Are Hyundais Good Cars? Are They Reliable?

Hyundai has come a long way from its origins as an obscure Korean budget car manufacturer. Today, it’s one of the most common brands on the roads. Are Hyundai’s good cars, or is there another reason for their popularity?

Hyundais are good cars. The latest models offer high-grade reliability and excellent safety scores at more affordable prices. The cars also feature eye-catching exterior and interior designs that make them stand out in any car lot. However, some older Hyundais have been flagged for defects.

Are you in the market for a Hyundai and weighing your options? This article will cover all the major talking points to help you make a more informed decision.

The latest Hyundai models offer high-grade reliability and excellent safety scores at more affordable prices.

Are Hyundais Reliable?

Hyundais are very reliable. The brand’s reliability has been called into question at different stages of its existence in the past. Today, multiple reports and surveys from reputable consumer magazines highlight how thousands of customers find the brand very reliable.

In 2020, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) chose 11 different Hyundai vehicles among their “Top Safety Picks” of the year. A couple landed the highest “Top Safety Pick Plus” rating. This is in line with results from recent years, as the brand has been well represented in these awards for more than a decade.

In the WhatCar reliability survey of 2020, Hyundai finished in the top 6 with a score of 96.3%. For context, Lexus won the top spot with a score of 98.7%, which highlights just how reliable the Hyundai brand is compared to other top names in the industry.

Going back to 2019, a consumer survey by JD Power ranked cars from Hyundai Motor Group as the highest in its “Initial Quality” category. The rating measures the number of repairs required within the first 90 days of owning a vehicle.

The brand finished 10 points better than the nearest competitor.

The awards for reliability also continue to date as a Hyundai SUV and car won the Kelley Blue Book 5-year cost-to-own rating for 2021 in both categories.

In 2018, the brand took the overall title. Awarded cars are affordable, dependable, and efficient. KBB looks at metrics like repair costs, purchase price, and MPG to come up with their results.

Looking at the results of the consumer-based surveys we’ve seen thus far, there’s no denying that Hyundai is a very reliable brand.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that Hyundai has sold a minimum of 500,000 units in the US alone every year since 2010. In 2016, it sold over 768,000 units—the highest in that time. In the harsh economic year of 2020, the brand still sold around 620,000 units.

What Is the Most Reliable Hyundai Car?

The most reliable Hyundai car is the Hyundai Elantra. The model has been the brand’s staple for decades. Most groundbreaking changes in the company’s lineup often start on the Elantra. However, other models like the Sonata, Santa Fe, and Tucson are also very reliable.

Here’s a quick look at what you can expect from all of them, with a focus on the 2021 models.

Hyundai Tucson

This is a mid-size, practical SUV you can rely on. The vehicle is just about the right size for most people, and it’s embedded with some of the best bits of technology you can find in vehicles within its price range. 

Hyundai car under the tree.

Customers can choose from six different trims.

The base SE trim runs on a 2.0 liter (2,000 mm) four-cylinder engine, while the SEL trim runs on a 2.4-liter (2,400 mm) engine. There are also some visible differences in the interior and exterior features as you go up the trim levels.

All trims of the Tucson can also be equipped with all-wheel drive if that’s what you’d prefer. Not many brands allow this on base trims.

Towing capacity on this SUV starts at 1,500lbs (680 kg) and tops out at 2000lbs (907 kg) on the highest trims. Are your hands full after a shopping spree? You’d love the hands-free smart liftgate on the Sport trim.

The Hyundai Tucson is also no slouch when it comes to safety features.

It features several driver-assist technologies, including automatic emergency braking, frontal collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and more. The cabin is sophisticated, allowing seamless smartphone connection. You also get a panoramic sunroof that makes it feel more spacious.

The exterior looks great as well, with the streamlined frame and the markedly modern aesthetic.

Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe has earned a reputation as a full-size SUV that still delivers that widely-loved sporty aura. If you go with one of these, you’ll get a turbocharged engine with upscale interior accents bound to turn heads everywhere you drive to.

The exterior design gives a magnificent, aggressive appearance thanks to the attractive lighting, the shape of the LED lights, and the bold front grille.

On the safety front, the vehicle features all the standard Hyundai collision prevention systems. You can also choose either front-wheel or all-wheel drive across all the trim levels and either a 2.0-liter (2,000 mm) or 2.5-liter (2,500 mm) turbocharged engine.

