You’ve got $25,000 to spend, you want a sedan, you want good solid technology, your kids aren’t short so that back seat has to be a real one and you won’t get in anything that has less than a four star safety rating. So obviously you find yourself in the Hyundai Elantra.
It’s an unfussy car. The lines are elegant, a European look if you will.
Midsize cars are weird. They’re not big, they’re not small, they’re called midsize for a reason and every so often I sort of visualize them as white cars with a blue stripe and lettering that says CAR across the side of it, like a beer can from the old Roseanne show. Because of this I end up not particularly excited about midsize sedans and that’s not wise because the Elantra has a lot of excitement built into it. Don’t mistake it for ordinary.
First of all Hyundai always delights with their technology. I cannot emphasize enough how intuitive Hyundai tech is. I drive a lot of different cars each year and the single most important thing about the technology in the car is that it should be intuitive and the Elantra Limited is. You don’t need to look at a manual, you just sort of sit yourself down in the driver’s seat, take a look at the panel and get about the business of connecting your phone to the bluetooth, programming in your favorite stations and saving your house and office (or school) in the navigation system. Everything works well and it’s simple. It’s like the iPod of car tech, just a couple of buttons and they do everything you’d think they do.
Intuitive technology in cars matters to me. Tech should be minimally distracting with no frustration.
The Elantra has a modest engine. It’s a 4 cylinder 143 hp motor on a vehicle that’s near 2,900 pounds (curb weight is between 2,818-2,943 lbs. depending on equipment) so you won’t be racing off the blocks but you also won’t go broke at the pump. The average MPG is 27 city, 37 highway and 31 combined).
There’s a bit of road noise on the Elantra but at this pricepoint I’ve not driven anything quieter. There’s plenty of legroom, lots of glass and I’d be very happy taking the Elantra and it’s oversized trunk for a road trip with a family of four.
If you saw me around town last week I was driving a deep red Hyundai Sonata. It’s an attractive mid-sized sedan with distinctive swage line that adds the look of speed. It’s just a look though, the Sonata, though very perky, is not the car you’d be racing for pink slips at the bottom of the LA River.
You also wouldn’t want to be racing the Sonata at the bottom of the LA River because it’s a really fantastic vehicle that you wouldn’t want to abuse.
The 2014 Sonata that I drove was equipped with a 4 cylinder turbo engine. It was exceptionally perky at 274 hp and somewhere between 3,505 and 3,616 pounds curb weight. Getting on the freeway is a lot of fun and I was actually able to catch a break and the traffic allowed me to go around 85 mph where the ride remained smooth and quiet enough that I didn’t need to turn the radio up.
There is a tremendous amount of space in the rear seat so this is a great option as a family car. The fact that it has rear sear air vents and dual climate controls for the front means that everyone stands a pretty good chance of being comfortable (I say pretty good because my somehow family manages to freeze me out anyhow).
The Sonata is safe and affordable. When I’m looking at vehicles for the people I love safety always tops the list. It’s got an overall 5 star rating from NHTSA which is an incredible endorsement for a family car. There’s plenty of room for all, the rear seat is comfortable with our growing carpool (up to 5’10” this year!) and the trunk is enormous. The interior of the Sonata feels like a full sized vehicle even though you’re in a solidly midsized sedan.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Hyundai’s technology. The navigation system is intuitive and helpful, it’s easy to connect a phone and equally simple to switch between two phones. At $29,555 the car I drove came wonderfully equipped. In addition to all the safety standards like Advanced dual front airbags with Occupant Classification System (keeps airbags from deploying if you or your passenger doesn’t weigh enough), an energy absorbing steering column (you’ll want this if you’re in an accident), and remote keyless entry (my luxury car does not come with this) the Sonata also has options like the blind spot detection system, which I really appreciate.
The Sonata has two flaws that you might not notice on a test drive and it’s entirely possible that they won’t be problems for you. If you have a Sonata with a sunroof there’s a little blue LED light that faces toward the front of the vehicle. If, like me, you sit upright (as opposed to reclined) it’s possible that this light will shine in your eyes at night. Had I owned this vehicle I’d have put a little piece of electrical tape on it but it wasn’t mine so I just jammed a tissue in there so that I wasn’t distracted at night. It’s not insurmountable but it’s also not something you’d be aware during a daytime test drive.
