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Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on November 30, 2018 by itnerd

So I’ve come to the end of my week long review of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and I think Hyundai has a serious competitor in this space that stands out in more ways than just looks. It drives well, has a very good interior and a fair amount of tech in it.

It’s main competitors are going to be the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, maybe the Kia Sorrento as that comes in five and seven passenger versions, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the upcoming Honda Passport. But I think that the Santa Fe which is already one of the leaders in this segment is going to keep the status quo, if not increase their share of this segment.

My final fuel economy was 11.7 L/100KM’s which is pretty good considering that I drove in a mix of city roads and highways in rush hour. The majority of that driving was city driving in rush hour or stop and go traffic. Given those conditions, I’m fine with this number.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe starts at $28,999 CDN before freight, taxes, etc. The 2.0T Ultimate AWD trim level that I drove this week goes for $44,999 CDN with a number of trim levels in between. Hyundai really has a vehicle in this mid size SUV space where if you look around you will see a lot of Santa Fe’s on the road. I expect that continue based on my week with this 2019 model.


Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on November 29, 2018 by itnerd

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a SUV packed with healthy amount of technology in it. Let’s start with the safety aspects of the vehicle:

  • You get autonomous emergency braking which will bring the Santa Fe to a stop if it detects an object in front of it, and you take no action to avoid said object.
  • Blind spot monitoring is included. Not only does it warn you when you are about to do an ill advised lane change, but it also alerts you based on distance and relative speed.
  • Rear cross traffic alerts as well as rear parking sensors present to make either parking or reversing out of a parking space easier.
  • One real highlight is that lane departure warning and assist functionality is included. It is one of the better systems that I have tested lately and I say that because any steering corrections that it makes are gentle and don’t freak you out. Plus if it has to make an audible warning, it does so in a way that doesn’t freak out you or your passengers.
  • There’s an attention assist feature which monitors your driving and will suggest that you should take a break if it thinks you are getting tired.
  • You get automatic headlights so that you never forget to turn the headlights on or off. You also get automatic windshield wipers as well.

Now, the cool tech starts with this:


You get a heads up display that is in color and displays speed, speed limits, blind spots info, and a host of other info that allows you to better focus on driving.

Another piece of cool tech is the cruise control. It’s radar based which allows the car to slow down and speed up based on what the car in front of you is doing. On top of that, it has the ability to deal with stop and go traffic by itself. I will note that in stop and go conditions if the car comes to a complete stop for a few seconds, you have to get it going  again by tapping the accelerator.

Next up is this:


There’s a top view 360 degree camera that is very very good. Everything from the various cameras that feed images into this system is very well stitched together and it made me easy to park in any situation. The only catch is that cameras are exposed which means that dirt or water can obscure the view as I discovered when it rained late in my test of the Santa Fe. For bonus points, there’s a button on the center console that allows you to activate this view at any time.

A ground breaking piece of tech is that the Santa Fe has the ability to detect cyclists who are rolling up to you when you are parked and are about to exit the car. In short, the Santa Fe will alert you if you try to open a door and a cyclist is approaching. This is a feature that really matters to me because about 20 years ago I was hit by a door that was opened from a parked car while I was riding my bike, which resulted in a trip to the hospital and three weeks to recover from the accident. I tested this in downtown Toronto and it worked flawlessly. Actually it worked better than I expected as it also detected a jogger that decided to run up on the drivers side of the Santa Fe for reasons that I don’t fully understand. Quite simply, this is tech that should be in every single car.

One final piece of tech that I want to speak to:


You get an alert if someone is in the back seat of the Santa Fe. That will hopefully keep you from leaving a child in the back seat on a hot day. That’s very cool. But it doesn’t stop there. If you have Hyundai BlueLink, which this vehicle has, it will generate an alert on your smartphone as well as honk the horns if it continues to detect something in the back seats. That’s pretty clever.

