Vehicle Profile: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Boost makes everything better
The 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo model’s coupling of distinctive visual appeal and efficient performance makes it special, with an extra helping of sportiness for those who long to carve corners tighter and reach speed limits faster and it’s now on sale here at Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
The three-door 2013 Veloster Turbo (MSRP $22,100) seats four. Power comes from an aluminum 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine featuring Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), dual overhead cams (DOHC) and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (Dual CVVT). A twin-scroll turbocharger brings output up to 201 hp and 195 lb/ft of torque. Those numbers represent best-in-class hp per liter and weight-to-power ratio. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, or you can opt for a six-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC manual shifting, paddle shifters, the Hyundai Active ECO system, and Hill-Start Assist. EPA estimates for the Veloster Turbo are 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.
This front-wheel drive Veloster Turbo rides on a front suspension featuring MacPherson struts, twin-tube shocks and a 24-mm stabilizer bar; under the rear is a V-torsion beam setup with monotube shocks. Connecting it all to the road are 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/40 V-rated tires; sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires are optional. A sport-tuned motor-driven electric power steering (MDPS) system provides the driver with a good bit of response and feedback, while four-wheel antilock (ABS) disc brakes ensure everything comes to a quick and controlled stop.
Well-Equipped for All
The 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo tackles safety with those ABS brakes, as well as six standard airbags, Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control System, Brake Assist, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution.
Veloster Turbo drivers benefit from standard keyless entry with push-button start; power-adjustable heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals; a leather-wrapped, tilt and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls; Bluetooth® hands-free calling with voice recognition; and an eight-speaker Dimension premium audio system boasting an external amplifier and subwoofer, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, iPod®/USB/video input jacks and a Gracenote feature that allows owners to upload album cover art and manage their personal music libraries using voice-recognition technology.
These items are complimented by heated front seats with driver-side power lumbar support, Blue Link® telematics, leather upholstery, black high-gloss accents, a seven-inch LCD touch-screen display and alloy pedals that contribute to the interior’s sporty appearance. Outside, the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo is tricked out with LED headlamp accents, LED taillamps, foglamps, and styling tweaks including a lower-body kit and a unique grille. Finishing things off is a pair of center-mounted chrome exhaust tips.
After that generous list of standard goods, there’s not a lot left for the options column, but Hyundai has put together an Ultimate Package with a navigation system, backup sensors and a rearview camera, a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights and a handy 115-volt power outlet.
An Instant Hit
The Hyundai Veloster Turbo hatchback is receiving lots of positive attention. Among the accolades are a “5-Year Cost to Own Award” from Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com) and a “Best Sports Car” award from Ruedas ESPN, a Spanish-language automotive radio show.
In summing up this award-winning pocket rocket, perhaps the editors of CarandDriver.com put it best when they wrote, “Restraint is a noble thing, and Hyundai sets an excellent example with the 2013 Veloster Turbo. The 201-hp version of this half-coupe/half-sedan/half-hatchback is everything it could be without becoming things it shouldn’t be, including expensive.”
For a closer look at the high-performance Veloster Turbo, schedule a test drive today.
[[make = “Hyundai”]] [[model = “Veloster Turbo”]] [[year = “2013”]]
[PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION]
This is Gary Rome and I’m here to talk to you about something much more important than cars. I want to talk to you about our friends and families that were impacted by the tragic events at the marathon. My family at Gary Rome Auto Group came to me and asked me what can we do? We decided to support the Boston One Fund. For every test drive we’ll donate $10and $100 for every car purchased. And because we know how important time with our family is, I’m going to give you a $10 gift certificate to Squires Bistro on Main Street in Agawam.
Please come to Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke or Gary Rome Kia in Enfield and take a test drive and I’ll donate $10 to The One Fund and I’ll give you a $10 gift certificate to Squires Bistro in Agawam and when you decide to buy from me, I’ll then donate $100 to The One Fund. Gary Rome Auto Group, helping those that help us. It doesn’t cost any of us extra to be nice!
You can also donate directly to The One Fund: OneFundBoston.org
2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Drive
When it appeared in 2011 to counter rivals like the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid generally didn’t fare too well in head-to-head matchups. Complaints of a lack of refinement in the hybrid powertrain and braking feel were cited, and the Sonata routinely under-delivered on the fuel economy front. Hyundai seems to have been listening, as these are exactly the areas the company focused on for the 2013 Sonata Hybrid, and the result is a top-notch, fully competitive hybrid sedan ready to take on the competitors.
Changes start with the powertrain: The same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine remains, but it now makes slightly less power, 159 horsepower compared to the 2012 model’s 166. This is made up for by a more powerful electric motor, rated at 35 kilowatts instead of the last model’s 30. Net power thus drops from 206 in the 2012 model to 199 in the 2013, but this is the only trade-off for superior performance, fuel economy and cargo room. The 2013 Sonata Hybrid’slithium polymer battery has a higher capacity, but it’s also lighter and better packaged, allowing the trunk’s cargo room to grow from 10.7 to 12.1 cubic feet.
