2008 Entourage New Car Test Drive
Minivans have gotten a bad rap. They make so much sense yet are perpetually out of fashion. Granted, they aren't pretty, and certainly aren't macho. But they pack more people in comfort and safety into a shorter, handier length than any other kind of vehicle. That's why so many people buy them. But even more people should buy them. They are a common-sense kind of choice.
And the Hyundai Entourage is a common-sense kind of minivan. Even its name suggests its function: Entourage is French for 'all the people and things that seem to follow me around.' That's a concept American parents can understand.
The Entourage has just enough room for six in pleasant yet functional surroundings. (Seven is a squeeze.) It has a five-speed automatic transmission to help get the best fuel economy and performance out of its V6 engine. Its ride is comfortable, and yet the Entourage has no barge-like tendencies when it comes to handling.
Most sensible of all, the Entourage offers the same kind of safety equipment you'll find on the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Established life-savers that come standard on the Entourage include electronic stability control (to control skids), and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Side-impact air bags inflate from the front seats for torso protection, and air curtains cover the side windows for vital head protection in a rollover or side-impact crash. Front-seat active head restraints move forward in a rear-end crash to minimize whiplash injuries.
In fact, with a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Entourage has the best crash-safety ratings any minivan has yet earned. And yet Hyundai says the Entourage is the lowest priced minivan you can buy with power sliding doors and a backup warning sensor.
Changes are few for 2008. Last year's mid-level SE has been dropped in favor of more generous option packages for the base-level GLS; while this year's Limited comes with more standard features and fewer options. When we added up the numbers ourselves, we found that a Limited with all the goodies lists for $200 less this year than last year.
One more common-sense feature is Hyundai's long warranty. The bumper-to-bumper coverage is five years or 60,000 miles, while the powertrain is covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. That's more than either Honda or Toyota; although those Japanese automakers have a superior track record when it comes to reliability. But attractive features, performance and pricing make the Entourage worth a serious look.
The 2008 Hyundai Entourage comes in two trim levels: GLS ($23,995); and Limited ($29,895). Both are powered by a 250-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 engine driving the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission.
Standard on GLS are three-zone manual air conditioning; power windows, door locks and remote keyless entry; cloth seats; tilt steering; cruise control; 172-watt AM/FM/CD audio with six speakers; front wiper de-icer; dual vanity mirrors; roof-rack side rails; hide-away third-row seat; and 16-inch steel wheels with full covers.
The new Popular Equipment Package ($1,500) adds dual power sliding doors, power rear quarter glass, power driver seat, back-up warning sensors, and steering wheel audio controls. The also-new GLS Premium Package ($4,850) includes the Popular Equipment Package; plus a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with an eight-inch LCD monitor; a 660-watt Infinity audio system with CD/MP3 changer, Logic 7 surround sound, and 13 speakers; dual-zone automatic climate control; leather steering wheel and shift knob; heated side mirrors; compass; trip computer; automatic headlights; dual illuminated vanity mirrors; tinted glass; fog lights; and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The Limited model comes leather seats, heated front seats, a power tailgate, premium scuff plates, and all of the content of the GLS Popular Equipment and Premium Packages except the rear-seat entertainment system. The Ultimate Package ($2,900) for the Limited model adds the rear-seat entertainment system; plus tilt/slide glass sunroof; power front passenger seat; power adjustable foot pedals; integrated memory system for the driver's seat, outside mirrors, and foot pedals; and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink.
There are no other factory options, but Hyundai offers a short list of port-installed accessories for both GLS and Limited, including a Bluetooth phone system ($325), cargo organizer ($200) roof-rack cross-rails ($195), a cargo net, floor mats, mudguards, and other detail items.
Safety features that come standard on all models include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; electronic stability control; a tire-pressure monitor; curtain air bags; seat-mounted side-impact airbags; and active head restraints for front seats. The curtain airbags cover all the side windows in a side-impact crash to offer head protection and to keep heads and arms inside the vehicle in a rollover. Most important, it comes with good seat belts, so be sure and wear them.