Saturday Road Test -= Hyundai Santa Fe – Loaded


               2018 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD ULT AWD

                              Room for All

 By Ron Amadon

 DAMASCUS, MD. – Bang for the buck!

 That is what we crave and Hyundai has met that demand with our “Storm Blue” Santa Fe test SUV, the largest model it makes.  

 But first a moment or two of explanation:

 Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport has two rows of seating and the Santa Fe without the Sport has three rows and will accommodate up to 8. All these names will change in the 2019 model year. (See Factoids at the bottom.)

 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD ULT AWD is not a check on your abilities as a typist. In this case, it stands for the top-of-the-line Santa Fe model, the Limited Ultimate with All-Wheel Drive.

 Ultimate serves up, among other items, a large sunroof, hands free liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, (the heaters were quick to warm on a very cold morning), heated second row seats, and a handy multi-view back up camera system in the 8.0 inch touchscreen.

 Also on board were an LCD instrument panel, and an excellent Infinity auto system.

 If you opt for the Limited Ultimate you also get 19-inch wheels, HID headlights that see around corners, and captain’s chairs instead of a bench in the second row. That means total seating for seven.

 Want to haul? Fold down the second and third row seats and there is an even 80 cubic feet of space or 41 cubes with just the third row folded. A relatively low lip makes loading from the rear especially easy. In short, you can haul home a big load of groceries enough to make the supermarket manger very happy.

 And it has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

 That trailer would be pulled by a refined V6 with 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm and 252 lb-ft of torque 5,200 rpm in perfect rhythm with the six-speed automatic.  

 Without the trailer it had more than enough power to accomplish the million and one things that owners expect of their new SUV.

 Zero to sixty pops up in the low seven second range, on par with some rivals, but slower than some. However, in his category, who would notice a 0-60 that is a second slower than some? That isn’t what buyers are looking for.

 Economy is so-so, 17 mpg in the city, 22 highway for a combined 19 mpg on regular petrol.

 The Santa Fe received the highest crash test rating possible from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – five stars.

 A $2,100 Ultimate Tech Package included Smart Cruise Control with stop/start, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Parking Brake, and High Beam Assist.

 Inside, entry to the third row was a bit of an exercise and sparse room back there means this is a kid’s only arena. Passenger space elsewhere was more than adequate for kids and grown ups.  

 The 8” touchscreen was easy to figure out and live with housing the navi system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I love systems like this!  

 Fit, finish and materials were top rate, but I am not a fan of a largely black interior. More padding in the arm rests would be welcome.

 Good power, handling that carries no surprises for this kind of vehicle, a peaceful interior, good cargo space, and best of all, ventilation, audio, and navi systems that will not bring out the Tasmanian Devil in you all combine to make this a most appealing vehicle.

 Prices: A base model Santa Fe starts at $30,850 with the base Limited Ultra coming in at $39,550 on up to $44,380 for the test vehicle sans transportation.


 An all-new 2019 Santa Fe made its U.S. debut at the New York auto show. The fourth generation will go on sale this summer.

 And we will have another name change.

 The five-passenger Santa Fe Sport will now be called Santa Fe. The current long wheelbase three-row, seven-passenger model called Santa Fe will be renamed Santa Fe XL for the 2019 model year. A new three-row, eight-passenger SUV is currently under development and will carry a new name.

 With that new model coming this summer, dealers might be willing to make you a better deal to clear the 2018’s off their lot.











Auto News for March 30

  All of the Tesla Model S sedans built before April of 2016 are being recalled to replace possibly corroded bolts that hold the power steering motor in place. That would be a total of 123,000 sedans worldwide. The company said no accidents of injuries have been reported.

 As you may know, Renault and Nissan are engaged and now they are discussing finally walking down the aisle and getting married. Various report say the two automakers are discussing the idea of a merger to replace their ongoing collaboration in many areas. Bloomberg was the first to disclose the ongoing talks. The French government would have to approve the merger since it has a 15 percent stake in Renault.

 Laws requiring all impaired-driving offenders to install alcohol interlocks reduce the number of impaired drivers in fatal crashes by 16 percent, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. If all states without such laws adopted them, more than 500 additional lives could be saved each year, the insurance group said.  

 Alcohol interlocks tied to in-vehicle breath-testing units require a blood alcohol concentration below a certain level, typically somewhere between 0.02 and 0.04 percent, before the vehicle can be started.

 A new National Safety Council report centers on how much work state legislatures have done to cut on down on distracted driving. Four states – Florida, Arizona, Montana and Missouri – lack a law in two key areas, and 16 states have addressed only one of the two – a ban on texting as well as smartphone use by teens and novice drivers.

 Since the report was completed last year, New Mexico, Texas and Iowa have joined 27 other states and D.C. in passing legislation in both areas, said the council. It believes a full ban on electronic device use behind the wheel is the best way to keep drivers safe, a move that no state has adopted thus far.

 More than 200 very rare collector cars are expected at this year’s “Motorsports Gathering,” part of Monterey Car Week in California. This year’s event will be highlighted by two new classes praising German innovation: “70 Years of the Iconic Porsche 356” and “The Alois Ruf Reunion.” The 356 display will include marque’s first production sports car, while the ultra-rare Ruf class will showcase an exclusive collection from the legendary performance car manufacturer and tuner. Wikipedia said Ruf is historically known for its record breaking 211 mph CTR, and is the largest, most renowned company to make Porsche performance enhancements.

 The high society event begins August 24 at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Monterey.

 And just because we could, I have included two more pictures of what I think is the most striking car unveiled at the New York Auto Show, the Genesis Essentia all-electric.

 Motor Trend quotes the global head of Genesis as saying he is pushing parent company Hyundai to approve the concept for production.

 Go for it!





Auto News for March 29 – Check out this Genesis concept!!!

 Some late additions from New York.

 Genesis Essentia

 Imagine the demand if Genesis ever brings this concept car to market. It is called the Essentia Concept, an all-electric, high performance car that features a lightweight carbon-fiber monocoque, a robust, multi-motor electric powertrain, and a custom-tailored interior.  

 The battery pack is housed in the center tunnel in an I-shape structure, as opposed to underneath the passenger compartment. This allows Essentia to achieve a low, 50-inch roofline and spacious, GT-style cabin. And it is fast with an estimated 0-to-60 time of 3.0 seconds.

 Maserati Levante Trofeo

 If you don’t want to wait for the Essentia, Maserati has something fast and sexy that was unveiled in NYC.

 The Levante Trofeo packs 590 horsepower with 538 lb-ft of torque and a 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph.  

 As you can see from the picture it is an SUV, and not a two seat sports car that offers all that power. The 3.8-liter Twin Turbo V8 is mated to an All-Wheel Drive system and Launch Control for even more fun. It is one of the most powerful engines ever offered by Maserati.


There’s top grade leather inside along with carbon fiber and a 1,280 watt, 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system, if you ever tire of listening to that V8.

 Production begins this summer in Mirafiori (Turin) Italy. It is initially intended for overseas markets including the U.S.

 Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Pickup

 It is a concept named after a tree that VW produced to gauge public reaction.

 Tanoak is a dual-cab, short bed pickup based on an extended wheelbase Atlas with an overall length of 214 inches or roughly the same as the Chevy Colorado or the Toyota Tacoma.

 Power comes from a 276 horsepower V6 mated to an eight speed automatic, and with ten inches of ground clearance, it is good that AWD is offered.

 VW said it will seat five with most functions operated digitally.  The instruments, center console, and multifunction steering wheel are heavily redesigned from the Atlas SUV.

 My prediction is that VW will produce it at some future date. The concept, after all, looks production ready.

 Subaru Forester

 The fifth generation Forester is said to offer more room inside that any of its predecessors, with higher levels of driving pleasure, agility, crash protection, ride comfort and quietness. It will arrive later this year powered by a 2.5-liter 182 horsepower four, with a CVT and, of course, All Wheel Drive. That is a boost of 12 hp over the existing model.

 Forester will introduce DriverFocus that uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction. And it recognize up to five drivers and remember their presets for seat position, climate, multifunction display and more.

 In this writer’s estimation, the NYC show tops all others in the U.S. this exhibition season. Over a million visitors are expected to cram into the Jacob Javits Center when the show opens to the public starting tomorrow.

 To get a full check of all the reveals, do scroll down for my earlier stories. Thanks!












New York Auto Show Update II

In the words of the old Rock N’ Roll DJ’s, the “Hits Just Keep On Comin’” and that is the case with new vehicle introductions today at the NY show.
We will start this update with:

2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback

A five door coupe with a 2.9-liter V6 with a potent 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque from 1,900 to 5,000 rpm. Audi claims a 0-60 in under four seconds with a top track speed of 155 mph. It comes with Quattro permanent four-wheel drive and an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. Unique RS displays in the virtual cockpit inform the driver of tire pressure, torque, a shift light indicator and g-forces. Look for the RS 5 to appear in showrooms in the second half of the year.

2019 Genesis G70

Available this summer, the G70 is the brand’s first jump into the entry-level luxury segment. A 2.0-liter four or a 3.3-liter V6 will be offered with the six good for a 4.5 second run from zero to 60. The 2.0-liter with rear wheel drive will be available with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Driver-focused features include Genesis Active Safety Control, limited-slip differential, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires and Brembo brakes. The G70 represents the future direction of the Genesis brand’s “Athletic Elegance” design signature with its long hood and short overhangs, dynamic roofline, and high beltline. Inside look for a quilted Nappa leather seats, premium stitched soft-touch surfaces, and an optional 15-speaker Lexicon audio system.

