About HyundaiThe South Korean industrial conglomerate Hyundai--formerly best known for building ships, powerplants, oil rigs, and late '60s British-licensed Fords--made their American automotive debut with the 1986 Excel. Even with dealers in just 31 states, the humble subcompact car proved a major success, selling 166,682 units, which was a record for sales of any imported first-year model. In the relatively short time since, the brand has made impressive inroads in the U.S. market and developed its brand well beyond the bare-bones economy cars of its early years. The company is now the eighth-largest automaker in the world.
The cheap cars of the mid-1980s sold well initially, but as quality issues became glaringly obvious over time, new-car sales began to fall off. To salvage the brand, Hyundai made substantial investments in research, development, and quality through the 1990s. A 10-year/100,000-mile warranty was added to all cars in 1998, and in 2004, J.D. Power and Associates ranked the company second in initial quality worldwide, tied with... View more Honda.
Released in 1989, the Sonata is Hyundai's longest-running model. Although initially an economy mid-size, the car has grown over the years in size and features. Top trim lines in 2011 offer a 6-speed manual transmission standard (automatic available), front- and rear-heated seats, and paint claimed superior to the quality of Mercedes-Benz. A hybrid Sonata was released in February 2011, and claims 47 mpg on the highway.
The compact Elantra, released in 1990, was recently re-titled the Avante, following claims that the name was too similar to Lotus' Elan and Mitsubishi's Elante. The Avante LPI (currently a Korea-only model) is a mild hybrid, meaning the engine lacks a battery and electric motor for propulsion--but saves fuel by turning off while coasting.
From 1996 to 2008, Hyundai produced a compact sporty coupe, known at various times--and in various markets--as the Coupe, the Tiburon, or the Tuscani. A new turbocharged incarnation is said to be in the works.
In 2000, Hyundai released their first SUV, the mid-size crossover Santa Fe, which became the company's immediate best-seller. It was named a Consumer Reports "Top Pick" for 2008. Below the Santa Fe is the entry-level compact crossover Tucson (2004). The Veracruz is Hyundai's top-of-the-line SUV.
The Genesis, released in 2008, is a luxury, full-size car created to compete with established luxury brands, such as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. It was named the 2009 North American Car of the Year. Since 2010, the Genesis has also been available in coupe form.
Hyundai's most expensive car is the Equus full-sized luxury sedan. Before arriving in the U.S. in 2010, the car was very successful in South Korea and China, and it is currently used (in bulletproof form) by Korean president Lee Myung-Bak.
But Hyundai hasn't forgotten its roots--the 2011 base price for the subcompact Accent hatchback is just $9,985. View less
Popular Hyundai Models
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