Autoline After Hours Tonight with Sheila Ronis, Defense and Automotive Expert

Tonight we welcome Sheila Ronis, a defense and automotive expert who will discuss the role the car companies play in military matters. In particular we’ll ask why the Pentagon was staunchly against letting GM and Chrysler fold, and why the Pentagon believes that would have placed the United States at a strategic disadvantage. And, we’ll definitely be getting into the news of the week as Ford finally announces it will kill off the Mercury brand. Plus, has the BP oil disaster brought us to a petroleum tipping point in which we say goodbye to fossil fuels? Conversely, many are saying Carlos Ghosn is overly optimistic in his prediction that Nissan will sell 500,000 EVs by the end of 2012. John McElroy’s in studio with Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, and David Welch from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

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Reviewed: 2011 Hyundai Sonata

April 15th is usual a day that most American’s look on with dread.  I believe the number is something like 65% of people in the US wait till the last day they can, to file their income taxes.

Rather than have any worries about that, we had filed ours over a month before the date, we were invited out to Hyundai’s Technical Center in Ypsilanti Michigan for a briefing on the new 2011 Sonata, and then a chance to drive the car over a 70 mile loop.

The big news for the all new Sonata, other than the killer styling of the car, was that there would be no V6 option for the it.  Because of this decision the engineers were able to make some basic changes to the architecture of the frame, and save a significant amount of weight without compromising the structure. 

In previous generations of Sonata’s less than 20% of the cars were ordered with V6’s, yet the car had to be designed with the V6 in mind for structure and crash standards.  By making the decision to go with a four cylinder only philosophy, Hyundai were able to bring the car in at 3199lbs, which is a couple hundred pounds less than some of their competition.  With a 198 horsepower engine that gives a power to weight ratio of 16.2 pounds per horsepower, which the best in class for four cylinders in a C segment car.

The “fluidic sculpture” design works really well on the Sonata.  In a segment where design is not the strongest attribute of any of the cars in the North American market, there are a few that are good, but nothing that is a George Foreman like haymaker, the Hyundai comes close to being that knockout. 

While the overall profile of the car is quite organic, there are character lines throughout, such as on the body side, the grill, and trim elements that carry seamlessly from nose to tail.  The “jewelry” in the headlights and taillights is something you normally associate with a car costing twice as much.

On the inside the material quality is good.  In Limited trim the leather is quite nice, and the touch panel control with sat nav was nice.  If were to pick nits the screen could be a bit larger, but it never feels small.  With the GLS and SE trim models we also had a chance to sample, the cloth interior was nice, nicer than what we’ve sampled in the Ford Fusion, but, given how good the rest of the car is, you would have hoped it could be just a tick or two better.  It’s nice, don’t get us wrong, we just didn’t come away thinking, this is nice cloth, like say Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe we currently have in for review.

Transmission choices are a dual clutch automatic, what Hyundai calls the SHIFTRONIC (A6MF2), or a 6 speed manual for the 37 people that will order a manual in the car.  We aren’t joking about that number of people ordering manuals.  At our briefing, 37 was the number of orders, year to date, for manuals in the Sonata.  The manual will be in the order of 1-2% of all Sonata’s sold in the US.

On the road the 2.4l inline four has adequate power.  We say adequate as enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the 276 horsepower turbo version coming later this year.  For 95% of the people who buy the Sonata the power is fine.  Being a four cylinder the horsepower and torque numbers are higher in the range than we like for every day driving, and probably higher than most American’s are used to as well.  Horsepower peaks at 6300 rpm and peak torque isn’t till 4250 RPM’s.  Mileage for the car is 22 city 35 highway for the automatic, we got around 32mpg in our spirited driving on some two lane backroads west of Ann Arbor.

The overall driving dynamics for the car are solid.  It’s no sports car, and even in the sport “SE” trim, which has a 10% stiffer ride calibration, it’s not going to wow you.  But, for a family car it does have some connective feel to the road, and that’s not often found in this segment.

Hyundai continue to provide great value for money across their range.  With a starting price of $19,915 including freight charges for the GLS with the manual and $21,915 with the automatic, to a loaded up Limited with sat nav, premium audio and XM for $28,115, it’s no wonder that Hyundai’s market share has jumped to almost 4.5%, with a forward trajectory that looks like a hockey stick.

Given the malaise going on at Toyota and Honda these days, it’s little wonder that Hyundai has “the big MO” (momentum) carrying it forward.  If they continue to execute as they have, try to grow to fast, or become to arrogant, then their future will continue to be very bright.

