and always knows what gear it needs to be in. Hyundai does offer an eight-speed automatic, but only if you opt for the turbocharged 2.0L.

EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Sonata Limited are 25 City/35 Highway/28 Combined (SE models see a one mpg increase in highway and combined figures). My average for the week landed around 28.5 mpg.

Hyundai did make some tweaks to the 2018 Sonata’s suspension including a revised rear suspension setup with thicker trailing arms and revised steering system. The end result is a Sonata that handles much better than the previous car. Body motion has noticeably decreased and the steering provides decent weight when turning. Thankfully, the tweaks made to the suspension haven’t affected the Sonata’s ride quality. Bumps and other road imperfections are soaked up before reaching passengers. Some of the credit has to go to Hyundai not going crazy on offering large wheels - the Limited seen here rides on 17-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels.

My first impression seeing the 2018 Sonata was that Hyundai had improved it, but was still a bit short when compared to the work done by other automakers. Spending a week with the Sonata caused me to change my train of thought; It surprised me how much work Hyundai put into this mid-cycle refresh and brings the Sonata up to the point where I would say it is fighting for best-in-class honors. 

While the 2018 Sonata may lack most of the pizzazz found in the sixth-generation model, it does show that Hyundai has learned from its mistake and worked to reclaim some of the magic.

Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2018
Make: Hyundai
Model: Sonata
Trim: Limited
Engine: 2.4L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic. Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 185 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 178 @ 4,000 
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/35/28
Curb Weight: N/A
Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
Base Price: $27,400
As Tested Price: $31,310 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
Ultimate Package - $2,900.00
Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00


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Cool review, learned some good things and it is nice to see that it has visually improved over the last gen. Not as snappy looking at the 6th gen as you point out, but way better than it could have been for a mid cycle refresh.

Hyundai, needs to really step up their own styling and bring it to the game if this car is still here for the next generation version.

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Posted (edited)

I would get one over a Camry.  And its an ok choice and not bad.  But if I look at 2019 models, I would get a Malibu, Fusion, Accord, Mazda6, Altima, maybe even Passat before this.  Hyundai's draw is easy credit and bigger warranties.  

If we look at Hyundai's development long term, its that they are fully accepted as a mainstream middle of the road vanilla device, so their cars don't look out of place and have no big flaws.  If they continue to prove out as reliable as the mean average, which they likely are, then over time they wipe away any stigma of being cheaper end.  All they want is to be mainstream and volume and each successive year they just perform to mainstream market factors is just the greater chance they survive and can over time leverage more and more their corporate advantages....cheaper to develop and build vehicles than some other more established makers.  When the thinning of the auto herd happens again, Hyundai will likely be one of the 5-7 automakers / brands that survives.  That's why volume and market share matter as much as profitability per unit.

Edited by regfootball
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The one thing that surprised me about @William Maley's review is his statement that the car is super quiet inside. I haven't driven this version of Sonata, but prior versions had some road and engine noise issues.  So assuming Will's observation is correct, then Hyundai has gone on a quiet tuning quest. 

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Thorough review ... I rented one on the heels of a Nissan Altima for a few days after an exchange and liked it much better than the Altima.

I was able to get over 41 mpg (after converting kilometers and liters) on a jaunt from Quebec City back to Montreal in an Altima and thought they were great.  Then, the Sonata told me how much more definition there is with a step-gear transmission.  And, like you said, it shifted beautifully.  I believe the highway mileage may have been about 35 or 36 mpg.

I think they worked wonders with the mid-cycle refresh.  The placement of "Sonata" in slanted letters across the rear has worked wonders for the car, albeit a small change.  Usually, I don't like that. 

I also know that the current vernacular is to slope the rear back lite to the point of almost eliminating the trunk lid.  I wish it wasn't as sloped, but it works with the car.

I have test sat in the new model at both the auto show and in show rooms and, while Hyundai dashboards tend to be very practical, I can't say I like how horizontal the buttons are laid out in the center stack.  I believe one salesperson referred to it as the "piano key" design/layout.  That's a good way to put it.  I prefer things a little more compact in the center stack.

