Auto blogThu, 10 Apr 2014 17:28:00 EST
While we're still a ways off from the automotive awards season proper, where things like North American Car and Truck of the Year, Motor Trend's Car of the Year and Car and Driver's Ten Best are named, that doesn't mean there aren't trophies being handed out to deserving automakers. Ward's 10 Best Interiors being one of them.
As the name might imply, the magazine focuses on the very best interior treatments in the US market. Whereas some awards purposely exclude extreme, high-dollar offerings, Ward's considers them - the only requirement is that a vehicle has a "new or significantly redesigned interior."
Ward's offered up the list of winners in simple, alphabetical order, and it only seems fair to do the same:
Maybe the rumors of the CR-Z's death have been exaggerated. Honda has just released the first teaser of a new concept that it plans to debut at the Beijing Motor Show at the end of April. It shows off a sporty looking coupe that looks like the child of a CR-Z and Hyundai Veloster. However, the concept looks to be for the Chinese market, as it's a joint proposal with one of its domestic partners there, Guangqi Honda Automobile.
Unfortunately, we don't have any other details about the concept yet - not even a name. The teaser also doesn't give a very good indication of the car's size. It appears to be roughly the size of a small coupe, and if Honda hadn't already tried the idea with the CR-Z, you could almost see it as a modern CRX, but it could be a little bit larger, too.
In addition to the coupe concept at the Beijing show, Dongfeng Honda will premiere the concept for the next Spirior, which is the foreign version of the Accord. Guangqi Honda will also bring a mid-size SUV and the third-generation Fit. Acura will also be there and will have both the NSX Concept and a model of its powertrain. Scroll down for the full release about everything Honda will show in China.
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 14:30:00 EST
Hyundai grabbed our attention with its first-generation Genesis. Now, with this second-gen model, the company's job is to keep it. The 2015 Genesis, known internally as "DH," wisely follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, a model that showed the automaker's naked ambition, putting it on the map of not just bargain hunters, but the upwardly mobile, too.
The outgoing Genesis proved Hyundai was capable of producing a premium car of superior quality, complete with a plush interior, handsome looks and a relatively sporty driving demeanor, all for the sort of cut-rate price the brand built its reputation on. The first Genesis worked wonders for expanding Hyundai's allure, opening it up to all kinds of new car shoppers who previously wouldn't have given its other models a second glance.
Former Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik has had a tumultuous year. Last June, he won the Automotive Executive of the Year from DNV Business Assurance. Then in December, he suddenly announced he was stepping down from his leadership role at the Korean automaker on January 1, with some suggesting it was because the company's sales growth was too far below forecasts. Now, it looks like the exec has landed a new role on the board of directors of online car shopping website TrueCar.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Krafcik's role will be to build relationships with automakers and dealers, but the job at TrueCar won't be full time. Since leaving Hyundai, Krafcik has also been doing consulting work in Silicon Valley. "It's helped me understand what I might want to do, full, full time. I am just taking things at the appropriate pace," he said to the Journal.
Krafcik, who is widely considered one of the industry's top executives, took the helm at Hyundai America in 2008 and led it to an increase in sales and market share. He was with the company when it won North American Car of the Year awards in 2009 and 2012 for the Genesis and Elantra, respectively.
Thanks to some government pressure, Hyundai's billionaire chairman, Chung Mong Koo, has revealed just how much he gets paid each year. Honestly, the amount is a bit lower than we'd expect considering he helms such a huge industrial empire. The 76-year-old chairman brought home $13 million in 2013, $5.2 million of which came from Hyundai's automotive business while both Mobis and Hyundai Steel chipped in $3.94 million, each. For reference, Ford CEO Alan Mulally netted $23.2 million in 2013, although the vast majority of that money came from stock options.
The push for Chung to reveal his pay was part of a larger effort by the South Korean government called the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act. The act forces several thousand companies to release info on annual pay, bonuses and severance for employees earning over $5 million won ($469,000), according to Bloomberg.
"With the disclosure of the executives' compensation, the pressure to deliver better profits will increase," said Heo Pil Seok, the CEO of Midas International Asset Management. It seems to be working, as Hyundai shareholders, of which Midas is one, have seen their shares increase by 6.1 percent in 2014, which includes a 1.2-percent jump as of yesterday, according to Bloomberg.
Today's rear-wheel-drive 2014 Hyundai Genesis sedan with the model's base 3.8-liter V6 starts at $35,200. Come the new 2015 model, Hyundai has announced that price of entry will climb to $38,000. And if you're so inclined, the Korean automaker will include its new HTRAC all-wheel drive setup for $2,500, for a bottom line of $40,500. The extra $2,500 for AWD rewards you with more than improved foul-weather handling, as the HTRAC model prepared for cold climes with standard heated steering wheel and rear seats, as well as headlight washers.
