2018 Sonata Better National Walkaround Competition: Final Results, Photos, More!

After three months, hundreds of contests, and a thrilling final round, the results of the 2018 Sonata Better National Walkaround Competition are in, and Michael Butterfield of Shults Hyundai in Jamestown, New York, has been crowned the National Champion!

Here are the complete results:

 Michael Butterfield Closeup National Champion:
Shults Hyundai
Jamestown, New York
 Michael Warren Closeup Second Place:
Bob King Hyundai
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
 Rola Aridi Closeup Finalist:
Fox Ann Arbor Hyundai
Ann Arbor, Michigan
 Robert Brummel Closeup Finalist:
Merced Hyundai
Merced, California
 Eric Renteria Closeup

Bert Ogden Harlingen Hyundai
Harlingen, Texas

You can read all about the National Finals in the January 2018 issue of The Sales Edge. In the meantime, scroll down to enjoy pictures from the National Finals and to read Michael Butterfield’s winning presentation in its entirety. And to see the names and dealerships of all of the District Champions, click here.

The National Finals in Pictures

1 Sonata Overheat Shot

The National Finals were conducted in the lobby of Hyundai Motor America’s National Headquarters in Fountain Valley, California. The feature vehicle was the 2018 Sonata Limited 2.0T.


2 Finalists with Sonata

The National Finalists—all champions in their own right. Left to right: Michael Warren; Rola Aridi; Robert Brummel; Eric Renteria; and Michael Butterfield.


 3 Coffee Bar

Finalists and their accompanying HMA retail process improvement managers toured the HMA National Headquarters facility …



4 Exercise Room

… including the exercise room …


5 Checking Out the Kona

… and the special facility where future products are stored.


 6 Rola Thumbs Up

Rola Aridi gives the 2018 Kona the thumbs up.


 7 Michael Warren Hood

Let the games begin! Michael Warren draws attention to the Sonata’s cascading grille.


 8 Eric Renteria Driver Side

Eric Renteria demonstrates the Sonata Limited 2.0T’s manual rear side-window sunshades to Jared Dowdy, HMA’s senior manager, national product training, who played the role of fictitious customer “Ryan King” at the request of some contestants.


 9 Rola Aridi Cargo Area

The Sonata has 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space, and Rola Aridi can prove it.

 10 Robert Brummel Front Passenger Side

Robert Brummel explains features, functions and benefits at the front passenger side of the Sonata.

 11 Michael Butterfield Passenger Side Hood

Two winning automotive machines: Michael Butterfield and the 2018 Sonata.

 12 Judging Panel

The HMA luminaries who served as judges mark their ballots. From left: Brian Smith, chief operating officer; Dean Evans, chief marketing officer; Mike O’Brien, vice president, corporate, product and digital planning; Barry Ratzlaff, vice president, customer satisfaction; and Steve Flood, director, sales planning and retail operations.

 13 Brian Smith

Hyundai Motor America chief operating officer Brian Smith delivered congratulatory remarks before the results were announced.

14 Judges and Rola Aridi

The judges posed with each of the finalists (and their trophies). Here: Central Regional Champion Rola Aridi.

 15 Judges and Eric Renteria

South Central Regional Champion Eric Renteria.


 16 Judges and Robert Brummel

Western Regional Champion Robert Brummel.

17 Judges and Michael Warren

In second place: Southern Regional Champion Michael Warren.

18 Judges and Michael Butterfield

Your new National Champion: Eastern Regional Champion Michael Butterfield.

 19 John Michael and James

Michael Butterfield is congratulated by John Angevine, HMA director of national sales, and James Stewart, HMA senior group manager, retail process and sales satisfaction.

 20 Five Finalists with Trophies

Here’s to the winners (from left): Eric Renteria, Michael Warren, Michael Butterfield, Robert Brummel and Rola Aridi.


Michael Butterfield’s National Championship Walkaround

Michael Butterfield of Shults Hyundai in Jamestown, New York, won the 2018 Sonata Better National Walkaround Competition with a presentation that focused heavily on the needs of fictitious customer Ryan King while weaving the Hyundai mantra of “Better” and Hyundai’s Feature-Function-Benefit “SPACED” selling approach throughout. Here is his complete presentation.

