Special Coverage

Chicago Auto Show

Ahead of their debuts at this week’s Chicago auto show, Hyundai Motor America provides details of the new Elantra Touring wagon and refreshed Sonata sedan.

The Elantra Touring wagon, sold overseas as the Hyundai i30 wagon, will go on sale in the U.S. by year’s end, Hyundai says.

At 125.5 cu.-ft. (3.6 cu.-m), the vehicle will offer the most interior volume of any 5-door in its class, Hyundai promises.

Although it is designed to haul people and cargo, Hyundai says the vehicle will have sporty touches as well, including a B&M racing sport shifter, tilt and telescoping steering wheel and 8-way adjustable driver’s seat.

XM Satellite Radio and USB/iPod auxiliary jacks are standard, a first for the compact 5-door segment, Hyundai says, noting steering-wheel controls can be used to access iPod song information, which is then displayed on the car’s head unit.

The Elantra Touring’s only available engine is the 2.0L 4-cyl. currently offered in the Elantra sedan. It is mated to either a 4-speed automatic with manual shift function or 5-speed manual gearbox.

Hyundai beefed up the Elantra sedan’s underpinnings for the Touring edition, with a 24% stiffer front spring and 39% stiffer rear spring. The rear stabilizer bar also is larger.

Turning diameter is 34.2 ft. (10.4 m), surpassing that of the Volkswagen Rabbit (35.8 ft. [10.9 m]) and Dodge Caliber (37.2 ft. [11.3 m]), Hyundai says.

Meanwhile, the auto maker devotes nearly as much ink to its Sonata sedan, refreshed for the ’09 model year and arriving at U.S. Hyundai dealers this month.

The Sonata’s base 2.4L 4-cyl. Theta engine sees a horsepower increase from 162 to 175, while torque is elevated from 164 lb.-ft. (222 Nm) to 168 lb.-ft. (228 Nm).

City fuel economy is bumped up from 21 mpg (11.2 L/100 km) to 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km), while highway mileage is increased from 31 mpg (7.6 L/100 km) with the manual transmission to 32 mpg (7.4 L/100 km). An automatic-equipped model gains 2 mpg (0.8 km/L) for a 32-mpg rating.

Hyundai’s Lambda V-6 also receives upgrades, with a horsepower increase from 234 to 249 and a rise in torque from 226 lb.-ft. (306 Nm) to 229 lb.-ft. (310 Nm).

City fuel economy stays the same at 19 mpg (12.4 L/100 km), while highway mileage increases 1 mpg (0.8 km/L) to 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km).

The 4-cyl. engine now has an available 5-speed automatic in place of the previously offered 4-speed, Hyundai says, noting the mill’s fuel economy now beats similar engines found in the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Hyundai has added a Variable Intake System on both powerplants for the ’09 model, which the auto maker says broadens the engines’ power curves and improves acceleration off-the-line.

John Krafick, Hyundai vice president-product development and strategic planning, told Ward’s last month much attention was paid to the refreshed Sonata’s interior, which he classifies as a weak point of the current-generation model.

A new center console and instrument panel are similar to those found in the large Veracruz cross/utility vehicle, with more premium materials used and a new interior color, cocoa brown, added to the existing camel and gray schemes.

Auxiliary jacks now are standard on all ’09 Sonatas, and a driver is able to operate an iPod via steering-wheel buttons.

The base GLS and high-end Limited editions receive upgrades to their suspension systems for a firmer ride, while the sport SE trim get its own dedicated suspension for an even stiffer feel, the auto maker says.

Hyundai slightly tweaked the Sonata’s exterior, adding chrome bodyside and bumper moldings that coordinate with the grille and door handles on Limited grades.

The grille, bumpers, lamps and wheels on all trims give the Sonata a "more elegant, dynamic and taut stance," Hyundai says.

A factory-installed navigation system finally finds it way into the Sonata as an available option.