However, if I was buying in this segment and buying foreign, the Sonata and the Passat would be the only ones I'd consider. The price point of the Limited is too high.  In lower grade trim, they are a good value.  I would pass on the Camry and the Altima.  Hopefully, GM can amp up its game in this segment.

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On 7/13/2018 at 1:44 PM, Drew Dowdell said:

I really like the look.  I'd get it in the 2.0T of course. 

I disagree. I find the design language awkward 

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On 7/14/2018 at 6:41 AM, Drew Dowdell said:

The one thing that surprised me about @William Maley's review is his statement that the car is super quiet inside. I haven't driven this version of Sonata, but prior versions had some road and engine noise issues.  So assuming Will's observation is correct, then Hyundai has gone on a quiet tuning quest. 

Last time i was in a Sonata it was buzzy and loud and vibrated through the seats

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    • By William Maley
      Hyundai’s attempts at building a three-row full-size crossover has been quite difficult. Previous attempts either were slightly too small or didn’t sell. The company is hoping their upcoming Palisade will be able to change their fortunes.
      The Palisade is the largest crossover Hyundai has ever offered with an overall length of 196.1 inches, width of 77.8 inches, and a wheelbase of 114.2 inches. That puts it right in the middle of other three-row full-size crossovers like the Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango, and Volkswagen Atlas. It certainly looks much better than the outgoing Santa Fe it replaces due it part to a large front grille and squared off rear. I really liked the rear window treatment on the side as it reminds me of GM’s full-size SUVs. 
      For the interior, Hyundai’s designers went for something that was quite airy and premium. This is shown through the use of high-quality plastics, soft-touch materials, and a floating console. It reminded of the Nexo hydrogen crossover which Hyundai had sitting alongside the Palisade at their technical center. Getting the chance to sit in the crossover, I really liked how the controls were laid out and the amount of technology on offer, including a 12.3-inch screen for the instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system.
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      FLAGSHIP SUV DESIGN
      “Hyundai Palisade’s exterior and interior design clearly reflect its unique flagship identity with a premium, distinctive and bold road presence,” said SangYup Lee, head of Hyundai’s Design Center. “As the lead for Palisade design, it was a pleasure to work with our global design teams throughout its development and ultimately present this phenomenal product before you today.”
      Palisade’s styling conveys dignity with style in an understated theme that demonstrates clear differentiation worthy of a flagship SUV. From the front, a dominant, bold and wide cascading grille clearly represents a premium SUV. Separated composite headlamps and a vertically-connected forward lighting signature create a strong and distinctive front demeanor, with available LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED turn-signal mirrors. A powerful, extended hood profile creates an impressive road presence, while bold C-pillars and a panoramic glass side graphic convey generous third-row spaciousness. Full volume over-fenders and body sides offer muscular detailing. The rear view emphasizes a wide and stable stance via sinuous detailing and a vertical LED rear taillamp design. Panoramic rear glass coupled with a cutaway roof provides a generous sense of spaciousness to passengers. Available oversized 20-inch alloy wheels further fill out the Palisade flagship presence.
      This design has aerodynamic benefits as well, with a 0.33 coefficient of drag (Cd). Palisade achieves this low drag coefficient with specific design cues that include a fast A-pillar angle, a rear spoiler side garnish, an optimized front cooling area with an extended internal air guide, aero underside panels, and rear wheel aero deflectors.
      INTUITIVE UTILITY
      The interior design combines a sense of relaxation and comfort creating a serene environment with eight-passenger seating standard for family adventures. Leather-equipped models offer a premium, quilted Nappa leather, while on the instrument panel, smooth woodgrain trim in a wraparound interior design create a spacious, comfortable ambience. The One-Touch second row seat allows for one-touch operation of the seat forward and out of the way for easy access into and out of the third-row seat. For more convenience, the third row offers power-folding/unfolding and reclining seats. Second-row captain’s chairs are also available with ventilated seating surfaces. Every Palisade seating row offers USB outlets for convenience for all passengers, for a total of seven available USB outlets. Even more, a conversation mirror allows the driver to clearly see passengers in the rear.