 2019 Nissan Altima

Two new engines and new styling mark the renewed midsize sedan introduced this morning.

Replacing the previous-generation Altima’s 3.5-liter V6 is the first production-ready variable compression turbo inline 4-cylinder which, Nissan said, generates the performance of some V6 gasoline engines but with 4-cylinder level fuel economy.

The optional 2.0-liter four is rated at 248 horsepower with 273 lb-ft of torque on premium fuel.
Standard on all grade levels is the new 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder direct injection engine, which is rated at 188 horsepower (versus the previous 2.5-liter’s 179 hp) and 180 lb-ft of torque (versus the previous 177 lb-ft) and features 80% new or redesigned parts.

An exclusive launch edition based on the Platinum VC-Turbo will be offered in limited quantities and open for reservations in early summer 2018. The full lineup goes on sale in the fall.

 2019 Acura RDX

It is being called the most extensive overhaul in a decade with an all new body and chassis, a 2.6 longer wheelbase, and 3.4 cubic feet of additional storage space.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter, 16-valve power plant is good for 272 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. Compared to the previous model’s V6, peak torque is up 28 lb.-ft. and available across a wider section of the power band, from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm. The transmission is a 10 speed, the first in its class, Acura said.

Four drive modes are offered: Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ and not to forget the return of torque–vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. It can send more torque to the rear wheels, up to 70 percent to be exact.
Sport seats have been added with improved lateral support, with some models offering open pore Olive Ash wood trim, Ultrasuede and Milano leather.

The new model will arrive on dealer lots mid-year.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

First, the matter of names. The five-passenger Santa Fe Sport will now be called Santa Fe. The current long wheelbase three-row, seven-passenger model called Santa Fe will be renamed Santa Fe XL for the 2019 model year. An all-new three-row, eight-passenger SUV is currently under development and will carry an all-new name. Perhaps Albuquerque.

The new model rides on a longer wheelbase, offers some additional interior space, but the power comes from two familiar sources.

A 185 horsepower 2.4-liter four or a 2.0-liter turbo four rated at 235 horsepower. Both are married to a new eight speed transmission.
In 2020 a diesel joins the fleet, a 2.2-liter four with 190 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque.

The non-diesels go on sale this summer.

We will have more on the show Thursday morning.

Volvo’s XC60 is the 2018 World Car of the Year

 New York Auto Show Update

 The 2018 World Car of the Year winner, announced this morning at the New York Auto Show, is the Volvo XC60.

 It topped the Range Rover Velar and the Mazda CX-5 in balloting of auto writers around the globe.

 In other categories:

 World Car Design of the Year went to the Range Rover Velar, beating out the Lexus LC500 and the Volvo XC60.

 Nissan’s all-electric Leaf took home honors as the World Green Car of the Year, over the BMW 530e and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

 However, BMW’s M5 was named as World Performance Car of the Year over the Honda Civic Type R and the Lexus LC 500.

 And when it came to the World Luxury Car, the Audi A8 took the top spot over two Porsches, the Cayenne and the Panamera.

 A Volkswagen that is not sold here in the U.S. was named World Urban car. The Polo topped the Ford Fiesta and the Suzuki Swift.

 Now, check out our story below to get up to date on the new vehicles being revealed this morning.



Auto News for March 28 – New York Auto Show – Day One

  From a new compact crossover to five seat VW SUV, to a high performance AMG Mercedes, this will be quite a day at the New York Auto Show.

 Here is what we know thus far in the first of two press days:


Toyota will lead off the day long schedule of introductions with the 2019 RAV4.

 It will ride on the new TNGA platform in a package that is lower and wider than existing models and it will ride on a longer wheelbase. Toyota claims it is 57 percent more rigid and offers a half inch higher ground clearance.

 A 2.5-liter four matched to an 8-speed transmission will be the major powertrain, and a hybrid model will also be offered with a CVT.

  XSE Hybrid will be the “Sportiest” RAV4, followed by Adventure, and the more elegantly decked out Limited.

  Next, Nissan will unveil a new Altima, joining the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry in an attempt to show there is still a market for a conventional four door sedan.

 A five passenger version of the Volkswagen Atlas, known currently as “Cross Sport Concept” is next up.

 The “near-production” concept is a plug-in hybrid with a combined 355 horsepower and an anticipated 26 mile all-electric range. A conventional mild hybrid version of the same powertrain would make 310 hp.

 The actual production vehicle is scheduled to be launched in the U.S. market starting in 2019, and will be built alongside the seven-passenger Atlas and the Passat sedan in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The main engine will be the same 3.6-liter six offered in the larger Atlas model.

