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Hyundai Canada is introducing Hyundai for Hire, an industry-first pilot project that will offer short-term vehicle rentals to customers directly through select dealerships.
Don Romano, president and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada Corp., spoke with Canadian Manufacturing about the initiative at the Canadian International AutoShow.
Romano explained that consumers will be able to rent cars for however long they wish, “for a week, a couple of days, a month,” and said they can expect to pay a lot less than they would at a traditional car rental firm. “We don’t have that overhead. We make the cars.”
According to Romano, the service is ideal for consumers who don’t want to commit to a lease or finance purchase, indecisive prospective buyers, university students, condo dwellers and newcomers to Canada who might not have credit yet.
The automaker says anyone who uses the service is eligible for its loyalty discount towards the purchase of a new vehicle, which in most cases will cover the rental fee.
“We’re just bringing new people in to get to know the Hyundai family and portfolio and it just gives them an option,” said Romano.
Romano said Hyundai went with the rental model over a subscription model, in which consumers pay monthly or yearly to have access to a number of different cars, for a few different reasons. “With a subscription, you are depreciating a number of different cars.” He said it can also be a pain to switch cars once you’ve become comfortable with what you are driving. In addition, “The cost is high, the challenges with the customer are high.”
Insurance is provided through Aviva, and financing and billing are done through Scotia Bank, with Scotia paying the dealers for the rental cost.
The cost of each rental will be inclusive of insurance and maintenance – the driver only needs to add gas. “We wanted the experience to be ‘here’s the keys, here’s the contract, we’ll see you when you come back,’” Romano said.
The pilot project will begin in early March at select Ontario dealerships. Additional details about the program including booking information, pricing and product availability will become available at that time.
Hyundai Canada announced December sales of 7,914 units, a 14.4% increase over the same month last year. This marks the fifth consecutive month of record sales for Hyundai Canada, consistently outperforming the Canadian market.
Overall in 2019, Hyundai sold 133,207 total units, which is up 4.2% from 2018. Notably, Hyundai reclaimed its position as the third-largest automobile import brand in Canada. In a declining market, the brand was able to capture an additional 0.6% of total market share, bringing it up to 7.0% from 6.4% in 2018.
In addition, Kona remains the clear leader in its segment, capturing 20% market share in 2019. Kona outsold the second place Kicks by nearly 700 units in December. Tucson saw a significant increase of 44% and outperformed its segment in the month of December.
There was unprecedented consumer demand for the brand’s eco models with Hyundai’s electric vehicle sales more than tripling in 2019, for a total of 5,005 units, due in large part to the success of the new Kona electric. The Kona and Kona electric were both named and awarded the 2019 North American Utility of the Year by the North American Car, Utility, and Truck of the Year Awards.
The effective launch of the new Palisade and Venue SUVs also contributed significantly to Hyundai’s successful 2019, as well as sustained demand for the Tucson and Santa Fe. SUV sales hit record numbers in 2019 with 78,980 units sold, up from 67,171 units in 2018.
Equally impressive was Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury brand, which set its third consecutive record-breaking performance, increasing YTD sales by 5.8% versus the previous year, while European luxury makes declined by more than -6%.
This year, Hyundai Canada reached many milestones and accomplished notable achievements such as being named one of the 2019 Best Workplaces™ in Canada by Great Place to Work. Furthermore, Hyundai received the Gold Award for brand building from the Canadian Marketing Association in 2019.
“This past year was a turning point for the brand. The automotive market is contracting, yet Hyundai’s retail sales were up significantly resulting in record market share gains,” noted Don Romano, President and CEO, Hyundai Auto Canada. “We were honoured to have our performance recognized by our parent company, Hyundai Motor Corporation, with the Platinum Award for Excellence for 2019, an award bestowed on the top-performing country globally.”
Many stand-out accomplishments have led to a successful year for the brand and will lead to increased momentum in the new year.
