By on September 30, 2011

I like to tout myself as the youngest full-time auto writer in the industry, but sometimes it backfires – like when an Acura exec came up to me on my first press trip (at 19 years old) and warmly told a few assembled journalists and PR types that he hadn’t seen me since I was this big.

On the other hand, my youth gave me particular insight into two products that launched within the last month, and are aimed squarely at my demographic – the Hyundai Veloster and the Chevrolet Sonic. Both cars launched at the 2011 North American International Auto Show, though their reception couldn’t have been more different.

The Veloster was absolutely mobbed on the Hyundai stand, with the assembled press crawling all over the swoopy hatchback, while the Sonic was tucked away in the back of Chevrolet’s display, prematurely written off as “the replacement Aveo”. I admit complicity in both of these prejudicial acts. At the time, GM had the underwhelming Cruze, while Hyundai had not only kicked it to the curb with the 2011 Elantra, but also launched the Sonata Turbo, Sonata Hybrid and the Equus, as well as riding the success of the Genesis lineup.

I went on a couple Hyundai events in the run-up to the Veloster’s launch and talking with the engineers and PR people, I got the sense that they were on to something. A number of them have some kind of “enthusiast” background, and not in the sort of forum-posting perpetually single know-it-all sense. They ride sport bikes, take part in NASA HPDEs or race in Grand-Am (in the case of one engineer), and have had experience working on high profile sports cars (one chassis engineer is a veteran of Ford’s SVT group).

Hyundai put together a launch that insufferable marketing types would describe as “experiential” to give an insight into what the supposed Veloster customer would do with their time – events included a music festival, eating at food carts and tailgating at a college football game. Doing bong rips and playing Call of Duty was noticeably absent, likely for legal reasons.

I was able to see some good bands, attend my first college football tailgate (us godless, socialist Canadians don’t really have NCAA-style sports) and take trip to Portland’s famous Union Jack’s gentleman’s club, but things started to fall apart before we even got in the car. We were treated to the typical Hyundai presentation, boasting of their booming sales numbers, their competitive advantages over other vehicles and the various advanced technological features that the Veloster had to connect with music players, smart phones and even an XBOX.

The car turned out to be a bit of a dud to drive. My review is essentially a diplomatic explanation of its adequate nature as a road car that really doesn’t like to be driven hard. The biggest problem for the Veloster is that expectations were set too high, and to Hyundai’s credit, they were put in place by the media and auto enthusiasts who expected the next CR-X but got something more like a Scion tC.

The Sonic launch was the quickest I have ever gone from cynic to believer, and GM didn’t even have to ply me with a trip to Dubai or a supercharged Cadillac. Walking into the presentation area of the hotel, I saw the room (well, the parking garage) decked out in Chevrolet Sonic themed graffiti – the automotive equivalent of seeing your Dad trying to “Superman Dat Hoe” at a Bar Mitzvah. Chevrolet went on and on about “millennials”, the 18-29 demographic that the Sonic is aimed at, but somehow forgot the most crucial thing about this generation – we cannot stand any contrived attempts to pander to us via marketing. I wanted to wretch when one marketing flack, talking about the generational anxiety regarding our economic situation said that “They are navigating these tensions [and]…we feel there’s a very big supporting role for a brand to play.”

Even though that remark made me near-homicidal, the next thing that came out of his mouth was the best bit of wisdom I’ve heard in my too-brief career as an auto journalist. The same exec said that while millennials are 40% of the car buying population in America, that does not mean they will buy new cars. On the contrary, he said that most new cars do nothing for this demographic and a lot of them tend to buy used. The team responsible for this car did what no one else did, and saw the world for how things really are rather than trying to have it conform to whatever vision they dreamt up in a board room according to sales targets and management directives. Hyundai pegged the Veloster’s competition as the Honda CR-Z and Mini Clubman, two cars that the 18-29 demographic wouldn’t be caught dead in. Chevrolet knew that for the same $14,500-$18,000 that a Sonic costs, one can buy a used 330ci, G35, S2000 or something else with a lot more panache, performance and prestige than a Chevrolet econobox hatchback. The Sonic has to be really damn good to force people to shy away from something that will impress their friends.

And it is. I’ll say right off the bat that the interior isn’t great. I made some rude comments to a GM Design employee about how the hard plastic would be great for rolling blunts, and her retort was that Chevrolet decided to go right for hard plastic rather than try and make it look like faux leather or carbon fiber. I get that the car is built to a price. Fortunately the rest of it is on point. It looks pretty decent, the 1.4L Turbo and 6-speed gearbox do the job well – it’s about half a second quicker to 60 mph than the Veloster – the steering is excellent and the car’s handling limits are far beyond what’s reasonable to expect for a subcompact. Ford can hype up their Ken Block Rallycross nonsense as much as they want, but the Sonic is the real deal for the real world, a sort of poor man’s Mini Cooper S without the awful reliability.

