Car Review: 2014 Hyundai Equus Signature

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Off a refresh for 2014, the Hyundai Equus strikes an elegant look with V8 power under the hood that will impress on her own. The 2014 Equus premium luxury sedan arrives with enhancements to exterior and interior design, vehicle dynamics, material selection, driver technology displays and advanced safety features. The week behind the wheel of the Equus was a real eye opener as to what affordable luxury feels like!

EXTERIOR

No worries on whether the 2014 Equus Signature can compete with other luxury sedans here, as during our test time with the Equus, this car was even mistaken for a Rolls Royce! The 2014 Equus exterior enhancements convey a premium-sport design message, starting with a new 19-inch turbine-blade alloy wheel design in a polished silver finish that relays motion whether parked or on the open highway. The front grille chrome bars are thinner, with sharper contrast to the blacked-out portions of the grille for a sportier look. The front fascia also has been redesigned, with the former chrome accents removed in favor of a modern premium appearance that includes lower fascia opening strakes. The headlamps offer jeweled design elements and include chrome contrasted with black-out finishes for a distinctive appearance. New LED fog lamps are now standard. Side mirrors have been redesigned for enhanced aerodynamics and tail lamp graphics move to a more horizontal theme.

INTERIOR

Until you drive the Equus, you really don’t appreciate the high-end luxury that is incorporated into the cabin space. The 2014 Equus interior perfectly complements the enhancements to its exterior to the satisfaction of the most discerning car buyer. Thus, the themes of premium and performance again greet the driver behind the wheel. The entire instrument panel and center stack have been redesigned with more premium materials and an ergonomically-correct layout, with new button iconography for quicker and easier feature recognition. The center console and shift lever reveal more premium material selection and contemporary premium-luxury design cues. Steering wheel control layout has been improved, with new low-sheen button designs and icons. Similarly, rear passengers will enjoy a new rear console and button layout, with available dual 9.2-inch, high-resolution, adjustable seatback video screens to enjoy movies, audio media, HVAC or seating functions. Rear passengers can even search restaurant locations and provide navigation system directions directly to the driver’s navigation screen. The premium leather seats and microfiber suede headliner really set the tone for a high-quality space. We drove the Equus in zero degree temperature during a frigid midwest winter and the fast heating seats were our favorite comfort feature of the car! Also, the Lexicon 7.1 discrete surround sound audio system with a whopping 17 speakers is one of the best we have heard in an automobile.

The climate control system now offers three distinct cabin temperature zones for driver, passenger and rear passengers. The standard smart cruise control system has been enhanced to include a full 0-mph stop-and-start function for use in stop-and-go traffic. The smart proximity key now includes both key-fob and card-key types of vehicle entry for greater driver convenience.

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Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD FWD

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When Hyundai designed the all-new six and seven-passenger Sante Fe, their recipe of bold design, high-output powertrains with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and a host of other features to please drivers and passengers stayed intact along with high expectations for functionality, versatility and comfort. After spending a week behind the wheel of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD FWD, we can now see why sales keep going up.

EXTERIOR

The new Hyundais have accomplished fantastic reviews for styling, and the new six-passenger 2013 Hyundai Santa FE LTD FWD continues the good-looking traits of prior Santa Fes. Hyundai designers crafted Santa Fe Sport and three-row Santa Fe together, with the signature differentiating element being the sideview daylight opening (side window shape); the larger Santa Fe features a shape that highlights the increased passenger and cargo room behind the third-row seat. Santa Fe also has its own bodyside character lines from the B-pillar back, grille design, chrome-tipped dual exhaust and a flush-mounted tow hitch design. Our test model was shining in becketts black paint, and with the19-inch Euroflange alloy wheels, this was one sharp looking machine. Also adding to the overall exterior package were front fog lights, heated exterior mirrors with turn signal indicators, roof side rails and windshield wiper deicer. I will say the new front lighting system looks as sleek as any vehicle on the road.

INTERIOR

Impressive from the moment you enter the cabin! The Santa Fe trim features the same flowing interior look designed for passenger functionality and comfort. From the available heated rear seats and eight-way power driver seat with four-way lumbar support, to a standard 40:20:40 folding rear seat back, Santa Fe boasts flexibility and a pleasant cabin for all. Also new for 2013 – and standard on all Santa Fe equipped with cloth seats – is a ‘YES Essentials’ seat fabric treatment that provides soil-resistant, anti-odor and anti-static properties for added longevity and livability. Special care and attention went into other interior details, such as an optional panoramic sunroof, which allows more natural light into the cabin and rear side window sunshades. Available on Santa Fe models is a push-button starter with proximity key, Electroluminescent Gauge Cluster with color LCD trip computer and a heated steering wheel.

