Hyundai entered the U.S. market nearly twenty years ago with some awful cars that were, at least, cheap. Sometime between 1986 and now, Hyundai decided that the profits would come from nice cars, not basic transportation, and they have been striving to capture the imagination of someone (anyone) not on welfare ever since. With each successive generation of Hyundai products, the critics' laughter gets increasingly labored. While it's true that Hyundais still don't compete with the best Japanese offerings, they aren't far off, and we'd pick many Hyundais over their domestic competitors. We haven't driven the new Sonata yet, but Hyundai is tossing around all the usual promises of more refinement, better handling, and better value. Who are we to doubt them? Safety features like head curtain airbags and stability control will be available, and the presence of luxury options like satellite navigation and an air-quality control system makes a bold statement that Hyundai means business. Memo to Honda and Toyota: watch your backs.