      Palisade also offers a class-exclusive Blind View Monitor that complements the standard Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, which provides easy-to-see body-side views whenever the turn signal is activated. The audio and navigation display is a generous 10.25 inch touchscreen in widescreen format, coupled with a 12.3-inch fully-digital TFT center instrument cluster offering various view modes and differentiated drive mode illumination. Two Bluetooth® devices can be connected simultaneously, with one for a mobile phone connection and the other for audio streaming. The single IP gauge cluster integrated with navigation offers exceptional legibility and ease of use, coupled with an available head-up display feature. Center console innovations such as shift-by-wire controls free up valuable control space for the features drivers use most. The shift-by-wire system also includes automatic park logic that shifts the vehicle into park when the engine is off and the driver opens the door. Palisade’s center console bridge design also frees up convenient storage space underneath the center console control area with convenient driver and passenger access. The interior features seven available USB outlets, including front-seatback-based USB outlets for the second row occupants and mini-pockets for digital devices of all kinds. A generous 16 cupholders means there’s always a place to stow a beverage at any seating position. Seatbelt connection notification to the driver is active in every seating position.
      Palisade also features an industry-first, innovative new roof vent diffuser design that can provide a focused, partially-diffused or fully-diffused stream of air to rear passengers. This new diffuser vent design provides quieter rear air conditioning airflow, draft-free operation, more uniform distribution of  air and the capability for a focused stream of air whenever desired.
      Palisade offers abundant technology, including Hyundai’s latest navigation system with Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™. To eliminate the need for a charging cord, there’s an available Qi wireless charging pad for compatible Android devices as well as recent Apple iPhones. When it comes to audio technology, the available premium sound system is well-suited to the Palisade’s upscale interior. The audio system features Clari-Fi and QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound technology. Clari–Fi works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally-compressed music, while QuantumLogic™ extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail. The result is a more robust and enjoyable on-road listening experience.
      HEADS-UP DISPLAY    
      Taking inspiration from aircraft technology, Palisade’s available Heads-Up Display (HUD) projects a virtual image onto the windshield, helping the driver to better keep his or her eyes on the road. The feature uses a system of mirrors combined with a full-color TFT LCD display and features adjustable brightness to ensure both excellent daytime and nighttime visibility. Driving information such as speed, Smart Cruise Control status, navigation, Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, speed limits, Lane Following Assist and audio system data is projected at an ideal virtual distance for maximum legibility.
      Palisade also offers a sophisticated Driver Talk in-car intercom system with rear seat conversation and sleep modes. This system allows the driver to communicate separately with the second and/or third rows of the vehicle via the Palisade audio system in a conversation mode. The system also includes a Rear Sleep Mode that allows the driver’s row to listen to their selected audio without that same audio being transmitted to the second- and third-row audio speakers, so that potentially sleeping passengers will not be disturbed.
      Palisade design seeks a very high perception of openness and exceptional visibility with a large, fixed-glass rear sunroof opening, wide rear seating rows and a generous, reconfigurable rear cargo area. All rear access areas have been ergonomically designed for ease of family access, with an available power rear-folding, unfolding and reclining third-row seatback. Palisade is larger in every exterior dimension than Santa Fe XL and Toyota Highlander.
      On the inside, Palisade has more interior first and second row legroom than Pilot, Pathfinder, and Explorer. It also has more cargo room behind the third row than Highlander, Pilot and Pathfinder.
      POWERTRAIN
      Palisade power comes from an Atkinson-cycle 3.8-liter V6, dual CVVT, direct-injected engine, for excellent power and efficiency. This 3.8-liter powerplant produces an estimated 291 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and an estimated 262 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5,000 rpm. Palisade offers more standard horsepower than any other SUV in its competitive set and an unsurpassed level of torque. Palisade delivers that power to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with a multi-plate torque converter and offers both two-wheel and HTRAC® four-wheel-drive configurations, with a final drive ratio of 3.648 for confident acceleration. Special efforts were made to reduce Palisade NVH, with generous under-hood insulation, special sound-deadening carpets and powertrain tuning that delivers a smooth, linear response. In addition, Palisade offers drivers the ability to start the vehicle via remote key fob or via the Blue Link app.
      SUSPENSION GEOMETRY AND TUNING
      Front and rear suspension width was maximized on Palisade, for enhanced roll stiffness and stability. Tires are a generous 245/60R18 standard or an optional 245/50R20 size for stability, style and smooth ride comfort. Palisade front steering knuckles and rear carriers are made of aluminum, while front lower arms have been optimized and lightened via a new engineering design, resulting in reduced unsprung weight and improved responsiveness. 
      Palisade also achieves best-in-class body torsional rigidity through a variety of methods, including a multiple ring-shaped structure and hot-stamped door-ring parts that provide greater strength and rigidity. In addition, its torsional rigidity, when equipped with a sunroof, is nearly identical to versions without a sunroof.
      HTRAC® WITH SNOW MODE
