2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)
Hyundai Strengthens its U.S.Position
Hyundai Motor America President and CEO Bob Cosmai briefly mentioned that this year is Hyundai’s 20th anniversary in America — the Unites States of, that is. According to Cosmai’s address, the automaker is on top of its game, with a customer loyalty rate of 56.3 percent and an 8.7-percent sales jump over the past year. In addition, Cosmai predicted that 2006 will be the first year that the automaker tops 500,000 U.S. sales. Hyundai is in the middle of an expansion effort in which seven new products are being introduced over 24 months. Cosmai also said that soon, fully half of the automaker’s vehicles sold in America will be built in America. —Bengt Halvorson
Santa Fe Goes Crossover, Aims Upmarket
Hyundai took the wraps off the long-anticipated new Santa Fe
sport-utility at Detroit
. The new 2007 Santa Fe
is seven inches longer than its predecessor and considerably sleeker. It offers three rows of seating (Hyundai’s Cosmai said that 40 percent of crossover buyers look for it), and there will be a choice of two more powerful V-6 engines for 2007 — a 180-hp 2.7-liter “Mu” and a 230-hp 3.3-liter “Lambda.” The Santa Fe
will offer an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system, but there will be a new 50/50 front/rear “lockable” torque split feature. Stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution, anti-whiplash head restraints, and side-curtain airbags will all be standard. Convenience features available will include dual-zone climate control, a wiper de-icing system, and heated mirrors.
While the current Santa Fe is more truck than crossover, the automaker moves right into the middle of the crossover market with the new model. In developing the new vehicle, Hyundai worked closely with crossover buyers — benchmarking the Lexus RX, Acura MDX, and Volvo XC90 — to see what they looked for in such a vehicle. While previous industry information had the new Santa Fe built entirely on the new Sonata’s underpinnings, Hyundai says that the new crossover is built on a separate, dedicated crossover vehicle chassis. The Santa Fe will be built, along with the Sonata, at Hyundai’s new Montgomery, Ala., plant. —Bengt Halvorson
Talus More About Hyundai’s Future
Hyundai also revealed its latest concept, called the HDC9 Talus and the newest of its HCD-series of show cars. Described as “taking the sports car into the luxury arena,” the Talus has a rakish, swoopy GT sport coupe shape that also rides with more ground clearance than a typical sport coupe. Deep-dish 22-inch polished aluminum wheels seem to accent the car’s shape and exaggerate the ground clearance at the same time. The effect is an attractive car overall—though one that can look like an civilized Aston at some angles and a buff AMC Eagle from another.
Designed at the Hyundai Design Center in Irvine, Calif., the Talus is a generous 184 inches long, rides on a rear-wheel-drive platform with all-wheel-drive capability, and carries an “extremely powerful” 4.6-liter V-8 underhood, mated to a six-speed automatic—a powertrain combination that’s already in the works for an upcoming premium sedan from the automaker.
Eric Stoddard, the car’s chief designer, said that one of the primary ideas behind the concept was to “take away some of the compromises that sports cars have.” The interior is uncommonly roomy for a sport coupe, with a raked forward center stack that edges back as a center console. There’s also blue LED lighting throughout the interior. DVD-player screens for back-seat occupants are built into the back of the front-seat headrests, and rear passengers also get secondary audio controls. The Talus also boasts night vision and adaptive cruise control for the driver, as well as in-car wireless Internet access. Besides the requisite smaller, rear-hinged back doors, the cargo area also boasts a clamshell design that can open three different ways to help fit tight cargo or when there are passengers in the back seat.