Time was, Hyundai cars were a bit of a joke in this country. After a strong launch here in 1986 by selling sedan and hatchback versions of its Excel subcompact the firm managed to get a reputation for manufacturing less than high quality cars.
But that all changed with the introduction of Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile warranty on all vehicles. And fortunately for the South Korean firm, this coincided with the company seeing its quality rankings improve to Honda- and Toyota-like levels.
With that as background, here are five reasons to consider the 2010 Hyundai Elantra.
Reason 1: Like Any Hyundai, the 2010 Elantra is a Screaming Bargain
Hyundais in this country have always sold in part on the strength of their high value-to-content ratio, and the Elantra is no different. With prices starting at $14,120 for a five-speed GLS model, Hyundai is still managing to keep its pricing humble.
Do take into account that any GLS purchaser will no doubt want the $1,700 popular equipment package, as it is the only way to get air conditioning.
Reason 2: Check out that Warranty
Even though Hyundai's 10-year warranty is no longer revolutionary--what with brands like Suzuki copying the idea--who wouldn't like to buy a new car with coverage for that long?
The most catastrophic thing that can happen to a car owner who is still making payments is the failure of a transmission or engine. With the Hyundai Elantra and its generous warranty, you never have to worry about it.
Reason 3: The 2010 Elantra Touring Model
If you're on a tight budget for a new vehicle but know that your load-carrying needs extend beyond a sedan's capability, check out the Hyundai Elantra Touring, a new model last year.
Known as the Hyundai i30 in Europe, this ultra-cool hatchback just oozes European charm and panache. Prices for the Elantra Touring maxed out at $17,800 for a well equipped 2009 model. The only option was a sunroof.
This year Hyundai saw fit to take out many features that made the Touring cool and created a version for $1800 less. Buy the top-line Touring model, or buy the sedan.
Reason 4: A Hyundai is as Reliable as a Toyota or Honda?
Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a hyper-reliable Hyundai. In the latest J.D. Power quality surveys, Hyundai found its way into the upper echelon of car manufacturers, right below Honda and above Toyota.
Honestly, though, it makes sense that Hyundai would make their vehicles as reliable as possible. They don't want to foot the bill for repairs from those seemingly endless warranties.
Reason 5: Since When Does Hyundai Equal Performance?
Time was that economy cars were tinny penalty boxes, with little or no concern for the latest safety and performance advances. But just check out the specs on the 2010 Hyundai Elantra.
All Elantras come with a 138-horsepower 2.0-liter engine with 16 valves, as well as four-wheel disc brakes. For drivers seeking the utmost in control, Hyundai offers a five-speed manual transmission on all models.
As you might expect, most of the Hyundai Elantra's competition comes in the form of the ubiquitous Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. But everyone drives one of those, and the Elantra is on average $2,000 to $3,000 less than comparable versions of these Japanese models.
In buying an Elantra, not only do you get the joy of driving something unique, but you will have money left over to do something irrational ... like buy a whole new clothes wardrobe.
In Milan, Italy.