I’ll save any meta-judgments about whether this is Hyundai’s first mis-step or whether Chevrolet is really back. Parking the Sonic outside a trendy lounge won’t get you past the velvet rope, but it’s a well-made, unpretentious product that is genuinely good and doesn’t cost too much money. Car companies spend exorbitant sums trying to promote their crappy wares via concert promotions, X-Games athlete endorsements or even launching entirely new brands. Meanwhile these contrived efforts are totally transparent to those they’re hoping to sell their cars to. Take those funds and just make a decent car that doesn’t suck and you’ll get the best kind of marketing in the world; one young person telling another “I just bought (insert vehicle here) and you know what? It’s a fucking great car.” Hopefully Chevrolet proves my theory right, or we’ll be seeing another Gymkhana video in a few months time.

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130 Comments on “Generation Why: Veloster vs. Sonic: A Millennial Perspective...”


  • avatar
    Strippo

    Poor Hyundai. The Veloster is being received as poorly as the Chevy Cruze was. It’ll never sell now.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the Veloster will eventually sell well. Thing is, there are just so many cars on the market at this price now and so many 4 door sedans that cost roughly the same as the veloster. The Cruze for example will probably outsell it cause it looks “normal”.

      I LIKE THE VELOSTER – especially for the price.

      http://www.epinions.com/review/2012_Hyundai_Veloster_epi/content_565441433220

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        I’m just afraid for Hyundai’s long term reliability. My 2010 Forte (Kia, I know, but shares the platform/powertrain of the Elantra) had all kinds of problems, some that Kia would fix and others that they wouldn’t. Combine this with a 2006 Sonata I had previous that had the same deal, problems Hyundai wouldn’t fix under warranty, and you’ve got yourself a problem.

        I sincerely hope people who buy a Sonata, Veloster or Elantra have good ownership experiences, but if they have problems I wouldn’t be surprised. And if Hyundai won’t cover them under warranty, I’ll be even less surprised.

    • 0 avatar
      malloric

      I agree. Reviewers seem to think compact buyers buy them because they’re fun to drive. There may be a few us out there, but if you look at the class-leaders (Cruze, Elantra, Jetta, Corolla, Civic, Focus) only the Focus is anything but completely boring.

      The Veloster is a chick car. It’s a less powerful, less practical Elantra with some style and nifty interior features. You pay a ~$1,000 premium for less car but more style. Considering the lack of stylish but affordable compacts, there might just be some pent-up demand for that. I’d take my money off to the nearest Mazda dealer for a jackal-faced Mazda3 hatch with SkyActiv.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        You do know that the SkyActive Mazda3 is not out yet, and may not be out for almost a year, right?

        That’s like saying you’ll take your money and spend it on the 2014 Prius. Not helpful advice.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    While I would rather drive a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I’m sure the Veloster would sell well to those who value edgy appearance over actual performance.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      To wit: put the Sonic next to the Veloster – same color – and ask random passersby which one is faster, probably 90% will tell you the Hyundai.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Exactly. No gen X or younger is going to go out to a chevrolet dealership and seek out the sonic. It’s vanilla. It’s what people will fork out cash for because they decided they can’t afford a Cruze. The minimalist styling is typical GM fashion.

        The Veloster will actually bring people into the showroom. Most young people don’t care about driving dynamics. They care about image.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @tresmonos who wrote: No gen X or younger is going to go out to a chevrolet dealership and seek out the sonic. It’s vanilla.

        Suggest you read the numerous comments from Gen Y and Gen X who absolutely are planning to look at the Sonic. There are plenty of comments below — and the story above that doesn’t support your statement.

        I’m Gen X with money to burn, we’re thinking it would make a very interesting commuter car for the weekdays and a corner carver for the weekend AutoX.

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      Something well-honed with Hyundai’s previous coupes. Seems by all early indications that the Veloster will uphold the Tiburon’s proud tradition of sizzle sans steak and will, like the Tib, be the best-looking beat up, faded, clapped out rat-trap stiking up the dealer consignment lanes at every auction.

  • avatar
    Autopassion

    Great discussion. Management from both companies – indeed the entire industry – should take note.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    It’s great that they at least pay lip service to US customers’ available choices of new or used.

    That’s a huge factor in whatever success Tata’s Nano has seen in its home market. They just don’t have the huge supply of used cars at a huge variety of price points. If somebody only wants to spend a few grand on a car, they really had zero choice before the Nano.

    The exterior of the Sonic doesn’t do it for me, especially in hatchback form. Funny cut lines for the hatch when viewed from the side. Then again, I dislike most GM cutlines. Regardless, it sounds like GM Daewoo is fielding a real contender and that GM is at least modestly aware of the competition.

