Concept Cars

These nine concept cars shaped Hyundai's modern lineup

Hyundai, like every other automaker, uses concept cars to showcase what is next for their brand.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Concept cars give their audience a peek at what is to come from a brand, whether it's design, tech, materials, or powertrain innovation. They often push the boundaries between what is seen as allowable for today and what may be possible in the future. A trained eye can look past the glitz and glam to see what the true story of a concept car is.

Hyundai has presented a number of concepts in the last decade, all of which have shaped the automaker's current lineup. Scroll down to see them all.

2012 – i-oniq

Hyundai i-oniq concept car

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Ioniq just received a major refresh for the 2020 model year, three years after it debuted. But, it was at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show where the car got its first public nod.

There, Hyundai debuted the i-oniq concept, an electric sport hatchback with a range-extending petrol engine. Designed and developed at Hyundai's European R&D Center, it was the first car to feature the company's signature Cascading Grille.

The concept featured dynamic proportions that gave the car a functional shape rather than the looks of the Toyota Prius, which looks to be shaped by a wind tunnel rather than a vehicle sculptor.

2014 – Intrado

Hyundai Intrado Concept Car

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Mobility became a catchy word in the mid-2010s with Ford leading the way. The Intrado Concept, unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, showed that Hyundai was headed toward mobility solutions as well. In their words, the concept, "demonstrated Hyundai's belief that advanced vehicle technologies and intelligent design can combine to engage more effectively with the driver and passengers."

It was this concept that shaped the Hyundai Kona, which has gone on to win accolades and awards worldwide for its numerous features and right-sized design.

2015 - Santa Cruz

Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

It's coming! The Hyundai Santa Cruz was the belle of the ball in 2015, introducing a truck-like figure to the Hyundai concept lineup and giving brand enthusiasts something to dream about. Now, five years one, the model is nearly ready for production.

Spy photography of the Santa Cruz, which Hyundai says is a utility vehicle rather than a truck, indicates that it takes design nods from both the Santa Cruz and the "Sensuous Sportiness" aesthetic with triangle-shaped designs on the doors and a nose heavily influenced by the Palisade.

2016 – RN30

Hyundai RN30 concept car

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

With the RN30, a nod was given to the notion that Hyundai's future was about to get going - quickly. Revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the concept was race-inspired and based on the i30 (in the U.S. it's the Elantra GT), a collaborative effort between Hyundai Motorsport, Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center, and Hyundai Motor's Performance Development and High Performance Vehicle Division.

The model was seen as a precursor to the i30 N and the i30 N TCR but also signaled that models like the Veloster N, Sonata N Line, and Elantra N Line, were possible.

2017 – FE Fuel Cell

Hyundai FE Fuel Cell Concept Car SUV

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

In the past 18 months, Hyundai has greatly stepped up its messaging regarding the benefits of fuel cell technology, but the company's efforts to show a hydrogen-powered future extend back even further. The FE Fuel Cell Concept was shown at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, reconfirming Hyundai's commitment to the powertrain technology.

The Hyundai Nexo was unveiled a few months after the concept and now Hyundai is saying that future hydrogen-powered models are on their way, including a Genesis SUV.

2018 – Le Fil Rouge

Hyundai Le Fil Rouge concept car

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

At the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Hyundai gave a nod to its past while hinting at the future with the Le Fil Rouge concept. The model's design was influenced by the 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept and showed off a new era of design, which we know today as "Sensuous Sportiness".

This design aesthetic was first fully realized on the redesigned 2020 Hyundai Sonata and has recently been translated to the 2021 Hyundai Elantra.

2019 – "45"

Hyundai 45 concept car suv

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Like Le Fil Rouge, the 45 concept was a modern interpretation of the Hyundai Pony Concept, only this time it was focused on powertrain technology.

Hyundai says that the car's diamond silhouette foreshadows the design direction of future electric vehicles the company will produce while holding fast to the "Sensuous Sportiness" design identity.

2019 – Vision T

Hyundai Vision T concept car suv

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

In late 2019, Hyundai committed to adding 13 alternatively fueled products by 2022 including six sedans and seven SUVs. The Vision T Plug-in Hybrid SUV Concept gave a hint at things to come, possibly in the next-generation Tucson.

2020 – Prophecy

Prophecy Hyundai concept car

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Gone are the harsh edges of the 45, replaced in this EV concept by the bulbous bodied Prophecy concept. The model missed its scheduled debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show due to the coronavirus outbreak but Hyundai went ahead and revealed images of it for the world to see.

Hyundai says that the car's design gives a nod to the large models of the 1920s and 30s but brings forward digital technology of today.

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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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