Kona awarded AJAC’s Best Small Utility for 2019
Kona and Kona electric were both named and awarded the 2019 North American Utility of the Year by the North American Car, Utility, and Truck of the Year Awards
Hyundai Canada won the 2020 AJAC Best Safety Innovation Award for its Blind View Monitor system
Veloster N won the 2020 Road & Track Performance Car of the Year
Palisade won the prestigious Red Dot Award for design excellence
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe was awarded the ALG Residual Value Award for Best Redesign of the Year
Kona won the 2019 and 2020 Guide de l’Auto Best Small Utility and the 2019 Best New SUV of the Year
Genesis Mint Concept won the 2020 Guide de l’Auto Best Concept Car
Kona won the 2020 Auto123.com Best Subcompact SUV of the Year
Hyundai Canada was named one of the 2019 Best Workplaces™ in Canada by Great Place to Work
Genesis Motors received the Silver Award for customer experience from the Canadian Marketing Association in 2019
Hyundai received the Gold Award for brand building from the Canadian Marketing Association in 2019
Hyundai Motor Corporation awarded Hyundai Canada with the Platinum Award for Excellence for 2019
Hyundai and Kia have introduced a new virtual reality design evaluation system that allows up to 20 people to work on the same project at the same time.
Debuting at the companies’ global HQ, the Namyang Research and Development Center in South Korea, the system enables the brands’ engineers and anyone else wearing the headsets to view and, thanks to 36 motion tracking sensors, engage with the simulations in real-time.
This means design concepts can be reviewed early on in the process, and simulations of interior and exterior details, lighting, colours and finishes can be mocked up and experienced more easily.
“The virtual development process is a necessary step for responding quickly and reacting with agility to the needs of customers and paradigm shifts within the automotive industry,” said Albert Biermann, Head of Research and Development Division for Hyundai Motor Group, in a press release.
Through reinforced virtual processes, we will enhance quality and profitability, ultimately increasing investment in R&D to secure competitiveness in future mobility.
At the 2019 LA Auto Show, Hyundai showcased the Vision T Plug-in Hybrid SUV Concept which gives us a peek into the company’s new design language. The Vision T is the seventh in a series of Hyundai Design Centre concepts and the SUV concept sees a matte-green exterior finish and comes powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Vision T side profile conveys a continual sense of speed and forward motion. The long hood and level roofline coupled with a long wheelbase and short overhangs reflect a ready-for-anything dynamic character. In contrast to prevailing compact SUV designs, Vision T uses crisp geometric angles and edges to create a striking contrast between a sleek silhouette and masculine wedge lines. In fact, from the looks and dimensions we can almost see what the next-gen Tucson will look like.
Two derivative sub-themes of the dynamism fundamental design concept are Parametric Fantasy and Transcendent Connectivity. In these sub-themes, all parametric surfaces are connected from the body to either light or trim features. It features seamless connectivity free from distinct design boundaries. Ambient light reflects off these concave and convex lines creating an extreme sense of tension. Charisma is added with the evolution of a Hidden Signature Lamp derived from the Le Fil Rouge and Grandeur Face Lift. At higher speeds, the Parametric Air Shutter is an original developmental feature that actively adjusts both aerodynamics and design appearance.
SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Centre said, “We pursue innovative solutions in design and add emotional value to our product experience through sensuous sportiness design language,”
A closer look at the front and you see that when stationary, the grille is closed and static. Once in motion, each individual cell of the grille design continues to move in a prescribed sequence. This dynamic character includes the functional effect of controlling airflow to the powertrain, optimising aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
When the powertrain is started, the dark-chrome matte hue of the integrated hidden signature headlamp system features a half-mirror system that has a chromium appearance which transforms into functional lighting on demand. The side window design is ultra-clean and seamless, with a futuristic frameless daylight opening and a satin chrome garnish. The oversize satin chrome alloy wheels feature ample voided area with dark orange brake calipers visible within the split-five-spoke wheel design. The beveled sides of the wheel spokes feature a matte-gray finish descending into the voided areas, highlighting the brilliance of the satin chrome spoke faces. From above, a special glass pattern is embossed within the roof glass structure. These dynamic effects carry into the Hyundai logo design.
The Vision T charging port is located on the passenger side rear quarter panel and features a sliding cover. When charging, “Blue Drive” is illuminated, indicating the system is actively charging. The battery state of charge is also visually indicated externally in a metered, circular light cluster, creating a complete circle appearance when fully charged.
The head of Hyundai Canada says the future of car buying is online, up to a point.