Hyundai also tuned these new components far better than the last version. The car exhibits improved smoothness in its electric-to-gas hybrid transition, better regenerative braking feel and much more seamless acceleration. A light in the gauge cluster will light up when the engine shuts off while cruising on flat, level roads indicating that the car is operating electrically — and it will do so even at highway speeds. Although there is no dedicated EV mode button, the car seems like it’s engaged in all-electric driving over more distance and under harder acceleration than the competition.
The Sonata Hybrid has a conventional six-speed automatic, which makes the car feel more “normal” than many other hybrid sedans on the market that use continuously variable transmissions. There is no loud, buzzy drone under hard acceleration as there is with a CVT, just smooth acceleration and barely perceptible shifts. At speed, the Sonata’s ride is well damped, and the cabin is quiet with just minor wind noise.
The improvements boost the Sonata Hybrid’s fuel economy as well, with the 2013 rated at 36 city, 40 highway and 38 combined, compared to the 2012 model’s 34/39/36 (the 2013 Limited trim level gets 37 combined, due to the extra weight of equipment). This matches more favorably against the Toyota Camry Hybrid LE (43/39/41) and XLE (40/38/40) than the Ford Fusion Hybrid (47/47/47), although the average reported fuel economy for the Fusion is nowhere near the EPA rating, according to government website fueleconomy.gov. My test loop consisted of a morning’s worth of high-speed highway, some stop-and-go traffic and a few hard acceleration moments to pass slower traffic, returning a respectable combined 37 mpg. This compares favorably to the consumer-reported averages for the Camry and Fusion.
That number becomes even more impressive when one considers the car that delivered it. The ‘13 Sonata Hybrid is a big midsize sedan with plenty of room inside, comfortable seats and high-quality materials throughout. Exterior styling is differentiated from conventional Sonatas through different front and rear ends, headlights, taillights and wheels. My Limited model had leather seats, navigation, a nine-speaker Infinity sound system, heated front and rear seats and a massive panoramic sunroof. The only aspect of the Sonata Hybrid’s interior that did not impress was the infotainment system’s subpar graphics. Hybrid functions and monitoring displays are located in several different places throughout the hierarchy of screens, and the ones that are available look extremely dated and offer limited information. This is an area that can easily be updated to look better, yet looks nearly a decade behind the times in its sophistication.
Pricing is still reasonable for the Sonata Hybrid as well, starting at $26,445 (including $795 delivery fee) for the base Hybrid and climbing to $31,345 for the Hybrid Limited. The only option is a $1,000 panoramic sunroof on the Limited model. The Camry Hybrid LE starts at $26,935 (including $795 destination fee), jumping to $28,465 for the more luxurious XLE. The XLE price does not include a leather interior ($1,185) or integrated back-up camera and alarm ($695), bringing a comparably equipped XLE to $30,345. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is more expensive, starting at $27,995 (including $795 shipping) for an SE trim model and jumping to $32,895 for the Titanium. Load it up with comparable technology goodies and a moonroof, however, and the Fusion Hybrid Titanium can easily top $36,890.
Hyundai’s updated Sonata Hybrid removes all the complaints many had about the operation of the old model, displaying a welcome refinement that further demonstrates the company’s ability to do something that previously the Japanese had been known for: continuous improvement.
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA SETS ALL-TIME RECORD FIRST QUARTER SALESMarch sales are the second best month in history
Elantra sets all-time record, up 33 percent
COSTA MESA, Calif., April 2, 2013 — Hyundai Motor America today announced sales of 68,306 units, down just two percent versus the best volume month Hyundai ever recorded last year, and up more than 30 percent over February levels. The first quarter of 2013 was the best in Hyundai’s history.
“March felt just great,” said Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of national sales. “We definitely benefitted from better inventories of Elantra thanks to the addition of the third shift at our Alabama plant, improved weather conditions in our important Northern markets and more robust retail activity reflecting a steady recovery in consumer confidence. Elantra led the pack with an all-time monthly sales record of 26,153 units, up 33 percent year-over-year. Sonata Hybrid also set a new all-time sales record with 2,006 sales, up 13 percent versus last year.”
Fleet mix was 17 percent for the month and stands at 16 percent for the year, among the lowest in the industry.
“This March was an incredibly strong month for us, the second best sales month in our history, just two percent below our all-time record from last March,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “While our plants continue to stretch to hit our demand levels, we still have one of the tightest inventory levels in the industry. This month, you could see the impact of improved Elantra availability, but our dealers remain constrained on Sonata, which continues as one of the fastest turning mid-size cars in the industry.”
