Archive for June 2019

Ford Mustang Bullitt

A Vehicle Dedicated To Bullitt

Dark Highland Green is a must to give the car its character and connect it to the Movie. The only other colour option is black

It starts with a great sound of music: The Roaring of the V8 and the piping of the exhaust promise a great ride, American style.

The 5.0L, V8 engine is the same engine in GT, with an added 20 horsepower

This is the Bullitt, a Mustang bringing back the memories of Director Peter Yates’ film from 1968 with Steve McQueen shining like a star: “Bullitt”. The car-chasing scene in this movie on the streets of San Francisco is known as one of the best in the history of Hollywood. And without this scene, this movie would have vanished in our distant memories.

On its 50th anniversary, Ford brought back this legend on four wheels in dark green and with an “empty” front grill. The only badge is in the rear. It is a limited series production with a serial number on the dashboard. Our tester had the number K0667, even if Ford does not give any clue about the scale of production.

The Bullitt At A Glance

The original 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2 + 2 Fastback from the Movie “Bullitt”

The Bullitt is based on Mustang GT Premium. Ford added another 20 horsepower to the original GT engine to reach 480 hp while delivering the same torque. As you would expect, this car comes only with a manual transmission.

The optional ( $ 1,800) Recaro sports seats provide very good lateral support, but only manually adjustable in six-ways and not heated. But, to me, these seats are a bit narrow and less comfortable. Having said that I am, as a “somewhat” overweight old guy, not a typical driver for this type of car and my comments may be judgemental and biassed.

These seats make much sense if you test the limits of the car on the track.

Driving Impressions

You only see the Bullitt badge
To me, the Bullitt is not a car for the crowded Downtown Toronto, but it fills the frame beautifully

For two days, I drove the car on the highways around and in pothole-covered streets of Toronto. My final verdict is: Do not think that the Bullitt can be your only and everyday car. It is fun to drive after you painfully bow and find your position behind the steering wheel. The long doors, as they are in a sports coupe may be a barrier to tackle in tight parking spots. It may be torture to play with the shift sticks in the terrible Downtown Toronto traffic. And the potholes in hundreds of Toronto streets turn the experience very nasty.

Own it to take to the track or enjoy some twisty roads in the countryside for adventure at summer weekends.

Pricing

The Mustang GT Premium, which is the basis for the Bullitt, starts at $47,425, but in Bullitt trim the MSRP jumps to $57,525. For that, you get a 5.0-litre V8 that’s used in the regular GT, but with a twenty-horsepower bump up to 480 ponies. Other features expected to justify the price difference are; Brembo front brakes, auto-adjustable suspension, a limited-slip differential, active exhaust valves, and unique wheels with summer performance tires, plus a 12-inch customizable instrument cluster, premium audio, a navigation system, and blind-spot monitoring.  

Conclusion

A perfect choice of sports car for baby boomers who can remember Steve McQueen’s era and witnessed the birth of Pony Car in the 1960s. Or you are a millennial going off the beaten path and discover the qualities of an American sports car instead of a higher image German or Japanese name.

Following our comprehensive test with the Mustang GT, as you can read in the link below:

http://www.autoandroad.com/2019/06/ford-mustang-gt-2/

Article and Pictures by Varol McKars

2019 BMW 740Le xDrive

Another Face Of The 7 Series

BMW 7 Series with in Long-wheelbase version is a car to be driven.

BMW 7 Series, for decades, is a member of an elite class of luxury executive sedans. This is a territory occupied mostly by Germans such as Mercedes S Class and Audi A8. Some non-German models like the Lexus LS play in the same league. In its sixth generation, this BMW offers the fine driving in style and in traditional sedan format.

The typically elegant and functional dashboard is more an evolution rather than a revolution over the previous generation

The current model, launched in 2016 sets a benchmark in lightweight in particular. BMW engineers extensively used carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the structure of the passenger cell. They reduced the weight while increasing the torsion strength and bending stiffness of the passenger cell.