The second problem is that I get in my car and drop my junk, there’s a lot of junk, on the center console. The Sonata has it’s seat warmers on the console and the buttons are really easy to press which means that more than once on a 100° day I’d be sitting in the car wondering why it was so damn hot. I suspect that this is something I’d get used to checking for. With my car the sport suspension button is in the same spot and I end up burning diesel sitting in LA traffic so this may be an issue for just me or this may be an issue you have as well.
One thing that I’ve noticed about Hyundai (and I’ve noticed this because we just bought Jane a car and Hyundai was all over our list – including the Sonata) is that they haven’t really figured out how to lock buyers into leasing the way that some brands do. If you lease with them you are less likely to get stuck in a cycle of never-ending upgrades to the next vehicle where you’re factoring in your overages.
This weekend I was invited out to Arizona, along with a group of reporters, to drive the newly redesigned Hyundai Genesis. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the brand. They’ve been growing and changing and it’s hard to believe that this is the same Hyundai that landed on American shores in 1986.
The 2015 Genesis has been redesigned to allow Hyundai to stake a claim with the luxury market. It’s a beautiful vehicle with a stately grille and sexy lines from headlamp to taillight.
The interior styling is pure luxe. The cabin features matte wood grain, a fantastic touch screen navigation system and an analog clock. I can’t tell you why I enjoy the analog clock as much as I do, but it’s a feature I really enjoy and luxury car makers seem to understand that we all like to just look at a clock every now and again.
The seats are leather at every trim level and both cooled and heated.
The standard features on this vehicle are mindblowing. There are a thousand reasons to consider a Hyundai but these are some of my favorites (in no particular order):
In addition to having an incredible warranty (10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain) the new Genesis includes a five year unlimited-mile roadside assistance plan.
They’ve added a ninth airbag for the driver’s knees
18 inch alloy wheels are standard on the 3.8 liter engine and 19 inch on the 5.0
When you lock the car and walk away the rear view mirrors fold in toward the car keeping them safer from scratches and giving you a visual cue that your car is locked
The steering wheel is heated. This is an endless source of joy for me.
If you’re considering a luxury midsize car I’d make a recommendation there. The magic for me was in the Tech Package. The Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist is a new feature for the 2015 Genesis and came standard on the 5.0 RWD but was part of the Tech Package with the smaller engine.
The Lane Departure warning is an option that you need to turn on (press a button on the dashboard) when you begin your journey. If you start to drift to the edge of a lane the steering wheel will vibrate a bit. As you drift into another lane it will actually correct you gently and pull your car back to your lane. This is easy to override and if you’re just changing lanes without signaling the wheel will feel a little tight but it won’t be prohibitive or even make it difficult for you to maneuver the car. It’s just a tactile bit of feedback for you in a world that’s dominated by beeps and flashing lights. Arizona provided the perfect roads to test this out as it’s long flat stretches without any stoplights. It’s easy to drift and I found this to be a fabulous feature.
Smart Cruise Control freaked me out in the best possible way. Here’s how it works. You set the cruise control as you would with any other vehicle. Then you pick the distance you’d like to be from the car in front of you. There are four options and I chose the furthest one from me. As you’re driving if the car in front of you slows down your cruise control slows you down too in order to maintain the distance you’d previously decided upon. Here’s what I’ve never seen before. When the car in front of you speeds up so does the Hyundai Genesis. You go right up to the speed you’ve selected or the distance from the car in front of you, whichever is safer. Here’s a video Vincent from Slashgear took of me driving without my feet on either pedal for a minute and a half.
The Genesis is neither a sports car nor an off road vehicle but we drove it obscenely fast and then took it off road for a photo shoot. In both instances it performed well. I was impressed by the lack of road noise right up until about 95 mph but since the speed limits are typically 65 and only sometimes 75 that shouldn’t be an issue for anyone. Speaking of speed limits the Genesis includes the speed limit in it’s heads up display. This is spectacular and even in my home town I often find myself wondering just what the speed limit is.
Perhaps the most revolutionary part of the Genesis is it’s CO2 detector. Apparently an engineer at Hyundai noticed that he got sleepier while driving in a car with more than two people in it and recognized that this was due in part to a build up of carbon dioxide in the cabin. The Genesis has a CO2 detector and when the carbon dioxide levels are elevated it automatically brings fresh air into the car. This doesn’t exist in any other vehicle.