President and CEO Don Romano says the company, which launched its Genesis line of higher-end cars as an online only option in 2016, learned that many buyers still want to walk through a showroom.
Romano says the company, which also introduced fixed prices with the Genesis line to eliminate haggling, has since partnered with agents with physical showrooms to appeal to those who want to browse in person.
Speaking at the Elevate tech conference in Toronto, Romano said that while dealerships will still play a role, the company is working to move much of the car buying process online to improve a process that the vast majority of car shoppers dislike.
Hyundai has been an early mover among major auto companies to shift shopping online, though Telsa Inc. has been selling vehicles online for years and others are moving more into the space.
The company launched a new online portal across Hyundai Canada last year that allows customers to build and price their model as well as get a firm quote on a trade-in value, go through an online credit application, and book a test drive.
COUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Hyundai has topped off its crossover vehicle lineup with the 2020 three-row Palisade. The largest vehicle ever produced by Hyundai; the Palisade is named after a series of cliffs in California and aimed at consumers in their peak years of transporting children.
“This vehicle is for those who need a three-row vehicle. To them, space, versatility and premium features are important,” Lawrence Hamilton, director of marketing for Hyundai Auto Canada, told us here during the reveal of the company’s new flagship.
The Palisade is considerably larger than the Santa Fe XL, which it replaces. Built on an entirely new platform it shares with the Kia Telluride, it is 7.5 cm longer, and rides on a wheelbase that has grown by 10 cm. It is also 9.1 cm wider and five cm taller.
That extra space has been allocated to the second and third rows, which boast exceptional head and legroom — and plenty of space for child seats. The Palisade seats eight with its standard second-row bench seat, seven with a pair of captain’s chairs in that location.
The third row actually accommodates adults, two in comfort. There are belts and space for three smaller individuals. It can be accessed through a single button that causes the second-row seats to tilt and slide forward. There is also a grab handle on the C-pillar to aid third-row entry. On upper trim levels, the third-row seat can be reclined or powered up/down from the cargo area.
These are just a few of the many examples of how the development team designed the Palisade to be the modern-day equivalent of the minivan — family-friendly to the extreme. There is a driver talk mode that amplifies the driver’s voice through the rear speakers so they can tell the rear occupants to, for example, quit fighting and quiet down. If they do so, the rear speakers can be muted, so the little ones can sleep.
Family friendly? There are USB plugs in all three rows, seven in total. Clever placement includes the sides of the front seats for second-row occupants and high up in the third row. There is wireless charging, a 115-volt outlet and 14 to 16 cup holders, depending on the model. A number of storage pockets provide space for large objects like purses and tablets in the centre console. There is underfloor storage in the cargo hold and two speeds for the liftgate.
Safety is a major consideration for all of us, but Hyundai knows parents place extra emphasis on this when considering a new vehicle. The Palisade has thus been loaded with a full array of active and passive safety features. It all starts with the increased use of high strength steel and a significantly stiffer structure. Among the standard equipment, depending on trim level, the Palisade comes with: lane keep assist, blind spot/collision avoidance assist, surround view monitor, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control and both front and rear park distance warning. The side view monitor uses cameras to display the scene in the instrument panel when the signal lever is activated.
Over on the technical side, the top two trim levels come with three years of Hyundai’s BlueLink Connected car system, at no charge. Through an app on their phone, the owner can locate the vehicle, lock or unlock it, start it remotely and activate the HVAC system, and conduct diagnostics. The 26-cm wide navigation screen can display various content and two phones can be connected, one for audio and one as a phone
There are three different instrument clusters, depending on trim level.
On the road, the Palisade is extremely smooth and very quiet. The standard (and only) engine is a 3.8-litre V6. It produces enough power to lend this big ute an unexpected sense of urgency when pressed. The eight-speed automatic has a gear for all occasions and shifts are imperceptible. The selection is a shift-by-wire arrangement through buttons on the centre console the sophisticated AWD system utilizes input from 50 sensors, processed 100 times every second, to determine how much power to send to the front or rear wheels.
There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, but I’ll bet that 90 per cent of Palisade drivers will never use them. Similarly, after the new wears off, I think the vast majority of drivers will never use the ability to choose between Smart, Comfort, Sport and Eco drive modes. Nor will they select sand, snow or mud from the terrain. I’d suggest Comfort or Sport depending on your driving style and snow if you encounter a particularly nasty situation.