      The Palisade offers Hyundai’s HTRAC® All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system. 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 driver-selectable HTRAC Normal, Sport and Smart modes help provide confident control in all weather conditions. The Sport setting gives a more agile feel by sending more available torque to the rear wheels, for a sporty dynamic feel when desired. This system has a wider range of torque distribution variability than many competitive systems and has been tuned to conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- or high-speed cornering, and hill starts.
      Palisade also offers a newly-developed Snow Mode on its advanced HTRAC® AWD system, with special traction tuning for snow, optimizing available traction and driver control in adverse conditions. The Drive Mode System’s Snow Mode adjusts front and rear torque distribution, left and right wheel slip control, engine torque and shift patterns according to available traction levels. In addition, Palisade’s AWD HTRAC system includes an AWD locking differential function for challenging traction situations.
      SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES
      Palisade offers a number of advanced safety technologies standard, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Following Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Assist, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go.
      Hyundai’s standard Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) enhances driver awareness to the rear of the Palisade. Using the Blind Spot Detection system’s radar sensors when backing up, the system can not only warn the driver if vehicles approach from the rear side, it also applies the brakes automatically.
      Available safety features include Rear Occupant Alert (ROA). The system monitors the rear seats using an ultrasonic sensor that helps to detect the movements of children and pets. The system first reminds drivers to check the rear seats when exiting the vehicle with a message on the center instrument cluster display. If the system detects movement in the rear seats after the driver leaves the vehicle and locks the doors it will honk the horn and send a Blue Link alert to the driver’s smartphone via Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system. The system is designed to prevent children and pets from being forgotten in the car, but it also helps in case children accidentally lock themselves in. 
      The Palisade also features a standard Safe Exit Assist system. To enhance the safety of Hyundai’s passengers, Safe Exit Assist uses radar to detect cars approaching from the rear and cautions passengers looking to exit the vehicle. If a passenger attempts to open the door when a car is approaching from behind, a visual and acoustic warning on the center cluster will alert the driver. In addition, if the driver attempts to deactivate the Electronic Child Safety Lock feature, Safe Exit Assist will override the driver and ensure the rear doors remain locked until the approaching vehicle has passed. Once the road is clear, the driver can then deactivate the Electronic Child Safety Lock and successfully unlock the rear passenger doors.
      In addition, Palisade has seven standard airbags: dual front, dual side, driver’s knee, and roll-over-sensing side curtain airbags. Palisade uses a full-length large side curtain airbag that includes third-row seating coverage for enhanced rear occupant protection in the event of a collision. Tire pressure monitoring with individual position display, anti-theft security, three LATCH anchors in the second row and two LATCH anchors in the third row and a rearview camera are also standard on Palisade.
      Palisade has a very rigid structure, with strategic use of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) in key suspension and crash areas to provide increased tensile-strength. Use of Advanced High Strength Steel has several benefits: lighter overall vehicle weight, greater vehicle strength and rigidity without the excessive costs of more exotic lightweight materials.
      Palisade is expected to achieve TSP+ from the IIHS and a 5-star NHTSA rating. Robust underbody and side structures are designed to increase energy absorption and cabin intrusion in a severe collision, especially in the small overlap test. Further, its underbody uses multiple load paths to better disperse potential crash energy in the event of a collision.
      BLUE LINK® CONNECTED CAR SYSTEM
      Palisade Blue Link equipped models include three years of complimentary Blue Link services, with enhanced safety, diagnostic, remote and voice guidance services. Blue Link brings connectivity directly into the car with technologies like Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance and Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Blue Link features can be accessed via buttons on the rearview mirror, the MyHyundai.com web portal, the MyHyundai with Blue Link smartphone app, the Amazon® Alexa Blue Link skill and the Blue Link Google Assistant app. Some features can also be controlled via Android Wear™ and Apple Watch™ smartwatch apps. The latest release of the Blue Link smartphone app includes:
      Widgets for easy access to remote features Ability to send Point-of-Interest data to vehicle navigation system (if so equipped) Access to Blue Link notification settings More details on specific Blue Link-equipped vehicles available at www.hyundaibluelink.com.
      COLOR
      Palisade will be available in a number of exterior colors, including: Beckets Black, White Cream, Lagoon Silver, Steel Graphite, Sierra Burgundy, Moonlight Cloud and Forest Rain. Interior combinations include unique molding accent colors tailored to the exterior combination.
    • By William Maley
      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