Engine And Powertrain

Instead of an 8 or even 12 cylinder engine as usual in this class, the 740Le comes with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an electric motor. The powertrain is completed by an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The system delivers net 322 horsepower and 369 lb-ft, thus less than a conventional 7 Series.

The combination of gasoline and electric motors gives

One advantage of the plug-in hybrid version is the ability to travel up to 40 kilometers on electricity alone when fully charged. And we tested this range up to the limit reaching 34 km. This was mixed use at around 23 degrees and with a maximum of two people on board.

And on electric battery alone, the 740Le will attain a maximum speed of 140 km/h before requiring assistance from the gasoline engine.

Driving Impressions

Before we sit behind the steering wheel, Dan and I had a slight doubt about whether a 4-cylinder engine (even with an added e-motor) can be an option for BMW’s flagship sedan. Doubts disappeared as I hit the road. This big sedan accelerates smoothly and the transition from e-drive to gasoline kick-in is seamless. And in a country where the effective speed limit is 119 km/h, this “green car” can easily keep pace with others.

As per BMW’s statement, the vehicle has a highly sophisticated, precision-honed chassis technology combined with 50:50 weight distribution. While driving, you can feel a sharp response and ride comfort. The double-wishbone front suspension, five-link rear suspension, and Electric Power Steering are three main components of the ride quality.

For the first time, carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) combined with steel and aluminium was used in the bosy structure of the new BMW 7 SEries with a completely new production processes aaplied in this unique mixed-material construction. The use of high-tech CFRP and advanced production methods enhance the torsional stiffness of the passenger cell and and lower the centre of gravity. All these features contribute to increased ride quality and comfort.

We would say perfect if one factor hadn’t blurred this picture: The tires: Pirelli Zero low profile, run-flat tires (275/30R/21) with 19″ M Double Spoke Wheels look great and very sporty. But there is a different story when the tires a pothole on the road surface. You feel like your bones are shaken in the well-insulated cabin. Such an expensive car deserves a much smoother hit and these tires are responsible. We think that BMW must do something about it the solutions seems to replace low-profile tires altogether.

The Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake is an impressive example of Victorian Era British Luxury

I had two distinguished guests who experienced this comfort: Mr. Durmaz, a film produced and designer and Mr. Guldogan, film director, both from Turkey were our guests at the Ankara Library of Toronto for the showing of their documentary, “Şık Derviş” enjoyed the tide. I took them for a Niagara Itinerary from Toronto and they enjoyed the ride as front and rear seat passengers. Who wouldn’t love to be chauffeured in a car with extended wheelbase where backseat doubles as an office with fold out table, footrest and massaging function and you control everything via a dedicated Samsung tablet.

Mr. Durmaz, our guest from Turkey enjoyed the rear seats and was impressed
A dedicated Samsung tablet is placed for the comfort settings of the rear seats and “surroundings”

Our tester, which was equipped with Executive Lounge Tier 2 ($10,000) and Executive Package ($7,350) offers every imaginable luxury for a ride “in the sky”. Please see the spec sheet for a full list of options.

With Executive Lounge & Executive Package, the rear passengers enjoy arguably the highest possible comfort money can buy.

As we got back to Toronto after a long day and more 300 kilometers, our guests were happy and impressed with this driving experience.

Our average consumption in two days including Niagara was 9.2 liters. This is an impressive figure considering the size and weight of the car. Nevertheless, anybody who can afford a car with a base price of 118K, (our tester had an MSRP of $143,450), would not bother much about this consumption. However, this is testament that the high-tech hybrid system makes a difference.

Conclusion

This special BMW may be a good choice for executive class buyers, who value the luxury and prestige of the 7 Series while taking environmental concerns into account.