The Palisade will be available in Essential ($38,499), Preferred ($45,499), Luxury ($50,199) and Ultimate ($53,999) trim levels. All but the base Essential include all-wheel drive. It is available on the base model for $2,000. Preferred is expected to account for 42 per cent of sales, Luxury 38 per cent, and Essential and Ultimate 10 per cent each. At the various steps on the trim ladder, the product planners have ensured the Palisade has an advantage over the competition in equipment levels.
Hyundai sees the Palisade going up against the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and VW Atlas primarily, with the Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-9 as secondary combatants. The Palisade joins the hot-selling Kona and the Santa Fe in the company’s crossover lineup. Next up? The Venue at the other end of the size spectrum, will appear later this year. Hyundai says it is being developed to appeal to the young and older single females.
Model: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Luxury AWD 7P
Engine: 3.8-litre, V6, 291 horsepower, 262 lb.-ft. of torque
Now there’s a new place for you to get a soft-riding land yacht: Korea. Just look at some of the cars Hyundai and Kia are pumping out as of late. Anyone who bought a new Cadillac Fleetwood would be perfectly happy in the new Kia K900 and the Genesis G90 is one of the purest forms of classic American luxury on sale today – so long as you ignore the badge.
Knowing this, it was little surprise that the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade, the largest Hyundai ever built, felt like the equivalent of a warm cup of Ginseng tea on a cold winter’s day when we sampled it in snowy South Korea.
This gargantuan SUV is the replacement for the outgoing Hyundai Santa Fe XL and is much longer, wider and taller. Not to worry though, the popular mid-size Santa Fe (Not XL) is sticking around.
The Palisade rides on a brand new platform from Hyundai that will also serve in the forthcoming Kia Telluride and a yet-to-be-named Genesis luxury SUV as well. Under the hood of North American models will be a 3.8-liter V6 engine, which is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Hyundai has yet to say if all-wheel-drive will come standard on the Palisade or if an entry-level front-wheel-drive model will be available. We’re thinking that budget-friendly Hyundai is going to want to offer a front-wheel-drive base model, though.
There’s one thing you should know right away: we can’t give you driving impressions on the Palisade’s V6 engine. The Palisade we drove was an early production run model built for the domestic market and as such, our tester had a 2.2-liter diesel engine under the hood. We won’t be getting the small displacement oil burner, not surprisingly, but we weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to drive a vehicle just a few short weeks after its official debut.
And that’s not to say our drive wasn’t educational. For starters, the Palisade rides great. While this SUV is about as soft and compliant as they come, it doesn’t float about annoyingly. Hit a speed bump with some vigor and the Palisade soaks it up and settles right down, remaining totally composed. It’s not bad through the twisty bits, either. Hyundai let us loose on a slalom course at its MOBIS test center in Seosan and the Palisade managed just fine and had surprisingly little body roll. Sure, owners of this vehicle won’t be doing any spirited driving, but it’s always comforting to know that a vehicle is capable of performing a high-speed evasive maneuver without tripping over itself.
There are also seven drive modes on this SUV: Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport, Snow, Mud, and Sand. We sampled all three of the terrain management modes in appropriate settings, from a mildly muddy Korean off-road trail to a snowy Seoul highway and a sandy Seosan beach. The Palisade manages snow just fine, of course, and while true off-roading and sand driving may prove to be a bit too extreme for the family-focused Palisade, it seemed plenty capable for the suburban consumers that will buy it. The HTRAC all-wheel-drive system does the job and goes largely unnoticed. As the saying goes, if you’ve done something right, people won’t know you’ve done anything at all.
A Warm Welcome
The agreeable suspension and refined all-wheel-drive system pairs nicely with the Palisade’s warm, inviting interior. My test vehicle came well equipped with cream leather upholstery, diamond-stitched seats and door panels, and open-pore wood trim. It also had the optional 10.3-inch widescreen infotainment display with (an 8.0-inch screen is standard) and some other amenities such as heated and cooled front and second-row seating, a heated steering wheel, a sunroof, and a rear seat moonroof. It’s a cozy place to sit and is supremely serene, especially for a non-luxury product. Say what you will about the Palisade’s opinion-splitting exterior styling – the interior is extremely well executed in terms of design and materials use. We’ll be curious to see what lower trim models are like inside, though.
