Looks like: A Lexus, or maybe a Genesis, SUV concept — and that’s not bad for a Hyundai
Defining characteristics: The dynamic shape that Hyundai calls Sensuous Sportiness
Ridiculous features: The active shutter grille with individual cells opening and closing in sequence is flashy and cool but way too complex for the real world. And those windmill mega-wheels on a plug-in hybrid?
Chance of being mass-produced: An SUV with these same essential looks and plug-in-hybrid-electric capability would be an interesting addition to the lineup but, as executed, this concept is a flight of fancy.
Hyundai is polishing its eco-credentials for the traditionally green-car-oriented Los Angeles Auto Show by unveiling the sleek Vision T Plug-in Hybrid SUV Concept, along with displaying for the U.S. the real-world 2020 refresh of its trio of Ioniq electrified compact sedans.
Related: More 2019 L.A. Auto Show Coverage
The plug-in hybrid SUV concept — though powertrain specs were not offered — comes as Hyundai announced ahead of the 2019 L.A. auto show plans to expand its stable of “eco-friendly” or alternative-power vehicles to 13 by 2022.
Hyundai describes the matte-green Vision T concept vehicle as the latest evolution of its Sensuous Sportiness global design language and says it’s intended to be “a vision of the new urban adventurer SUV design direction.” But the Vision T is no city-size runabout — it’s wider and taller than the latest Hyundai Santa Fe mid-size SUV, and only about 6 inches shorter. The Vision T has a more luxury SUV look, however, with sharp creases and angles and a strong sense of motion with the long hood, swept-back roofline and wheels pushed to the corners.
A signature show-car feature is the Vision T’s active-shutter grille with individual geometric cells that are closed when the vehicle is stationary, but each moves in a prescribed sequence when it’s in motion. This is both a dynamic visual effect and also functions, like other active-shutter systems, to provide air flow to the engine while maximizing aerodynamic efficiency. That’s in contrast, by the way, to the huge five-spoke, windmill-like wheels that look anything but aerodynamically efficient.
The concept, as with many show cars these days, also makes liberal use of lighting features, including with the fancy grille. The headlights have a dark-chrome look when off but transform into lights when needed, an effect that seems similar to the Hidden Lighting Lamp trim on the redone 2020 Hyundai Sonata. The roof includes embossed glass panels, the big Hyundai logo lights up with green and red highlights, and the taillight and rear logo turn off in sequence with the logo — which, of course, is the last thing to go dark. Even the plug-in charging port has its own F/X — lighting up when charging is underway and having a circular light cluster that functions as a charge meter that creates a full circle when charging is complete.
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Among Hyundai’s promised 13 eco-friendly entries, three are the refreshed 2020 Ioniqs getting a first U.S. showing in L.A. Meanwhile, coming for 2021 will be a hybrid version or versions of the newly redesigned Sonata sedan (the current Sonata offers hybrids in conventional and plug-in form). Hyundai alternative-fuel vehicles also, so far, include an EV version of its Kona small SUV in select markets and the Nexo fuel-cell vehicle in California.
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