Spencer Calbeck January 11, 2010
Were currently fighting through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the auto industry is in shambles. The Americans are fighting tooth and nail just to stay alive; in fact, theyve done quite a bit of begging too. GM is jettisoning everything that isnt nailed down, and Chrysler has been bought by Fiat. Fiat itself isnt in great shape though. While they do possess Ferrari and Maserati, they lack a fast-selling large car (such as the S-Class). This is especially important as this is where a lot of the profit lies. Even Japan isnt safe. Toyota is going through the largest recall the industry has seen in a long time (maybe ever), and they posted their very first loss. Honda doesnt seem to be having trouble, but their questionable design choices are expected to catch up with them. This doesnt mean there arent any bright spots, though. Subaru is doing better than ever, and Suzuki has high hopes for its Kizashi. Suzukis also begun a partnership with Volkswagen, which is poised to claim the title of Worlds Largest Automaker. However, the largest bright spot is Hyundai, by far.
Hyundai used to be known for cheap cars that didnt last long, but not anymore. While still famous for their affordability, Hyundais have become excellent cars, and the brand has one of the most solid line-ups in the industry. Lets start at the bottom and work our way up. The Accent has terrific sales, gets good reviews, and I find the 3-door quite good-looking. The Elantra isnt terribly exciting, but as a Corolla competitor it sure gets the job done. The Elantra Touring doesnt seem to be flying off the lots, but Ive heard nothing bad about it, and this is coming from North America. The current Sonata is a typical mid-size sedan, but the 2011 model gets a thorough and beautiful redesign, an available hybrid powertrain, and Motor Trend expects it to be more fun to drive than the Accord. The Azera was a good value, but its on its way out. The replacement is something even better: the Genesis, Hyundais first true luxury car. On a shortened version of that platform sits the Genesis Coupe, a true-to-life sports car which saw an incredible reception. Beyond that, theres the Equus, a full-size, full-blown flagship, and it might actually come to North America. Wow! And we havent even gotten into the SUVs yet.
The Tucson has been redesigned, and got a good reception, particularly for its interior upgrades. Its been a couple years since the Santa Fe was last redesigned, but it still sells well. The Veracruz hasnt sold outstandingly, but its luxuriousness was an important step for Hyundai. It was a turning point: the brands first step into the premium market.
If you include Kia, the outlook only gets brighter. Hyundai and Kia have a complex relationship; in laymans terms, its a combination of Hyundai owning and having a partnership with Kia. What the Elantra lacks in excitement, Kia hopes to make up for with the Forte. The same goes for the Elantra Touring and the Kia Soul. The Hyundai Entourage has been cancelled, but the Kia Sedona is expected to pick up those sales after its next redesign.