RoundAboutShow #36 The “Psy-Car-Logy” Episode

“Why don’t you pull into my garage and tell me how that makes you feel?”  Join the RoundAbout crew this week for another wild, wacky and mildly off-putting episode of the most God-damn stupendous podcast ever.  This week we delve into the frightening inner workings of the human mind with the “Psy-Car-Logy” episode.  On the docket: those crazy Dutch make bizarre concessions to panic-stricken people taking their driving test.  “Isn’t that weird?”  A thief admits that stealing cars is a better high than meth.  Who knew?  And do airbags cause more harm than good?  All that and more, plus Volvo has an embarrassing mishap during a safety demonstration which we discuss in our “Stupid Car Trick” segment.  So skip your meds, restrain yourself or just do what the voices in your head have been whispering all along, listen to this week’s installment of RoundAbout, the “Psy-Car-Logy” episode, but don’t take my word for it.

Play RoundAbout Episode 36


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Featuring: Eric Trytko, Jeffrey Ross, Michelle Naranjo, Craig Cole and Ben Sanders

RoundAbout records LIVE on Fridays at 6PM ET/3PM PT. Visit RoundAboutShow.com and click Watch Live to watch our webcast and look in on all the antics.

Autoline After Hours Tonight with Jason Vines

Tonight it’s the man, the legend: Jason Vines, our old AAH friend and colleague. Mr. Vines joins the panel to discuss the news of the week including GM’s big marketing switcheroo back to the formally-ousted Campbell-Ewald. Also, Bob Lutz gets his send-off from GM as he finally retires and digs in to his tell-all book about GM. Plus, is the U.S. in danger of losing its Biofuel industry? The loss of a tax credit could mean the beginning of the end for ethanol in America. John McElroy‘s in studio with Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, and David Welch from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

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Autoline After Hours Tonight with Author Mark Ragsdale

Tonight we welcome the author of the book “Car Wreck,” Mark Ragsdale, a former dealership owner and operator that says the U.S. auto industry took the American public for a ride. And, according to Ragsdale, you should never buy a new car again unless you can pay cash; he’ll tell us why. And of course, we’ll get into the news of the week. John McElroy’s in studio with Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, and David Welch from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

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Steve Parish Laps The North West 200

This weekend is a return of one of the great races in the “Real Roads Racing” of of the Irish National Series, the North West 200.  Weather is often a factor for the race on this 9 mile long course where speeds will top over 200 MPH.

Former Grand Prix racer and now BBC commentator Steve Parish takes a lap around the circuit with both an onboard camera and overhead helocopter shots to show you around.

RoundAboutShow #34 The “Love” Episode

Pucker up for this week’s installment of RoundAbout, the “Love” episode.  Join the usual suspects PLUS Colin Bird of the Auto Bird Blog as they square off for a lively, and in this case, long-winded discussion about an array of automotive topics and news tidbits.  What are some of the signs the honeymoon is over with your new vehicle?  Listen in to find out.  Saudi Arabia loosens certain restrictions on men and women traveling together in the same car.  How salacious!  Going against the grain, one supplier company believes that manual transmissions will be making a comeback.  The ultimate automotive fanboy gets an unbelievably elaborate headstone modeled after an ultimate driving machine when he pulls into the big parking lot in the sky.  All that and more, plus we talk about the Cadillac CTS-V In The Garage and we look for a correlation between how fast men drive and the size of their exhaust pipes, if you catch my drift, with another edition of Psy-Car-logy.  Get some protection!  It’s time for RoundAbout # 34, the “Love” episode. 

Play RoundAbout Episode 34


Download MP3 | iTunes | Zune | RSS

Featuring: Colin Bird, Jeffrey Ross, Michelle Naranjo, Zach Bowman, Eric Trytko, Craig Cole and Ben Sanders

RoundAbout records LIVE on Fridays at 6PM ET/3PM PT. Visit RoundAboutShow.com and click Watch Live to watch our webcast and look in on all the antics.

Autoline After Hours Tonight with Chantel Lenard, Ford

Tonight we welcome Chantel Lenard, Ford’s Group Marketing Manager for Global Small and Midsize Cars. We’ll be asking her about the challenges ahead as the Ford Fiesta launches this summer. For instance, what will the company be doing to train its dealers, and how can it prevent the Focus from cannibalizing Fiesta sales? Also, how do cars have to be marketed differently around the globe? Of course we’ll also get into the news of the week including the ousting of Susan Docherty as GM’s head of marketing. Plus, we’ll find out what Mr. De Lorenzo thinks about Chevy’s new tagline. And, our analysis of April sales indicates Chrysler could be on the way back up, but not everyone agrees. John McElroy‘s in studio with Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, as well as David Welch from BusinessWeek and Bloomberg News.

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