There are lots of features included at all trim levels.

You don’t need any special upgrades to enjoy Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, and other connectivity and driver-assistive features. Impressively, this SUV can hold up to 3,000lbs (1,360 kg) of weight. This makes it a unit to consider if you love towing your camper or boat when driving out on vacation.

Hyundai Sonata

If sleek and stylish sedans are your thing, the Hyundai Sonata should be high on your list of models from this brand. It’s one of the most reliable, thanks to the impeccable design that delivers top-of-the-line cabin comfort, exceptional fuel economy, and high-tech safety features.

Like some of the SUVs from Hyundai, the Sonata also has four main trim options to choose from. The SE is the base trim, while the Limited is the highest.

However, they throw in three additional Hybrid options to extend the range to seven trims.

One of the things that make this model stand out is the many hands-free driving functions built in. Customers enjoy a range of semi-autonomous driving features thanks to Hyundai’s SmartSense technology.

Automatic braking, rear sensors, and parking accuracy are just some of the things the technology can do.

This sedan is agile, thanks to the turbocharged 1.6-liter (1,600 mm) engine, and the eight-speed automatic transmission eliminates all jerks during acceleration.

The car’s interior is very attractive, and the cabin is very spacious, as the materials deployed give it a luxurious feel.

Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra is arguably Hyudai’s pillar product over the years. It’s currently in its seventh generation, and it’s easy to see how much work has gone into the model over the years. 

Hyundai Elantra sport.

The sedan features turbocharged 1.6L (1,600 mm) or 2.0L (2,000 mm) four-cylinder engines within its N and N-Line models, respectively. On the inside, the Elantra features everything we’ve come to expect from Hyundai and more.

There’s a generous backseat space, and the dashboard technology is one of the best you’ll see in most sedans.

On the exterior, the Elantra looks stunning with a sleek, all-new design. It looks more aggressive and a bit lower, which has given it a sportier feel. That front grille will stand out anywhere!

All the powerful features expected in a modern sedan are duly represented on the new Elantra.

Hyundai takes things up a level with the driver aids here. Some of the things you’ll get include blind-spot collision avoidance assist, forward-collision mitigation, and lane-keeping assist. The digital key feature is also popular with customers.

With the new Elantra, you’re guaranteed a smooth and satisfying ride at all times.

Are Hyundai Good Cars To Buy Used?

Hyundai cars are good to buy used. They are often more affordable compared to brands from different models, and many used Hyundais are low mileage. This is due to the company’s aggressiveness with deals on new models and their warranty policy that often typically beats industry standards.

When former owners are incentivized to keep upgrading every year or return the car to the dealership for minor problems, you’re sure to find lots of great deals on used Hyundai cars.

However, you need to exercise caution when buying used Hyundai cars. Just like other brands, the car is only as good as its last owner. If you’re buying a car used by multiple owners, the risk of disappointment increases—even with the very low prices you’re likely to pay.

Similarly, a few Hyundai models have had defects in the past that led to recalls. This isn’t strange as other brands have also had to recall models. However, it’s best to avoid spending money on a used car that will have you returning to the dealership frequently.

Why Are Used Hyundais So Cheap?

Used Hyundais are cheap because the company offers a lot of incentives for new cars. The cheap lease deals push more customers to newer vehicles every year, which increases the number of used cars in the market.

Apart from more people moving to new cars, we can also blame Hyundai’s reputation here. In the earlier years, the brand’s vehicles weren’t highly rated on quality. They have worked hard to repair that reputation in recent times, but the job is not yet done.

A new Hyundai vehicle won’t be the first choice of many people. A used Hyundai is surely even lower in the scale of preference, so the price quoted for a used vehicle will reflect the demand for it.

However, as we’ve seen above, newer Hyundai vehicles can hold their own against other more popular brands in the market. If you’re going for a used version of one of these, the prices won’t be too far removed from the average market range for vehicles from a similar year.

If you find a ridiculously cheap Hyundai on sale, it’s either too old or has major issues that will gulp more money.

Final Words

Hyundai has come a long way as a car manufacturer. The cars are as reliable as other major brands in the industry, but they still typically come in at slightly lower prices. It’s no surprise that they are at the top of most “value buy” lists (or very close).

If you are considering going with a new Hyundai, you’re sure to get excellent value for money. Take the time to go over the popular models to choose what works best for you.

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