Ryan King? Michael Butterfield. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, man, and welcome to our Hyundai dealership today.

Ryan, from conversations online and the few conversations we’ve had, I know that this 2018 Hyundai Sonata turbo Limited is something you’ve been thinking about replacing the 2015 Toyota Camry XLE. Ryan, personally, I love customers like yourself, because an educated consumer makes my job that much easier—because you know you like your Camry, but you think there may be something better out there.

And that’s what I want to talk about, because no matter if it’s with my family, with our career, or with our car, better drives us. And “better” drives Hyundai so much, they’ve come up with a special acronym to make sure when they redesigned this 2018 Sonata that no stone was left unturned, so to speak. Welcome to “SPACED.” Now, I don’t mean like outer space. I’m talking about Safety, Performance, Appearance, Comfort, Convenience, Economy and Durability—literally, everything that anyone could want in a vehicle.


Now, in the interest of mixing things up like a deejay, I’m going to start in the middle with Appearance. The first thing that grabs your attention is Hyundai’s signature hexagonal cascading grille. Now, this turbo model has the sport mesh insert, which accentuates the aggressive front end. And it’s also capped off with these vertical LED daytime running lights. Now, they not only look sharp—hence the Appearance—but the LEDs are brighter than traditional halogen bulbs, which means oncoming traffic is going to see you better, and of course that’s safer. In keeping with Safety, these LED headlights with Dynamic Bending Light are brighter, and that bending, when you’re coming home from a deejay gig late at night, you’ll see what’s coming as you turn the wheel, and that’s safer.

When we pop the hood of this Sonata, you’re going to notice Hyundai’s 2.0 turbo gasoline direct injected engine. Now, this vehicle uses a twin-scroll turbo, which is going to give you less turbo lag—so, hence, better acceleration—and it produces 245 horsepower with 260 pounds-feet of torque. Now, the torque is what’s really important for you. I know you talked about you like Economy, right? But that torque—when you’ve got all your gear loaded in the back, or your two teenagers, maybe your father-in-law, maybe Beth—the torque is going to give you that power you need to get off the line or into merging or passing situations. The Performance is outstanding, and it’s going to get you 32 miles to the gallon on the highway and 23 miles to the gallon in the city. Incidentally, that Camry returns 22 miles to the gallon in the city, and I think you’ll agree, even one mile to the gallon difference is better.

When you think about the eight-speed automatic transmission, as you’re driving and accelerating, it’s going to be super smooth all the way.


As you come around the side, I want you to notice the beautiful 18-inch aluminum wheels. Now, those wheels sit on a distance of 110.4 inches between the two, which is going to give you a smooth, quiet, sound ride. Now, that’s also mated to a brand-new sport-tuned suspension which is going to give you greater driving dynamics.

And everything you look at is elegant to the visual eye, from the turn signal indicators, which are both safer and look great, to the convenience of the smart key and the black chrome door handles. The smart key is going to allow you to never fumble: simply walk up, touch a button, and enter.

Why don’t you go ahead and have a seat there for me, Ryan?

Now, Ryan, I know you’re mostly driving the vehicle, but in the sense that you go on vacation and Beth decides to drive, you’ll notice that Integrated Memory System. So each one of you will hve a separate position for your mirrors and your seat. And on these mirrors, you take a look: you’ll notice the electronic Blind Spot Detection. Now, that Blind Spot Detection is going to alert you and keep you safer when you don’t quite look around the way. But also, one of my favorite features is the Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. When you’re backing up, you’re at the store, you’ve got a big vehicle here, a big vehicle here, something in front of you, and a bunch of crazy people driving behind you 65 feet in either direction, you’re going to get the appropriate warning. That’s one of my favortie features when it comes to safety.

There’s also features like Auto Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, so if you don’t see something, the car’s going to see it, right? And it’ll also warn you if it’s late night and maybe you veer because you haven’t gotten any sleep from the night before.