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      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
    • By William Maley
      I happen to be a big fan of the Kia Soul. Its daring looks, spacious interior, and overall value make it an interesting option in the compact class. It seems many others would agree as the Soul is one of Kia’s best selling models. To help keep it up there, Kia has introduced a new turbo engine for the top-line Exclaim (!) model along with minor changes for 2017. Let's see how these changes affect the Soul.
      Aside from the turbo engine, Kia made some design tweaks to the Exclaim to have it stand out from other Soul trims. This includes a new front bumper, red accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, a twin-tip exhaust, and exclusive colors like this copper color seen here. The little changes really make the Soul stand out even further than before. Moving on to the turbo engine, it is a 1.6L four-cylinder packing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is only paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. If you really want a manual with your turbo-four, Kia will gladly sell you a Forte5 SX which features the same engine. There is a brief moment of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator, but the engine comes into its own after this with power building smoothly. There are no issues with getting up to speed when merging or making a pass. The dual-clutch transmission is a bit of a mixed bag. In stop-and-go traffic, the transmission exhibits some jerkiness and lazy shifts. We also noticed the transmission was slow to respond in terms of downshifting, making us think the programming for this transmission was focused on fuel economy. At higher speeds, the transmission is better with rapid and smooth shifts. The turbo engine has the highest fuel economy fuel economy figures in the Soul lineup with an EPA rating of 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. We saw an average of 25.3 mpg during our week in mostly city driving, which is slightly disappointing. With the turbo engine and racy looks, you might think that this particular Soul is fun to drive. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case. Out on a winding road, the Soul is competent with minimal body roll and okay steering. This would be ok if it weren’t for the sporty image that is being portrayed by the exterior. We do wish that Kia had made some changes to the suspension to make it slightly sportier.  The upside to not messing with the Soul’s suspension is it mostly retains the smooth and comfortable ride of other models. Mostly is the keyword as the 18-inch wheels do introduce some harshness to the Soul’s ride. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, most of this due to the Soul’s boxy shape. The Soul’s interior is still as sharp looking as it first was when the current model was launched in 2013. Little touches such as the uniquely styled air vents and orange accent stitching give the Soul a bit of whimsy. The extensive use of soft-touch materials gives off an aura of quality. Driver and passenger get power seats which make finding a comfortable position very easy. Those sitting in the back will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom, due to the Soul’s boxy shape. Our test Soul came with optional Technology Package that includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system and navigation. It is beginning to show its age in terms of the graphics, but it is still one of the most intuitive systems on sale today. A simple layout and redundant physical buttons make it breeze to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is an added bonus. The Exclaim begins at $22,650 and comes well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with UVO, Bluetooth, leather and cloth wrapped seats, push-button start with proximity key, and automatic headlights. Opt for the technology to get the 8-inch system, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated seats and steering wheel, and power folding mirrors. For only $26,995, you get a nicely equipped vehicle. Our test vehicle is slightly more expensive at $27,620 due to an optional panoramic sunroof which we would skip. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Kia
      Model: Soul
      Trim: ! (Exclaim)
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder 
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28
      Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea
      Base Price: $22,650
      As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $3,000.00
      Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00
      Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00

      View full article
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