It’s not easy to change a brand’s image. Build a reputation for poor reliability and you can struggle for decades convincing customers you’ve turned things around. So how, you might ask, has Hyundai achieved its image makeover in such a short period of time?
Certainly, the 10-year warranty helped, as did its rapidly improving performance in third-party surveys, like the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Then there’s the Genesis sedan. Few took the Korean maker seriously when it announced its entry into the mid-luxury segment, but when the Hyundai Genesis sedan was named North American Car of the Year, in January 2008, few were still snickering.
Though the original, mid-luxury sedan probably wasn’t as much the driver’s car as a BMW 5-Series nor the lavishly-finished luxury saloon of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the first Hyundai Genesis was a clear breakthrough for the Korean carmaker and a bargain for buyers who wanted to move up-market without paying the traditional premium for German or Japanese Luxury models. Significantly, even with a new update coming, sales of the Hyundai Genesis continue to grow.
In its first incarnation, Car of the Year jurors seemed ready to forgive the sedan its modest sins. Now, as Hyundai prepares to launch a significant update for the 2012 model-year, however, it needs be judged on a truly level playing field. How does it stack up?