According to data from Cars.com, the traditional five highest volume mid-size sedans (Accord, Camry, Altima, Fusion, and Malibu) have 72 percent more dealer stock than Sonata.
Sales in March of Certified Pre-Owned vehicles totaled 6,715, up eight percent for the first quarter. More than 80 percent of Hyundai’s dealers are now participating in the CPO program, which has been a key component in driving Hyundai residual values to record high levels. Hyundai Elantra, Azera, and Santa Fe Sport are all ALG Residual Value award winners for the 2013 model year.
SALES-WEIGHTED FUEL ECONOMY
Label Combined MPG
|2013 CYTD Window
Label Combined MPG
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 820 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. On May 16, 2013, Hyundai Assurance will be expanded to include Assurance Connected Care for all Blue Link equipped vehicles. Assurance Connected Care provides Hyundai owners with proactive safety and car care services made possible by the Hyundai Blue Link telematics platform standard for three years. These services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostic Alert, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and in-vehicle service scheduling.
Image used for represenation purpose only
In an earlier report published on CarDekho, we talked about Hyundai’s plans of launching a new hatchback to rival Maruti Suzuki Swift. The said hatchback will sit between the company’s flagship hatches i10 and the i20, taking the total no. of hatchbacks to five. Now a report published today on ET confirms the same, it also reveals that there will be “a slew of products for the Indian market , including a compact SUV, an MPV as well”. This has been confirmed by none another than Hyundai’s CEO and MD, BO Shin Seo.
Seo also said that the company’s focus will be on diesel engines, the company has recently made investments in diesel engine capacity. Speaking to TOI, Seo said that “the HMI will launch a small SUV soon The SUV will COME earlier, followed by an MPV “.
Hyundai’s arch rival Maruti Suzuki India has already launched the Ertiga MPV, while it still doesn’t have anything in the growing compact SUV/MPV segment. On the other hand, the newly launched Renault Duster has already been doing superb in terms of sales, Ford is ready with its compact Crossover, the EcoSport and Chevrolet Enjoy MPV will be here anytime soon. So, it has become more a necessity now for Hyundai India to launch a good product to earn the market share in this space.
Hyundai India is keeping its focus on diesel run cars, diesel vehicles accounted for 28% of the company’s total sales. “We have invested $ 300 million in a new diesel gasoline flexible plant which has a 3,00,000-unit capacity. The flexi assembly line future-proofs us from any changes in the government’s fuel POLICY, the while at the same time it Protects us from currency fluctuation since we no longer import diesel engines, “he said.
The company is also working on the next-generation i10, which will house the company’s newly developed 1.1-litre diesel engine, while the petrol version will continue to derive its power from the existing 1.2-litre Kappa2 motor. The aforementioned 1.1-litre diesel engine is the company’s smallest engine right now, which might also power the new compact car we mentioned above.
Speaking about the new compact car, Seo says “between the i10 and i20. It will create a completely new segment and will have better pick -up and performance than the i10 segment “. Denying that Hyundai will get into sub-Eon segment, he said, “Our Brand POSITIONING is On all about modern premium, so we will not go below the Eon, “said Seo.
Stay tuned to CarDekho for all the latest updates on upcoming Hyundai cars, Cheers!
By Marty Padgett; March 12, 2013
The Kia Sorento hasn’t been on sale for all that long in its current form (since the 2011 model year). Still, for 2014, the Sorento is already up for some significant improvements. And it’s no minor refresh, either: Kia says that more than 80 percent of the parts in the new Sorento are either all-new or significantly redesigned.
You might not know it by looking at the exterior, however. The 2014 Sorento is a clear continuation of the current design—but with some fresh details that crossover shoppers are going to be able to pick out. New front and rear fascias and low body work both serve to make the Sorento look a bit lower and wider, while the ‘tiger-nose’grille gets either an anodized metal or black mesh look, with a cross-hatched pattern in the lower valance. Kia has also added LED combination taillamps and redesigned wheels. Inside, the Sorento gets a new instrument panel, while EX trims and above get a new reconfigurable seven-inch TFT LCD gauge cluster.
The most meaningful difference for many families may very well be the introduction of a more fuel-efficient V-6. The all-aluminum 3.3-liter GDI V-6 makes 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. A 191-hp, 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder engine is standard, but likely to be rare—and rightly so, since the V-6 almost matches it on gas mileage, and far outpoints it in pure power. The Sorento delivers its power to the road with the help of a well-sorted six-speed automatic transmission; it’s either configured with front-wheel drive or with an enhanced torque-vectoring version of the all-wheel-drive system.
Other key upgrades help the Sorento ride less stiffly and steer more swiftly. The Sorento’s hydraulic power steering system has been swapped out for an electric system, and on the Sorento SX it’s driver-adjustable through a range of three modes (Comfort, Normal, and Sport), to nominal effect. Ride and handling have been improved through a more rigid body structure plus the addition of a front strut-tower brace and a new independent front suspension with an H-shaped sub-frame cradle; new bushings have been added to the multi-link rear suspension. It’s much calmer, and more capable of rounding off pavement burrs than before, though it’s still a slightly firm setup compared to the gooey ride of a Highlander.