The 3.8 liter all wheel drive Genesis starts at $40,500. If you think that you need your vehicle to be under $50,000 I recommend that you don’t test drive the 5.0 liter with rear wheel drive. I think I could be very happy in the smaller engine. After all it’s a V6 with 311 horsepower, totally respectable. If you drive the 5.0 V8 with 420 hp first and then think that you want to save some money it will be less dazzling and the truth is that this is a dazzling vehicle so when you’re test driving only check out the 5.0 if it’s got a price tag you can actually swing on your budget, it start at $51,500.
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is a dream to drive and it’s packed with features that make life easier for the driver and passengers. I’m enchanted by the updated CUV from Hyundai because of the thoughtful, tiny details the company has put into the new Santa Fe. It’s a car made with love by Hyundai for your family.
I love this vehicle. I’m not kidding. I have serious feelings for the sleek updated crossover from Hyundai.
The New Santa Fe is everyone’s darling because Hyundai has paid attention to so many of the “little details” that make a big difference as you transport the precious cargo that is your family. I am obsessed with this CUV because of the minutiae but I’ll get to that.
Hyundai invited a group to preview the 2013 Santa Fe this weekend in San Diego. I spent over 8 hours driving this vehicle all different driving conditions: heavy city traffic, on the highway and on winding roads through rural California.
Why the New 2013 Santa Fe Should Get Your Attention
Santa Fe’s V6 engine outperforms competitors in power density while offering very competitive fuel economy. The 2013 Santa Fe gets 18 MPG in the city, 25 MPG on the highway and 21 MPG combined.
Santa Fe is lighter. It’s the only V6 Midsize CUV to weigh under two tons and outperforms its competitors in power-to-weight ratio.
Santa Fe is powerful. The CUV comes standard with a trailer prep package rated at 5,000 pounds.
Santa Fe’s exterior dimensions are competitive with other Midsize CUVs while providing excellent maneuverability.
Santa Fe offers advanced standard safety equipment and is expected to perform as well as the Santa Fe Sport on crash worthiness.
Hyundai is second only to Honda in terms of holding value over time.
Let’s recap. Hyundai’s 2013 Santa Fe is a lighter, sleeker CUV. The new Santa Fe is powerful. It’s safe and the vehicle has excellent resale value. The 2013 Santa Fe’s main competitors are the Honda Pilot, the Toyota Highlander, and the Nissan Pathfinder. These crossover vehicles are roughly the same size and have three rows of seats. All of the points I’ve mentioned are great reasons to buy this car.
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is for real passengers
My delight with the 2013 Santa Fe is because of all the thoughtful, family-focused features for passengers and driver.
Even the basic 2013 Santa Fe model is loaded with features. This vehicle offers comfort for all passengers. Privileges usually just for first row are standard in the second and third rows in the 2013 Santa Fe. For example, the ability to charge an electronic device or recline your seat isn’t just for people in the front seats. I know you think this doesn’t matter because your child is only 8 (or however old fill in the blank) but trust me. I’m the mother of teenage girls, this does matter and it will matter for you soon if it doesn’t already.
Little Things Matter Most When It Comes to Families
It might not seem like a big deal that 2013 Santa Fe has a built in rear window sunscreen. But this IS a detail that matters because wee ones don’t get sunburned after hours in car because mom didn’t put up the ugly sunshade in the right place. Babies and toddlers can’t tell you when they are getting too hot and this one feature alone would have saved me hours of mother guilt!
Another biggie for me? The 2nd & 3rd row features that make passengers comfortable like climate controls, lights, electronic chargers. If you’re a parent you know the drill when driving your children from school to events and more.
One child is too hot. One child is too cold. One wants the light on. One doesn’t. Small comforts like these go a long way towards keeping kids calm in car.
As my kids have gotten older, the biggest source of car altercations is the phone charger. There is only one charger and it’s in the front seat. Heaven help you if you’re in the car with teenagers fighting over charging their iPhone! This one “little” detail in the new 2013 Santa Fe is priceless in terms of emotional well being for my daughters and myself! The charging options alone would keep me from the boiler plate mom speech:
“If I have to stop this car one more time, we are ALL going home I swear to GOD!”
Hours and hours of future therapy for my daughters could have been avoided, since teen bickering transforms me from a laid back mom to a psycho beast from hell. Here’s a list of the features that I love the most:
Side Window sunshade
Reclining and Heated 2nd Row Seats
Option of Captain’s Chairs in Second Row – Kids can get to third row easily
Rear HVAC Controls
Rear Power 15V Outlet
Second Row Charger
Santa Fe comes standard with flat-folding 3rd row seats. These seat actually FOLD DOWN FLAT. My current CUV claims to have fold down seats but the seats don’t really fold down.
