Hyundai and its sister car company Kia used to be the butt of jokes — "Hyun-DIE" and "KIA = killed in action" — but both in recent years have climbed to the upper echelon of safety, reliability, style, and overall quality. A Hyundai Sonata or a Kia Sorento gets you a good-looking vehicle that's safe in a crash, won't break down on you, and looks good.
So it's a little disturbing that Consumer Reports, the venerable journal of product quality and safety, has noted that Hyundai has slipped a few notches in its ranking of overall fleet quality. Toyota remains at the top.
I'm a bit optimistic, though. For starters, CR can be harsh on products that are actually pretty good. My iPhone 4, for example, was rated as "do not recommend" by CR owing primarily to Antennagate, a problem that didn't affect most users until they read about how to deliberately drop your antenna signal by holding the wildly popular smartphone with your hand shaped like a claw.
More importantly, however, is that Hyundai and Kia both do very well as underdogs. That prize of top-spot makes the company work harder and employ more innovation in order to get the brass ring. In fact, this kind of news report is a great kick in the pants.
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