The interior of the Sorento grows incrementally, with slightly more leg room and good seats, now with heating offered on the first two rows and ventilation available up front. We like the Sorento as a five-seater, where it has plenty of legroom and headroom for adults, front and back, yet leaves plenty of cargo space when the back two rows of seats are folded down on three-row versions. There’s not much room behind the third-row seat when it’s used for passengers, though.
All versions get standard Bluetooth, satellite radio, and power features; a panoramic sunroof is a new option. The top Sorento SX Limited adds some of the top-lux features gained by the Optima SX this past year; it includes Nappa leather upholstery, heated rear seats, and a wood-trimmed heated steering wheel, plus a soft-touch headliner. On the outside it’s distinguished by its HID headlamps, red-painted brake calipers and special 19-inch chrome wheels.
The rest of the Sorento line gets an expanded feature set for 2014, and especially of note is that infotainment has been upgraded, with a large new eight-inch touch screen that combines navigation, real-time traffic, Infinity premium audio, Bluetooth, and next-generation UVO eServices features that ditch Microsoft’s kludgy software for smartphone-driven access to Google maps—for free. A 115-volt power inverter, second-row sliding sunshades, a panoramic sunroof, and dual-ventilated air-cooled front seats are among the other new features for 2014.
Hyundai Equus: A Few Rungs Up the Social Ladder
By LAWRENCE ULRICH
Introduced on Wednesday, March 27, 2013: 2014 Hyundai Equus
2013 New York Auto Show
What is it? A refreshed version of perhaps the biggest social climber in luxury cars, Hyundai’s roughly $60,000, full-size sedan.
Is it real? Dismissed by some critics as a poseur, the Equus has established a modest toehold in a class dominated by far pricier models from Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Audi.
What they said: John Krafcik, chief executive of Hyundai Motor America, said the Equus led every car in the industry – luxury or mainstream — in J.D. Power’s most recent customer satisfaction survey. Customer service has been an Equus hallmark, including free iPads and owner perks; dealers pick up cars from owners’ homes and return them following service visits.
What they didn’t say: How quickly Hyundai can advance the Equus from its generic large-car styling to something resembling its well-received HCD-14 Genesis concept car.
What makes it tick? The formidable 5-liter, direct-injection V-8 with 429 horsepower and 8-speed automatic transmission carry-over from last year’s model. The air suspension is retuned, hopefully lending the Equus the sophisticated dynamics it currently lacks. But the Equus is noticeably gussied-up inside, with more convincing wood, aluminum, leather, display screens and features.
How much? How soon? The reworked Equus goes on sale in May, for roughly $57,000 to start.
How’s it look? No threat to design leaders like the Audi A8 or Jaguar XJ. But the Equus is more convincingly deluxe, especially inside, where it looks more Lexus, less Buick.
By Scott Evans; March 25, 2013
Dodge Dart vs. Honda Civic vs. Kia Forte vs. Mazda3 vs. Nissan Sentra
5th Place: Nissan Sentra
Poor handling, poor fuel economy, and a shorter feature list outweigh a low price and big back seat.
4th Place: Honda Civic
A weak drivetrain, poor fuel economy, and frustrating nav system sank a solid entry.
3rd Place: Dodge Dart
Sport handling and a long list of features weren’t enough to overcome a high price and terrible gas mileage.
2nd Place: Mazda3
An enthusiast’s special and fuel-sipper to boot, weighed down by a heavy price tag and missing features.
1st Place: Kia Forte
Handles well, sips fuel, loaded with exclusive features, and priced just right. What’s not to like?
According to the old maxim, Americans don’t like small cars. We buy trucks by the truckload and midsize sedans more than any other car segment. But because of gas prices, the tough economy, or both, the compact segment is growing. In 2012, it accounted for roughly 13 percent of the U.S. car market, with most entrants registering sales increases over 2011. With frugality in vogue, automakers expect the segment to keep growing during the next several years.
Last year, the Mazda3 went bumper to bumper with the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Volkswagen Jetta in a battle of 40-mpg-capable cars. The Mazda won because we framed the conversation thus: Is there a 40-mpg car you’d want to own? The question was directed at the enthusiast who wants a high-efficiency car that’s also fun to drive. In that measure, the Mazda was without question the Goldilocks car. It finished mid-pack on fuel economy, but it was far and away the driver’s choice.
Since then, three new pretenders to the throne have arisen, and a fourth made an emergency update to better position it against the competition. More important, we’re no longer asking which is the best sports car, but which is the best all-around car for the average consumer. We’re looking for the car that offers the best value, content, fuel economy, and safety in addition to performance. It’s a whole new ballgame.