    With so many brands fielding some really good small cars in the US these days, including the domestic brands, maybe there’s hope yet that US consumers will support smaller cars without feeling like they’re stuck in penalty boxes, which would make them upsize at their earliest financial opportunity.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Great write up, even if you are Canadian and rip on Minis. That quote from the marketing flack was priceless…and nauseating.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    WOW!!!
    So fast???

    This is exactly the comparison I suggested in Ed’s feature.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Did you have a chance to test the Hill Lock or Hill-Stop, or whatever is the official name?

      I am, to be painfully truthful here, afraid of purchasing my next car a sa standard.
      I have moved to the Ozarks and not really sure I can relearn the standard, coffee and sandwich skills I once had many moons ago.
      However…with this now becoming available on cars such as the Sonic, perhaps I have found my fun, around-town hot little hatch I need for picking up stuff.

      Please advise.

      • 0 avatar
        JimR

        If you live in the Ozarks, you live in the midst of the best driving environment between the Rockies and Appalachia. You’re obligated to own nothing but manuals. I learned my three-pedal work on the insane hills of Fayetteville. Don’t worry about gimmicks. Get back in the fold.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        Use the parking brake. If I can do it, you can.

      • 0 avatar
        rentonben

        While you’re learning to do hills in a manual, the best way to get some space behind you is to wait till the car tailing you gets about 100 ft away and then roll backwards. They’ll freak out and give you a lot of space.

      • 0 avatar
        ehsteve

        Or learn to use the parking brake to prevent rolling backwards in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        rentonben

        At some point though, you should learn how to do it without the parking brake….. That way you don’t have to put down your cheeseburger.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        you all must not fully understand the idiot you are trying to help…
        or the pressure from the idiot’s wife, who isn’t one bit afraid to voice her opinion.
        And it is not in favor of a standard.
        All she remembers is out 1987 Jeep Cherokee and how strong her left foot had to be.

        I simply want a standard because I want to get the most out of a little car and small motor.

      • 0 avatar
        BigDuke6

        Please advise…..
        What do you mean by “standard”? Are you referring to a MANUAL transmission?

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        My wife’s first stick shift car was a 1983 RX7. If she can learn to start from a stop on the hills of West Virginia, then you my friend should be able to handle it in a modern fwd hot hatch. If not… turn in your man card.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        I do not have a man card, as you request. I had to give it up when they issued me the Coward Of The County card.

        I will try to use a standard (stick) again IF I can convince my wife to go along. This Hill Stop just might be the trick I can use.

        Thanls all for adding your thoughts.

        And this was a terrific piece by the young one.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Krafcik knows what he’s doing – the avg. American auto consumer either doesn’t care or even know about handling (hence, the slow sales of Mazdas compared to Toyotas).

    Reviewers have been lamenting that the new Accent has lost a good bit of the “chuckability” that its predecessor had, but that will have no impact on sales, as the new Accent will blow by the sales figure of the old one.

    Yeah, it’s disapppointing that the US spec Veloster was tuned more for the avg. driver and with too much emphasis on the 40mpg, but that’s what’s going to drive sales.

    Now, if Hyundai USA does bring over the turbo Veloster, they’d better be willing to give up on some MPG in order to make the turbo snappy, otherwise, what’s the point?

    • 0 avatar
      Elusivellama

      Mazda 3s are popular here in Canada, as are the hatchbacks. True, Mazdas aren’t known for fuel economy, but I think all that will change with the Kodo redesign when the full suite of SkyActiv tech is finally applied to the Mazda 3. Meanwhile we’ll get a first taste in the CX-5 and in the partial SkyActiv-enabled Nagare Mazda 3s.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Very interesting insight. I’m also a part of “Generation Y” (the “millenials”), and I would like to test drive both of these cars soon. For reasons I can’t really pinpoint, the Ford Fiesta currently appeals to me more than the Veloster or Sonic, but all three cars seem interesting.

    The only “current/new” generation compact I have been in, though, is the Cruze (very nice, BTW), and I haven’t actually driven any of the “new” compacts yet. I will give all of them an equal chance on my list when the time comes.