The technology is well executed, too. We’re happy to see Hyundai offering its Smartsense suite of active safety features as standard on this family hauler. Buyers will get forward collision avoidance, lane follow assist, adaptive cruise with stop and go, rear cross traffic alert and much more – all standard. The adaptive cruise and lane follow systems, dubbed Highway Drive Assist, works great. Period. It doesn’t slam on the brakes when traffic comes to a slow and accelerates back to highway speed smoothly. It’s extremely impressive – especially since it’s standard equipment. The 10.3-inch display screens graphics are fairly crisp and the front and rear-facing cameras have a high-quality picture. For parents, an easy-to-use intercom system makes it easy to tell the kids to knock it off when they get restless on long drives.
The cargo and passenger space is also competitive. With all the third row seats flat, the Palisade’s cargo space measures in at a sizable 45.8 cubic feet. Hyundai also claims the Palisade has more cargo room behind the third row than the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder, and more first and second-row legroom than the Pilot, Pathfinder and Ford Explorer. My tester had an optional power folding second and third row as well, which makes converting the Palisade from a family vehicle into a cargo hauler quick and easy.
This is a family vehicle, so safety is also important. With a high-strength steel frame and the now customary standard safety tech, Hyundai is expecting the Palisade to achieve a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS and a 5-star NHTSA rating.
The Palisade is a difficult vehicle to criticize, but there are a few very minor foibles. First off, we’d like to see Hyundai offer more engine options, especially a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. The Palisade is just launching, though, so we’ll give Hyundai some time.
The shift-by-wire buttons also aren’t great to use – we’d much prefer a rotary dial or something that mimics a standard gear selector.
Finally, another note is that the brakes need work, as they sometimes require a bit more input to slow the heavy Palisade than expected. Hyundai would be smart to beef them up prior to the North American launch – especially since US and Canadian buyers are much more likely to tow closer to the Palisade’s 5,000 lb standing tow rating than Korean buyers.
The Verdict: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Review
With a supple ride, well-executed cabin and great standard tech, the Palisade is a solid entry into the three-row SUV segment. The key to its success will be in the pricing. If Hyundai can undercut the competition, consumers will have no reason not to consider this rather refined full-size from Hyundai.
The 2020 Hyundai Palisade will be built at Hyundai’s plant Ulsan, South Korea and will go on sale in the US and Canada in the summer of 2019. Stay tuned to AutoGuide for a more complete review of the 3.8-liter V6 Palisade – we’ll have one coming by mid-2019 at the latest.
Not interested in making lackluster products, Hyundai has taken tangible steps to rise above its competition and those efforts are obvious in the Korean brand’s new Kona, its first subcompact crossover. Although it’s a latecomer to the market, it has learned from the mistakes of its peers (mainly the Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3) and will likely become the new segment benchmark.
Based on looks alone, the Hyundai Kona has a lot going for it and could be one of the most stylish CUVs in its class. While the Honda looks frumpy and the Toyota is too divisive (although I love the C-HR’s funky style), the Kona sits in the middle of the style spectrum – different enough to get some eyeballs but not radical enough to turn people off entirely. Although its design isn’t perfect — there’s a bit too much cheap plastic body cladding in some corners and too many fake air intakes — it’s up there in attractiveness with the CX-3 and Jeep Renegade.
The fact that the Kona is offered in some amazing colors like Acid Yellow, Tangerine Comet, and Blue Lagoon along with an optional cool contrast roof will go a long way into getting attention from CUV shoppers. The Kona manages to stand out and actually have a personality, which can’t be said for many of its competitors.