RIDE & HANDLING
In claiming its previous victory, the Mazda3 dazzled the judges with its crisp, natural steering feel; responsive, unshakable chassis; and sport sedan handling. It led this competition with the same trump card, at least in the dry. As it happened, rain struck during our evaluation loops, and opinions of the Mazda changed quickly. Those who drove it in the dry were again smitten with its excellent handling on the winding road portion. Those who drove it in the wet, however, told a different tale. Editors found it breaking loose at both ends on wet roads when pushed hard, eroding confidence. One point we all agreed on was the ride quality, which was among the best in the group.
Another car that divided the judges was the Dodge Dart. Opinions were mixed on the thick, meaty steering wheel — while it felt direct, the steering was surprisingly heavy. Also heavy was the car itself, outweighing the nearest competitor by more than 300 pounds, and it felt heavy from behind the wheel. The Dart threw its heft into a corner, but once the weight transferred, it was a smooth and stable handler. The weight made the car feel planted on the road, but it also hurt the ride quality, though it wasn’t the worst in the group.
In terms of ride and handling, the worst was the Nissan Sentra. There wasn’t a large difference in ride quality among the group, but the Sentra was at the bottom of the spectrum. Where it really disappointed was in handling. The Sentra received constant complaints of terminal understeer, egregious body roll, and lifeless steering, and it lacked grip. Said associate online editor Karla Sanchez: “This car handled so terribly, I couldn’t wait until the loop was over.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Kia Forte surprised everyone. In general, we’ve known Kias to have rough rides and elastic-feeling steering, but not this car. The ride was pleasantly firm, almost sporty, and the steering felt naturally weighted and responsive, though it still provided no feedback. Many editors found it the second-most fun car to drive behind the Mazda.
Somewhere in the middle was the Civic. The lightest of the group, it felt that way on the road. Ride quality and handling both fell in the middle of the pack, though the steering took some hits. Editor-in-chief Edward Loh found that the “light steering feels artificial and requires jerky inputs. Initial input doesn’t seem to do much, so I kept dialing in more and more steering. Hard to be smooth.”
The Kia surprised us at the track. It was the quickest to 60 mph by half a second and stopped the shortest from the same speed by 2 feet. On our skidpad, it put up respectable grip numbers and was the quickest around our figure-eight course. Out in the real world, we found the power strong compared with the rest of the group, and the transmission shifted quickly and smoothly and seemed to never select the wrong gear.
Less surprising was the poor showing from the Sentra. It was the slowest to reach 60 mph and needed the longest distance to stop. The car also was slow to accelerate and lacked brake bite. The primary culprit in drivetrain complaints was the continuously variable transmission, which all agreed was slow to respond and then provided insufficient additional leverage when it did. Despite its poor handling on the road and lowest average g on the figure-eight test, the Sentra did manage to tie the Dart for the highest average on the skidpad.
The Dart was a disappointment. Its raspy exhaust and turbocharged engine seemed to promise performance, but its jog to 60 mph fell right in the middle of the pack, as did its stopping distance. As noted above, it posted the highest average g on the skidpad and the figure eight, but tied the Mazda for second in figure-eight lap time. Where the Dart really fell down was in everyday driving. The dual-clutch transmission was jerky and often seemed confused in automatic mode, whether dicing in the city or carving a canyon. The only remedy was to manually shift using the gear stick, which delivered fairly quick and crisp shifts, though it upshifted automatically at redline.
We were likewise disappointed in the Civic. The engine felt weak at low rpm, but like the Sentra, the fault lies squarely with the transmission. The aging five-speed gearbox was slow to shift and had no manual mode. This carried over to the track, where it was the second slowest to 60 mph and the slowest around the figure eight. Its low curb weight contributed to the second shortest stopping distance, but it posted mid-pack average g numbers.
The Mazda3 was a curiosity rather than a disappointment. Despite its stellar dry performance on the road, it didn’t post the big numbers at the track. It was the second quickest to 60 mph and around the figure eight, but dead last on the skidpad. It also finished third in braking. Somehow, though, it all came together on real-world roads, making the Mazda3 the clear driver’s favorite.
The two cars with the most overt technological approaches to fuel efficiency performed the poorest. An accelerating trend in the automotive industry today is to replace a larger engine with a smaller, turbocharged one that, in theory, provides the same power while using less fuel. This was not the case for the Dart. Its turbocharged 1.4-liter engine was the smallest and offered the most torque and second-highest horsepower rating, but it returned a dismal 19.5 mpg on our evaluation loops, well below its EPA estimates of 27/37 mpg city/highway.
