Self-Driving

Hyundai outlines its autonomous vehicle plans for the next decade and beyond

Hyundai is peeling back the curtain on its autonomous vehicle plans.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

In a statement Monday as part of a New Year's message to shareholders, employees, and the public, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung stressed the transformation of the company as mobility needs evolve, specifically singling out autonomous technologies as part of that push. The Group is the parent company of Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia.

"We will realize the safest and most innovative mobility technology in the world by strengthening our autonomous driving, connectivity and software capabilities. We will continue to invest in new growth fields such as urban air mobility and robotics to expand the realm of new mobility in the near future," said Chung.

Hyundai 'Elevate' Walking Car ConceptHyundai's New Horizon Studios recently released renderings that explore the possibilities of autonomous mobility including this 'Elevate' Walking Car Concept. Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The Group recently made news by agreeing to acquire a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics.

The company has committed to applying Level 3 autonomous driving technology to mass production models in 2022. Further, they will push for commercialization projects for autonomous driving technologies such as robotaxi services in 2023.

There are six levels of autonomous driving according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The base Level 0 technology provides warnings and momentary assistance like automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and lane departure warning. Levels 3, 4, and 5 offer advanced levels of autonomy that don't require the driver to be driving all the time. This level requires drivers to drive when a Level 3 features requests it of them.

According to the Pegasus project, a cooperative working to establish the standards of autonomous driving, a Level 3 system, "recognizes its limits but is not able to establish a risk-minimal state from every initial situation. Thus, the system requests the driver to take back the driving task with an sufficient time margin. The automated vehicle handles emergency situations successfully if a human driver could handle the situation.

Late last year, Honda made news when it said that its forthcoming Honda Legend will feature Level 3 autonomous technology, becoming the first in the world to do so. Honda's parent company says that the car will be launched before the end of the current fiscal year (March 31, 2021) and feature Traffic Jam Pilot as its hallmark technology.

Motional Inc., the joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, has plans to conduct Level 4 driverless tests on public roads in Nevada. In 2023, the company will work with Lyft to launch autonomous driving commercialization services in "major U.S. regions". Presumably this means cities that have been traditional autonomous vehicle testing zones like Phoenix, San Francisco, and metro Atlanta.

Hyundai Motor Group also intends to focus on next-generation software that interacts with vehicle driving assistance, map-linked navigation, and connected infotainment systems. This is a natural next step, and something that other automakers are also doing.

Additionally, the Group's Unmanned Aircraft System, a joint venture with Uber,is on track for a 2026 debut for hybrid powertrain models while a fully electrified model is due in 2028 for use in urban areas. The companies see regional air mobility products connecting adjacent cities in the 2030s.

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The Hyundai Palisade got a mild refresh for 2023.

Hyundai

Earlier this year, Hyundai announced changes to the Palisade for 2023. The list includes a new front fascia, an updated grille with new headlights and daytime running lights, a 12-inch touchscreen with navigation, and more. A new XRT trim joined the lineup as well, bringing brawny off-road styling and dar exterior trim. Today, Hyundai announced pricing for the SUV, which starts at a little more than $32,000.

2023 Hyundai PalisadeA new XRT trim adds rugged styling. Hyundai

The Palisade's powertrain carries over from 2022, which includes a 3.8-liter V6 that makes 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. Inside, the SUV got several new and updated technology features, including a more powerful wireless device charging pad, an updated digital key system, and a larger infotainment display.

As Hyundai's flagship SUV, the Palisade edges on luxury territory, with plush leather upholstery and a serene cabin that offers excellent noise cancellation and comfort. Captain's chairs and seven-passenger seating are available, but a second-row bench comes standard and brings eight-passenger capacity to the SUV.

Muscular SUVs are more popular than ever before, so Hyundai gave the posh Palisade an outdoorsy treatment with its XRT trim. The new Palisade XRT builds on the SEL trim with 20-inch wheels, a more rugged bumper and lower body cladding, a sunroof, and leatherette upholstery. To be clear, XRT is an appearance package that does not improve off-road capability to a large degree.

2023 Hyundai PalisadeTop trims border on the quality and design of some luxury brands. Hyundai

Standard safety equipment is generous, and includes forward collision warnings with avoidance, lane keep assist, lane following assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, driver attention warnings, high beam assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Pricing for the base Palisade SE starts at $36,245, which includes a $1,295 destination charge. The top Calligraphy AWD model starts at $52,095 after destination. All-wheel drive is available for all trims as an added-cost option.

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The N Line forms a midpoint between the standard Kona and the Kona N.

Hyundai

Hyundai has a lot going on, with new EVs hitting the market, but the brand has been on a surprising run with performance models lately. The Veloster N is an excellent, rowdy hot hatch, and the brand followed that act with the Kona N and Elantra N. Hyundai’s Kona N takes the hot hatch formula to the next level with an incredible powertrain and useful space, but it’s too much for many people. The mid-point is Hyundai’s N Line, which borrows styling cues from the hottest N variants but lacks the all-out grunt of those vehicles.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineThe N Line gets aggressive styling cues from its sportier N counterpart. Hyundai

The styling works for the Kona N Line, as it does with the Kona N, but the powertrains couldn’t be more different. Where the Kona N gets a 286-horsepower four-cylinder, the N Line comes with a milder turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 195 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which adds a layer of engagement not found in the continuously variable transmission that standard Kona models get.

That modest output lends the Kona N Line modest performance, with more noise generated than expected. In motion, the powertrain feels decently responsive, but it lacks the razor sharp nerves of steel that the Kona N brings. Shifting into sport mode changes the gauge cluster to a bright red and hastens the vehicle's responses, but again, it's important to temper expectations for a milder experience here.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineThe digital gauge cluster responds to drive mode changes. Hyundai

Styling is more aggressive than the standard SUV, with 18-inch wheels and mean-looking exhaust tips. The Kona’s front-end design is still busy and will still be polarizing, but the dark trim and sporty aero bodywork help the situation. The N Line’s all-black interior gets red stitching and accents that help break up the otherwise monotonous color scheme. The seats are supportive and comfortable, but could be deeper for better body-holding during spirited driving sessions. There’s plenty of room up front and a surprising amount of space in back, aided by the Kona’s large-ish rear door openings. Parents will find an easy time loading kids, and older children can ride in relative luxury with plenty of legroom.

A 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, which offers configurable colors and legible information. It’s paired with a standard 8-inch touchscreen, but a 102.5-inch screen with navigation is available. Hyundai’s excellent infotainment software runs flawlessly on both units, and offers an intuitive and straightforward way to interact with the vehicle. A Harman Kardon eight-speaker stereo also comes standard.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineRed accents liven what is otherwise a dark, monotone interior.Hyundai

The Kona N Line, while not as hot as the Kona N, offers a reasonable styling upgrade for people wanting a small SUV with sporty looks. Enthusiasts should look at the full-on N model for thrills, though, because the N Line should be viewed as more of an appearance package than a performance model.

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