Such a Tease

Hyundai teases refreshed Santa Fe with hybrid and plug-in powertrains

Hyundai has shown off a refresh of the Santa Fe SUV, which includes two new powertrain options.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

Hyundai has given the world its first glimpse of a new Santa Fe. With the release of a new teaser photo, the Korean automaker has announced that hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variants of the SUV are on their way, as well as a host of interior updates.

The image reveals as slightly bolder Santa Fe, with its daytime running lights and grille combining at the front of the car. The new design incorporates a "T" shape, making Hyundai the second automaker to employ such a design in modern autos. Volvo has had a sideways "T" for its headlights since the current XC90 generation debuted, calling it "Thor's hammer". There will, naturally, be comparisons to the Tesla logo.

Hyundai Vision T concept car suv The Hyundai Vision T concept SUV debuted at the LA Auto Show in November. Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The move to debut a hybrid and PHEV version of the Santa Fe comes as no surprise. Hyundai has promised that they will reveals 13 hybrids, six PHEVs, 23 electric vehicles (EVs), and two fuel cell vehicles by mid-decade.

In the U.S., the mode is sold with either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (185 horsepower) or a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (235 horsepower). Both engines come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The European version of the model currently only is available with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel power plant, with a manual or automatic transmission.

Front-wheel drive is standard in the U.S. with all-wheel drive available. European models only are available with 4x4.

U.S. buyers can currently choose from three plug-in models in the Hyundai lineup, the Kona Plug-In, Sonata Plug-In and the Ioniq Plug-In. Those models are also available as hybrids, as is the 2021 Hyundai Elantra.

At the LA Auto Show last November, Hyundai unveiled a concept SUV that championed eco-conscious lifestyle choices, including electric power. Though it's thought that the model serves as a study for the next-generation Tucson, it's likely that we'll see some parallels between the Santa Fe hybrid and PHEV, and the forthcoming new Tucson. Hyundai frequently reveals concepts that give hints at new model news.

It's also quite likely that the Hyundai Santa Cruz utility truck will be born as a hybrid later this year.

The new Santa Fe will be available in Europe starting September 2020. No word yet on when, or if, it makes its way to U.S. dealerships.

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Frightening security

Boston Dynamics' robot to patrol Kia factory

The robot is being tested as a security patrol unit.

Hyundai

Breaking into an auto manufacturing facility was already a very bad idea, but new security tech being tested by Hyundai Motor Group makes it downright terrifying as well. In addition to cameras, sensors, and armed security guards, would-be burglars at a Kia plant in South Korea now have to face off with a semi-autonomous robot dog.

The Boston Dynamics quadruped robot, named Spot, is being tested as a safer and more effective way of providing security patrols to the plant. The dog is one of several robots designed and tested by the firm, which has long terrified the internet with its physically capable electronic beings.

Boston Dynamics Spot Robot The robot uses various sensors to detect danger and intruders.Hyundai

If you haven't seen it, the Boston Dynamics robot dog is frightening enough on its own, so it's an excellent choice to provide factory security. The robot uses an integrated thermal camera and 3D LiDAR to detect people around it, and can monitor high-temperature situations and fire hazards. It can be controlled remotely through a secure webpage, which allows personnel to see what's going on in the factory without putting themselves in danger.

The robot is capable of navigating tight spaces and can identify issues not visible to the human eye. It's also able to semi-autonomously navigate its environment, and has been developed with task management and deep learning-based vision technology. Boston Dynamics says that its tech can be expanded to other types of robot platforms.



The robot dog is currently in the pilot stage at Kia's plant in South Korea. It will be used to support late-night security patrols and increase safety for workers. Hyundai Motor Group will assess the robot's effectiveness and suitability for the job before expanding its use in other industrial sites.

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Buying guide

How to buy a modified car: Three tips

This is a clean modified truck, but they don't all end up this way.

Bring a Trailer

Modified cars are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they're incredibly well built and better than the original, but too many times they're only partially finished or end up being rushed as their owners get late-project anxiety. Whatever the case, buying a modified car can be a stressful process if you haven't done your homework ahead of time. The good news is that you can get a good deal on a reasonably well sorted project or modified car, but you'll need to be careful. Looking at used Lexus LXs earlier today, it became clear that there are as many modified vehicles for sale as there are clean examples.

This LX got me thinking about the breakdown between buying a rig and building one. The modifications made by this Lexus' seller are almost exactly what I would do if I were building a light overlanding rig. What could go wrong? I'm still on the fence about the Lexus, but the three topics below will help you make the right decision on buying a modified car.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Even if the mods are well done, you'll want to have the vehicle inspected before you buy.Bring a Trailer

Understand your personal taste

I mentioned the LX470 and how the owner's updates were pretty close to what I'd do with the truck. That's an exception to the rule, because 90 percent of the time I walking away from a sales listing because of modifications, rather than the other way around. If you're hoping to find a tastefully modified car that matches your exact tastes, you could be waiting a while. If you're hoping to sell a modified car, the same is true in reverse. Finding a buyer for your extremely personalized project car may not be the easiest thing you've ever done.

2004 Lexus LX 470 It's a good idea to seek out vehicles in solid shape, regardless of mods.Bring a Trailer

Be aware of condition and quality

This Lexus looks to be well maintained and in good shape. It also doesn't hurt that the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles built by one of the world's most quality-conscious automakers. Even so, it's hard to know what you're getting with this, or any other, modified vehicle. There's a little rust in this image, but the lift kit, wheels, and bumper mods all look good. However, even if the truck looked brand-new, you'd want to get a pre-purchase inspection. An independent mechanic can tell you if there are potential issues that are unrelated to mods, and you'll want to be sure that any modifications are installed properly.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Some mods are more useful than others.Bring a Trailer

Keep an eye on the price

Most people are reasonable when it comes to selling their modified cars, but there are hundreds of "I know what I got" memes on the internet for a reason. Some sellers want to recover every penny of the money they spent customizing their cars. They're convinced that the mods drastically increased the car's value and can't understand why the customized car isn't as attractive to you as it is to them. Tread lightly and be careful not to insult the owner, but it's your job to work toward a reasonable, fair price.

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