While Hyundai began as a retailer of economic and budget-friendly cars, it’s now turned into a massive player in the automotive industry that mass produces greatly designed, engineered, and reliable cars.
Hyundai has a comprehensive list of vehicles on offer. While some will instantly calm down your senses, others will make the hair on your neck stand.
In this article, I have detailed answers for all your questions related to Hyundai cars, be it reliability, maintenance, comfort, safety, or the most common problems with Hyundai cars.
Hyundai is making one of the best cars in the market right now- they are reliable, safe, and feature-packed. Hyundai Elantra was voted the North American Car of the year 2021. Hyundai cars are offering the most bang for your buck. In fact, According to You Gov, Hyundai ranks at the 13th position amongst most famous car makers that are known for their affordability.
As far as reliability is concerned, in the 2020 What Car Reliability Survey, Hyundai ranked among the top 5 most reliable car manufacturers, with an overall score of 96.3%.
According to the 2020 US data, not even a single Hyundai vehicle has been given a score below 3.5 out of 5 for predicted reliability. However, if you are thinking of buying a used car, I would recommend you to simply avoid the Hyundai cars from 2013 and before, as many of their popular models such as Elantra, Sonata, Accent, and the Santa Fe had multiple problems back then.
Kelley Blue Book (KBB) presented Hyundai as the auto brand with the lowest 5-year ownership cost in 2018.
In 2019, 13 Hyundai vehicles made it amongst the top safety picks of the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Interestingly, 12 out of 13 of those vehicles received the highest Top Safety Pick+ rating.
Also read: Mazda vs. Hyundai (Depreciation Compared!)
If maintained nicely, Hyundai cars can last over 200,000 miles or over 15 years. As per The Drive, Hyundai is one of the automakers that are known to have long-lasting models. JD Power has listed Hyundai as the 13th most dependable automotive brand.
The Elantra can easily cross 200,000 miles and reach even up to 250,000 miles if given proper care. Hyundai ranks among the top 5 most reliable automakers. Hyundai scored 4 or a higher score in the reliability ranking of Repair Pal – proving an overall lower frequency of repairs. Additionally, according to Car and Driver, modern vehicles are more reliable and last much longer than the ones of the past.
Hyundai cars are generally known to be rustproof. The paint job as well as the metal panels on Hyundai cars are quite high in quality. The paint doesn’t chip away easily and protects the car from rust.
Hyundai has one of the cheapest repair costs in the automotive industry. Plus, according to Repair Pal, Hyundai cars have a comparatively less frequency of serious repairs. The average annual cost of Hyundai repairs is only $462.
In the Car MD’s list of the top 100 cars in the US with the cheapest average check engine-related repair costs, Hyundai has 10 of its models (2017 Tucson was the cheapest) in that list. 2017 had been the year with the lowest average check engine-related repair cost for Hyundai – $307. In 2019, at $333, it was still way less than the industry average.
Let’s have a look at the average annual repair cost for some popular Hyundai models:
|Model||Average Annual Repair Cost (Hyundai)||Industry Average of Cars in that Segment|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||$515||$573|
What are the Most Common Problems with Hyundai Cars?
- Airbag issues
- Engine related issues
- Electrical faults
- Steering issues
- Powertrain related problems
Older generations of the Hyundai Elantra suffered from major Airbag issues. According to the Car Problem Zoo, the most common issue was the airbag light going on and off randomly, consequently, robbing the driver’s confidence in whether the airbags would work correctly.
Even airbag issues such as non-deployment, inflator issues, and sensor breakdowns were reported in 2006 to 2007 Hyundai models. Hyundai had to recall these cars because the airbag would deploy due to high pressure and would end up causing severe injuries.
Furthermore, models between 2006 to 2008 had a faulty wright sensor on the front seat. This resulted in the airbag getting deployed even when a child is an occupant.
According to Car Problem Zoo, the following number of airbag-related complaints were reported:
|Problem||No. of Complaints|
|Airbag Light on and off issues||1,524|
|Airbag not deployed||868|
|Warning Light display issues||400|
|Sensor control issues in Front Airbags||337|
|Curtain Airbag issues||252|
Older Hyundai Elantra models suffered from numerous issues with their engines. 2013 being the worst Elantra model, with multiple engine problems. Most common engine problems included issues with the cooling system, noisy engine ticking sound, engine knocking and stalling issues, piston slap, and even engine failure. Generally, these problems began after 73,000 miles and cost approximately $4,300 to fix. 2011, 2013, and 2015 Sonata also had tonnes of engine problems including engine seizing without any warning, stalling, rough engine noise, and engine failure
The following number of engine-related complaints were reported:
|Problem||No. of Complaints|
|Engine and Engine cooling issues||2,624|
|Engine Stalling issues||773|
|Check Engine Light on issues||459|
|Engine Knocking Noise||381|
|Clicking and Tapping Engine Noise||301|
|Engine failure issues||222|
Hyundai vehicles have always had slightly problematic electrical systems. There are several customer complaints, mainly about the stability control and warning lights turning on while driving. Electric parts could possibly cost up to $500 to replace.
