John Krafcik, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America happily reported that "this is our best start ever. Some companies are reporting that this is their best start of a year since the great recession, but this is our strongest start E-V-E-R. We're happy with our sales, but boy if we could only get more."
Hyundai continues to struggle with production constraints which is one of the reason that Hyundai will be producing the Santa Fe long-wheel base in Korea, not the United States.
Krafcik makes sure to report retail sales, which are up 4.6 percent, with an average transaction price of $23,362, up 3.2 percent from a year ago. Hyundai has always reported low days-to-turn and they are still among the third lowest non-premium brands in the industry for days-to-turn. Subaru's days-to-turn are at 35 days, Kia's days on the lot is 36 days, Hyundai is 39 days while the industry average is 59 days.
Another way to look at it, Krafcik says, is "we're about a 5 percent market share and we've got only 3 percent of our inventory on the ground."
If the Santa Fe sport is any indication of how well the Santa Fe long-wheel base will do then Hyundai needs to figure out their production capacity issues. Santa Fe Sport was up 37 percent Sept-Feb 12 to Sept-Feb 13.
Krafcik describes the Santa Fe Sport as a post-family vehicle with over 70% of the buyers that purchase a Santa Fe Sport being over 50 years old and empty nesters.
The Santa Fe Sport, the two-row, five-seater CUV, has gone head-to-head with the Honda CRV, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Acura RDX, Ford Edge, Chevy Equinox, Toyota Venza, and Kia Sorento. Now it is time to replace the Hyundai Veracruz, the 3-row 6 or 7-seater with a new vehicle.
How does Hyundai break into the pre-family and family buyers? Krafcik says it's all about seating capacity, "we really haven't had any vehicle that can sit 6-7 people in any volume." The Hyundai Veracruz used to be the 3-row variant. Instead of keeping the Veracruz, Hyundai opted for a 3-row Santa Fe. The 3-row Santa Fe comes in two versions: the GLS with seating for seven and the upscale Limited that seats six with second-row captain's chairs. Both variants have two seats in the third row, so it's only the second row that changes.
Hyundai kept all three (Sport, GLS and Limited) variants the same from the
B-pillar froward. The Santa Fe GLS/Limited is made into a proper 7-passenger CUV by stretching the length 8.5 inches and the wheelbase 3.9 inches to create 38.6 more cu.ft. of passenger volume.
Mike O'Brien, Vice President, product planning, gave the specs on the Santa Fe. The long-wheel base has a 3.3-liter engine that is adapted from the Hyundai Tucson, only tuned differently. The direct injected V-6 promises 290 horsepower, 252-lb-ft of torque. You can choose between front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. The all-wheel drive will be a little heavier (4,173 lb) than the front-wheel drive (3,933 lb). O'Brien says that, while diesel is available in other countries, diesel is too expensive for the American market at this time.
Fuel Economy does matter in this category and the regular unleaded EPA City/Hwy/Combined are: 18/25/21 (FWD), 18/24/20 (AWD). As much as fuel economy matters so does Hyundai's 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, a warranty that is not being met by the competitors.
The GLS/Limited competitors are a fierce group, the Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer and the Nissan Pathfinder. The starting MSRP prices of $28,600/$33,350 are right inline with the competition, but make sure they have heated seats, reclining seats, hill start assist, seven airbags and the ability to tow 5,000 pounds.
Bluelink, Hyundai's version of On-Star in-car communication, is growing by leaps and lock-ins. 370,000 people have enrolled in Bluelink since Hyundai launched the service, with the most favorite feature being the remote start from your smart phone.
The Santa FE GLS/LTD comes in three different driving modes, normal, sport or comfort. If you want a sportier ride you can get the Mazda CX-9, a Nissan Pathfinder would give you a bit more room, but this long-wheel base Santa Fe is worth a look, and you can look at nine exterior colors and four interior colors.