Our test model sported heated black leather seating surfaces with second row captain’s chairs. The three-row Santa Fe increases second-row legroom by 1.9 inches and cargo capacity 5.5 cubic feet and features standard rear-passenger HVAC controls and vents to increase family comfort, while also offering a standard 50:50 split folding third-row bench seat with 31.5 inches of legroom. This seat back is perfect for seating five passengers comfortably or accommodating four passengers plus long items like skis, golf clubs, snowboards and surfboards. Fold down two seats to seat three people and hold larger packages, or fold all rear seats to maximize cargo space. Our three-row Santa Fe also featured a power liftgate for added convenience.

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Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Azera

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One of the hottest selling sedans on the road today is the 2013 Hyundai Azera, and we had the opportunity to drive one for a week to see what all the buzz is about. We learned that Hyundai continues to take on segments of the auto industry that probably didn’t see products like the Azera approaching in their rearview mirror!

EXTERIOR

The Azera is a modern and sophisticated interpretation of Hyundai’s signature Fluidic Sculpture design language, which looks very attractive when parked or being driven. With the new Azera, Hyundai continues to offer customers the highest levels of luxury, performance and efficiency, all brought together in the praised design. Azera’s Fluidic Sculpture design takes inspiration from the mechanics of flight. The exterior of the Azera is long, light and low with a very upscale appearance. The unique, undulating beltline allows for a long, sleek roofline accented by the third window and wraparound LED taillights. A monoform side profile includes flowing lines in the rear quarter panel. The face is masculine with a powerful, winged chrome grille and HID headlamps that integrate precise details. The stance is completed by available 19-inch multi-spoke wheels that we sported on our test model. The venetian red paint looked amazingly shiny without a mar to be found.

INTERIOR

The elegant look of the 2013 Azera continues inside where Hyundai has created an upscale ambiance, thanks to a flow-through center fascia and instrument panel that creates a dual-cockpit front passenger space. These flowing surfaces complement the exterior design and wrap around the driver and passengers. The 2013 Azera offers luxurious appointments that rival the finest premium competitor brands. It offers a roomy cabin with more than 45 inches of legroom and 40 inches of headroom for front-seat passengers. Hyundai focuses heavily on other interior details, such as an optional panoramic sunroof, which allows more natural light into the cabin and 3D Carbon interior accents. Ambient lighting compliments the vehicle’s modern appearance. Other standard luxury equipment includes power front seats, power rear sunshade and manual rear side window shades. The side shades, not found on any other car in the Azera’s segment, can be inconspicuously tucked away when not in use.

Given the functionality and design of the Azera, seat quality and comfort is of extreme importance to the feel of the car. The 2013 Azera offers first-class seating for all passengers, with leather seating as standard equipment. A ten-way power driver and eight-way front passenger seat are also included. The driver’s seat has an optional cushion extension and an integrated memory system for the seat, steering wheel and side mirrors, while the Azera’s climate and seat temperature controls keep occupants in total comfort. Our 2013 Hyundai Azera also boasted ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats standard, dual automatic climate control standard, second row air vents standard and cooled glove box standard.

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Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited

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When Hyundai released the latest Sonata a few years ago, the design was cutting edge, and now that the current design is running close to the end of its cycle, the design still holds true to this day. For 2013, Sonata built on its trailblazing recipe of high-design and high fuel efficiency with more features, higher value and better residual value than ever before. That’s important, as the midsize segment is more competitive than ever, with new competitors borrowing pages from the Sonata playbook with improved fuel economy and design.

EXTERIOR

First and foremost, you can’t help but notice the panoramic sunroof which is now part of the Limited Premium Package for 2013 as tested. Fluidic Sculpture is a consistent, cohesive design language that is used throughout the entire Hyundai showroom. It considers the interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures to create the illusion of constant motion.

The exterior of the Sonata is long, light and low. The high beltline allows for a long, sleek roofline accented by a third window. A monoform side profile includes flowing lines highlighted by a Hyundai signature chrome accent that spans the length of the car. Normally, this type of trim is only found around the windows. On the Sonata, this trim extends out from the headlamps, juts up along the hood and through the beltline. The face is bold with a large powerful chrome grille and headlamps that integrate precise details. The stance is completed by 17-inch alloy wheels on our Limited edition. It’s amazing how the Sonata design has influenced competitors and reshaped the midsize sedan marketplace.