Other tech includes:

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. It gets served up on an 8″ screen which is extremely sharp, has great contrast and is viewable in all lighting conditions. The infotainment system user interface was easy to navigate and didn’t display any lag whatsoever. That was completely in line with other Hyundai products that I’ve tried recently.
  • There’s a 12 speaker Infinity audio system that sounds good as I had no complaints when I was listening to radio or tunes from my iPhone. You can serve up AM,FM, audio from your phone via USB (which will also charge your phone) or Bluetooth, or SirusXM Radio. It was very good at playing my current audio torture playlist which needs updating.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my closing thoughts on the Hyundai Santa Fe. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

Review: [Fuse]Chicken Gravity Lift Charging Stand

Posted in Products with tags on November 28, 2018 by itnerd

With phones like the iPhone XS and the Samsung Galaxy S9 which support wireless charging, having a good quality wireless charger is important. What does “good quality” mean when it comes to a wireless charger? To me it means the following:

  • Wireless charging that is either QI compatible or QI certified.
  • Multiple charging coils.
  • Excellent build quality.

Well, the folks at [Fuse]Chicken , which is one of the more interesting company names that I have come across lately, sent me this which they claim ticks all the boxes.


Meet the [Fuse]Chicken Gravity Stand. It’s made of high strength aluminum which feels very solid. The black pad is made of leather that according to the company is from a sustainable source. It feels very classy. The charger has a USB connection which means that if you want to plug it into a wall, you’ll need to supply your own USB to AC charger as one doesn’t come in the box. I tested this with my iPhone XS and it worked flawlessly in any orientation. Meaning that you won’t place your phone in the charger and it will charge 100% of the time. Now while I am a member of Team iPhone, I sought out a friend who as a member of Team Android and owns a Samsung Galaxy S8 and found no issues charging that phone as well.

I also noted this:


I noted this blue light when you have your phone in the charger. It turns off when the phone is fully charged. The light is something that may annoy you if you have this in your bedroom if you are sensitive to light. For me it was a non-issue as I’m not sensitive to light. For my wife who is sensitive to any light whatsoever, it was a big deal while the light was on. Thus your mileage may vary on that front.

So let’s check the list that I posted earlier:

  • Wireless charging that is either QI compatible or QI certified. – It worked with my iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy S8. While it doesn’t say that it is QI certified, it’s certainly compatible.
  • Multiple charging coils. – I can charge a phone in any orientation. So this is true.
  • Excellent build quality. – It’s not only built well it looks classy.

So this charging stand is a total win. Expect to pony up $59.95 USD for one.

UPDATE: I got this Tweet shortly after I posted the review:

It does not seem to support fast charging. I tested it by charging my iPhone XS for an hour and got a 40% battery life increase. So that doesn’t seem like fast charging to me. To confirm this I gave my friend with the Galaxy S8 a quick call and he noted it didn’t charge at a rate that would be consistent with fast charging but didn’t have any hard and fast figures to share with me.

UPDATE #2: [Fuse]Chicken reached out to me and told me that the coils are 10W which do support fast charge, but they’ve noticed there can be circumstances that can affect that with different device combinations.

Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on November 28, 2018 by itnerd

The interior of the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD has a very compelling interior that Hyundai mostly got right. To be clear, it’s a very, very good interior. But there are areas where Hyundai could have taken this from very, very good to perfect. Let me walk you through the interior.


Normally I start with the drivers seat. However this caught my eye. You get an extra window between the A pillar and the side mirror to improve your vision. And it does make a difference when driving.


The door has all the controls for the windows, mirrors, and on the top right there are the buttons for the custom seat settings.


The drivers seat is made of leather and is heated, vented, and extremely comfortable. You get all sort of customization including thigh extensions which will be welcomed by taller drivers such as yours truly. Once you dial it in, it is a great seat to spend your driving time in. One interesting trick is that if the car detects that the outside temperature is cold, it will turn on the seat warmer for you and leave it on for about five minutes so that you’re not sitting on cold leather. That’s a nice touch!


On the top left you see the buttons for the electronic overseers and the panel lighting. You can also see the pedals which are pretty plain and I think that Hyundai could have put some sport pedals in to make things a bit cooler.


The gauge cluster is impressive. The gauges on the left and right are real. However, everything else is a large and very customizable LCD screen that is bright and sharp.


The steering wheel is leather wrapped, heated and feels good in your hands. It also has controls for the infotainment system as well as the cruise control system.One interesting trick is that if the car detects that the outside temperature is cold, it will turn on the steering wheel heater for you and leave it on for about five minutes so that you’re not sitting on cold leather. That’s a nice touch!


You get a tablet style 8″ screen for the infotainment system and below that are the HVAC controls. I should also note that most of the top of the dash is hard plastic. But closer to the front seats there is soft touch material.


Below the HVAC controls is this cubby with a pair of USB ports. The one of the left is the one for the infotainment system. The right is simply for someone to charge a phone. An audio jack as well as a 12v outlet is present as well. There is also a QI compatible wireless charger that fit my iPhone XS with room to spare.


The shifter is leather wrapped, and below it, you get the parking brake as well as buttons that controls for various functions. You also get two very serviceable cupholders.


They passed the Starbucks Venti coffee test with ease.

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The arm rest which is topped with leather has a deep storage area that has a small tray inside it.


You get a useful glove box. My wife pointed out that it wasn’t lit while the one in our Tucson is lit. Thus she felt that Hyundai could have made this lit as well. I think that she might have a point here.


My wife really liked this shelf on the passenger’s side as you can drop small items in there. For example, my iPhone XS fit in their easily.


There is a massive dual panel sunroof that seriously adds style to the Santa Fe.


Plus for the back seat occupants, there are sunscreens for the windows.


Beneath the HVAC vents is a cubby big enough for a phone and a pair of USB ports for charging said phone.


If you don’t need to seat three people (Which when I tried that with three adults it was very tight. Two adults or three children would work though), you an use these handy cupholders.


The Santa Fe has a ton of space if you fold down the second row seats (which move forwards and backwards to create extra legroom by the way). One thing that I should note is that most of the interior is covered by nice white LED lighting. Except for the cargo area which is covered by yellow incandescent lighting. Ditto for the lights in the vanity mirrors. Hyundai might want to consider making all the lights LED to make the look more consistent and to ensure that the bulbs outlast the life of the car.


But with the seats up there’s a ton of space for my groceries.


To help to flip down the seats, there’s a pair a buttons in the back on the right hand side to allow that to happen easily. You do have to flip them up manually though. There’s also a 12V outlet back here as well.


I was able to flip down the “40” portion of the 60/40 seats to facilitate picking up our cross country skis from being prepped for the upcoming ski season.

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There’s also underfloor storage that did come in handy during the week that I had the Santa Fe.


There’s another storage area to the right as well.

Overall this is a nicely executed interior. I do think that Hyundai could have done some little things to take this from great to perfect. But I doubt that you’d have any problems spending time in this vehicle. The next part of this review will cover the technology in the vehicle. It has a fair amount of it. Tune in tomorrow to find out what the Santa Fe has to offer from a tech perspective.

Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on November 27, 2018 by itnerd


This is the engine that powers the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD. It’s a 2L turbo four cylinder engine that puts out 235 HP but more importantly an impressive 260 pound feet of torque to all four wheels via an eight speed automatic transmission which you can shift yourself if you so choose. But don’t bother doing so as it is a well sorted transmission that seems to be in the right gear more often than not and is generally a very smooth shifting transmission.

The AWD system in the Santa Fe is worth mentioning in more detail. Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a similar system that is used in the Hyundai Genesis that I reviewed a few years back. But unlike that system, it is front wheel biased rather than rear wheel biased.

Driving Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD is pretty rewarding. The power comes on pretty early in the rev range and pulls strong through the middle part of the rev range. So what that means is that you have lots of power off the line, as well as to pass transport trucks and merge onto the highway with ease. I never felt that this vehicle was lacking in power in any way. Handling is superb as it is very nimble at any speed. Body roll is very well controlled and it feels solid thanks to a combination of the in house high strength steel the Hyundai uses and the suspension which doesn’t beat you senseless while being firm. Quite frankly, it feels like I am driving my 2016 Tucson, only with a bit more power at my right foot. It’s also generally quiet to drive even with the winter tires that are on the vehicle.