Every car has a personality and the Hyundai Santa Fe is no exception. The Santa Fe is an interesting vehicle because at first glance you could be tricked into thinking it’s a Mom Car. This crossover is a Mom Car but not in the defeated way that a minivan is a mom car. The Santa Fe is an everyone car and with the trim level I was in it’s a little bit snooty to let kids in but still affordable.
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is a crossover that makes you look smart.
I’ve never driven a Hyundai for more than a test drive before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’ve also not owned a crossover and I’m not sure that I’ve ever had an extended drive in one. My friend Vincent at Slashgear got great video that shows you some of the terrain we covered. I took some video too, but it was decidedly less great.
We left the hotel and took paved and unpaved roads for a few hours from Deer Valley to Sundance. There are a few things I noticed about the Hyundai Santa Fe right away.
It handles like a luxury car but looks like a truck (or SUV whatever…)
The rear seats are heated
It’s very fuel efficient
The cabin is quiet even when the road is rough
You can go 45 MPH on an unpaved road, slam on the brakes and there’s ZERO fishtailing. This thing is safe.
The Santa Fe is an attractive crossover. Crossovers by their very nature aren’t particularly sexy so the folks at Hyundai had to really work at this. I found the styling (particularly on the front grille) to be very attractive. It speaks of luxe to me. The vehicle has a very aerodynamic look to it that extends to the trunk area and saves it from looking like a clunky SUV.
I drove that car like the biggest jerk on the road. On pavement, I switched the steering from comfort to sport and back again all the while wiggling the wheel (and my poor passengers). I did experience a slight bit of tightness to the drive with it in sport but I wouldn’t call it dramatic. I accelerated wildly and then slammed the brakes on both on paved and unpaved roads, the vehicle performed perfectly.
Let’s talk about the interior. There’s space here. A lot of space actually. We were driving the Sport model which seats 5. I sat comfortably in the rear seat with a six-foot tall man in front of me. It was quite roomy, exceeding my expectations. They’ve also added an airbag at the knee to keep the driver in her seat in case of an accident. I hope to never need that feature but I like that it’s there.
The Santa Fe has great pickup. They’ve shaved more than 260 pounds off the curb weight of the vehicle without sacrificing safety. Hyundai uses high tensile steel which means that it can stand up to higher levels stress before necking. Why does this matter to you? Well, if you combine a lower weight vehicle with a little more torque all without giving up on safety you end up with a car that can get you up a ramp and onto a freeway at 65 MPH without feeling like you’re holding up traffic. It also means that you can quickly accelerate to change lanes or to avoid an accident because the dopey guy next to you is checking tumblr…
The price-point of the Santa Fe is extraordinary. It starts at $24,450 and ends at $29,450 for the turbo model with All Wheel Drive (money well spent if you can swing it). There are add-ons available for up to $6,600 so with every bell and whistle the Santa Fe could top out at $36,050. Let’s talk about some of those bells and whistles, shall we?
I love panoramic sunroofs. One of the most tragic moments in my life was when I realized that the only way to get a five-seater convertible was to buy a Bentley. My husband won’t buy me a Bentley, he just doesn’t love me enough. True story. Panoramic sunroofs take the sting out of not being able to buy a convertible when you’ve got two kids (which kid isn’t allowed a playdate because Mommy wanted a cute car?). I’m also someone who just feels better with sunlight. The sunroof is the size of Texas, I love it more than words can say.
There’s a lot of hidden storage in the cargo (trunk area) so you can leave your electronics and whatnot under the “floor”. If you get the longer wheelbase you can have a Santa Fe that seats 7 and since the interior of that one is still top secret I have no idea what happens in that cargo area.
Speaking of interiors the only part of the Santa Fe that has a whiff of Mom Car is that if you get fabric it features YES. Which is a stain resistant technology that keeps the seats clean and dry. I didn’t sit in a car with YES but if you prefer cloth seats then this might be a huge selling point.
Hyundai has a 5 year 60,000 warranty along with a 10-year 100,000-mile powertrain protection warranty and a few others too (see the site because there’s a lot to read there). While I was driving the Santa Fe I was thinking that it would be a smart car to buy (I lease cars not buy them), it’s got every luxury that a crossover can have (except air conditioned seats but I’m pretty sure that’s not a deal breaker). With a lower price point than most in its class, a longer warranty and a fuel-efficient engine it seems like a no-brainer.
There was a slew of great writers on this trip so here’s a wrap up of their stories: