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Hyundai makes good cars now?

Man I must be getting old... Now I know how Rip van Winkle felt.

Hyundai Now a Contender

With Commitment to Quality,(!) Automaker Sets Sights on Big Three, Toyota

DETROIT -- The car made a dramatic entrance, lowered by chains from the ceiling into a cloud of smoke and flashing lights. This was no curvaceous sports car debuting at the North American International Auto Show; it was an unadorned four-door sedan -- the 2006 Hyundai Sonata.

A few years ago, such hype for a Hyundai might have seemed funny, given the South Korean company's reputation for cheap, shabby products. But this week's bold unveiling of the Sonata was greeted soberly by rival U.S. automakers, who now compare South Korea to the up-and-coming Japan of the 1980s. ...

Hyundai has reached this point gradually, increasing its sales for each of the past six years after stumbling badly in the 1980s with poor-quality products. Last year, the company overtook Honda and Nissan to become the world's seventh-biggest automaker. Also last year, U.S. consumers rated Hyundai and Honda as tied for second-best in overall quality in an influential J.D. Power and Associates survey -- ahead of Mercedes-Benz and behind only Toyota. ...

"Hyundai is very clearly targeting Toyota -- I don't think there's any doubt in anybody's mind that Hyundai really does want to take a piece out of them," Spinella said. "And the attitude is, they'll walk over Nissan, Honda, GM and Ford in order to get there. Even if they never touch Toyota, in the meantime there'll be a whole lot of collateral damage."

The idea the a Hyundai could ever be compared favorably to a Toyota was laughable not that long ago. [or not that long ago to me] Apparently I need to reset my "car quality compass."

The times they ARE a changing.


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Comments (23)

About 15 years ago my then-... (Below threshold)
Mark:

About 15 years ago my then-wife and I bought a Hyundai hatchback, first new car we'd had. It ran and ran and ran, with nothing but basic maintenance. If it hadn't been trashed in an accident, would have had it for years longer.

My ex has a Hyundai wagon now, and has driven the hell out of it. And it keeps on running.

I'm not surprised. The sta... (Below threshold)
craig mclaughlin:

I'm not surprised. The standard arc for people laboring under a capatalist system is to improve or find a niche.

I'm old enough to remember when "Made in Japan" meant crappy.

Now "Made in China" means crappy, and with their system it may be ever thus...

When Hyundais first came to... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

When Hyundais first came to the US, I remember two jokes and a fact.
The fact: A friend of mine had a Hyundai PC -- I think it was a 486.

Joke 1: How did they come up with the name "Hyundai?"
That's the sound you make when you crash it and the steering column goes through your chest.

Joke 2 (more of an observation, actually): Hyundai is what happened when Honda taught the Koreans how to make a car. Yugo is what happened when Fiat taught the Yugoslavians how to make a car.

J.

I have a Hyundai Elantra th... (Below threshold)

I have a Hyundai Elantra that I've had for 4 years now. Runs great and I love it.

Woman hits a squirrel in he... (Below threshold)

Woman hits a squirrel in her new Hundai, gets out and walks home. After checking it out her hubby tells her: "I have good news and bad new, the good news is that the squirrel is doing well, but the bad news is that the Hundai is totaled." A Hundai owner told be this joke in 1989, before quality was improved. But I'm afraid it just may be true about Hundai quality today. When they came out with their extensive gaurtantees many saw it as a last desperate gamble from a company going under. But apparently their quality has improved to the point where they're profitable.

I've owned an XG350 for abo... (Below threshold)

I've owned an XG350 for about a year now, and for half the cost of the nearest competitor (Lexus, Acura, etc...) I got a punchy V6, leather and woodgrain, a 5 speed Shiftronic (thats auto and standard, guys) motorized heated seats with driver and passenger memory, and it looks gorgeous.

Total cost? UNDER 20K.

I routinely hang with Benzes and Beemers on my 40 mile freeway commute.

Some folks laugh at this "poor boy" when they find out what kind of car it is, but I'll tell you, 5.0 Mustang owners look pretty shook up when they can't lose me during the occassional stoplight race (with the AC running, I might add).

The only thing Hyundai lacks is long-term favorable name recognition, and with it the steady resale value. In spite of that, I think I made a wise choice. I've got the luxury of a Lexus for the price of a Nissan truck, and a 100,000 mile warranty for comfort.

Hyundai had vastly improved... (Below threshold)
John:

Hyundai had vastly improved their quality but have since started to regress slightly.

The rise of South Korea as ... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

The rise of South Korea as a major manufacturing and industrial power over the last decade has been a vastly under reported story. Their progress in electronics alone has been remarkable.

And probably not coincidentally, their population has been far ahead of most of the western world in adopting the internet and cell phones.

For a positive example of the transforming power of democracy/capitalism, (and of the decreasing influence of Europe) South Korea would be hard to beat.

Its also worth remembering how many SOKO forces are in Iraq. We should be grateful to have them as a true ally.

Coupla notes here.... (Below threshold)

Coupla notes here.

My Hyundai Accent 3 door absolutely rocks, I love that car.

South Korea has the highest per-capita number of PHD's of any nation on the planet, of course they're beginning to be a major player in the economic sector.

I have owned a Hyundai, it'... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

I have owned a Hyundai, it's great. low maintenence and fuel efficiency.

good on them.

I think it's anti-american to buy cars from japanese companies, especially mitsubishi, who made the zero fighter which killed many of our greatest on the battlefield. Toyota is little better.

But we helped S Koea so good on them for taking a stand.

Well, I have to add here th... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Well, I have to add here that I spent a bit of time just recently looking over Hyundai's sedan (Sonata). I was trying to figure out how to drive one and bypass the sneers otherwise. But, it looks nice, despite the name.

But, you are so right about the vehicles they produced a few years ago. I once looked over some mini thing they were selling in CA and was completely turned off by the overwhelming amount of strange plastic molding filling the interior, that and that whenever I saw a few of them motivating on the 405, they had an irregular bumping up and down motion on the highway that concerned me...

New models appear vastly improved, although I haven't yet driven one, any model, just saying I like the chassis design of the larger sedan, also that small SUV.

<a href="http://www.hyundai... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Hyundai Tucson (2005), offering a 6 cylinder, was what I was curious about...

I looked very carefully int... (Below threshold)
DaveP.:

I looked very carefully into the Tiburon. It was well-made, very squared-away, adn had the classiest sheet metal in its class AND a 10/100,000 warrantee. The only problem I had was that the 2.7L 6 was, compared to others in its class, awful thirsty and on the low end of the power curve.

Eventually I made the mistake of my life and bought an Acura... but that's another story.

I should have added earlier... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

I should have added earlier that I have driven Elantras twice as a rental car, both times for +1,000 mile trips. I’ve been a BMW guy for 18 years, but I was impressed (and surprised) with the Hyundai. Its not a bimmer by any stretch, but compared to a lower end 3 series, its probably 90% of the car for 40% of the price.

Both the Elantras had auto trannies, and their shifting seemed very odd. Plus the tranny sounded like a buzzing bunch of hornets every time it went from 2cd to 3rd. But it worked. And that’s the only complaint I had. My brother has a 2004, and he loves it. He’s got a 50 mile one way daily commute too. He said the tranny issue is well known, so he went with a stick.

This might sound extremely PI, but I am considering getting one as sort of a disposable car. The warranty is nice, but even with out it, so what if the car lasts 5 years instead of 10? I’ll throw it away and buy a new one.

I bought my wife a Hyundai ... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

I bought my wife a Hyundai Elantra (a 2001) in 2002. It only had 3000 miles on it and was a very good deal.

She's been very happy with it - the only things that's needed replacing are some light bulbs and the fuel cap (it wasn't sealing properly).

She's not happy with the thought that when my car (a '96 Plymouth Breeze) finally bites it, she's going to get the kiddie hauler we'll buy to replace it, and I'll get the Elantra.

Are there really people who... (Below threshold)
Hedgy:

Are there really people whose necks are so red they won't buy a Mitsubishi becasue of World War II? The fact that a fine fighter like the Zero was made by Mitsubishi is a pretty ringing endorsement. What about Porsche? They built certain models of the Tiger II for the Germans?.

Yes, a compass reset is ind... (Below threshold)
Sherard:

Yes, a compass reset is indeed necessary. I owned a 1997 Toyota 4Runner and I currently own a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe. Quality and design cannot be differentiated in my opinion. Now, compared to a Ford, Chevy, GM, or Chrysler, Hyundai is way out in front, comparable with Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Acura, Lexus, Infinity, etc.

Kinda makes you wonder what... (Below threshold)

Kinda makes you wonder what S Vietnam might be producing today if we'd had a lttle more balls in the 1960s.

The South Koreans are fast ... (Below threshold)

The South Koreans are fast becoming a player in the world economic market. Out of all the mariners in the world, out of any one country, South Koreans have the largest portion (for all of you not in the industry, mariners are merchant seamen). On my senior training cruise (California Maritime Academy), one of our port stops was in Mokpo, South Korea. We did a tour of the Mokpo Maritime University, toured their newest of their two training ships (1 year old ship), and stayed there 3 days. Of those three days, one of the days, one of the instructors was able to procure a tour of the Hyundai-Samho shipyard in Mokpo. Man was that cool. I've already seen a shipyard (in Sasebo, Japan), but the Hyundai shipyard is so clean and organized by comparison. Hyundai can turn out ships fast and cheap, with no stint on quality.

The only drawback was we didn't see the main shipyard that actually constructed their own big slow-speed diesel engines and crankshafts for the ships.

Oh yea, and their cars are getting up there, too.

Oh, and by the way, it seem... (Below threshold)

Oh, and by the way, it seemed pretty much a pre-requisite, but damn near every single South Korean at their Maritime University in Mokpo spoke English.

We really should be grateful that these awesome people are our allies and international friends.

Hedgey said:"Yes, ... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

Hedgey said:

"Yes, a compass reset is indeed necessary. I owned a 1997 Toyota 4Runner and I currently own a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe. Quality and design cannot be differentiated in my opinion. Now, compared to a Ford, Chevy, GM, or Chrysler, Hyundai is way out in front, comparable with Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Acura, Lexus, Infinity, etc."

The difference being you seem to have forgotten what the Japanese did to us in the war. How they treated POW's. NOTHING like the Germans.

Anyone of character wouldn't consider buying something made by the same company that helped behead their contrymen, feed them to sharks, massacre nuns etc etc. Read a history book.

I choose to put my money where my mouth is, pity you can't seem to do the same.

When my last car was headed... (Below threshold)

When my last car was headed for that junkyard in the sky, I did some fast research, cross-referencing Edmunds and Carmax so that I could find an affordable, durable car. The 2002 Hyundai Elantra 4D Hatchback was the answer. Great rating from the editorial staff at Edmunds, and under $10k to boot. Plus, it only had 15,000 miles on it; no one besides me wanted a standard transmission. The car is really nice, handles well and gets good mileage. I have no insight into the durability yet, since I've had it for only 2 months, but it's still got 2 years/24,000 miles on the bumper-to-bumper warranty it had when brand new. Now that's a bargain.

In the mid 80's, as an insu... (Below threshold)
Bruce Sorensen:

In the mid 80's, as an insurance appraiser I drove a Hyundai, and I drove it, day after day with little expense, for over 300000 km's. This year while looking for a new car, I test drove the Hyundai Elantra, and was I very impressed. I bought that car, and enjoy every minute driving down the highway, Great Car!!




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