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.
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.