Likewise unimpressive was the Sentra’s continuously variable transmission, which should theoretically always be at the optimum gearing for fuel economy. With the least horsepower and tied for the least torque, you’d expect it wouldn’t burn much fuel, but it returned the second-lowest observed fuel economy at 21.2 average mpg. With ratings at 30/39 mpg city/highway, it was a long way off. “Nissan might be on to something,” quipped senior features editor Jonny Lieberman. “No one will drive this car quickly and in an inefficient manner, as it actually sounds like you’re injuring the car with your right foot.”
As much as we knock the Civic for its old five-speed transmission offering no manual control, it still gets the job done. The Civic was the second-least powerful car present and it felt like it, but that little engine and old gearbox know how to use fuel wisely. The Civic returned 23.5 mpg, which, while not stellar, was at least closer to its 28/39-mpg city/highway ratings.
Kia had a rough go of it last year after the EPA unceremoniously lowered the fuel economy ratings on a number of its cars. The Forte was unaffected, but the new car has struck back with a vengeance. Despite having the most horsepower and second-highest torque rating, as well as an conventional six-speed automatic, the Kia returned 24.4 mpg — falling nicely within the estimated EPA city/highway ratings of 24/36 mpg and good for second best in this comparison.
The big winner, though, was the car that won the fuel economy comparison on handling rather than mpg. The Mazda3, with its funny-sounding Skyactiv badging and no obvious technological tricks (they’re all deep inside the engine), was the longest running model in this test and by far the fuel-sipping champ. It handily bested the competition by returning 25.3 average mpg against its 28/40-mpg city/highway ratings.
Many people put a lot of stock in how a car looks, but the truth is, you’ll spend far more time looking at the inside of it than the outside, and it greatly shapes your perception of the vehicle. In this category, the Sentra clawed back some favor with the judges. The rear seat and trunk are cavernous for the class, and the navigation and entertainment systems are simple and intuitive to use. Some editors found the design dull, likening it to a doctor’s waiting room, but others pointed out that it barely feels down-market from the larger, more expensive Altima, a nice treat for a value-conscious buyer.
The Forte received similar praise for being second to the Sentra in rear seat space. It was also dinged, albeit less so, for being cold and dark with some odd ridges on the dash. Those gripes were quickly overlooked, however, in light of the segment-busting list of features, such as heated and cooled front seats and power-folding mirrors.
Also feature-rich was the Dart, with its massive touchscreen infotainment system and high-resolution, reconfigurable gauge display. We appreciated the clear, easy-to-use UConnect infotainment system, even if it did seem a bit cluttered compared with Kia’s UVO system. Editors also liked the front-and-back steering wheel controls. Where the Dart struggled was in seating, with hard perches front and rear and compromised rear headroom. The editors complained about the grainy, low-resolution back-up camera.
Riding mid-pack was the Civic, whose bi-level instrument cluster and funky shapes divided editors. It was given high marks for being a strong improvement over the poorly received 2012 model, and we appreciated the better materials and quieter cabin. We took issue, though, with the old, low-resolution navigation system and its tiny buttons, and rear seat space ranked smallest among the competitors.
Receiving some of the harshest criticism was the Mazda3. While we liked its sporty, supportive seats overall, many were disappointed with its small, cramped rear seat. The dashboard also drew fire for looking the oldest and appearing to be made of the cheapest materials. “The split screens are at least well-organized/executed,” wrote Loh. However, “none of the screens matches in background colors, fonts, or font colors, not in the instrument panel, infotainment screen, or the two tiny screens above.” We were disappointed with the lack of a back-up camera, but equally delighted by the preferred manual shifting orientation of forward for downshifts and backward for upshifts, which the Dart shared.
With safety a key concern among buyers, it’s no surprise all these competitors performed well in crash testing. They were not, however, all created equal. For example, Honda found out about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new small-offset crash test and designed the new Civic accordingly. As such, the Civic is the only car here to be named a Top Safety Pick+ after receiving a Good score in all tests. (None of the others has yet completed the small-offset test.) The 2013 Civic hasn’t been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet, but the 2012 car received 5-star front and side ratings and a 4-star rollover rating for 5 stars overall.
Like the Honda, the 2014 Forte hasn’t been crash tested yet. In this case, though, the Kia is a thoroughly redesigned car and not a refresh, so it’s difficult to say how it will fare. The old Forte, for what it’s worth, received 4 stars and Good ratings in all tests and was named a Top Safety Pick.
It’s a similar story with the 2013 Sentra, which also has yet to be fully tested. NHTSA has crashed it, and gave it a 5-star side impact rating, 4 stars for front and rollover tests, and 4 stars overall. IIHS hasn’t tested it, but the old model was not a Top Safety Pick because of an Acceptable rating in the roof crush test.
There is plenty of information, however, on the oldest car in the test. The Mazda3 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick thanks to Good ratings all around, but it didn’t fare quite as well at NHTSA. It’s a mixed bag, with a 5-star front impact rating, 4-star rollover rating, and 3-star side impact rating, combined for a 4-star overall rating. Editors also noted and appreciated the optional Blind Spot Warning system.
