10 Reasons Why Buying a Hyundai or a Kia Could Be a Smart Decision

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Korean mid-size sedan

While the thought of a Korean mid-size luxury sedan would have sounded laughable a couple decades ago, nowadays cars like the Kia Cadenza are an unavoidable force on the market

We find it fascinating how Korean automakers have become synonymous with quality over the years. Kia reigns as king of initial quality according to J.D. Power, beating out all other manufacturers in 2016. Yeah, that’s right: Kia has better initial quality than Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Honda, or any other automaker out there, and at this rate might be impossible to dethrone.

Once considered a cheap alternative to buying Japanese, both Kia and Hyundai have invested measureless amounts of capital in the American market since the mid-1990s, slowly evolving into the brand identities we see today. Kia, which started life as a bicycle builder in the early 1950s, got its first big break in the 1980s when it partnered with Ford. After overcoming the Asian financial crisis and unavoidable bankruptcy the following decade, it has found security in Hyundai serving as majority stakeholder.

The Santa Fe Sport is an outstanding CUV offering from Hyundai

The Santa Fe Sport is an outstanding CUV offering from Hyundai 

Hyundai’s history draws some interesting parallels to Kia’s, as it also began life not with cars, but with engineering and construction instead. The automaker has also had dealings with Ford in the production of vehicles overseas, and is widely revered for its outstanding 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. By opting to show its dedication to the American market via having its headquarters in Michigan, and positioning an assembly plant in Alabama, Hyundai has strategically made America its home, which seems to have paid off in spades.

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for these Korean car makers. Many Americans in the 1980s and 1990s avoided these “Japanese wannabes” for fear of poor craftsmanship and ridicule from their friends and family. Talk to any old school mechanic and you’ll find that many of these fears were rightly founded, as early models from either automaker were often appallingly poorly built.

Rocky starts aside, both Kia and Hyundai alike have officially found their place in the American market. They’re now giving companies like Honda, Toyota, and BMW genuine cause for concern as the world realizes that it’s perfectly fine to buy Korean electronics and automobiles. Here are 10 reasons why we think opting for a car from either manufacturer is a wise decision.

1. Fantastically good value

40/20/40 split rear seat

The 40/20/40 split rear seat in the Hyundai Santa Fe is a simple feature that scores massive points with critics and buyers alike, as it allows not one but two occupants the ability to ride in the back after a ski trip or visit to the hardware store 

What started out as a bunch of cheap Korean economy cars has blossomed into quite the value-packed product lineup. Both Hyundai and Kia continue to offer more for less; features that were often reserved for high-end luxury sedans from Lexus and BMW can now be found on many inexpensive Korean cars, and it is not uncommon to run across amenities like genuine Nappa leather interior, heated rear benches, power-folding proximity mirrors with courtesy lights, and ventilated front seats.

All of these perks often come at a fraction of the cost of their Japanese and European competition, causing cars like the Sonata to rank second on U.S. News’ list of “Best Midsize Cars For The Money,” while the Kia Optima makes the grade as well with a ninth place ranking.

2. Warranties out the wazoo

Hyundai sedan

The Hyundai Azera sedan is one of the most overlooked and underrated cars on the market for the money, and comes with an unbeatable warranty 

When Hyundai rolled out an industry first 10-year/100,000-mile warranty in 1998, the world raised an eyebrow. When Kia followed suit shortly thereafter, both brows went up. Labeled as “America’s Best Warranty,” this coverage protects the powertrain for that prolonged period, while a five-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper insurance takes care of the rest.

Other perks include five years of unlimited mileage roadside assistance, seven years of rust protection, and an unbelievable lifetime hybrid battery replacement policy. Hyundai reportedly saw a staggering 82% jump in sales within a year of the program being put in place, and while Kia’s powertrain and new vehicle warranties match Hyundai’s, the brand’s roadside assistance is limited to 60,000 miles, and rust coverage spans seven years.

3. Turbos, hybrids, and awards, oh my!

Road salt, snow, grime, and exhaust soot cling to the dual-port exhaust on the a Rally Edition Hyundai Veloster

Road salt, snow, grime, and exhaust soot cling to the dual-port exhaust on a Rally Edition Hyundai Veloster 

Both Kia and Hyundai were quick to hop on the hybrid bandwagon a few years back, and with the aforementioned lifetime battery warranty and outstanding pricing pushing sales, their place in the alternative propulsion arena is rightfully founded. Adding to the mix is the recent news that the 1.4-liter Hyundai Elantra Eco was named one of the 10 best engines by WardsAuto.com, as critics and drivers alike praise the turbocharged powertrain for its surprisingly peppy acceleration and 40 mile per gallon efficiency averages. Meanwhile, the Kia Niro recently set a Guinness World Record for lowest fuel consumption by a hybrid vehicle, going 3,715.4 miles on only 4.1 tanks of gas.

4. Cute, quirky, and eye-catching

Hyundai's Elantra GT is small, smart, and stylish in its approach to subcompact life

Hyundai’s Elantra GT is small, smart, and stylish in its approach to subcompact life

Kia and Hyundai have plenty of options for people who want something subcompact and not too serious looking, all while keeping things practical and fuel-efficient. With budget-minded Generation Z  buyers demanding tech-savvy, compact economy cars, it is no wonder that vehicles like the Elantra and Soul are proving to be popular with today’s buyer. Affordable, adorable, and quirky in their own technology-laden ways, these Korean micro machines are both a bargain and a blast, with cars like the tight-handling Veloster offering more turbocharged bang for the buck.

