It’s astonishing how Korean automakers have become synonymous with quality over the years. In 2016, Kia reigned as king of initial quality according to J.D. Power, beating out every other manufacturer. That’s right: Kia had better initial quality than Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Honda, or any of the other big guns. It doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon either.
But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, it wasn’t like this even a few years ago. 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 to build the awful Aspire econobox. 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. Its cars first came to America in the ’80s, offering the cheapest cars on the market — and they looked and drove like it too. Flash forward to the present day, and the brand is revered for its quality, affordability, and outstanding 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. Plus, with its U.S. headquarters in Michigan, and an assembly plant in Alabama, Hyundai has strategically made America its home — a choice that seems to be resonating with buyers.
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. Today, they can rival Honda, Toyota, and even BMW. Of course, cost is a big part of it. But there’s much, more more to it than that. Here are 10 reasons why buying a Korean car is a wise decision.