    • 0 avatar
      wagonsonly

      Same generation here (I’m 25 and my wife is 23). However, as was previously noted, the millenial generation is not buying new cars – and my wife and I, lucky as we are to both have full-time jobs, will not be buying anything new anytime soon. The current fleet has a Saab wagon with 190K and two Subarus – her Baja with 130K and my Forester at 250K. All cars are modern/high-end enough to have adequate safety features and of course the Subies are AWD (important as we both have long commutes and live in New England). We will consider a replacement to the commuter pool when the Saab gives up (it’s definitely a car that Lang would have passed up at auction, but it’s cost us peanuts to buy, insure, and maintain) or if we have a major accident in one of the other two. At that time, it will be something used, probably under $10,000 and definitely under $15,000, and paid for in cash. Neither of us can see the point in spending beaucoup bucks for a lousy car, just for pride-of-ownership (in an econobox?), a warranty (reliance on savings is inconvenient but usually more cost effective than paying depreciation), or new-car smell. Our next car will likely be another Subaru of some flavor, a 9-3 wagon, or possibly a Mazda5 if we can hold off on purchases ’til we have kids.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        I probably won’t be buying new, either – and used Saabs and Subarus will definitely be on my list. As you point out, most of us in our 20s aren’t buying new. Nevertheless, I’d like to test drive some of these subcompacts just for the heck of it, to see what the hype is all about.

      • 0 avatar
        wagonsonly

        Marko – I’ve taken a few new-car test drives as well, never with a serious intention to buy new, at least not since the Hyundai from hell (Elantra Touring that I’ve mentioned in previous posts), but also to (a) see what all the hype is about and (b) have market knowledge of what’s out there for when I do replace a car.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Everything I’ve read about the Veloster that isn’t written by Hyundai describes the car as “a bit of a dud to drive,” or something along those lines.

    Of course, perhaps its closest competitor, the Scion tC has been described by the writers of TTAC thus:

    “something of a fashion statement” (Alex)
    “a very good starting point” (Michael)
    “Given sufficient velocity and violence of application, it is possible to set the brakes on fire” (Jack)

    It’s safe to say either the Scion tC and Hyundai Veloster are sports cars. Therefore, I believe “Veloster” to be too ambitious and misleading a name for the efficiency-hobbled Hyundai.

    You know what would have taken huge cajones? Resurrect the name…EXCEL. It’s perfect: take the name of the first Hyundai sold in America – which almost ruined them right out of the gate – and turn it around for their new “reverse halo.”

    Hell, if I find myself buying one, I may spring for some Excel badges from Ebay Motors.

    Having said that, I may not be the archetypal millennial…

    • 0 avatar
      thirty-three

      What about the Pony? Or was that not sold in America? I’m pretty sure it was the first Hyundai sold in Canada.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The Pony was indeed sold in Canada. My teenage self was towed behind one on an inner tube at stupid speeds down frozen country roads.

        Good times, good times.

        On that note, I still know a guy who has a mint-condition Scoupe. I have no idea how or why he’s kept it in good running order, but hey…

  • avatar

    This is why I’m withholding judgment on the upcoming Scion/Subaru sports car until I can drive it. The engineers are saying all of the right things. But Hyundai’s said similar things about the Veloster.

    • 0 avatar
      Strippo

      The difference is the Scion/Subaru car actually qualifies as a potential driver’s car. FWD is FWD. It makes no sense to go RWD if you’re not serious about maximizing the driving experience. The packaging is more expensive and less efficient. So yeah, that car needs to deliver. No excuses.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        I disagree.
        Well, maybe not directly with you ’cause to are admitting IF you want to drive a car for performance reasons…RWD is better.
        But…

        It is my opinion that only a few really care about the driving benefits gotten from RWD. Perhaps I am not skilled enough so I cannot discuss. However, the same performance enthusiast that talks about RWD vs FWD for performance is not talking what most want to hear.

        Driving at a car’s limits around hot corners will ask for that special RWD performance.
        BUT driving 100 percent of the USA consumer drive will not.
        We are not testing a car for TTAC or another performance rag.
        Yet in fact you will be hindered by RWD in more important ways…you will lose interior room and be forced to have difficulty on MOST US city winter streets.
        There IS a reason for FWD.

        We average Americans cannot afford two sets of tires. We have families and we need a better design.
        This is FWD.

        Better yet…AWD!

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        You say you disagree, yet you’re echoing my sentiments. If it’s RWD and it’s not a bona fide driver’s car, it better be a truck.

      • 0 avatar
        malloric

        New 5 series must be a truck then…

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        Pretty sure they discontinued the 5 series in 2003.

  • avatar
    kol

    Anyone who is comparing a Chevy Sonic to a used 330ci, Infiniti G35 or S2000 is absolutely bonkers. Okay, sure, you can BUY them for about the same dough. But the actual cost-to-own on any of those used options is going to be much higher.

    As a 18-29 something (27, actually) I can say that buying any of those used vehicles would be an excellent way to make your credit card company happy and, in fact, I’ve seen that movie before.

    • 0 avatar
      genuineleather

      You’re assuming that people buying cars make rational choices. The parking lot at my school has WAY more used luxury cars than it does new subcompacts. Most kids who buy used Bimmers don’t care about maintenance anyway, since they can get mommy and daddy to foot any serious repair bills.