Conservative design with elegant details, like the well integrated exhausts

Article and Photos: Varol McKars & Dan Gunay

2019 Lincoln Nautilus 2.0T AWD Reserve

Lincoln’s bestselling model is, no surprise, an SUV

Ford’s premium brand Lincoln refreshed the MKX. Although the Navigator is probably the most well-known Lincoln, MKX has been the best seller of the brand. It was first introduced in the 2004 North American International Auto Show as a successor to the first gen Aviator.  It is the first Lincoln SUV which is in production since 2007. Second generation MKX went on sale first in 2016 and underwent mid-cycle revision this year.

Lincoln decided to phase out the “MK” model names, it adopted the Nautilus name in 2019. Although there is no radical change in terms of exterior and interior, it adopted front design from the Lincoln Continental. Rear design and taillights look similar compared to the previous year. Overall, exterior design looks great, especially refreshed front design along with the headlights and new grille used by other newer Lincoln models. The “Reserve” trim comes with LED headlights along with turbine style 21-inch wheels, and we think it makes the car look so much better than the base trim.

The floating middle console may be a reminder of former times as Ford used to own Volvo

Interior of the MKX/Nautilus isn’t changed that much in 2019. There are minor changes, but the main design elements stayed the same. Of course, vertical shift buttons for gear selection is the signature of Lincoln interior design. It takes a little bit time to get used to, but once you get used to it, you will love it. And it saves a lot of space in the middle console too. The interior with a combination of soft-touch plastics and real wood has high-quality craftsmanship. Reserve trim level comes with leather seats, with massage function.

The massaging function adds more comfort to the driving experience especially in long drives, but the design of front seats isn’t the best. The base part of the seat is narrow so it may not be good for overweight people. Luckily, base trim offers wider seats, but you must opt out of massage seat option. You need to visit your Lincoln dealer and see if it works for you before deciding. Not only that, but the center console also has a floating design, which looks amazing, but it takes a lot of space. We felt cramped while driving which may be a deal breaker for some people, as it is one of the most appealing features in the SUV market. Rear legroom is excellent and there is no problem when it comes to the trunk size at all.

The infotainment system still has some deficiencies. and a bigger screen would be good among other features

The refreshed Nautilus comes with the 4 cylinder 2.0L Ecoboost turbo engine as a base option, produces 245 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. This engine replaces the MKX’s 3.7 V6 engine, which was also used in many Ford vehicles. If you are willing to pay extra $3000, you can still choose V6, which is a 2.7L twin turbo Ecoboost that has 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with new eight speed automatic transmission and it works extremely smooth. Our tester has the 4-cylinder option, which is good on gas, and it also has start-stop feature. The acceleration and overall power are adequate for daily driving and as long as you stay within the speed limits, we think that you may not need the V6 engine, as the inline 4 turbocharged engine has plenty of torque in the mid-range and it also offers extremely silent and smooth driving experience with no turbo lag. All wheel drive system works pretty well, it is FWD biased system, but it works flawlessly on slippery surface. The tester also has an adaptive suspension system, we tried different driving modes, but it didn’t make a huge difference as there is always tons of body roll if you push it to its limits. Comfort driving mode is the way to go.

As expected from a luxury brand, Lincoln Nautilus is great when it comes to comfort. Sound isolation is at S-Class level, and it is full of features. Our tester has adaptive cruise, heated-cooled seats, infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, digital instrument cluster, adaptive suspension system, parking assistant, lane keep assist, front collision warning, 360-Degree camera, keyless entry, wireless charging pad, active noise control, blind spot monitoring and so on. We are surprised with the sound system and you should get that feature with the car. Revel Ultima Audio system has 19 speakers with 20-channel amplifier, and we think this is one of the best sound systems we ever tried so far. As always, we are not a fan of Ford’s infotainment system, it is not the worst, but it works slowly and the 360-degree camera belongs to 1990s, the resolution is not acceptable for a luxury SUV. Fortunately, they decided not to use same screen specs for the digital cluster, it works perfectly, and the screen resolution is great.