We appreciated the Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Path Detection systems on the Dart as well, not to mention the only Driver Knee Bolster airbags in the group. That car fared better in crash testing, earning a 5-star overall rating on 5-star front and side impact ratings and a 4-star rollover rating. It is also a Top Safety Pick with Good scores across the board.
In a price-conscious segment like this, value is a major consideration. That’s especially true in this test, where all the competitors were heavily equipped with pricey options such as navigation systems, leather seats, keyless entry, and more. None was more heavily loaded than the Mazda3, which rang in just above the Dart at $26,420. Being the oldest model in the test and lacking a back-up camera hurt its value argument, though we enthusiasts found quite a lot of value in its handling and performance.
The Dart also became something of a tough sell at $26,415. It was feature-rich with its big display screens, automatic headlights and wipers, heated steering wheel, and more. The problem is, the Forte offers all that and more for $805 less. With by far the worst observed fuel economy, the Dart’s value appeal dropped precipitously in the eyes of the judges.
That Forte, though, blew us away. Power front seats that are both heated and cooled, heated rear seats, power-folding side mirrors, a heated steering wheel, multiple steering modes, and more, all for a mid-pack price of $25,610. Add to that the second-best fuel economy in the test and far and away the best warranty, and the Kia makes a serious value proposition.
The Civic was a tougher case to make. It offered many of the features the others did, but the clunky navigation system and second-worst observed fuel economy hurt it. On the other hand, it was very nearly the least expensive car here at $24,555, and it got high marks for its quality interior materials.
The Sentra fell into the same trap as the Civic, offering the lowest as-tested price by just over a hundred dollars at $23,715. While that appealed to our wallets, the second-worst observed fuel economy and the poor handling made us reconsider how our hypothetical money was being spent.
Some comparison tests are blowouts, and those are easy to judge. Then there are tests like this, where the field is closely matched in nearly every category. Each car had strengths and weaknesses and none completely ran away with the award. There wasn’t a “perfect” car in the bunch, but several that would be very good choices depending on your priorities.
If, for example, you’re an enthusiast like us, you’ll be happiest with the sporty Mazda. It would also appeal to those who value fuel economy above all else. If safety is your priority, you’ll be comforted by the Honda’s class-topping crash test scores. Those who love features will be very happy with the Dart and Forte, and the buyer shopping on price will find the Sentra’s low as-tested price very appealing.
After weighing the contenders in each category against what would best serve the average compact car buyer, we picked the 2014 Kia Forte as the best all-around car here and the winner of this test. Its combination of performance, fuel efficiency, reasonable pricing, and endless feature list had our judges agreeing it’s the car we’d recommend to our friends and family.
By James Healey; March 15, 2013
Boy, selling compact cars has become a brutally tough way to make a living.
Not because nobody’s buying. The compact segment is awash with activity. But each new compact that hits the market seems to raise the bar quite a bit, leaving rivals agape about how fast their latest hot-dang models got upstaged.
Honda discovered that the hard way, having to overhaul its latest Civic only 18 months after it was launched. Honda said competition moved faster than expected, and it had to keep Civic competitive.
Kia’s redone 2014 Forte, going on sale next quarter, is a good example.
Derived from the same parts bin used by corporate affiliate Hyundai for the Elantra sedan, Forte has enough differences to stand out. The high-end version is good enough to make you wonder why people spend $40,000 and more on luxury cars.
Caution: Kia won’t disclose prices yet, and the scrumptious test car is a loaded showboat. It’s a delight, but without knowing the price, it’s hard to say whether it’s a value.
Following Hyundai’s lead with the Elantra, Kia cut back Forte sedan from three trim levels to two, LX (base) and EX (the test car). When Hyundai cut Elantra sedan to two versions for 2013, it dropped the bare-bones base model and effectively raised the entry price about $1,000.
The loaded EX demonstrates why it’s hard to distinguish luxury cars from mainstreamers nowadays. The test car has an impressive array of standard and optional features, including:
2-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine that feels quicker than its 173-horsepower rating suggests. Very responsive in traffic, and accomplished as a fast-merger and quick-passer on highways. It’s standard on the EX — and, no doubt to Kia’s delight, isn’t offered at all on the Elantra sedan. The base LX Forte gets the same 1.8- liter, 148-hp, four that all Elantra sedans use.
Perforated leather upholstery for comfortable ventilation, enhanced by heated front and rear seats and a cooled driver’s seat.
Heated steering wheel for when you forget your gloves.
Electronic system that links with your smartphone to tell you, among other gee-whiz info, where you parked your car and how long it’s been there, in case you need to run out with quarters for the meter.
The catch: It’s only compatible with iPhones and Androids. Those of us hip enough to have Windows phones, tough luck, save for the ability to quickly ring up 9-1-1 if you’re having a very bad day.
