Hyundai Motor Company has been around since 1967, but only started selling its cars in the United States in 1987, starting with the Hyundai Excel. That sedan would go on to be rebranded the Accent, the name by which it is known today. That first Hyundai car was praised for its affordability and sold 168,000 units in its first year alone. From there, Hyundai’s presence and prowess in the domestic market has only grown. We’ll do a grand overview here, especially looking for the best used Hyundais on the market.
The first thing you gotta love Hyundai for is their transferable warranty. That’s right. If you buy a used Hyundai and you’re only the second owner, you can take over a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. (If you’re the third owner, you’re out of luck.) On top of that, if your Hyundai is less than five years old, with fewer than 60,000 miles, you qualify for a Certified Pre-Owned program that consists of a 150-point certification process. Benefits include that warranty coverage, 10 years or 100,000 miles worth of roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, travel breakdown reimbursement, free CARFAX report, and three-month free trial of SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
If you account for the time the Accent was called the Excel, this is the longest-running Hyundai model in the U.S. The fifth generation just hit dealerships in 2017. Better fuel economy and a host of new features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Hyundai Blue Link, heated dual front bucket seats, and many more set the Accent apart from its predecessors.
If you find a fourth-generation Accent (2011-2016), try to get a 2014 or later so you can benefit from the blind-spot monitoring system that rolled out mid-cycle and avoid some of the reported problems that dampened this generation’s earlier years.
The Elantra has been around since 1991 and is now in its sixth generation, which began in 2017. The design is more “fluid” and aerodynamic now, which actually improves fuel economy especially in the ECO trim level. If you opt for something earlier, we recommend a fifth generation after the facelift that debuted in 2014. That way you also avoid the troublesome 2013 model year, which was plagued with engine problems. If you need something larger than the Elantra, look for the midsize Hyundai Sonata.
Hyundai Tucson/Santa Fe
The Hyundai SUVs come in two flavors for now, the smaller Tucson or larger Santa Fe. The Tucson is a compact crossover that debuted in 2004 and is now in its third generation since 2015. Avoid the 2016 model year though because of its reported transmission problems. This latest generation has innovations like a hybrid plug-in option and updated styling that was further updated in 2018.
The Santa Fe comes as a two-row or three-row (known as the Santa Fe XL). The current generation debuted just this year, and the previous generation debuted in 2013. If you’re looking for the best model years, 2016 and 2018 had the fewest reported problems. If you want a newer look, a midcycle update happened in 2017.
The Future of Used Hyundais
If you’re willing to wait (or if you aren’t), the Hyundai Kona debuted in 2018 and the Hyundai Palisade is coming in 2020. The Kona is a compact, funky five-door named after a Hawaiian landmark while the Palisade is Hyundai’s largest SUV that comes standard with all the extras.