Interior is Actually Interesting
That personality carries over into the interior, which is rare in a class known for its no-frills approach. The Kona is available with Acid Yellow (looks more like lime green) contrast piping in the leather seats or houndstooth cloth, which is cooler than anything in this segment has a right to be (I mean, a Porsche 911 R comes with houndstooth seats). Matching matte-finish Acid Yellow/lime green trim and contrast stitching is optional inside, which I’d say is completely necessary — it livens up the cabin and makes it a lot of fun, although it would clash with most color options. This trim option is only available in the Acid Yellow, but I would have loved to see it available to match all exterior paint colors. Optioned out with these cool touches, the Kona might have the best interior in its class, but without it, it can feel rather ordinary and drab. The fact that it’s well-built, doesn’t feel oppressively cheap, and is logically laid out and functional, however, is a big bonus.
The infotainment system is modern, user-friendly, quick, responsive, and comes in two sizes (in use, it’s much better than what Toyota, Honda, and Mazda offer in this segment and is bested only by Jeep’s excellent UConnect). The physical buttons that flank the touchscreen make it even easier to use and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Everything is clearly labeled, inherently intuitive, and there are no mystery buttons anywhere.
The only downsides to the interior are that there’s only one USB port and two cigarette lighter adapters, which absolutely no one uses anymore. In 2018, it doesn’t make sense to have just one USB port. They should have gotten rid of the useless lighter adapters and put in two USB ports instead: one for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and the other for fast charging. Upper trims that have a wireless charging pad that helps matters slightly. There’s also a useful tray in the center console that’s perfect for storing a phone or wallet.
The rear seats are also not terrible, unless someone very tall is in the front, which turns the Kona into a 2+2. Rear seat occupants get no USBs or pretty much anything, but it’s not torture to be back there.
Trunk space measures in at 19.2 cubic feet (544 L) with the seats up and 45.8 cu-ft (1,296 L) with the 40/60 seats folded down. The trunk also has a useful under-floor storage cubby. It’s not as cargo-hungry as the HR-V, but does hold more than the CX-3 and the C-HR.
One standout tech feature is the optional head-up display (though it isn’t a true projector type) that shows a lot of useful information. It’s pretty fantastic that it’s even offered in this price bracket (the CX-3 is the only other one that has one). The Kona is also available with lane-keep assist, forward collision alert with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, a reverse camera, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, high beam assist, and blind spot monitoring, but no adaptive cruise control, a glaring omission.
Driven on some winding, wet roads around Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the Kona was not at all sloppy, as I was half expecting it to be, because that’s what most other cars in this segment are like. The Kona is surprisingly composed in a corner and although it’s not sporty, it definitely feels solid and not as disconnected and numb as many other cars in this segment.
The suspension is comfortable without being too squishy, and athletic but not crashy over rough roads. The steering had an unexpected heft and crispness to it with only a little looseness on center and it was refreshing to see an automaker other than Mazda step up the level of driving dynamics in this segment. The Toyota C-HR is actually really fun to chuck into corners, but it suffers from not being available with all-wheel drive and from being too slow. The Kona fixes that with an optional turbo engine (no other car in this class offers two engine choices) and optional AWD. Bonus points: The Kona has a locking diff and hill descent control.
Two engines are available: a base naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque and a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder with 175 hp and a healthy 195 lb-ft of torque.
The base engine is fine but gets very harsh and loud when stronger acceleration is called for (though it’s still not as awful as the HR-V’s engine). It struggled a lot trying to pass slower traffic or accelerate up a hill. This engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and is rated at 25 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway, and 27 combined (9.2/7.8/8.6 L/100 km) for the AWD model.
The engine you want is the uplevel and refined 1.6-liter turbo, which performs much more convincingly and adds to the Kona’s fun personality. The 1.6L turbo, which is paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, has a healthy amount usable torque early in the rev range, which is always more important than flat out horsepower.
The DCT was also predictable and intuitive — during my time with it, I experienced no weirdness typical to Hyundai DCTs in the past, no juddering at low speeds and no harsh shifts. This engine is expected to get 26 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway, and 27 combined (9.0/8.0/8.6 L/100 km) for the AWD model, exactly the same as the base engine combined, so it’s definitely the more compelling pick of the two.
Add in the fact that the Kona makes a strong value play with a starting price of $20,240 ($22,931 in Canada, all pricing includes destination fees) and a fully loaded ask of an entirely reasonable $29,650 ($33,881 in Canada), and there’s very little reason not to pick this crossover over its competitors.
