Hyundai hands-free Smart Trunks don't open all the way, says class-action lawsuit.

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Hyundai hands-free Smart Trunks don't open all the way, says class-action lawsuit.

— A Hyundai "Smart Trunk" lawsuit alleges the trunks don't open as advertised when a user moves near the vehicles, something that is supposed to open the trunk lids "hands-free."

The Smart Trunk was first introduced in 2015 Hyundai models that went on sale in 2014 and is advertised as a way for consumers to open their trunks without pushing any buttons or using keys in the lids of the trunks.

Hyundai has marketed the Smart Trunk as a feature that automatically opens the trunk fully, or at least enough for a person to put large items into the trunk. But according to the lawsuit, the trunks are defective because they fail to open more than a few inches, or sometimes not more than a small crack.

The trunks may unlatch, but consumers will need to manually push the trunk lid up and open, contradicting the promise of a hands-free trunk.

The Hyundai lawsuit includes all purchasers and lessees of the following vehicles equipped with Smart Trunks:

  • 2015-2016 Hyundai Azera
  • 2017 Hyundai Elantra (Eco and Limited)
  • 2015-2016 Hyundai Genesis
  • 2015 Hyundai Sonata (Sport, Limited and Sport 2.0T)
  • 2016 Hyundai Sonata (Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T)
  • 2017 Hyundai Sonata (Limited and Limited 2.0T)

In addition, the Smart Trunk is an optional feature costing between $950 and $1,900 on the Hyundai 2015 Sonata (Eco), 2016 Sonata (Sport), 2017 Sonata (Sport) and the 2017 Elantra (SE).

According to the lawsuit, Hyundai designed the trunk to be opened by standing directly behind the car with the "proximity key" (also called a smart key) in the hand, pocket or purse. The proximity key is a key fob that automatically transmits a radio signal which activates the Smart Trunk feature.

For the trunk to open, the user must stand 20 to 40 inches behind the car for at least three seconds, causing the hazard lights to blink and a chime to sound. If a consumer doesn't want the trunk to open, a button can be pressed on the fob to deactivate the feature, or a user can walk outside the proximity zone during a three-second countdown.

After the three-second countdown, the trunk latch is automatically released, allowing tensioned metal bars, referred to as “torsion bars," and/or springs in the trunk to open the trunk lid half-way.

The hands-free Smart Trunks in the Elantra, Sonata and Azera do not use electronic trunk motors or similar components to open the trunk lids, although the Genesis can be outfitted with a “power trunk lid” which uses an electronic motor to open the lid. That feature is optional and part of a $3,500 “Ultimate Package” for the Genesis.

The plaintiff says Hyundai has concealed the defective nature of the trunks while the automaker keeps marketing the feature as being hands-free convenience.

The Hyundai hands-free Smart Trunk lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania - Joshua Riaubia, et. al., v. Hyundai Motor America.

The plaintiff is represented by Axler Goldich LLC, Robert P. Cocco, P.C., Shepherd Finkelman Miller & Shah LLP.

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