The Hyundai Motor Company was founded slightly over 50 years ago in 1967, just four days after Christmas of that year on December 29th. But over the years, Hyundai and the cars they manufactured have hardly been the “perfect gift” for the Holiday season. It was founded by Chung Ju-Yung in Seoul, South Korea and has been one of the country’s most lucrative exports for these past 5 decades. The company has over 100,000 people in its employ and has garnered for itself a revenue of over $5 trillion as of 2016, and yes, that is indeed Trillion.
But, an income as large and substantial as the aforementioned trillions doesn't always speak for the quality of the product, as has been the case for this company. Yes, over the years they have produced some decent cars, and in fact, some of them have also been way above par when it comes to top vehicular standards, but overall, they have built and launched some cars that not only didn’t perform well but actually almost bankrupted the company. Most of these cars don’t have the best of reputation, as you’ll soon read, despite the fact that the company still keeps making many of them, remodeling them and repackaging them at will. This is obviously the perfect example of what a fat wallet can do.
But despite all this, the company thrives, and we can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t the few good quality cars they've manufactured that are actually saving them in the end. We’ve got five of those possibilities and a whopping 19 that almost took down the big car company, so sit back and read all about the cars that almost took down a titan in the automotive industry, and 5 that saved its proverbial skin.
24 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Sonata
Believe it or not, the Sonata has been in production since 1985, and has been remodeled and repacked over and over again over these long 30-plus years, and although there have been some positive reviews regarding a few of these models, overall, the car doesn't have the best of reputations and for good reason.
Popular complaints: tires always deflating due to rim issues, engine stalls, long stays at dealership repair centers, almost 5,000 dollars in repairs at one time...and the list goes on, but do I really need to continue? I think not.
23 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Eon
If you haven't heard about this car, it's good that you read about it here, so as to educate yourself on what vehicles to stay away from. This model was launched in India way back in October of 2011. It's still in production to this day, and to that we ask, for the love of all that is good and holy, Why?
It's classified as a city car, though this is odd considering that its market is still primarily countries that have considerable areas resembling rural landscapes.
Common issues: limited space, gearbox leakage, and one user stated that the cabin was too accessible to rats and reptiles! Now imagine finding a few new friends like that on your groggy commute to work in the morning. Yikes!
22 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Ionic
This car is relatively new, as it premiered only in 2016. It's still being manufactured today, showing Hyundai's hard-headed tendency to stick with models even though they don't do all that well, but hey, who can blame them for giving it the old college try? Besides, it's worked in the past and they have improved some of their models by the 20th try, so here's to sticking it out.
As for this model, it's a hybrid, which means that although it has a combustion engine, functionality relies on electricity as well. Now that's good for the environment, and we have to commend them for that, but at the same time, it doesn't mean it's flawless, or even the best hybrid on the market.
21 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Mistra
It comes with both manual and automatic transmissions and is indeed quite affordable. This compact sedan premiered in 2013, and in just a few short years it too has joined the ranks of the Accent which, let's be honest, is way overrated when it comes to Hyundai's products.
From the way these cars were marketed, people expected the answer to all vehicular woes, but the cars produced were far from what they promised.
This model is related closest to the Sonata and interestingly enough, the similarities don't stop with the design, but they also lie within the problems that are indeed quite common.
20 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Xcent
This model probably calls to mind the relatively infamous Accent, most likely because of its name. The style too is quite similar to the Accent, but this car was primarily marketed in Asia, mainly India where it's manufactured and has been manufactured since its inception in 2014.
Big plans were in the works for this car and it was released with a bang, as the company hired popular Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan as ambassador for the car when it premiered, and although sales were impressive, it would eventually follow its predecessors as a vehicle that could not be implicitly trusted in the Asian climate and ecological environment.
19 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Atos
Now this car is definitely a cute little bugger. Small, compact and heck, even the yellow color brings a smile to our eyes, as it has been proven that the color yellow can be considered a natural antidepressant. Now, I don't know that that's exactly true, or just hearsay, but what we can confirm is that the car pictured here was, in fact, a disappointment despite its sprightly appearance, and we don't have to be engineers to figure out why.
Production started way back in 1997, and it's still being produced by the company. It was a tiny car with a relatively small engine (its top speed is only 88 miles per hour), thus problems with this model are indeed quite obvious--especially for a car that was marketed in Asia and Mexico. Basically, it's good for going for groceries, but not good for outrunning anything.
18 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Dynasty
Now here is a model that can indeed be considered a paradox of sorts. The model didn't fare well with general motorists, but was a top pick for taxicab companies in the Eastern Market. Go figure.
