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2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets bigger, better battery pack, lower MSRP

Thu, 21 Feb 2013 15:59:00 EST


Just yesterday, we told you how Hyundai's 2013 Sonata Hybrid was late out of the gate (along with its mechanical twin, the Kia Optima Hybrid), with growing speculation suggesting that the company was revisiting its gas-electric sedan with an eye toward improving its efficiency.
Well, today Hyundai has released official details, and that's exactly what's happened. Sporting a larger starter generator, a higher output electric motor and a more potent 47 kW lithium polymer battery, the 2013 Sonata hybrid is more efficient than before. The revised hardware helps the sedan jump two miles per gallon combined over its 2012 predecessor. That pushes the 2013 Sonata Hybrid to 36 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 38 mpg combined. Engineers also tweaked the machine's software, with revised driving pattern detection and engine on/off logic.

YouTube tallies votes for this year's top five Super Bowl spots [w/video]

Tue, 19 Feb 2013 12:30:00 EST

When we asked you to tell us which of this year's 16 car-themed Super Bowl commercials you liked best, you chose the Farmer commercial from Chrysler Group, advertising the Ram trucks, over Audi's Prom commercial in second place. Turns out the voters in YouTube's Ad Blitz poll agreed, voting the same commercial to the number one spot from among the field commercials in every category.
From there, however, they went in a totally different direction. Budweiser's The Clydesdales spot came second, Samsung's The Next Big Thing took third. The Jeep Whole Again ad scored fourth in the YouTube poll, fifth in our poll of auto commercials, and the Hyundai Team spot got fifth from the YouTubers, but ninth in our poll.
The voting results don't match up with the viewing numbers, though - while Farmer has more than 13 million views, The Next Big Thing is well beyond 21 million. You can read the press release below and see all five spots, lined up for you, one more time.

EPA says it will more closely monitor fuel economy claims from automakers

Fri, 15 Feb 2013 17:16:00 EST

The unintended acceleration brouhaha at Toyota led to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration tightening the vise on recall procedures. Likewise, the fuel economy kerfuffle that blew up with Hyundai and Kia's admission of overstated fuel mileage claims could lead to the Environmental Protection Agency policing automaker assertions by performing more audits.
At least, that's what a senior engineer with the government agency said while in Michigan giving a talk, according to a report in Automotive News. What that actually means, however, is still in question. Just ten to 15 percent of new vehicles - something like 150 to 200 cars per year - are rested by the EPA to verify automaker numbers. The EPA's own tests include a "fudge factor" to adjust lab mileage for real-world mileage, and the agency still relies on automakers to submit data for tests that it doesn't have the facilities to perform. How much more auditing can the EPA really expect to do, or perhaps a more relevant question would be how much more accurate could the EPA's audits become?
The price of gasoline, the psychological importance of 40 miles per gallon to a frugal car buyer, an automaker wanting to further justify the price premium of a hybrid, all of these things contribute to fuel economy numbers that insist on creeping upward. Perhaps the senior engineer encapsulated the whole situation best when he said, "Everybody wants a label that tells you exactly what you're going to get, but obviously that's not possible. A good general rule of thumb is that real-world fuel economy is about 20 percent lower than the lab numbers." If the lesson isn't exactly 'buyer beware,' it's at least 'buyer be wary.'

Hyundai, Los Angeles Times and Consumer Reports in fuel economy skirmish?

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 15:58:00 EST

On Wednesday, Consumer Reports issued a story taking umbrage with the auto industry's move toward smaller, turbocharged engines, noting its own testing revealed that many such powerplants fail to deliver their promised fuel economy numbers. The story covered a variety of domestic and foreign automakers, with Ford and Chevrolet featuring prominently in the discussion. Hyundai was also mentioned for its Sonata Turbo, but the Korean automaker's family sedan came within one observed mile per gallon of its EPA ratings in CR's test, and its normally aspirated 2.4-liter counterpart actually beat its combined EPA ratings, 27 mpg to 26.
Good news for Hyundai, right? The automaker was so pleased with its report card that it sent out a small statement to a handful of news outlets including Autoblog, reading in part:
"We at Hyundai believe that Consumer Reports real-world average fuel economy testing results and EPA combined fuel economy results should correlate, and in fact do correlate nicely for some brands. Among all brands, Hyundai does particularly well in this correlation, with no high-volume brand having a better correlation between EPA combined and Consumer Reports real-world fuel economy."

Consumer Reports criticizes small turbo engines for misleading performance, fuel economy claims [w/video]

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 10:13:00 EST

Consumer Reports has taken aim at at small-displacement, forced-induction engines, saying the powerplants don't manage to deliver on automaker fuel economy claims. Manufacturers have long held that smaller, turbocharged engines pack all power of their larger displacement cousins with significantly better fuel economy, but the research organization says that despite scoring high EPA economy numbers, the engines are no better than conventional drivetrains in both categories. Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, says the forced induction options "are often slower and less fuel efficient than larger four and six-cylinder engines."
Specifically, CR calls out the new Ford Fusion equipped with the automaker's Ecoboost 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The institute's researchers found the engine, which is a $795 option over the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder, fails to match competitors in acceleration and served up 25 miles per gallon in testing, putting the sedan dead last among other midsize options.
The Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Sonata Turbo and Ford Escape 2.0T all got dinged for the same troubles, though Consumer Reports has found the turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the BMW 328i does deliver on its promises. You can check out the full press release below. You can also read the full study on the Consumer Reports site, or scroll down for a short video recap.