The Verdict: 2018 Hyundai Kona Review
Hyundai has made a legitimate effort to ensure this car is a segment leader, and the result is a subcompact crossover that easily outshines a lot of its competition in nearly all areas — it has the right stuff to be a segment leader. Many of the Kona’s competitors have a few redeeming factors and are otherwise mediocre, but Kona is the whole package. It’s very refreshing to see a car in this segment that doesn’t cut corners and is genuinely kind of cool.
For 2019, the Santa Fe is all new, marking the beginning of the mid-size crossover’s fourth generation. The styling is a big departure from the 2018 model, there’s a new 8-speed transmission plus it’s longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase than the outgoing model.
Roomy Mid-size it may be, but up front, the Santa Fe (base MSRP: $28,999) feels a lot larger than that. The 65mm longer wheelbase has made for more legroom up front and in back, as well as more room to store your wares in the cargo area – you get a total of 1,016 litres behind the rear seats, and 2,019 L if you fold the 2nd row flat. It’s helped by the segmented underfloor storage, each segment large enough to store a 4-litre jug of milk (but more likely used to store wet items).
A quick note: while this ’19 Santa Fe replaces last year’s Santa Fe Sport model – it’s just “Santa Fe” now — the three-row Santa Fe XL returns unchanged for 2019. Look for an all-new three-row Hyundai in the none-too-distant future.
Up front, the driver’s position will be a boon for shorter drivers, as it is quite high no matter how much you drop that seat. The headliner was a little close for me and my 6’3” frame, but my guess is I’m in the minority when it comes to most drivers. I also can’t help but question the logic of titling the steering wheel away from the driver as much as Hyundai has, but my drive partner – who was smaller than me – said she felt it was just right, so there you have it.
The longer wheelbase also provides a more elegant look to the car from the outside, an effect augmented by some nice creases on the doors and around the fenders, as well as a sharp beltline crease that makes the last car look somewhat slab-sided. The wheels, meanwhile, feature all-new designs that now go all the way up to 19 inches.
Up front, the addition of a new honeycomb grille and LED DRLs (plus optional LED headlights – they’re halogen otherwise) is shared with the recently-released Kona. On the smaller Kona, it looks sporty, but here it looks a mite more imposing. The DRLs are also a bit of an optical illusion; like the previous Jeep Cherokee, the lights mounted atop the grille are the DRLs, with the headlights appearing below those. While they are borrowed from said Jeep, they look a little less alien here, whether because it’s not as avant-garde now as it was on the Jeep back then, or because they’re a little more restrained.
The rear fascia also gets its share of panel creases and detailing to class it up a little, but the real highlight are the 3D taillights; they’re low-profile, and do a good job of looking somewhat BMW X3-esque, which is no bad thing. They are the focal point of the whole tailgate area, making for a very modern look overall. Too bad that like the headlights, the LED taillights only come on the top trim.
Simply elegant Inside, it’s an elegant place overall, but one that gets a few nice highlights here and there to spice things up a little.
The materials used are all top-quality, and whether in one of the two-tone or more monochromatic colourways, the feeling is one of richness and elegance. As you let your eyes drift across the dash, nice stuff like contrast-colour stitching, aluminum dial bezels and vent surrounds remind that you’re in a properly modern crossover. There is a plastic panel around the door pulls and glovebox that is a little too present, but it’s not a huge knock against the interior as a whole.
Plus, if saving money there meant Hyundai could still install the enormous full-length panoramic sunroof on the Luxury model and keep it below 42 grand, then I’m all for it. I assume it also allowed them to cover the headliner and roof pillars in swathes of a fantastic, soft, almost tweed- or houndstooth-like cloth. It’s incredibly upper class, calling to mind a great overcoat or canvas shoulder bag. Leather tends to be the material used to add luxury to a car in this manner, but this is an alternative I’m glad they’ve considered. If you select either of the two bottom trims that don’t come standard with leather, you get an all-new cloth treatment that provides two different cloth types.
It would have been nice to see some of the material used for the higher-spec models’ headliners used on the seats, too, but what we do get is a nice departure from the norm. The goal was to ensure that even at base, the Santa Fe was not a “basic” car.