Outside mirrors you can power-fold in for tight parking spots.
Quick linking to phones, even the challenging Windows phone. There is similarly fast streaming connection so you can play your tunes on the car stereo.
Programmable steering. “Normal” suited Test Drive with a good blend of firmness, road feel and response. Some drivers will choose “Sport” for even firmer feel, or “Comfort” for a lighter touch.
A thoroughly pleasant interpretation of the “soft touch” interior in demand these days. Leather with upscale visible stitching on some seams; matte-finish plastic that’s the antithesis of “hard” or “brittle”; a gearshift knob thoughtfully sized and shaped not only to fit the palm but to invite it.
Audi-style LED headlight trim, making a dramatic first impression when you see the car coming at night.
A nifty “hero” color (what they call the hue you’ll see in launch ads and as bait in showrooms). It’s “abyss blue” and hits the brilliant-blue target just about perfectly.
More than just a platform for the show-off stuff, the Kia Forte sedan (hatchback and coupe models are due later this year) is satisfying to drive. That is, it works well as a car. Test Drive hasn’t given up on the idea of that being a core value for an automobile.
The 2-liter engine is quick, and turns the racket of direct- injection into a pleasing growl. Pretty easy on fuel, too, by Test Drive standards, yielding mpg in the low 20s in mixed types of (vigorous, as always) driving.
The base model’s 1.8-liter won’t be as pleasing, but isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for the thrifty buyer. Just be sure its lower power matches your needs.
Brakes take hold quickly, but aren’t grabby.
Suspension is nicely sorted out, which isn’t a given on Kias. Seeking a sporting image, to distinguish it from Hyundai’s more luxe feel, Kia often has overdone the suspension tuning and wound up with cars that ride like go-karts. Forte’s well beyond that, having the desirable mix of comfort and control you get in grownups’ cars.
Rear suspension’s still a beam, not the independent rear springing you really wish for. But it is well-tamed and nicely tuned by Kia. Unless you drive like a rallyist on regular roads, you shouldn’t be put off by the back-beam’s primitive design. It’s what many compact rivals use, so you don’t necessarily lose bragging rights.
Assuming Kia doesn’t go nuts on price, the 2014 Forte EX sedan is at or near the top of Test Drive’s want list among well-furnished compact cars.
Mar 27, 2013 10:00 AM EDT
NEW YORK, March 27, 2013 /3BL Media/ PRNewswire/ — Hyundai Hope On Wheels®, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids fight cancer, today announced that Nolan Gould, star of the Emmy Award-winning comedy series Modern Family, will join the organization for its 2013 launch activities in New York City. Yesterday at the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square, Nolan Gould was on hand as Hyundai Motor America and its dealers rang the Closing Bell to commemorate their 15th year in the fight against pediatric cancer through Hyundai Hope On Wheels.
“Being in New York with Hope On Wheels, I’m learning firsthand the immense impact cancer has on thousands of kids throughout the country,” said Nolan Gould. “I believe us kids coming together to help other kids can send a powerful message and bring greater awareness to this important cause. I congratulate Hope On Wheels on its 15th year in this fight and encourage everyone to give hope a hand.”
To increase public awareness for childhood cancer, Hyundai Hope On Wheels has launched a new social media campaign called, “Give Hope A Hand.” Throughout the year, supporters are invited to join the cause by snapping a photo of their hand and sharing it on social media outlets. Visit www.HyundaiHopeOnWheels.org/hope to find out more.
“We congratulate Nolan for participating in the Hyundai Hope On Wheels program launch this week,” said Zafar Brooks, Program Director, Hyundai Hope On Wheels. “His celebrity status and willingness to be involved with such a worthwhile cause will no doubt help boost awareness for the program. We appreciate his support.”
Hyundai Hope On Wheels will surpass $72 million in donations in pursuit of a cure since its inception in 1998. Hope On Wheels will officially launch its 2013 grant program during a special press conference on Thursday, March 28 at the New York International Auto Show. Nolan Gould will participate in the press conference and will also visit Columbia University Medical Center with Hope On Wheels to meet children battling cancer.
For more information about Hyundai Hope On Wheels, please visit www.HyundaiHopeOnWheels.org.
You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter, by visiting facebook.com/HyundaiHopeOnWheels or twitter.com/HopeOnWheels.
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 820 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.
HYUNDAI HOPE ON WHEELS
Hyundai Hope On Wheels® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer. Launched in 1998, Hyundai Hope On Wheels provides grants to eligible institutions nationwide that are pursuing life-saving research and innovative treatments for the disease. Primary funding for Hyundai Hope On Wheels comes from Hyundai Motor America and its more than 800 U.S. dealers. At the end of its 15th year, Hyundai Hope On Wheels will have awarded more than $72 million towards childhood cancer research in pursuit of a cure.
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