5. Buyer options abound

Kia Sorento SXL

The Kia Sorento SXL proved to handle quite nicely in snowy conditions, and once outfitted with dedicated winter tires would make for a fantastic SUV for northerners 

Tired of blending in and looking like everyone else on the suburban block? Korean car companies have been listening to Americans gripe about this condition for decades, and have rolled out tons of modifiable amenities to heed the call.

While the laundry list of upgrades and individualized options for cars like the Cadenza may make it look like a million bucks, it’s the ever-expanding number of segment entrants that have earned our nod of approval. Even though neither automaker has a hardcore performance vehicle on deck, or a true hot hatch entry, the wide variety of offerings encompassed by both brands make for a very convincing sales pitch.

6. Styling and profiling

The Kia Optima SXL is an all-around excellent sedan offering

The Kia Optima SXL is an excellent all-around mid-size sedan offering, and offers one of the nicest cabins in the segment

Once considered unappealing by most Americans, modern Korean cars have gotten to the point where passersby are left flabbergasted that the car they are gazing at is Korean, with sedans like the Cadenza, Optima,  and Genesis line serving as prime examples. From the use of LED illumination both inside and out, to redesigned lines, quilted Nappa leather interior touches, and performance focused rear diffusers, both manufacturers appear to be making the most of the designers they have conscripted from European automakers. In 2006, Hyundai hired former BMW designer Thomas Bürkle to lead the company’s design department, while Kia was able to obtain the artistic services of none other than Peter Schreyer of Audi fame.

6. Styling and profiling

The Kia Optima SXL is an all-around excellent sedan offering

The Kia Optima SXL is an excellent all-around mid-size sedan offering, and offers one of the nicest cabins in the segment 

Once considered unappealing by most Americans, modern Korean cars have gotten to the point where passersby are left flabbergasted that the car they are gazing at is Korean, with sedans like the Cadenza, Optima,  and Genesis line serving as prime examples. From the use of LED illumination both inside and out, to redesigned lines, quilted Nappa leather interior touches, and performance focused rear diffusers, both manufacturers appear to be making the most of the designers they have conscripted from European automakers. In 2006, Hyundai hired former BMW designer Thomas Bürkle to lead the company’s design department, while Kia was able to obtain the artistic services of none other than Peter Schreyer of Audi fame.

7. Quality remains king

Kia drive modes and electronic e-brake on the Cadenza

(Clockwise from top) Drive modes, 360-degree camera toggles, vented seat controls on either side, rear shade retractor, Auto Hold, heated steering switches, and an electronic e-brake in the center are just a few of the features you’ll find in the Cadenza 

The days of people complaining about inferior Korean quality are over. Many of Hyundai’s and Kia’s cars are now made in America, offer ample amounts of standard amenities for the money, and are awarded heavily for their quality every year.

This shift first began back in 2004: Hyundai shocked everyone when it tied Honda for initial brand quality in a study by J.D. Power and Associates. It then placed third overall in J.D. Power’s 2006 Initial Quality Survey, trailing only Porsche and Lexus. Kia has been busy cleaning up as well, winning awards for its safety, design, and ingenuity, with the award for best initial quality from J.D. Power being the most recent feather in its cap.

8. Get loaded on luxury

Nappa leather interior

Featuring quilted Nappa leather seats, and a brilliant “white interior package,” the 2017 Kia Cadenza is a sleek luxury barge on a budget 

As Hyundai drops the Equus name and turns Genesis into its own luxury line, Kia reworks the Cadenza so it can stand out as an affordable yet still opulent alternative to the luxurious K900 full-size sedan. While other car manufacturers require adding package after package in order to get to a certain set of results, Kia and Hyundai employ a more direct approach where a base model comes packed with accouterments, and package options are limited to a select few additions to cut down on confusion.

9. They’re fit for the whole family

The Kia Sedona proves to be worth its price, and offers outstanding amenities

The Kia Sedona proves to be worth its price, and offers outstanding amenities for larger families 

Let’s be honest about something: Kids are a massive pain in the ass for automakers. From countless dollars in warrantied-out interior components, to strenuous government child safety LATCH system requirements, the list of things that factor into making a family car is difficult to fathom.

Fortunately, employees at Kia have their own kids, so designing a Sedona minivan with the right ride height, seat-folding skills, and door angles happened about as naturally as it could have. Hyundai, on the other hand, remains focused on safe sedans and hatchbacks of all manner, be they subcompacts or SUVs, which continue to outsell sedans due to their practicality.

10. The future looks bright

Kia Concept Car

Kia teased the world with a sport wagon concept that it still has yet to reveal any further news on, which leaves hope in that someday soon it will release its own Focus RS and Civic Type-R fighter | Kia

Kia Motors America’s longest running nameplate, the recently released Sportage, is now classified as the best in its segment according to Cars.com; a heavy overhaul earned it the title of “Best New Compact SUV” of 2017. Meanwhile, Hyundai continues to sweep up awards from KBB and IIHS for safety suites and low ownership costs in the Sonata line. It also cranks out its own fun little firecracker of a CUV, the turbocharged Santa Fe Sport, and still has plans for a fresh hybrid in the Ioniq platform.

Maybe what Kia and Hyundai’s haters fail to realize isn’t that the misnomer that Korean car companies are crap is completely off-base, but that they are becoming all-around experts at sweeping an automotive segment. Love or hate them, once you take into account all of the accomplishments and advantages, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Korean automakers have earned their keep and have one hell of a success story to tell.

(cheatsheet.com, https://goo.gl/F2Ig4X)

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