INTERIOR

The sleek design, combined with Hyundai’s expertise in interior packaging, delivers class-leading interior comfort, functionality and practicality. A sleek roofline typically compromises headroom and interior volume, but at 120.2 cubic feet, the Sonata has more interior volume than many of its key competitors. It is so spacious that Sonata continues to be classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a large car, truly a “class above” other categorized midsize cars. The Sonata shines even in trunk volume, with 16.4 cu. ft. of trunk space that gives it a 6.1 percent advantage over direct rivals. Our test model was upscale and loaded with features, including leather seating surfaces with heated front and rear seats, power driver seat with power lumbar support, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, XM Satellite radio, Dimension AM/FM/CD-MP3 with iPod/USB input, HD Radio technology with multicasting, integrated Bluetooth hands free phone system, navigation with high resolution touchscreen display, rear backup camera, and a booming and crystal clear Infinity premium audio system with subwoofer and amplifier.

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First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

The folks at Hyundai are so proud of the new turbo engine in their all-new 2013 Santa Fe that they invited us to test drive the redesigned vehicle in the thin air around Park City Utah at 8,500 feet above sea level. The altitude provided a real test for the crossover’s performance and it passed with flying colors.

The third-generation Santa Fe comes in two versions, with a five-passenger Sport model that we tested along with a longer wheelbase seven-passenger model with three-rows. The Sport model arrives in showrooms in this month and the seven-passenger model will arrive in January 2013.

Exterior

Hyundai keeps putting out great-looking vehicles and the Santa Fe is no exception. With the new Santa Fe, Hyundai continues to implement its “Fluidic Sculpture” design principles that have given Hyundai vehicles a bold and distinctive look. Specifically, the Santa Fe features a new design concept called Storm Edge, which captures the strong and dynamic images created by nature during the formation of a storm. This design language works well on the new Santa Fe as you can see from the photos of the Sport model. The vehicle looks great from all angles. The seven-passenger version looks very similar, though some of the lines like the rear side windows are softened in the larger model.

Interior

The interior of the Santa Fe is very roomy and comfortable, and the model we drove was loaded with features, including a Panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and manual rear side window sunshades, power driver seat with four-way lumbar control and front passenger seats, and sliding and reclining second row seating with 40:20:40 folding seat back. All of the controls were conveniently positioned and were easy to use. On the safety front, the Santa Fe has seven standard airbags, including driver’s knee airbag. I sat in the back seat and there’s plenty of room.

You definitely feel like you’re driving a crossover as you’re sitting a little higher than a car but not as high as an SUV. The overall driving experience will likely appeal to both drivers in a family with a nice blend of comfort and handling.

Performance

We had the opportunity to drive the 2.0L Turbo AWD version of the five-passenger Sport model through the mountain roads surrounding Park City. Performance of any vehicle declines in high altitude settings, but the power and performance of the Santa Fe turbos were very impressive. The Santa Fe easily accelerated as we climbed the mountain roads and handled the curves nicely. The overall handling was fine given that we pushed the vehicle pretty hard, so family buyers will be more than happy with the overall performance.

The Santa Fe Sport has two four-cylinder options, with the Theta II 2.4-liter Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine that achieves 190 horsepower with an estimated 33 mpg EPA on the highway, which is the highest of any CUV/SUV equipped with an automatic transmission. We drove vehicles with the high-output Theta II 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI engine that achieves 264 horsepower with an estimated 31 mpg (FWD A/T) on the highway. A Lambda II 3.3-liter GDI V6 engine with 290 horsepower is available on the larger wheelbase Santa Fe.

Hyundai has emphasized weight savings across all of their new models in order to achieve the gas mileage numbers, and the new Santa Fe is 266 lbs. lighter than the 2012 model. The engineers accomplish this with the use of high tensile steel, as the new Santa Fe features a high tensile steel ratio of 37.7% vs. 7.8% for outgoing model along with improved torsional stiffness by 15.7%.

Overview

Like every automaker, Hyundai is eager to service the market of young families, and the Santa Fe is a huge key to their strategy of targeting what they call “core families.” Buyers in this segment are interest in practical vehicles but also want cool styling as well. Hyundai has achieved a nice mix of these aspects in the new Santa Fe with very competitive pricing, and we recommend adding this to your test drive list.

  

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