Now, on the inside of this, one of the coolest tech features that’s most convenient—remember that “SPACED”—is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Now, this is great because, you’ve gotta admit that I know you’ve been at a gig, you’ve had your business cards on the table, you’re driving home, somebody texts you: “Man, Ryan, that was an awesome deejay gig.” And, admit it, you picked up your phone and looked at your phone. We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it, man. But the great news is that it would simply read you that text message, and all you have to do is reply, “Give me a call tomorrow, I’d love to book a gig.” Or Beth texts you: “Hey, Ryan, how’s that Sonata?” “Beth, the technology is even better than I could have expected.”

You’ve also got all your controls conveniently on the steering wheel, from your radio controls to the 4.2-inch color cluster that’ll tell you how long till you run out of gas—and I know you like to save your fuel running to and from gigs—or even the average speed that maybe Beth drives, because she’s got a lead foot.

And there’s also a couple of new driving modes. Now, there’s of course a Sport mode and an Economy mode, to get the most performance or, you know, the most fuel economy. However, this particular model has a Smart feature. That Smart mode is going to switch between all driving modes to maximize [performance] to your specific characteristics, right? Now, that’s Convenience if I’ve ever heard of it.

And, of course, if you look up above you, you’ve got that beautiful sunroof that’s up there that lets the light in. And aren’t those leather-upholstered seats comfortable? Well, let’s say it’s cold outside. You can heat them up. Or you can heat your steering wheel. Or let’s say it’s a hundred degrees outside. Those seats are ventilated. That really takes Comfort to the extreme.


If you want to come back here, I want you to take a look at the rear side of this vehicle. First of all, you’ll notice how gorgeous that “Sonata” is, with the integrated plate frame on the bumper ... the elegant rear diffuser, which is going to give you better airflow underneath … with the dual exhausts, which look incredible. That’s the Appearance we’re talking about.

These LED taillights not only look great, they’re also functional. LEDs react faster than traditional bulbs. So let’s say there’s someone behind you late at night, and your Auto Emergency Braking kicks in. Those lights are going to react so fast that the car truly knows what’s better and safer for you.

There’s also another cool feature about this trunk. If you come out with your gear and your hands are full, it has a hands-free smart-opening feature. Simply stand in one place and the trunk will open automatically. Or, you can use this hidden button inside the logo that my kids refer to as the James Bond button to open up the trunk.

Now, inside this trunk, notice of course you’ve got 60/40 split-fold seats, which is common, right? The Camry has that too. You know what the Camry doesn’t have? Sixteen-point-three cubic feet of trunk space for hauling your gear. The Camry has 15.1. Wouldn’t you agree, the more the better when it comes to your gear?

And I also want you to look at the subwoofer back here. This vehicle has the Infinity premium ten-speaker audio system. That Toyota has the JBL nine-speaker system. When it comes to music, more is better, right? JBL is harman/kardon’s consumer brand, and Infinity is their enthusiast brand, so it’s going to give you more sound quality, and when you combine that with their Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology, it’s really going to sound like you’re banging a mix out at the club.

Also back here I wanted to point out that there is a spare tire—some vehicles have eliminated that—which of course is convenient, and when you combine that with a five-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance, even if you don’t like changing a tire, someone will change the tire for you. They’ll come help you out and fix it.


While we’re back here .. this gas tank is eighteen-and-a-half gallons. The Toyota’s is 16 gallons. That means less fuel fill-ups, which is more convenient for your time.

Now, take a look at the back. You’ll notice a full-size back seat. There’s also a USB port and another one up in front, so if you have both your teenagers back here, they can both turn on their devices. There’s rear air for convenience, manual rear window shades, and this car is actually categorized as a full-size large car by the EPA, which means more room.


If you’ll have a seat up front here, you’ll notice the power seat over here as well. Your wife Beth can easily access the climate controls from her side. Or let’s say there was an emergency. She can press the SOS emergency button, as you’re going to get three complimentary years of Blue Link Connected Care and Remote packages. Take it a step further. Beth can start the car from her phone, or after a gig, when you’re finished and you want the heater to warm up, you can start it from your remote without even having to see your car.

Now, if you want value, the ten-year, 100,000-mile America’s Best Warranty is better than that five-year/60 of the Toyota. The five-year/60,000 comprehensive is better than their 3/36. Five-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance and seven-year anti-perforation—it’s no question this is the better choice.

You have a seat there, familiarize yourself. I’m going to drive [first], and we’ll see what really drives the Sonata.