If that's not enough power, stepping up to the company's well-liked Tau 5.0-liter V8 requires $51,500, a marked $4,100 bump over the price for its 2014 model equivalent, but then again, there's more standard equipment. And that's pretty much the top of the line, because the big eight-cylinder can't be had with all-wheel drive. (Note: *All prices are subject to a $950 destination fee).
Having successfully kept the Genesis' starting price below $40,000 even after handling and destination, Hyundai has thrown new equipment into the base car beyond its exterior and interior redesign. Gewgaws like paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, power folding outside mirrors, power height and lumber-adjustable passenger seat and one-touch power windows in the rear compartment are luxury touches that add more than their raw weight in upscale perception.
We've seen the spy shots. We've seen the teasers. We've even seen the finished product uncovered in its home market. But now Hyundai has officially taken the wraps off its new Sonata, consistently one of its top sellers in North America that was surpassed only recently in the sales charts by the smaller, cheaper and slightly newer Elantra. It's Hyundai's challenger to the likes of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion et al, which makes it a vital debut not only for Hyundai but for anyone in the market for a mid-size family sedan - and that's one of the biggest markets of all.
Set to be revealed at the New York Auto Show in a matter of mere weeks, the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata you see here is the latest representation of a more toned-down family design language which Hyundai calls Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, following the lead set by the new Genesis and away from the swoopy and sharply creased styling of the successful but stylistically divisive model it replaces. A good inch longer and wider than the outgoing Sonata, the new model is also over a third more rigid, thanks in no small part to the use of high-strength steel that now composes over half of the body's construction.
The all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata follows the lead set by the new Genesis and away from the swoopy and sharply creased styling of the model it replaces.
We often mock Toyota for building boring, soulless cars, but a new study by Consumer Reports suggests that regardless of whether that's true, the company has some of the best used cars on the market. In its report on used cars from 2004-2013, the Japanese automaker had 11 vehicles among its brands on the list - more than any other automaker.
CR breaks the list down by cost and vehicle size, and Toyota has at least one entry at every price point and in nearly every segment. To score a recommendation, a vehicle had to perform well in the magazine's initial tests and score above-average reliability results. It also tried to only suggest cars with electronic stability control. Of the 28 recommended vehicles, Honda/Acura had the second most mentions at six, and Ford, Hyundai and Subaru managed two each.
The Detroit brands also made it to the list, but not in a positive way. Consumer Reports compiled a list of 22 vehicles it wouldn't recommend because "they have multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability." General Motors had the most unrecommended models on the list at six, but Chrysler and Ford weren't far behind, with five cars each from their brands not making the grade. The full list of recommendations is available on CR's website.
Rallying requires lightning quick reflexes and the ability to turn off one's sense of self-preservation. This much is not in doubt. Anyone that's ever seen a rally car hurtle along a tree-lined spit of dirt road at high speeds could tell you that. What many people don't know is that it also requires a strong mechanical sense. Knowing how to repair one's car when far from the service garages is a must. A strong sense of ingenuity is pretty handy, as well.
It was that sense of ingenuity that came to the aid of Thierry Neuville (shown above during last weekend's Rally Mexico), a WRC driver for the Hyundai Motorsport team, after his i20 suffered a radiator leak during the drive back to service. Neuville and his co-driver, Nicolas Gilsoul, hopped out of the car, assessed the issue and realized they needed to patch the radiator leak and refill the coolant, which they were fresh out of. So, instead, they used beer.
The pair had been awarded a magnum-sized bottle of Corona from the Rally Mexico's corporate sponsor after the final power stage. As Neuville doesn't drink, they tossed the beer in the back of the i20 and set off for the garages. It was a good thing they did, as adding the Mexican lager to the car's system allowed them to limp back to service.
Hyundai is locked and loaded to debut its redesigned, 2015 Sonata at the New York Auto Show next month. For one enterprising Korean photographer, however, the reveal just couldn't come soon enough.
A South Korean website called Bobaedream.co.kr unceremoniously published some images of what would appear to be a completely undisguised example of the new Sonata. Korean Car Blog quickly followed up on the leak, claiming that the car in question was fitted with Hyundai's 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI engine, making 274 horsepower, and connected to an all-new, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Whether that information came from a reliable insider source (as the photos would suggest) or was just a best guess, we can't say. But we can see what direction Hyundai is headed in with the Sonata. The front end seen in the spy shots is more or less what we'd already seen in the last teaser picture, with a new headlamp design helping to set off a prominent grille. The grille does seem to have some element of the strong, graphical surround from the teaser, too, though it's not as defined in these low-resolution pictures. Sheetmetal on the hood and bodysides seems cleaner, straighter and less fussy than in the current car, too. As for whether or not this is the Korean-spec car or the one destined for the US market, that's unclear, though we have been told that the two cars do look very similar.