Lincoln MKX/Nautilus is one of the most successful SUVs in Ford-Lincoln’s SUV lineup and we think there is a reason for that. It has a lot of space, it is all wheel drive, luxurious, comfortable, and practical for families while offering everything in a premium packaging. It is the underdog alternative of premium luxury 2-row SUV class, as it has really strong competition. The refreshed MKX a.k.a. Nautilus starts at $48.950 CAD with the Select trim and goes all the way up to $54.050 CAD if you choose the Reserve trim. Since it is a luxury SUV, you should also add some optional features, so the total comes up to $65.000 level which is a bargain compared to its German rivals.

Things the Nautilus is good at

+ Comfort
+ Excellent premium sound system – but optional
+ Smooth and fuel-efficient engine

Things the Nautilus needs to improve

– Front legroom

– Infotainment system and screen resolution

Sharing the same platform with Ford Edge, Lincoln Nautilus has its own design language and identity after about ten years

Article by Dan Gunay, pictures by Varol McKars

2019 Ford Mustang GT

Better than ever

Unmistakebly Mustang, the Pony Car

The term “Pony-car” was very popular in the 1960s, which is still known by many people today. Ford Mustang was the creator of the Pony-car segment which was originally introduced in 1964. Ford Mustang was a pioneer which offered affordable, compact, good styling, and of course, good performance along with rear wheel drive. After the oil crisis, pony cars suffered from declining sales, as smaller and fuel-efficient cars started to get more popular until the beginning of 21st century.

Retro styled resurrection of the pony car segment started in 2005. Fifth gen Mustang was released, and eventually Dodge introduced the third gen Challenger and Chevrolet revived the fifth generation Camaro in 2010. Since then, it has been an evolution, rather than a revolution.

Current generation Ford Mustang was first available in 2015 and this is the first-generation Ford decided to use the independent rear suspension on a Mustang. This may not sound like an important change, it significantly increased handling capabilities of the current gen. In 2018, Ford redesigned the exterior and it looks modern, whereas it keeps its design elements from 1960s. It even looks more retro compared to the pre-facelift version. In our opinion, Mustang looks gorgeous like its rivals. It is hard to choose which one looks best in this segment.

The modern dashboard reveals its deep roots in the original Mustang

The interior also has some design features resembling 1960s, especially the steering wheel. The diameter of the wheel is definitely larger than usual for a sports car. There are some soft-touch materials used, but it is not that hard to find hard touch plastics especially on the door panels, something can be improved. Refreshed Ford Mustang now comes with a digital instrument cluster, which is a great feature and customizable for your needs. You see lots of information about the car, such as oil pressure, oil temperature, differential/transmission temperature, intake air temperature, G meter, lap timer, you name it. The tachometer can be changed independently or depending on the driving mode.

Speaking of driving mode, it has Normal, Sport, Track and Snow/Wet modes. Each driving mode adjusts the suspension, throttle response and the steering feel. Track mode disables the traction and stability control as well as it stiffens the suspension. You can also customize a mode for your driving needs. We personally used the steering and suspension in normal mode, and the exhaust in track mode. You read it right, you can adjust the exhaust sound by switching modes and there is a noticeable difference. I really don’t think people need aftermarket exhaust to get better sound, as it is readily available from the factory. If you opt for the Performance Package Level 2, it comes with the MagneRide magnetic suspension, and it is a well worth investment if you take it to track. Other extras come with the Performance Package are special 19” wheels along with Michelin Cup 2 track tires, Brembo brake calipers and larger rotors, unique front splitter and rear spoiler, larger radiator, strut tower brace, Torsen Limited Slip Differential, track-tuned springs and sway bar. Also, there are many advanced features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and so on. We are glad that performance-oriented cars can also keep up with the luxury cars in terms of tech and safety features.

Although technology-wise, everything is not perfect. We didn’t like is Ford’s infotainment system, it feels and looks outdated. This is something Ford needs to improve, as the other manufacturers have better infotainment systems available even in cheaper cars. It is leggy, low-resolution and works slowly. It would have been acceptable 3-4 years ago, but nowadays many manufacturers have not only faster and more user-friendly software but also so many features such as gesture control, Ford falls behind when it comes to the infotainment system. Rear-view camera resolution isn’t the greatest, too. At least, it comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The sound system is decent though, which is made by B&O. Overall, it is not the best, but not the worst either. Our tester comes with the Recaro sport seats as a part of Performance Package. However, you have to sacrifice the heated and power seats if you go with Recaro, it could be a deal breaker for some people.

Recaro sports seats are perfectly suited for a sports car like the Mustang GT

Current generation Ford Mustang comes with both coupe (or called “Fastback”) and cabriolet, as well as two different engines (except the GT350 model range) with a 10-speed automatic transmission and 6-speed manual transmission, so there are lots of combinations to choose. In regard to the engine, there is a 4-cylinder 2.3-liter turbocharged Ecoboost as a base engine, and GT model gets the big boy, which is a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 engine which produces 460 horsepower and 420 lb/ft of torque. Unfortunately, they ditched the V6 engine few years ago, now the base model gets the inline 4-cylinder engine.

The V8 engine sounds great and lots of torque, however, it likes to keep the revs up in the mid-high range. Although the torque is more than enough for daily driving through the whole rev range, if you like to get the most out of it, you should keep the revs over 5000 rpms. We personally really like the 5.0L V8, known as “Coyote” engine, which is a quite rev-happy and sounds great. Power is overkill for public roads, it can get you in trouble on the highway if you don’t check your tachometer frequently, as it is easily capable of reaching over the speed limits. Of course, you must deal with the fuel consumption when you have eight cylinders to feed, and to keep the revs high. You can easily see more than 16.0L / 100 km if you drive spiritedly. In our tests, we see average fuel consumption of 15.5L / 100 km which is a mixed driving of highway, city and some spirited driving. Our test car comes with 6-speed manual transmission, no matter how good the automatic transmission is, the manual is always more fun and more engaging.

Dan, our test driver was not fully satisfide with Ford’s infotainment system

Overall driving impressions about Ford Mustang GT is, it is hard to find a flaw as a sports car, considering its price. Unlike the previous generations, Mustang is now a corner carver and the grip level with 305/30/R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are insanely high. Magnetic suspension is a great addition which surprisingly provides comfy riding as well as great road feedback. It is not harsh when you hit a pothole, but there is absolutely no body roll when you are cornering. This is something that regular suspension setup wouldn’t be able to handle, as you must pick either stiff suspension to avoid body roll, or mushy suspension to get a comfortable ride.  Mustang GT’s MagneRide gives you best of both worlds.

If you treat the throttle pedal and steering like ON/OFF switch, the car wants to oversteer all the time, so it definitely requires some rear wheel driving experience or you have to be really easy with the throttle if you are not careful enough. The steering feel is not the greatest with extremely wide front tires, and a steering wheel with large diameter though, but still acceptable. The car is also extremely sensitive to road imperfections due to the wider front tires, it wants to dive in which requires a lot of steering input when driving normally. To be honest, it is a complete package if you are looking for an iconic fast car fun to drive, looks sporty, rides great, handles extremely well, with excellent brakes and can also be a track toy (with the optional Performance Package, indeed), look no further in this price range.

Mustang GT starts at $37.289 CAD but can go all the way up to $44.525 if you get the Premium package as of June 2019, which includes Aluminum foot pedals, ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled leather seats, chrome interior parts, selectable drive modes, power seats, and SYNC 3. In our opinion, if you are willing to get the Performance Package – either Level 1 or 2, you should skip the Premium package since you lose heated-cooled power seats. Level 2 PP makes the Mustang even a better track car while keeping it as street-legal with Michelin Cup 2 tires and MagneRide Suspension system. If you opt for the 10-speed automatic transmission, it is $1,500 CAD extra, but you cannot choose automatic with the Performance Pack Level 2.

Long story short, no car is perfect, and Ford Mustang is definitely not. It has come a long way compared to 10 years ago. However, the GT offers BMW M4 level of performance for the half price, which makes it a bargain sports car and it is still one of the best alternatives in Pony class.

You can also read our review about the Bullitt. Please click the link below:

Article and pictures by Dan Gunay

2019 Hyundai Elantra 2.0L A/T Ultimate

The Elantra has a beautiful, face-lifted design in its current generation, even if our tester Dan has some nostalgia for the earlier version

There is a reason why compact cars are really popular in Canada. It is affordable, easy and cheap to maintain and good on gas. Hyundai Elantra has been on the market for several years, and it is one of the best-selling compact cars in North America.

This is the sixth-gen Elantra, which was introduced in 2017, is now refreshed and it has significantly different design. In my subjective opinion, the pre-facelift design (2017 and 2018 MY) looks better. Nevertheless, the current gen Elantra maintains its simplicity and attractiveness. In the rear, the model name pops up in huge letters in the middle of the trunk, which looks to me less appealing.

Material and build quality inside is one of the best in its class. All controls are well placed and the infotainment screen is easy to navigate.

The interior is spared from almost any change. The dashboard and cabin have mostly soft touch plastics, and impressively good finishing making the Korean almost a segment leader. Our tester car had 8-inch infotainment system with navigation. The layout is simple and easy to navigate. The 8-inch screen only comes with the top trim we tested, whereas lover trims come with 7-inch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all versions.

Elantra is a strong contender especially offering more features than its competitors. The car comes with Leather and heated seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic climate, lane keep assists and adaptive cruise control. As we have seen in other models, Hyundai’s lane keep assist and adaptive cruise system work perfectly and glad to see these features offered in the compact sedan segment.

Engine / Drivetrain

Hyundai Elantra comes with naturally aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, which produces 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The engine is extremely smooth and sometimes hard to feel if it is on when idling. It is a great engine if you are looking for a car gets you from A to B. Otherwise it is boring. It is sad that Hyundai does not offer the turbocharged 1.6L engine in Elantra Sedan. The 2.0-liter engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which gets the job done. It shifts crisply and smoothly. During our test, our average consumption was 8 liters of regular, which is good in its segment.

Driving impressions

Elantra has a great ride quality, despite the torsion bar in the rear. Many manufacturers use twist-beam suspension to cut the costs, as Hyundai does with Elantra sedan. Their engineers tuned the suspension so well that it is hard to feel it during daily driving. If you push the vehicle to its limits when cornering, it clearly understeers, as you would expect from an entry-level compact sedan with a torsion bar in the rear. It is not a corner carver and the suspension is more comfort-oriented, which is normal for a car made for daily driving.

Lava-Orange, our tester’s colour costs 200 CAD as an option

It comes with three drive modes; Normal, Sport and Smart. Smart mode selects Normal, Sport or Eco mode depending on how it is driven. In Sport mode, it gives stiffer steering feeling, which is just a synthetic feel that you should keep it at Comfort mode all the time.

Overall, the “refreshed” Elantra is one of the best alternatives in the compact sedan segment. It has been on the market for a long time. The Ultimate trim offers “mid-size” features in a compact class.

Elantra has also has Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ rating, a passive safety standard only few cars can achieve in this segment.

MSRP starts at 17,100 CAD and goes up to 27.549 for the top version. Our test car was in Lava Orange color option, which costs 200 CAD extra. We really like that it offers great fuel economy without relying on a boring CVT transmission as many of its competitors prefer. With a price tag well south of 30K, it is reasonably priced and, in our opinion, offers more car for your money.

Most Elantra drivers will not bother for the minor “flaws” we mentioned above and will enjoy their vehicles. It is not a sports car, but a reliable daily driving machine.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T

When Hyundai introduced the first-generation Santa Fe in 2001, this was a milestone as the first SUV of the Korean brand and became a hit in North America. This was also a good move as the demand for SUV’s was going to grow exponentially in the following years.

In its 4th generation with the 2019 model year, The Santa Fe is a strong and mature contender in a hyper competitive yet growing SUV market.

Design

The new gen Santa Fe’s design has even a name: “sensuous sportiness” is “visible” across the lineup. An elegant, fluid form, that gives (in my humble opinion) the vehicle a somewhat “organic” appearance. Particularly the front side has an untraditional look, where the headlights are located separately -and lower- than the daytime running lights. Rear design and taillights look more conventional, thus in total a great-looking SUV. Cargo space is one of the most appealing advantages of SUVs, and Santa Fe does not disappoint with a cargo capacity from 1,016 to 2,019 liters, which is larger than most of its rivals. It is offered as a 5-seater only, but an extended 7-seater version it will be offered soon. No rush, since The Koreans already have a full-size 7-seater already in the portfolio: The Palisade.

Inside Santa Fee

A well-designed and built interior increases joy of driving
The infotainment screen is well placed and easy to read

The interior offers lots of high quality – soft touch materials. Hyundai has one of the best infotainment systems, with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Santa Fe comes with lots of features, such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Forward-collision alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Heated/Cooled seats – steering wheel, digital cluster, and GPS Navigation System. This Hyundai’s Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control work perfectly; as if well-prepared for autonomous driving especially on the highway. It is very smooth and accurate. Be aware, in Ontario (and most parts in the world) you are legally obliged to keep your hands on the steering wheel while you are driving, that’s why car reminds you to put your hands on the wheel after 15 seconds or it disables all driving assists. If they would’ve allowed drivers, I think Hyundai’s LKA and Adaptive Cruise system is capable of driving autonomously, at least on the highway.

Engine and Drivetrain

The 2.0L, GDI, turbo engine delivers good torque and you will never feel underpowered

Hyundai offers two different engines in Santa Fe. Base trim comes with naturally aspirated 2.4L four-cylinder engine which delivers 185 horsepower and 178 lb/ft of torque and available as FWD or AWD. Our tester comes with 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 235 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission which shifts quickly and efficiently. It takes 7.8 seconds to get 100 km/h with the turbocharged 2.0L engine. Although it is not the fastest in its class, it is enough for the daily driving. It has a lot of torque in the mid-range, which is great for city and highways.

Driving Impressions

A beautiful design is a crucial selling point today more than ever

The 8-speed automatic transmission built in-house is not perfect, but good. It can get pretty hot if you try off-roading, especially on loose surface. It shifts fast, and it is a great match with the turbocharged engine.

Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system works really well on pavement and slippery surfaces. However, you cannot disable the traction and electronic stability control completely, which causes some problems if you are willing to do lightweight off-roading. HTRAC system is a front-biased all-wheel-drive system, but you can change it and send it up to 50 percent of the power to the rear by changing the driving mode. When driving normally, the car pretty much gives power to the front axles only to get better fuel economy.

Speaking of fuel economy, you have to sacrifice a little bit, as you get more power with the turbocharger. Our test car consumed 13.5L per 100 km, which was a mixed driving in the city and highway. It is not a gas guzzler, but turbocharger plus heavy curb weight is not the best combination to save gas if you have heavy foot.

Conclusion

Santa Fe has a great ride quality with good handling characteristics. The suspension is comfortable, but not mushy. The steering feels nice and crisp, and it can be changed with different driving modes. The grip level is not as good as a sedan or compact car if you push it too hard when cornering, but potential buyers shouldn’t expect sports car level of handling anyway.  

The only part that we are not fully satisfied was the traction control system. The drivetrain and HTRAC system are really good, but their capabilities are severely restricted by the traction and stability control, which cannot be fully disabled and this is the reason why this car only belongs to the pavement or very lightweight off-road. If you don’t plan to take the Santa Fe off-road, then this SUV is for you.

North America is turning more and more to a SUV-Land

Overall, we really like driving the Santa Fe, as it offers great comfort, lots of features, good build quality, good power and acceptable fuel economy as a whole package. Potential buyers should skip the base 2.4L engine because they are going to regret not buying the turbocharged 2.0L engine, eventually. The Santa Fe starts from $28.999 and goes all the way up to $46.000.

Article and Photos by Varol McKars and Dan Gunay