At the same time, Hyundai has managed to keep things nice and simple when it comes to the controls. At the outset of our drive, I sat in the car and realized that the seat cooler was on. A quick glance at the centre stack revealed the button required to turn it off; no muss, no fuss. The buttons are all easily reachable, and big enough to be seen with just a glance through the corner of your eye.
Feature-wise, the base Essential trim (priced starting at $28,999, it joins three others that reflect Hyundai’s new trim nomenclature: Preferred — $35,099, Luxury — $41,899 and Ultimate — $44,999) comes well-equipped with heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and 7” LCD touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple Carplay compatibility. Meanwhile, the $1,200 SmartSense safety package adds lane keep assist, forward collision assist with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.
That’s not bad for a base model, though it’s too bad a blind-spot system isn’t part of the deal. You need to step up a trim for that as well as 18” wheels, dual-zone climate control, and power driver’s seat. Luxury trim adds cooled front seats, leather seating and around view parking monitor while the top Ultimate trim adds an 8” display, Infinity 12-speaker audio and heads-up display.
It’s the tier 2 “Preferred” trim however, that adds the crown jewel to the Santa Fe’s new safety features: Safe Exit Assist. Essentially, for 10 minutes after you’ve parallel parked, the system watches for traffic around the car. If an overzealous child decides they want to fling open the door into the path of that oncoming bus, the system will not let it happen.
The tech goes hand-in-hand with a rear occupant warning that first reminds you to check the back seat, then sends a message to the Hyundai Bluelink app if you happen to leave a pet or child back there. That app also allows for remote start with climate control activation, remotes access, find my car, and more. You get a five-year in-car data plan with your purchase.
Two engines, but you’ll probably want the turbo Base models come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder, good for 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque fed to the front wheels only. Hyundai estimates that only about 20% of buyers will opt for that option; the rest, they say, will be going for the 235 hp, 260 lb-ft turbo four-cylinder and AWD. The turbo is a $2,000 option on the second-tier Preferred package, and standard on the other two trims.
It’s a peppy little plant, especially at speed as it works well with the new 8-speed automatic transmission (no dual-clutch set-up or paddle shifters, though) to provide good in-gear acceleration for highway passing manoeuvres and so forth. It takes a little while to get going from stop – though it’s lither than previous, the Santa Fe Ultimate AWD still remains a 1,853 kg vehicle – but it’s not pretending to be a sports car, so if it allows you to pass with confidence, then it’s achieved its goal of being a safe, insulating family crossover.
“Safe” and “insulating”; that’s about right. The one detail I kept coming back to throughout my drive was just how quiet, smooth and solid the Santa Fe felt. Measures have been taken to reduce drag for ’19, and with drag reduction comes less wind noise, too.
Of course, wind and road noise is one thing when it comes to ride comfort, but you want to make sure you don’t forget about the necessary chassis tweaks. Obviously, Hyundai hasn’t as the Santa Fe rides as its luxuriously-appointed interior suggests it should. Big road divots and concrete sags were swallowed up with confidence-inspiring gumption, and while you will encounter body roll as the turns get more severe, I have feeling that even the more queasy amongst us will be just fine.
I guess I could say that I wish there was a little less bounce from the rear end; I tried adjusting the drive modes (there are three: comfort, smart and sport) but alas, they are on-hand to modify the powertrain and AWD system only. A more heavily-laden Santa Fe may be better equipped to keep things in check but overall, it’s excellent when it comes to comfortable motoring.
As far as what the drive modes do change: yes, throttle and transmission response are shortened or lengthened depending, but the real change comes to the AWD system; in “Sport” mode, for example, up to 50% of power can be sent to the rear – this is the only mode of the three that allows this. In normal driving, meanwhile, activate “Smart” mode to get 100% of the power sent to the front wheels, for better fuel economy. It all works a treat; On paved bends, you can feel the car rotate through while on the gravel roads we sampled, the ride was controlled and predictable.
On the money That’s all well and good, but I come back once again to just how well the Santa Fe rides. Having sampled the previous-gen vehicle (and the one before it), I wasn’t expecting that kind of isolation, luxury, and tranquility from the Santa Fe. From the styling, to the ride, to the powertrain, this is a well-rounded, road-trip-worthy crossover that ticks a ton of boxes. Well-executed, Hyundai. Well-executed, indeed.