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Should You Reconsider Hyundai Vehicles?

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author photo by Josh Sadlier November 2014

Hyundai vehicles certainly had humble beginnings in this country, but today, those early missteps, such as the unreliable Excel hatchback, are ancient history. The Korean upstart has been a top-tier automaker for some years now, challenging the best from Europe, Japan and Detroit with its comprehensive vehicle lineup and famous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

What you may not know, however, is that Hyundai is currently in the midst of a second revolution. The first, started by the handsome 2006 Sonata and reinforced by the 2011 Sonata with its "fluidic sculpture" design, took Hyundai from the margins to mainstream. Now the company is looking to take the next step by offering premium new products that are more than just great values. Think about what Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, has done with its cool, cutting-edge smartphones and televisions. That's what Hyundai wants for its cars and crossovers.

So can Hyundai vehicles shed the value-brand reputation and level the playing field with more deluxe brands? Here are three new models that demonstrate the possibilities.

Hyundai Sonata

One could argue that as the Hyundai brand follows behind its Sonata model, and the all-new 2015 Sonata suggests that Hyundai's future is looking bright indeed. When you settle into the latest Sonata's cockpit, it seems chic and upscale in comparison to competitors such as the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. That's particularly true in navigation-equipped models, which feature a beautiful 8-inch touchscreen that's as good as any we've seen in a reasonably priced car. If you spring for the turbocharged Sport 2.0T, you'll have a nifty Audi-like flat-bottom steering wheel. While much has been made of the turbo engine's power reduction for 2015 (from 274 horsepower to 245 hp), it still delivers satisfying low-rpm thrust that nonturbocharged models, such as the Accord V6, just can't match. Throw in crisper, more refined exterior styling, and you've got a sophisticated all-around package that's at the head of the family-sedan class.

Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport

Whether you go with the 2-row Santa Fe Sport or the 3-row Santa Fe, you'll be getting the sort of luxury and style that previous Santa Fe owners could only dream of. Redesigned for 2013, the Santa Fe boasts smooth yet muscular styling that sets it apart from other lookalike crossover SUVs. Inside, standard features include alloy wheels, LED headlight accents, Bluetooth streaming audio, and iPod/USB connectivity. Good luck finding a rival base model that gives you all of that. The Sport's second-row seat delivers midsize space at a compact price, while the 3-row Santa Fe adds extra room in the way back for kids. The powertrains are improved, too, with the Sport offering a 264-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder that puts the 185-hp Honda CR-V to shame, and the 3-row Santa Fe sporting a capable 290-hp V6.

Hyundai Genesis

If you're a brand snob, you'll probably bypass the new-for-2015 Genesis luxury sedan for better-known nameplates, such as a 5 Series and E-Class model. And you'll be seriously missing out. Why? Because the Genesis quite honestly plays in a higher league than those midsize European sport sedans. It's a bargain-priced alternative to the Lexus LS, or even the BMW 7 Series. The Genesis is a truly imposing car, with an executive-class backseat and a cloudlike ride that would impress at twice the price. It also offers an awesome 420-hp V8 engine that delivers thrilling acceleration. The surprisingly responsive chassis has been tuned with input from the experts at Lotus. The cabin technology is top-notch, too, including a fully digital instrument panel and an intuitive infotainment interface.

AutoTrader Says

Hyundai's taking things up a notch with its latest models, and there's a lot more to come over the next few years. If you haven't sampled the lineup in a few years, it may be time to reconsider.

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS
Used 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe
$16,974
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2014 Hyundai Sonata Limited
Used 2014 Hyundai Sonata
$13,650
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Used 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe FWD
Used 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe
$17,866
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Used 2014 Hyundai Sonata SE
Used 2014 Hyundai Sonata
$13,475
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Should You Reconsider Hyundai Vehicles? - Autotrader