After I pulled into my driveway and parked the Hyundai Elantra Touring, the first thing I did was walk over to my husband's 2003 Elantra GT and climb inside for the sake of comparison. It's amazing what a change six years have wrought. For starters, the materials in the interior, while not opulent, are of a much higher quality. The gauges are modern and easy to read, and the HVAC and entertainment system controls are less clunky than the older model's. On the road, the first thing you'll notice is that, while the engine doesn't produce any more power than it did in the Elantra of six years ago, it is mated to a transmission that has much shorter throws and engages gears more positively, the steering is more direct, and braking performance is improved. Plus, while the hatchback body style is handy for carrying bulky objects, the wagon is even more practical. To top it all off, the base price is still well under $20,000, and don't forget that 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.
It's been gratifying to watch Hyundai's progress in the U.S. market. In less than twenty-five years, the company has gone from selling the Excel (I have a friend who bought one that burnt to the ground less than three years after he purchased it) to producing this very impressive Elantra wagon and the top-of-the-line Genesis. The story of Hyundai and the U.S. market would be a great case study for business schools and for future car-company executives to take note of.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor