Hyundai Entourage leaves a sizeable impression
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With the Entourage, Hyundai has a new minivan that could win over many traditional Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna fans.
This seven-passenger hauler is the automaker’s first minivan and a very close relative to the Sedona model from Hyundai’s sister company, Kia (they share the same platform, basic appearance, dimensions and Korean assembly plant).
Another first is that it gives Canadian minivan shoppers something they never had before — a real reason to visit a Hyundai retailer for their next vehicle.
The Entourage is offered in four trim levels — GL, GL Comfort, GLS and GLS Premium, with a starting price of $29,995 for the well-equipped GL and ranging up to $37,195 for the luxurious GLS Premium. Hyundai bills the Entourage as a ‘premium’ minivan, competing with larger haulers, like the Odyssey and Sienna (and Chrysler’s Grand Caravan) rather than the smaller Chevy Uplanders, etc., of the world.
As has been the trend with Hyundai’s recent newer products, like the Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs and the award-winning Sonata and Azera sedans, the Entourage offers competitive equipment — like leather, power tailgate, backup warning system, etc. — but at a lower price. For instance, the base GL model with V6 engine, air conditioning, six airbags, disc brakes with ABS, keyless entry and cruise controls, undercuts both the Sienna and the Odyssey by quite a margin. Even the fully-loaded GLS Premium comes in well under similarly equipped Odyssey and Sienna models, though it should be noted the Entourage does not offer a navigation system.
Longer than the Grand Caravan and the Odyssey as well as being longer and wider than the Sienna, the Entourage is nearly identical to its Kia Sedona cousin. Despite Hyundai’s claims to the contrary, the Entourage is basically differentiated by a chrome grille and unique head- and tail-lamp treatments.
Motivation for the Entourage comes from the Azera sedan’s new aluminum 3.8-litre V6, developing a useful 242 horsepower. That’s more standard output than Ford’s Freestar, the Uplander and Grand Caravan.
The standard gearbox is a 5-speed automatic with manual shift mode, a nice touch for getting the most out of the V6 when the Entourage is loaded down with soccer or hockey teams and their gear.
Riding on a 4-wheel independent suspension (with standard disc brakes with anti-lock and electronic brake-force distribution), the Entourage has few sporting intentions, but motors along dutifully. Praise is due to the powertrain, though, which is quite willing to kick down and give extra punch when needed.
The cabin is quite roomy, with dual power sliding doors with power windows on all but the base GL, a conversation mirror, foldaway central tray, sliding second-row seats and standard rear climate controls. The driver faces a two-tone, no-fuss instrument panel, with all the controls close at hand.
Like most of today’s minivans, the Entourage offers "Hide-and-Dive" third-row seats that split 60/40 and fold flat into a storage well.
For a first attempt, this minivan earns marks in all the right places.