 Inside will be either a 10.1 inch touchscreen or a 12.3 inch, both of which will change displays depending on the drive mode selected – On-road, Off-road, Sport or Snow.

 Cadillac did not wait for the show to start and introduced its first compact SUV last night at its Manhattan headquarters. The XT4 gets a 2.0-liter 237 horsepower four with 258 lb-ft of torque matched to a nine speed automatic. Cadillac claims 30 mpg on the highway.

 Seven “interior environments” will be offered based on Luxury, Premium Luxury or Sport Trims.

 The latter offers a choice of Jet Black with Cinnamon Accents with High-Gloss Carbon Fiber, Light Wheat/Jet Black with Red Accents and Morello Red High-Gloss Carbon Fiber, Sedona/Jet Black with Fineline Calico High-Gloss Wood.

 Prices will start at $35,790 when the XT4 goes on sale in the fall.

 Just before lunch, Mercedes will show off the new AMG C 63 with a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo engine with output of either 469 horsepower or 503 horsepower with a 9-speed transmission. It is worth noting that one mechanic assembles each engine in the shop in Affalterbach, Germany, according to the “one man – one engine” principle.

 Via the specific AMG menu, the driver is able to call up a host of additional information to make the driving experience even sportier:

 Warm-up: engine and transmission oil temperature plus charge pressure as Boost display.

 Setup: current status of systems such as the drive system, suspension, AMG Dynamics, exhaust system, ESP, transmission.

 G-Force: display of current g-forces in a coordinate system and ability to save maximum values.

 Race Timer: manual stopwatch for lap times and color display of fastest and slowest laps, plus average speed and distance.

 If the AMG Track Pace option is ordered, instead of “Race Timer” the instrument cluster shows the “AMG Track Pace” menu, with visualizations of race tracks, sector and lap times.

 There is also a specific AMG Track Pace view in the optional head-up display with circuit graphic, bends, braking points, delta speed and absolute times.

 Engine Data: engine torque / rated output in a bar chart plus charge pressure as Boost display.

  Up to six drive programs are available: “Slippery,” “Comfort,” “Sport,” “Sport+,” “RACE” and “Individual.

 Performance seats are also offered with the AMG that should hold you in firmly place under robust driving conditions.

 Mercedes said the C 63 S Coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds.

 All C 63 variants will go on sale by early next year.

 I am pausing for now but do check back a bit later for still more from the NYC show.




Auto News for March 27 – Gas Prices Soaring – A New GMC Ready To Go Off Road

  Have you noticed that you are paying more at the pump these days? The latest AAA survey said the national gas price rose a hefty five cents a gallon in the past week to $2.61. Six states saw double digit increases including Idaho where prices rose 16 cents a gallon.

 “Right now we are seeing the market starting to purge winter-blend gasoline to make room for summer-blend,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The jump in gas prices is just the beginning for the season. AAA forecasts the national gas price average will be as much as $2.70/gallon this spring and summer.”

 Today’s national gas price average ($2.61) is nine cents more than a month ago and 33 cents more expensive than this time last year.

 GMC is going off road with the 2019 Sierra AT4 with its sights on Jeep and the Ford Raptor. The new truck includes a 2 inch suspension lift, standard 4-wheel drive, off-road shocks, 18 or 20 inch wheels, and a standard 5.3-liter V8. A 6.2-liter V8 or a 3.0-liter six turbo diesel with a ten speed automatic are optional. The interior is said to feature “live stitching” and Jet Black/Kalahari color accents in the seats.

 The governor of Arizona has suspended Uber’s testing of self-driving cars following the fatal accident in Tempe on March 18th. Governor Doug Ducey said improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona’s approach to autonomous vehicle testing. Uber has pulled its self-drivers off the road.

 If unions do not agree to wage concessions, GM said its South Korean unit will file for bankruptcy by April 20. The automaker has closed one plant and is seeking concessions from unions and the government as part of a plant to overhaul its money losing operations in South Korea.

 Autotrader is out with a list of a dozen vehicles in various categories that consumers “Must Test Drive” before signing on the bottom line for a new ride. They are:

 Buick Regal TourX

 Chevy Colorado ZR2

 Honda Accord

 Jeep Wrangler

 Kia Stinger

 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

 Lincoln Navigator

 Mercedes E-Class Coupe

 Nissan Leaf

 Subaru Crosstrek

 Toyota Camry

  Volvo XC60

  To be considered for a Must Test Drive Award, a vehicle must be of the current or next model-year and be available to purchase at the time of the awards announcement. It must have a base price under $75,000, offering a significant value for the asking price, and must score a 3.5 or higher on Autotrader’s five-point scale.