Fuel economy is surprisingly good for a vehicle of this size. I say surprisingly because I was not sure what to expect coming into this test drive. I am currently floating around 12.1 L/100 KM in largely city driving, which I think is pretty good. That is being aided by an engine stop/start system which will power down the engine at a stoplight when you have your foot firmly on the brake, and power it back up when you start to take your foot off the brake. You do notice that process happening and I have to admit that the first few times that it happened I was kind of unnerved at the engine stopping and starting. But after about a day or so you stop noticing it. Another thing that I should note is the drive modes. You get three in this vehicle. Comfort, Sport, and Smart. And they’re appropriately color coded (e.g., a red speedometer border for Sport) so you’ll never have to guess which drive mode you’re in. My advice is to set it for Smart and leave it there as that will give you the best balance between performance and fuel consumption.

Next up I’ll walk through the interior which Hyundai has clearly brought its “A Game” to. Tune in tomorrow to find out why I say that.




In Depth: Mazda’s Implementation Of Android Auto And Apple CarPlay

Posted in Products with tags on November 26, 2018 by itnerd

Mazda first pledged support for CarPlay back in 2014. And they have been listed as a CarPlay partner on Apple’s CarPlay website since shortly after CarPlay first debuted,. But the company never actually released a CarPlay-compatible vehicle. You can mostly copy and paste that statement for Android Auto as well. And I have to imagine that this is a significant distraction for Mazda as customers were likely asking them about when support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay would be coming. I certainly got my fair share of Tweets and emails every time I reviewed a Mazda product on this topic. Fortunately for both Mazda and yours truly, this changed a couple of months ago when Mazda started to roll out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto beginning with the 2019 Mazda CX-9 and to other Mazda vehicles.

Now Mazda is all about centering everything around the driver. Mazda Connect embodies this belief as I consider it to be one of the best infotainment systems out there. It allows you to interact the car with minimal distractions. As far as Mazda is concerned, there are three main types of driving distractions:

  • Cognitive: taking the mind off of driving.
  • Visual: taking the eyes off of the road.
  • Manual: taking the hands off of the wheel.

With that in mind, Mazda designed Mazda Connect to do the following:

Minimize Cognitive Distraction:

  • Mazda’s Solution: Information is presented to the driver in two separate zones with Driving Information presented in front of the driver.
  • Driver Benefit: If an safety alert occurs, the driver knows immediately where to look.

Minimize Visual Distraction:

  • Mazda’s Solution: Position frequently viewed displays to minimize glance angles and focus times.
  • Driver Benefit: With minimal glance angles and focus times, the driver reduces the amount of time their eyes are not focused on the road ahead.

Minimize Manual Distraction:

  • Mazda’s Solution: Commander Control
  • Driver Benefit: With the Commander easily within reach, the driver doesn’t need to alter their posture to make inputs, minimizing the amount of physical effort required by the driver.

Mazda has carried this same philosophy over to their implementation of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This is different than other car companies who simply add either or both to their cars without thinking of the effects of doing so and call it job done. In Mazda’s case, they’ve done the following:

  • Voice Recognition button on the steering wheel activates Siri or Google Assistant. Now that isn’t that different from most car companies. But I also found that Google Assistant could be invoked simply by saying “OK Google” without pressing the voice Recognition button.
  • The Entertainment, Home, and NAV buttons activate the related CarPlay or Android Auto function.
    • Entertainment and NAV buttons are contextually aware.
    • Home: short press, CarPlay or Android Auto home screen. Long press, Mazda Connect UI.
  • Rotating/Tilting the Commander knob moves the on-screen selection highlight.
    • Depress the Commander to select.

Now there are additional things that I noted when I tried these systems out that I noted. And I shot a pair of videos to detail them. I’d like to start with Apple CarPlay:

The second video is about Android Auto:

Since I am normally on Team iPhone, I spent most of my time using Apple CarPlay. In my week with the 2019 CX-9 I found that using Apple CarPlay was far less distracting than normal as I was able to do what I wanted to do using CarPlay and the HMI Commander Switch rather than having to take my attention away from driving to touch something on the screen. The same was true for my day long test of Android Auto. I believe that you’ll find the same is true for you if you test drive a Mazda vehicle.

Now Mazda is doing a staggered rollout through the line-up:

  • 2019 CX-9 first model to receive from factory, and that is available now
  • 2018 Mazda6 and 2019 CX-3 will see mid-year rolling change starting from September production
  • Other models will receive update with 2019 model year (except the MX-5)

So if you’re interested in Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in a new Mazda vehicle, it’s either here or it’s coming real soon. But what if you already own a Mazda vehicle? Mazda has you covered assuming you have any of the following vehicles:

  • 2014 Mazda3
  • 2016 Mazda6
  • 2016 MX-5
  • 2017 MX-5 RF
  • 2016 CX-3
  • 2016 CX-5
  • 2016 CX-9

For owners of these vehicles, the retrofit kit will cost $445 CDN installed.

Now, some of you might have bought one of the above vehicles in 2018. Does that mean that you are out of luck? No. Mazda Canada has thought of you. You’ll be able to get this functionality for $250 CDN for a limited time. In both cases, your Mazda will get the following:

  • The software update that gives you Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • A USB port upgrade that gives you at 2.1A USB port. Why do you need an upgrade to your USB port? Your phone needs to be able to get power from the vehicle and run Android Auto or Apple CarPlay at the same time, and the ports that came with your Mazda won’t cut it when it comes to doing that. As a bonus, your phone will charge faster as well.

The upgrade takes about 90 minutes at your local Mazda dealer.

Finally, I am going to tackle one point that has come up a few times over the last few weeks thanks to people who reached out to me to complain that they have to pay for getting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in their cars. You can see that there’s some physical hardware and work that goes into getting this into a Mazda vehicle. None of the work that they have to do is trivial. Thus I would argue that given what you get as part of this upgrade, and the fact that Mazda has put a lot of time and effort into making this as distraction free as possible. this is money well spent.

I would be reaching out to your Mazda dealer if you’re interested in getting this upgrade to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. As you can see, Mazda has spent a lot of time and effort to make this the best implementation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that I have seen in a vehicle. I would recommend that if you’re interested in either of these, and you want to use them as safely as possible, Mazda has to be at the top of your list in terms of vehicles to test drive. And if you already own a Mazda vehicle, this upgrade is totally worth obtaining as it will add value to your Mazda.

Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on November 26, 2018 by itnerd

Crossovers/SUVs are all the rage at the moment. And you’d be forgiven if you think that you only have three choices when it comes to size. Which is sub compact, compact, and 7/8 passenger variants. But there is a fourth option which is the mid sized five passenger variant. There’s only a handful of entrants in this space and Hyundai is one of the leaders in that space with the Santa Fe which has been redone for 2019:


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I have to admit that it does look very bold. While it does carry over some of the styling cues from the previous Santa Fe, it also has styling cues from the Hyundai Kona. Specifically the front and rear lights. They are arranged like this from the front:

  • Top lights: Daytime running lights.
  • Center lights: Headlights
  • Bottom lights: Foglamps

And from the back:

  • Top lights: Brake lights
  • Bottom lights Turn signal and backup lights

But unlike the Kona, people who saw the Santa Fe didn’t find the look to be anywhere near as polarizing as the Kona which people either loved the look or hated the look. That’s important as Hyundai really wants to continue to be one of the leaders in the mid-sized crossover/SUV space.

One thing that did stand out for was the design of the 19″ alloy wheels:


I’m not sure why, but I really felt drawn to this wheel design. The same was true with my wife who said the exact same thing,

My review of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate AWD is made up of five parts:

  • Exterior
  • Engine, transmission, handling, fuel economy, and driving comfort
  • Interior
  • Technology in the vehicle
  • Wrap up

The next part of this review will cover the engine, transmission and driving comfort. There’s a fair amount going on here that I think will appeal to buyers of a vehicle like this. Tune in tomorrow to find out why I say that.