The following number of Electrical faults related complaints were reported:
|Problem||No. of Complaints|
|Electrical System issues||2,367|
|Alternator, generator, or regulator related issues||255|
|Battery and ignition issues||110|
Older gen models of the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra (2011-2015) showed multiple steering-related issues, with over 3,756 complaints being reported in total in all Hyundai models.
Following were the most common steering related issues:
|Problem||No. of Complaints|
|Steering column issues||450|
|Steering Noise issues||220|
|Steering Vibration issues||145|
With over 3,331 problems being reported, powertrain issues on Hyundai cars were one of the prime concerns of owners. The 2004 Accent had problems with its gearbox, and the 7-speed DCT on the 2016 Tucson was a huge failure.
Following were the most common powertrain related issues:
|Problems||No. of Complaints|
|Automatic gearbox issues||318|
Hyundai has been manufacturing some of the safest cars in the market. In the recent 2021 list of the safest vehicles on road in each segment issued by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), several Hyundai cars held a good spot in that list.
All these cars were built on a safe and stable body structure, and came with multiple advanced safety features, consequently, scoring a 5-star overall rating in the NHTSA crash tests.
Here is the list of Hyundai cars that got featured in the 2021 NHTSA’s top safety pick:
- Hyundai Elantra
- Hyundai veloster 2 door hatchback
- Hyundai Sonata
- Santa Fe
Midsize luxury SUVs
NHTSA’s criteria for 2021 Top Safety Pick:
- The vehicle must get advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention. The evaluation is performed from vehicle-to-pedestrian as well as vehicle-to-vehicle.
- The vehicle must score Good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests
- The vehicle must have average or good headlights.
Hyundai offers great quality materials in most of their vehicles. These cars are greatly engineered and well built-in and out. Models like the Palisade, Sonata, and the Elantra use premium materials inside the cabin and present a great opulence.
However, when fared against the competition, some Hyundai rivals do offer more upscale materials inside the cabin. Hyundai vehicles, especially the Venue, Kona, and the Santa Fe offer slightly cheaper quality of elements.
Most Hyundai cars have scored a 5-star crash test rating. This definitely speaks of their stable structure and sturdy built quality.
On the inside, the Hyundai Sonata and Palisade offer upscale materials. The cabin looks and feels premium, certainly more than what the price suggests. Nonetheless, in general, Hyundai cabins are recognized for their firm build quality and comprehensive features rather than exciting designs and premium materials.
The resale value of Hyundai vehicles is pretty decent. On average, Hyundais depreciate close to 21.45% in the first year or have a resale value of 78.55% with around 91.67 % of the vehicle’s life remaining. The depreciation rate follows at 29.93% in the second year, 33.10% in the third, 39.72% in the fourth, and 47.18% in the fifth year. This rate, of course, varies from model to model.
Generally, the Hyundai Accent and the Elantra suffer comparatively lesser depreciation, while the Sonata finds itself on the other side of the spectrum. Meanwhile, models like Tucson, Palisade, Ioniq, and Santa Fe lie somewhere in between.
Here is a detailed comparison of the average Resale value of some of the popular Hyundai cars over the years.
|Vehicle||First Year||Second Year||Third Year||Fourth Year||Fifth Year|
Hyundai has done an incredible job in keeping their cars’ maintenance costs low. In reality, at an average maintenance cost of $468 per year, Hyundai cars are one of the cheapest to maintain in the market.
Data suggests that during the first year of ownership, the approximate maintenance costs of a Hyundai fluctuates from around $50 for a 2020 Hyundai Accent to approximately $294 for a 2019 Hyundai Sonata in that year. And by the fifth year of ownership, these figures shot up to almost $1300 – $1800.
Hyundai does offer several basic and extended warranty options to buyers to ease the ownership experience. As far as servicing is concerned, according to the Hyundai owner manual, service is advisory at every 6,000 to 7,500 miles interval. This means getting your car serviced at around 7,000 miles, 14,500 miles, 22,000 miles, 29,500 miles, and so on.
A general service includes some of the following maintenance checks:
- Multiple inspections for brake pads and engine air filter
- Engine oil, oil filter, and coolant change
- Tire rotations
- Wiper and tire pressure inspection
- Cabin air filter replacement
- Fluid leaks inspection
- Visual Inspection of suspension and chassis components
Hyundai also offers owners a comprehensive maintenance plan, to further improve the overall ownership experience. The plan is a subset of the Hyundai Assurance program, and it includes scheduled factory maintenance up to 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The insurance cost of Hyundai cars is quite average, at nearly $1169 per year. This is just slightly more than the industry average of $1169 per year. Eventually, the exact costs boil down to the model that you choose. Hyundai cars such as the Elantra, Accent, and the Sonata are a bit more expensive than the average insurance costs.