    • 0 avatar

      Come on man, if you’re in our demographic you either have friends who are financially incompetent or you don’t have friends at all. From the guy who saved up $50k to buy a Viper to an old flame of mine who had 4-figure credit card debt thanks to H&M shopping sprees (!!!) it’s an epidemic.

      • 0 avatar
        kol

        Your comment is too poorly written for me to exactly parse what you’re on about, but if you think it’s normal for someone between 18-29 to save up for a Viper, you’re a spoiled douche.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Not that expensive to keep a used Infiniti G35 or S2000 running. I think Hyundai should have a similar 2 owner lease/sales strategy for the Genesis Coupe with attractive leases for new car “buyers” followed by a CPO program for Millennials.

      One of the advantages of being young and single is being able to buy a cool used car that sometimes breaks down. Once married with children, reliability becomes supremely important and looking successful at the night club valet stand no longer matters.

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      Is the maintenance on a 330ci, G35, or S2000 going to be more expensive than the depreciation on a Chevy Sonic or Hyundai Veloster?

      I’d suspect any of those older cars will run around $800-2000 per year in maintenance costs. How much money will you lose per year on a few years of new economy car ownership?

      • 0 avatar
        kol

        Edmunds True Cost to Own for a 2006 G36 over 5 years: $40,926. Which is about $10,000 more than the True Cost to Own over 5 years on a Ford Fiesta.

        And what if you want that sexy 330ci? That’ll be a jaw-dropping $51,160, please.

        You get hit from all angles. Insurance is often more expensive for a used V6 luxury/sports vehicle than nice econobox (sometimes massively so, if you’re a 18-29 male). Gas mileage is much worse and premium is often required. Parts are more expensive, repairs are more frequent, and god help you if you can’t fix something yourself because then you’re paying labor.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        Is the maintenance on a 330ci, G35, or S2000 going to be more expensive than the depreciation on a Chevy Sonic or Hyundai Veloster?

        Doubtful. But I get feeling that there are a lot of people who live their lives with zero savings, and are okay with paying $400/month on financing and depreciation of a new car, but are utterly unable to plan for a $1000 repair on an older car. Thus all the advice about leasing and sticking with CPO, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Most people do not write a check for “depreciation”. They SHOULD, to themselves, but they don’t. I can definitely see the appeal of knowing that you will have a known payment to make every month with (in theory) no surprises. Hence the leasing treadmill.

        I will say as one who has owned several older BMWs, they are not NEARLY as expensive to maintain as the “Internet Wisdom” would have you think.

  • avatar
    JAZ the Airhead

    I’m a Millennial and a market researcher. As acknowledged by the Chevy flack, the big lie with all these cheap, little “youthful” cars is that we’ll even consider buying them–we won’t.

    Because of our often-shaky economic situations and changes in our lifestyles and priorities, we are even less likely to buy new than prior generations. Scion has the youngest median age buyers of any brand in the US, and they’re still deep in Gen X, three-kids-and-a-mortgage territory at 39.

    I have a diverse circle of friends in a variety of geographies and living situations in the 23 – 30 age range. Not one has purchased a new car in the past five years. (A 3-series paid for by Daddy does not count.) Not one. I doubt more than a handful have even been inside a new car dealership, ever. (Please, no one tell AAPOR that I’m being such a hack researcher.)

    We buy used cars. I happen to be into vintage air-cooleds and diesels, but even my non-enthusast friends buy used German/Japanese hatches and wagons or used pickups–if they work for a living–and not the shiny, plastic little toyboxes.

    If this is about laying groundwork for the brand, I still don’t get it. They aren’t making money from used car sales. I understand that every new buyer they attract is extremely valuable, but we’ll never graduate to new, entry-level cars. We’ll just buy better used cars or maybe a handful of folks will someday get entry-luxe new cars.

    The only conclusion I can draw is that the graffitti is just designed to make the olds feel hip?

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    That orange makes this thing look like my cat Bill, may he rest in peace, kinda angry, but harmless and unsure of himself. EDIT: The orange on the Sonic.

    It looks like the recent cars out of Korea, H-K and GM Daewoo, are putting the Koreans on the map. Since I just bought a car, I’m not in the market. I prefer the styling of the Veloster, but that’s not saying much since I don’t really like it either. I continue to fail to understand why there has to be the line across the front of the current crop of Chevys, nee Chevrolets (I know there has to be a distinguishing look so that people know what’s what, but I think this one is a little dated).

    I’m a millenial, whatever that’s supposed to mean, and don’t buy into the ideas that certain cars are marketed to me, or my peers. If I like a car, and have the funds, I’ll buy it. For instance, if the Accord, very much a car for the older people in the public, would not have looked so ginormous, and wasn’t so expensive, I might have looked at one (the Accord Coupe would have won hands down).

