Cars made by Korea's Hyundai have been rated as among the best values because of improved customer opinion of its quality, according to a survey.
The survey of 69,000 car buyers, conducted by consulting firm Strategic Vision, said the once-maligned brand is rated as No. 2 in perceived value, behind only luxury auto brand Lexus. In the 2003 survey, Hyundai had the best value ranking of any brand under $30,000, but it trailed four different luxury brands -- Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz -- to have the No. 5 ranking overall.
Daniel Gorrell, vice president of the automotive practice for Strategic Vision, said Hyundai was helped by both the improved impression of quality as well as a long warranty. The auto maker has always made relatively low-priced vehicles, but in the past quality concerns hurt customers' view of its quality.
According to Gorrell, the brand that used to be the butt of jokes has made an impressive comeback in popular perception. "A lot of time when you have a bad reputation, it's hard to come back," he said. The survey was not good news for U.S. auto makers. General Motors' Cadillac division, which tied for seventh with Honda, was the only U.S. nameplate to make the top 10 list, although Swedish auto maker Volvo, which is owned by Ford Motor Company ranked tied for tenth with Audi.
U.S. auto makers have offered larger and larger incentives such as cash back or zero-interest financing to move their vehicles, but Gorrell said that buyers only believe those offers only price the vehicles where they should be.
"The domestics continue having an image problem," said Gorrell. "They trail import manufacturers on expectations of reliability, durability and resale value, suggesting buyers have a lower sense of trust in these brands that forces domestics into the incentive game to sell their vehicles."
In terms of overall corporate ratings, Hyundai trails only Honda Motor Co., which produces both Honda and Acura brands. Toyota, which produces the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, ranked No. 3, while General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group finished in the last three positions of the eight-corporation ranking by the survey.