Hyundai prices three-row Santa Fe from $28,350*

Fri, 01 Feb 2013 14:16:00 EST

Each extra inch in the wheelbase of the six- and seven-passenger 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, compared to the five-seat Santa Fe Sport, will cost you $1,000. The larger version of Hyundai's new people carrier is 3.9 inches longer, and whereas the Santa Fe Sport was priced at $24,450, the roomier Santa Fe comes in four flavors that start at $28,350 for the front-wheel drive GLS version. Adding all-wheel drive to the GLS tacks on another $1,750, stepping up to the front-wheel Limited takes you to $33,100, the all-wheel drive Limited topping things out at $34,850. For the true price, you'll need to add *$845 to those prices for freight.
The base price is the same as Hyundai's previous seven-seater option, the Veracruz, slapped on a vehicle with much better looks and more features. Compared to the Santa Fe Sport, the six- and seven-passenger option has 8.5 extra inches in overall length, 1.9 extra inches of second-row legroom and that third row of seating in its hind quarters. The second row can be had as a traditional bench or captain's chairs on the Limited. Under the hood is the same 3.3-liter direct-injection V6 with 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed Shiftronic transmission, and the same EPA estimated 25 highway miles per gallon for the FWD version.
You also get extra standard amenities like a 115-volt socket, power liftgate and rear-seat climate controls. Check out the press release below to find out all about them.

Here it is, Hyundai's headlining Super Bowl commercial

Fri, 01 Feb 2013 12:44:00 EST

Hyundai has ponied up for five commercials to play in, around and after the Super Bowl on Sunday, and it's slowly been releasing them one by one this week to attract as much attention as possible to these expensive ads. You've stuck with us through the first four, and we've got one last ad from Hyundai, its headliner, to show you.
Called Epic PlayDate, the ad's big hook is alt-rock band The Flaming Lips, who not only appear in the ad, but also wrote a new track called Sun Blows Up Today just for the spot. The track is available on iTunes as a single today, and will be a bonus track on their new album called Terror, which comes out in April.
The commercial is meant to sell something, and that something is the new three-row Santa Fe crossover. It follows a day in the life of a family with kids who do all sorts of crazy things, and we're told by Hyundai that the activities in which they partake pay homage to "signature band references" of The Flaming Lips.

Hyundai lets loose another Super Bowl ad

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 12:45:00 EST

Another day, another Super Bowl ad from Hyundai. The automaker is planning to show off five spots during the big game, and seems hell-bent on trotting each one out ahead of time to garner the most amount of attention possible. We've already seen three of the ads, and the latest follows one young boy as he amasses a football team to take on a bully. His selections range from a set of body-building twins to a bear wrestler and a freakishly strong good Samaritan. The spot is intended to show off exactly what sort of uses you could come up with for the seven-passenger Santa Fe.
We understand Hyundai's push to roll out its ads ahead of time. Estimations from previous years indicate previewing Super Bowl ads can increase viewership by as much as 700 percent, but there's little call for this slow walk out. The company still has one more spot to show off, and we won't exactly be holding our breath. You can check out the latest ad below as well as the most recent press release.

Hyundai shows us two more Super Bowl commercials

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 19:15:00 EST

Hyundai is gearing up to show five commercials during this year's Super Bowl, and you've probably already seen one of them called Don't Tell that's been airing on television for weeks now. The Korean automaker has released two of the other four ads, though it looks like it might keep the headlining ad for the three-row Santa Fe, called Epic PlayDate, under wraps until the big game.
Of the two ads published on YouTube, we like Stuck the most, which features the Sonata Turbo. It presents all of the horrid things you could be stuck behind on the highway as reason enough for buying a boosted Sonata with its ample passing power.
The other commercial, called Excited, features the 2013 Hyundai Genesis. Our funny bone didn't tingle much with this one, and it contains a grammar bugaboo that's a pet peeve of some editors in the Autoblog virtual offices. Can you spot it? Scroll below to take the challenge and let us know in the comments.

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: Introduction

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 11:57:00 EST

The Hyundai Veloster is indeed an automotive oddball, and that's part of the reason why we're so drawn to it. Even in base form, the Veloster is a cleverly packaged little wonder that's bursting with personality, and with the added grunt and visual aggression of the Turbo model, there's a lot to talk about.
Despite not really fitting into any one specific vehicle segment (unless you dump it into the all-too-vague "compact" class), the Veloster Turbo looks really good on paper, to say nothing of how it looks on the street. It's certainly a head-turner, and we're intrigued by the overall package of an oddly shaped three-door (or four-door?) with some forced induction motivation.
We've had a lot to say about the weird little Hyundai in the past, and we don't see the conversations about this car ending anytime soon. Thus, we've welcomed a matte gray example into the Autoblog long-term garage for one year of testing. This should definitely be interesting.