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      For instance, if the Accord, very much a car for the older people in the public, would not have looked so ginormous, and wasn’t so expensive, I might have looked at one

      That’s called a Civic.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        That’s just it, I’m talking specifically about the Accord. I had an Accord Coupe 2003, and might have upgraded to an 08+ Accord Coupe, but these are marketed to older buyers.

        I know the Civic exists, but have never really liked them. I test drove an 09, and the Star Trek dash would have gotten on my nerves.

    • 0 avatar
      kol

      I don’t buy the idea of marketing cars to us either. We’re not just some giant group of like-minded zombies.

      If these cars end up like previous vehicles supposedly marketed to us, you’ll soon see one of the pair turn up in your grandmother’s garage.

      • 0 avatar
        Monty

        Too late – Mrs. Monty (who is old enough to be a grandmother as our son is a 27 yo millenial) is very keen on the Veloster, and has expressed serious interest in the past in cars that were targeted at much younger demographics. The MINI, Tiburon, Scion Xb, Honda Element were all vehicles that we seriously considered buying. All which were aimed at much younger consumers than us. It does seem as though cars that are directly targeted at younger demographics appeal to their parents and grandparents.

        When Grandma used to drive a Buick, the younger generation wanted Corollas and Camrys; now their children view those same Corollas and Camrys as “old people” cars – I have heard my son and his friends discuss this issue enough times to know. The same situation is happening with other consumer goods – if parents and grandparents are buying consumer goods targeted at millenials, the millenials want nothing to do with them.

        It’s a marketers nightmare. The millenials don’t want to be targeted, yet want to be the “hip” consumers.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Kol: “I don’t buy the idea of marketing cars to us either. We’re not just some giant group of like-minded zombies.

        Oh, it happens to every age bracket. Sometimes more than one age bracket at a time, even.

        Toyota has these commercials running right now for the Venza. It starts out with some Gen-Y or Millenial young man or woman talking about how their (apparently Baby Boomer) parents will get along without them, while making fun of the millenial’s FB habits or lack of job prospects.

        I’m irritated about how people my age are portrayed, and my kids are irritated about how they’re portrayed. It’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but it comes off as less than clever.

        Really, nothing new under the sun…

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Now if they could make the hatch look less like a Matrix or insert Toyota hatchet job here style and more like the Sonic sedan we would really be getting somewhere.

  • avatar
    JimR

    I suppose the Korean auto industry now has the market-climbing swagger of Japan cerca 1992, but affordable J-cars were actually entertaining to drive back then. My original Sentra SE-R is a lightning in a bottle, even though it’s fundamentally a creaky little Sentra shell with horrid McStrut suspension geometry. Manufacturers have been raiding the parts bin for supremely fun, cheap cars for decades. If you want to win on every front as Hyundai is trying, you have to be “that good.”

    Youths have the Internet, and have more hours to research than dollars to spend. When it’s time to pick something, this word-of-mouth goodness is worth something. Yes, Hyundai is set to wildly outsell everything, ever. However, if you want to crack the next generation of drivers, you need to make the driving experience “that good” right now. The talkers and influencers chat about used cars worth remembering, and that cachet is a pot of gold when they can actually afford a new car.

    I’m stunned that that budget driving magic still eludes Hyundai, the current econo-darling of an industry now accustomed to computer-aided miracles and high benchmarks. I mean, the cheapest Chevrolet you can buy is apparently more fun to wheel around than the slickest new Hyundai kung-fu. That may not be a Hyundai loss, but it’s a certifiable GM win.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    As a 19 year-old millenial, I do not find the Sonic compelling. At all.

    To my eyes, the Accent, Fiesta, and even the Fit (in it’s boxy, JDM way) are better looking. Yes, the turbo engine is nice, but at that price the C-segment is within reach, which is a more palatable choice for people my age IMO.

    Most importantly, I can’t imagine parting with $350-400/mth for 60 months for the entry-level Chevy. I’d rather stick with my used, paid-for Mercedes and its intermittent repair bills.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Nice and interesting comments. I chuckled when I saw your list of “alternatives” in the used market . . . anyone buying one of those in the price range identified better have another thou or two stashed for repairs and maintenance, except for the S2000. For that one, plan on leaving two of your friends behind at the curb . . .

    I am the father of 3 “millenials” and, about a year ago, I had the pleasure of car-shopping with one of them (mostly her money) in the price range. We looked exclusively at the used market and drove a few examples of the European “prestige” brands. Although far from a gearhead — and somewhat to my surprise — she commented favorably on the driving characteristics of the 3-series and the Benz E-class she drove. The newer, cheaper rides did not interest her at all . . . and she ended up getting a rather nice RX300 which, I have to say, impressed me very much for a vehicle of its type (too bad the current version is about 30% bigger than the original).

    “Edgy” styling was definitely not attractive to her . . . so maybe the Chevy folks are on to something.