It was labeled an executive car and for good reason. It seemed as though it was Hyundai's response to the Lincoln Town Car, but the similarities stop at the design, trust us on that one.
It was manufactured between 1996 and 2005. At its inception, the car was indeed a top-seller, but it fell out of favor for an interesting reason: it was a forward wheel drive car and when the Grandeur model was released (as it was an improved version of this model) sales for the Dynasty dropped big time.
17 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Elantra
This particular car has been in production since 1990, with a whopping 28 years it's soon to reach its 3rd decade out in the market. It doesn't seem like a car that should have had such a long run, but in fact, it has.
Now there have been mixed reviews over the years with this car, and it definitely has enjoyed some time in the proverbial sun, with favorable comments adorning the forum and chatroom walls over the years, but overall, the car was and can be considered a disappointment. The carconnection.com gives it a 6 out of 10 and let's face it, that isn't good.
16 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Lavita
"La Vita" in Italian means life, and usually associated with things of a lively sort, the name doesn't sit quite well with this particular vehicle, now does it?
It first was produced in South Korea at the cusp of this century in 2001, and production there halted in 2007 and eventually came to an end in Turkey in 2010. This was of course for very good reason. The car was designed by an Italian company by the name of Pininfarina, hence the obvious name of the car.
Over the years, the car underwent continuous changes and modifications, but despite such work, the car still fell horribly out of favor.
15 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Marcia
It's pretty common for motorists to name their vehicles. Maybe it's out of a sense of endearment, but it's definitely often out of a sense of frustration as well. How many of us have been stranded somewhere, turning the ignition of a car that won't start, calling out the names of our cars in hope that they'll listen to our cries of help and frustration: "Come on Betsy!! Don't you fall asleep on me!! Come on and start you ..."
Well, Hyundai decided to name this model for us and at the end of the day, the name proved quite catchy.
Related to the Sonata, this model was the Sonata's 3rd generation model and differed from its parent vehicle with the front and back end.
14 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Pony
This car had an interesting run from 1975 to 1990 and although you wouldn't expect to see something from that era on this list--an era some have considered the golden era of automotive design--it definitely belongs here.
It was actually the first vehicle to be mass-produced in South Korea, and at first was very favorable for the market and for the company. A British designer, George Turnbull was hired to design the car and he did so by assembling parts from Mitsubishi vehicles and Ford vehicles respectively. The result was a good car, but one that would not stand the test of time, eventually falling out of favor by the time the 90s hit. But hey ... it sure had a decent run.
13 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Stellar
Far from stellar was the vehicle named after a word that means "outstanding" or "exceptionally good." Is it fair to say that this vehicle was quite far from what its name promised? We'd care to venture the answer that yes indeed, it's quite fair.
It was produced between 1983 and 1997 and was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, an Italian designer. Maybe Hyundai was chasing after the success of other high-end vehicles of an Italian variant, but they were way off the mark with what eventually hit the streets with these designs.
Again, here was another example of a car that started out quite well, but eventually fell out of favor.
12 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Creta
An SUV being produced in Asia and South America, this is relatively a new model, having premiered in 2014. It has a 1.6 engine and is automatic. All in all, it seems like quite the simple package but reviews have been mixed at best.
Despite being labeled an SUV, it's not ideal for off-roading.
The rear tires are actually drum brakes and differ from the front brakes. Apparently, there are no rain sensing wipers, it has no cruise control, and difficult steering capabilities and functionality are in fact quite low. All these problems and others can and will probably be a factor in sales.
11 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Santa Fe
This SUV was launched in 2000 and has been re-packaged quite a few times over. As is the case with Hyundai and a lot of their models, you hear quite a bit and see quite a few of these, but in the long run, bad experiences win out before long, as was the case with the pony that we took a look at earlier in this article. Before long, people get wise and they grow tired of the same old problems time and time again.
A top selling feature with newer models of this vehicle is the self-parking feature, but some have noted that there's a problem there and have gone on to say not to trust the feature. This and other problems can lead a vehicle to be discontinued if issues aren't resolved.
10 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Kona
Here's another of Hyundai's SUVs. Now this one's a fresh, practical off the line car, seeing the light of day in 2017. Relatively new, we still can't draw conclusions this early as to whether it'll make Hyundai a load of cash or cost it in the end, but, we can come pretty close to a prediction, and judging by some early reviews, it can go either way.
According to Top Gear, the car apparently handles pretty well, but what may work against it is its design. And it wouldn't be the first car to do badly because of the way it looked.
9 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Nexo
Even newer than the aforementioned Kona, the Nexo is the newest offering by a company that can't afford anymore misses. The Nexo offers brand new features and state of the art accessories.