Let’s look at the average insurance costs of some Hyundai cars:
- Azera: $1372
- Santa Fe: $1000
- Elantra: 1356
- Accent: 1371
- Sonata: 1311
Here are the top 5 insurance companies that you can consider:
- State farm
You can further lower down these costs by opting for lesser coverage options.
Let’s look at the most and least reliable Hyundai models:
- Hyundai Elantra
- Hyundai Sonata
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- 2011 Hyundai Sonata: The 2011 Sonata is the worst Hyundai that you can ever buy. NHTSA shows over 2,720 complaints, out of which 37% were related to engine – engine seizing, failure, and noise problems.
- 2013 Elantra: The 2013 Elantra had a bunch of engine issues. It had an annoying engine ticking sound, engine failures, airbag problems, steering problems, service brakes issues, and poor gas mileage issues.
- 2016 Tucson: The 2016 Tucson had a 7 speed DCT, a complete failure. It had a lot of issues – the car just won’t move after a stop. The car also had AC problems, and other engine issues as well.
- Santa Fe (2017 and earlier): 2017 and earlier models of the Santa Fe were quite problematic. Problems included engine failure (2012), paint coming off (2009), fuel level sensor failure (2008. Overall, the 2007 model was the most problematic
- Accent (2012 and earlier): The older Accent had airbag problems, powertrain issues (2004) engine stalls (2002), clutch failure (2012), and other bunch of issues.
Are Hyundais Expensive to Buy?
Hyundai is absolutely hitting the bull’s eye with their vehicles’ pricing. Some of their most popular models like the Elantra, Kona, Palisade, and Sonata, are some of the most affordable options in their respective segments.
In fact, with a base price of almost $16,400, the Hyundai Accent is one of the cheapest new cars that you can purchase right now.
Let’s have a look at the detailed cost comparison (base price) of some popular 2021 Hyundai models with their rivals:
- Hyundai Accent: $16,400
- Nissam Versa: $15,930
- Mitsubishi Mirage C4: $16,435
- Hyundai Elantra: $20,655
- Honda Civic: $22,715
- Mazda 3: $21,465
- Honda Insight: $24,145
- Toyota Corolla: $21,050
- Hyundai Kona: $21,685
- Mazda CX 30: $23,225
- Kia Seltos: $23,665
- Volkswagen Taos: $24,190
- Kia Soul: $20,365
- Hyundai Palisade: $33,860
- Kia Telluride: $34,015
- Jeep Grand Cherokee L: $40,570
- Mazda CX 9: $35,335
- Hyundai Sonata: $24,955
- Honda Accord: $25,985
- Mazda 6: $25,470
- Toyota Camry: $26,070
- Nissan Altima: $26,000
- Kia K5: $24,685
Also read: 11 Cars with the Best Sound System 2019
Yes, Hyundais offer comfortable and luxurious interiors. Space inside the cabin is ample, and the seats offer generous support and comfort, plus there are plenty of creature comfort features.
What further boosts the comfort in Hyundai cars, is the soft suspension setup that these cars come with. Ride quality is really very plush. The car absorbs bumps and bad patches of the road fairly well, giving the passengers a comfortable and cushy ride.
However, there are some flaws too. A few Hyundai models such as the Kona, Ioniq, and the Venue have a bit of cramped cabin space and lackluster interior quality. Furthermore, the soft suspension tuning in Hyundai cars results in a slightly bouncy and floaty ride at high speeds.
Are There any Better Hyundai Alternatives?
Several Hyundai cars are dominating their segment by offering tremendous value for money and a great overall package, and are certainly one of the best amongst their rivals. However, buyers with some particular preferences can look for alternatives.
Hyundais aren’t the best in terms of performance or driving dynamics, so buyers with a flair for driving enthusiasm can opt for Mazda or Honda vehicles. Furthermore, Hyundai rivals offer more practicality, with better cabin space and a larger boot.
Let’s have a look at a few Hyundai alternatives:
- Grand Cherokee L (better cabin space and powerful engine options)
- Mazda CX-9 (more fun to drive)
- Mazda CX-30 (better driving dynamics)
- Honda Civic (more comfortable and slightly better to drive),
- Mazda 3 (more fun to drive)
- Volkswagen Jetta (better space)
- Nissan Sentra (better space)
- Honda Accord (better handling and peppy performance)
- Mazda 6 (great driving dynamics)
Hyundai Veloster N
- Honda Civic Type R (Excellent Performance)
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
- Tesla Model 3 (better range and fun to drive)
- Ford Mustang Mach E (impressive styling and good acceleration)