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Entourage hits road running

Action precedes essence, the existentialists say.

  • Car queue in the bad traffic road. Selective focus.

Action precedes essence, the existentialists say.

In tune with that idea, the Hyundai brand boldly plunged into the key minivan segment with its very first such product — the 2007 Entourage.

Still something of a well-kept secret, the seven-passenger hauler seems remarkably mature despite its lack of roots (other than the Sedona van, which debuted for 2002 from sister marque Kia).

Another wise person — I think it was Christina Aguilera — said, “Go big or go home.”

Hyundai has taken that advice: Entourage only comes as an extended-length model.

It’s longer and wider than Toyota Sienna and has substantially more interior volume than the Dodge Grand Caravan or Honda Odyssey, its maker says.

The sole engine is an eager all-aluminum, DOHC 3.8-litre V6 rated at 242 hp.

The only rival motor that’s bigger is Ford Freestar’s 200-horse 4.2-litre V6.

The only one more powerful is Odyssey’s 3.5-litre V6 at 244 hp.

The crisply styled Entourage has four flavours: GL, GL Comfort, GLS and GLS Premium.

The only transmission is a five-speed automatic.

Two rows of bucket seats are standard, with a third-row 60/40-split bench that folds into a floor well. The middle power windows go 80 per cent down.

Base prices range from $29,995 to $37,195. The tester was a Cranberry Red GLS, with grey cloth. As tested: $35,695.

In mid-2005, Hyundai announced plans for the Entourage, then cancelled them, then revived the van last October.

The ambitious Korean firm has a big crossover due in the spring of 2008 and is said to be considering a pickup.

THREE STARS

  • Generous standard safety gear includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, six airbags (including head curtains), front active head restraints and electronic stability control (GLS).The result is a top rating from U.S. safety authorities.
  • Five-year/100,000 km basic warranty.
  • The tester sported my personal Triple Crown of amenities: a compass, folding (manually, in this case) outside power mirrors and a tape player.


    THREE STRIKES

  • The steering has a soft, uninspired feel.
  • Taller drivers may wish they had more legroom, which is reduced by intruding wheel wells.
  • The dangling roof-mounted seatbelt for the third-row middle position looked a tad untidy.

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