But in the end, are those enough to help it gain favor when those complaints start coming in?
Don't get us wrong. Not everything they produce is terrible, as you soon will see in this article, but the stigma attached to the Hyundai name comes from years and years of disappointments, both in the automotive field and in the field of finance, so who can blame the naysayers?
8 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Entourage
Hardly a car fit for the likes of an actual "Entourage," this model had a short time in the sun, being manufactured between 2006 and 2009. It was actually manufactured by Hyundai's sister company, Kia and was based on one of their models, the Carnival. And now that the name Kia was mentioned, we can all pretty much understand why this model made the negative side of this list we've compiled for you all today, dear readers.
Kia is not at all a trustworthy brand of cars and we could probably compile a pretty glaring list such as this one for those cars as well, but let's stick to one bad cropping of cars at a time, shall we?
7 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Grace
We've definitely scratched the bottom of the barrel here and have looked beyond the North American markets and the slew of vehicles that are indeed quite abundant on our streets this side of the Atlantic. Many of the Hyundai vehicles, like this one pictured here, are quite common overseas. Many of them are not really catching on here in North America, however, this was repackaged here by Mitsubishi between 1987 and 1990 but sold very badly in its 3 years on the market. It's got a beautiful name, sure, but its reputation doesn't really coincide with it.
6 Almost Sunk Hyundai: Terracan
Quite popular in Australia and Asian markets, the Terracan has been produced since 2001. And although the aforementioned markets had decent things to say about the car, the vehicle didn't quite exactly catch on here in North America, which is understandable.
Until production ended in 2011, the Terracan was remodeled and changed every few years but to no avail. The car never really caught on as a forerunner for the company and that shouldn't come as a surprise.
At the end of the day, Hyundai has often relied on "the same old" way too many times in its existence. And when other companies are relying on innovation and advancement, many of these vehicles can be expected to disappoint time and time again, hence their reputation thus far.
5 Keeping Hyundai Afloat: Tiburon
And now, for the cusp of chance. Every now and again, the Hyundai Motor Company produces something that not only catches on, but is actually respected by not only the average motorist, but by automotive enthusiasts as well.
Here is a model that is often trusted by race enthusiasts, both on the street and on the track. This model has been remodeled by many gearheads and depending on specs, we'd imagine that it also won a few proud owners some decent pocket and spending money on a quarter mile stretch or two. Not to mention that sales for this model are indeed quite high.
4 Keeping Hyundai Afloat: Tucson IX35
Now out of all their SUVs, Hyundai can definitely rely on this one, both in sales and in street cred, as being their top "beast" on the market.
It's dependable, durable, safe and good-looking, this SUV can be matched with many on the market from other companies and for good reason, particularly the IX35.
It was the first vehicle to reach such a wide range of consumers to offer a hydrogen fuel driven drivetrain, this obviously being a positive thing. Drivers caught on and the vehicle is definitely a top-seller in any market.
3 Keeping Hyundai Afloat: Veloster
Now that too is an awesome name, and this time, the vehicle merits the title. Not only is it sleek and powerful, but it's quite affordable and has been reviewed as being rather safe and easy to drive.
Further praise comes at the hands of its design and despite a slow start, the vehicle is slowly gaining favor. It has been labeled as a vehicle that can stand toe to toe with many like it on the market, and for Hyundai, that's very promising indeed. If only they could design products like this more often, maybe they could do something about their floundering reputation.
2 Keeping Hyundai Afloat: I20 Coupe
It's been compared to many of the imported cars on the market and it is a favorable choice for anyone looking for a car perfect for modification and alterations leaning toward the racing milieu. Let's just say that Paul Walker's character in The Fast And The Furious franchise would absolutely love this model, as the character had a penchant for imported cars, something that bugged the living daylights out of his brother in law in the film, Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel. The car has been compared to the Supra, the Civic and other strong performers and for good reason. Kudos to Hyundai for this one too.
1 Keeping Hyundai Afloat: Genesis Coupe
Here is something for the masses to enjoy. Definitely not an Accent or a Sonata, but close to the designs (only sleeker and a little more shapely).
The reason that this car is definitely considered to be "for the masses" is that it's affordable, but at the same time it is and has been considered a milestone vehicle for the Hyundai Motor Company. High praise indeed, but well merited.
It is considered Hyundai's torchbearer and has been called an "everyday premium" by the brand itself. That just goes to show you that if a company has a bad reputation, it isn't always because everything they make is terrible or disappointing. There's always a diamond in the rough.
Sources: thenewswheel.com, topgear.com, thecarconnection.com, productreview.com.au, consumeraffairs.com