    I was amused by your comment that a millenial wouldn’t be caught dead in a MINI Clubman. Perhaps, we should recognize a new genre of cars: cars that are for old people who want to drive a car that looks like it was targeted to be attractive to a young person.

    • 0 avatar
      kol

      I don’t get the Clubman comment myself. I’d drive one. The only comments I’d likely receive are “oh, it’s cute!” from the women and the occasional “what are you, a faggot?” from THAT GUY with the jacked-up Dodge Ram.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Heh, guess I fit that demographic. I have a Clubman and an Element, the car that was designed for active 20-somethings and bought by empty-nester 40-somethings. Well, at least I used to be young.

      Kol, most people do seem to like my Clubman–my 20-something daughter being an exception, and I doubt it earns me any cred with my logger brother-in-law.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Well, I give the Element this: it is a true SUV. One of my friend’s 30-something stepsons has one. He’s big into mountain bike racing.

        I’ve ridden in the Clubman and I admit it’s tempting . . . even for a 6’3″ guy who, in better times, would have retired by now. Reliability issues with the turbo engine scare me away, and the N.A. model is probably a little too slow for my tastes.

      • 0 avatar
        BigDuke6

        I looked inside my next door neighbor’s Element (never been invited to drive it), and my first thought was, “THIS is the IDEAL mountain bike transportation device!” A TRUE SUV!

    • 0 avatar

      Sir, ignore my list of alternatives but the principle remains the same. People the same age as myself and your children can and will buy a used anything rather than a new car. It’s not so much sports cars specifically but the fact that it sounds way better to tell your friends you drive a Lexus rather than a Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Hi Derek –

        While I’m in your corner, I have to say one thing. That thing is this, regardless of whether you bought your car or not, if it’s a used Lexus or a brand new Chevrolet, people will think that your parents paid for it, especially if you still look young enough to be right out of high school. Whether this is the right attitude or wrong attitude depends on your point of view. I knew a kid in high school whose parents bought him a brand new A6 upon receiving his license.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, until you reach the age where it’s obvious you’ve been out of high school for awhile, people will think that your parents are footing the bill for everything, even if they aren’t.

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    I think its much simpler. Folks who are buying to this, rather low for a new car, pricepoint will look for a deal — the total package price point including the car with financing that makes sales in this price range happen.

    Chevy needs to have a reasonable product — but not something amazing at all. When a potential buyer comes in the showroom — being able to afford something new is the draw. How the product is presented and sold on the floor moves these things out the door.

    How many people buying at this price range go to 5 dealers to cross shop? I bet almost none. They really WANT a NEW car. The first dealer to “make a deal” with a low monthly payment and who has a color in stock the buyer likes — its SOLD!

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I think that you oversimplify things.

      I’d expect the consumer to have formed some strong preferences before he/she ever set foot in a dealership. I know I’ve spent countless hours researching vehicles on the Internet and I’m a codger and still a year or two from being serious about buying. “The Deal” might finalize my decision between 2 close competitors when that time comes.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I look at those two pictures that attempt to promote hipness and note the Chevy ad is 20 years old (well posed photograph juxtaposing the car’s lines and color with the complexity of the art staged behind it) and the Hyundai ad is about ten years behind (dark environment, blue headlights and hints of performance from a warehouse full of giant – and heavy – wheels, and a little too much light on the product versus the surroundings).

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    As yet another millenial, I feel the need to chime in here.

    There’s something wrong with the Veloster.

    I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the funky third door. Maybe it is the lack of horsepower, despite a “speedy” shape. Maybe it’s the low-slung back half of the roof that bothers me.

    But I just can’t see myself in a Veloster.

    The Sonic is a different story. I agree that the interior is cheap (though I’d consider blunt-rolling plastic pieces a positive…) but the optional turbo + 6-speed transmission at least gives me a choice between boring econobox…and less boring econobox.

    Perhaps if Hyundai had at least offered a turbo mill out the door with the Veloster, I’d be singing a different tune. And I will admit that the laundry list of standard features on the Hyundai seems more “millenial friendly” than the Sonic.

    But honestly, I don’t think either car is going to turn Gen-Y into new car shoppers because, as was pointed out by the author, there are a number of more prestigious used cars in the same price range. And given that a large chunk of Gen Y is un-or-underemployed, lives at home, and has a mountain of school debt…I feel like neither car is going to match sales projections.

    Where the Chevy wins, and has always won, will be in fleet sales. And overtime, fleet cars make their way on to used car lots, where they will be picked over by, you guessed it, millenials.

    For my money, I’d rather have the Sonic over any of the competition, including Accent, Fit, and Fiesta (though a turbo Fiesta coupe would change my mind like that.) Then again, for half the price of a turbocharged, fully-decked out Sonic…I can get me the glorious land yacht that is the Mercury Marauder.

    PANTHER POWER. /Tupac

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Weirdly, if you check the websites of Hyundai dealers across the country, most of the inventory is stick shift. Also, a dealer north of NYC has a single one that is priced 4K over MSRP; maybe he’s hoping to hook a drunk, fool banker. Weirder, a dealer in Austin has about five Veloster’s to sell, making me think that Kravcik wants cool digerati types to be seen in his baby. And finally, when I saw the car at the NY Autoshow, the product reps indeed said the car was aimed at a younger demo, but agreed with my observation that plenty of older people really liked the car.

    • 0 avatar
      kol

      There was a Nissan dealer in my area (Beaverton Nissan) that was tacking on 2k to the price of a new Juke because they’re “just so hot right now.” Nevermind they had 8 on the lot at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Welcome to why I won’t look at a Veloster, or any Hyundai, for that matter. The local dealer has a $1500 “market adjustment” tagged on to everything in stock under a Genesis – and the “adjustment” for those are higher.

        I don’t care how great the car is, even if it’ll blow off a Viper on the Nurburgring – I do not ever start negotiating from above sticker. Period.

        On the other hand, while the wife and I were out this afternoon, I got to see my first Spark – an $18k LT with 1.8, automatic and connectivity package. It looks slightly better in person than in pictures, and if that’s a cheap interior it’s well within my parameters of acceptable. Sometime I think people need to chill out at the concept of ‘hard plastic’.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        They do that around here too, and then almost immediately they take that off because they “are going to make you a good deal”. Just becuase they ask for ADM doesnt mean you will have to pay it, or even acknowledge it exists. Its just there to increase perceived value for the suckers…

    • 0 avatar
      wagonsonly

      That in and of itself is pretty unusual – most of the “millenials” I know don’t know how to drive a manual. When I was still in college, I recruited a couple of gearhead friends to come down to West Virginia with me to pick up a new toy – a 1989 Subaru RX, with a manual. Five hours into the trip – halfway between our destination in WV and starting point in New Hampshire – it became apparent that neither of the friends I’d brought along knew how to drive a stick, discovered when I asked to switch off driving duties in my manual-trans Legacy wagon for a bit. They both learned pretty quickly, at the expense of two Subaru clutches…

  • avatar
    Alex Mackinnon

    I’m not sure what you’re on about the Clubman. I would happily drive the Clubman S, but it’s way too damn expensive. $40K CAD is way too damn expensive for one of these things with the sport seats added.

    Chevy nailed it on their presentation for sure, but their product ain’t doing it for me. Just on desirability alone, none of these cars are giving me something to replace my 16v GTi with. After all, $20K can keep a 20 year old car alive and in good shape for a LONG time…

  • avatar
    ajla

    I wonder how much a 500 Abarth SS or MiTO will end up costing…

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    There is and will be for the next 3-5 years, major opportunities at the low price end of the new market simply because the used market is so overpriced. With 5 year old, 90k mile Corollas going for close to $10k, a $15k NEW car not only sounds more attractive, it’s likely the cheaper choice. If my 20 yo son and his buds are any indication, growing up in rough economic times for the middle class has marked them in similar (though less-extreme) ways that the Great Depression marked my parents’ generation. If only 1/4 members of the 19-29 yo demographic behave similarly, a Sonic will be a considered option after getting that first job out of college. For this subgroup, flashy = stupid (but it better synch well with the latest i-Barf technology).

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      I think this is the wave of the future. It isn’t the shape, the engine or any go fast bits or even the colour, it will be the interface.

      Any shortfall will be the model’s down grade. Ford’s Sync may be most brilliant marketing ploy as it’s in more models sooner than any other system.

      You’re not cross shopping cars, it’s the radio stupid! *sigh*

  • avatar
    NLB

    So, a launch that included “a music festival, eating at food carts and tailgating at a college football game” is not a “contrived attempt[] to pander to [millenials] via marketing”??

    Right then, good to know.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I said this in the other post about the Veloster: the lack of a turbo option was a huge mistake in an otherwise near perfect mission by Hyundai. Forget handling (most people wouldn’t know the difference anyway) but if your “sporty” vehicle can’t out run a base Chevy eco-box then you’ve got problems regardless of price or marketing BS.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I think Generation Y doesn’t really want to own “Kid Cars”. They have proven their favorite vehicle was one intended for retirees, the Cadillac Escalade.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Why not? They’re still listening to the same damned rock and roll that came around when I was 6. Slightly different bottle, but same wine. I’ve come to the conclusion long ago that Gen X, Y and Millenials are all to incompetent to come up with anything original.

      Think about it: Listening to rock and roll in 2011 is not exactly unlike listening to big band in 1971. Whatever happened to that new, incredibly neat music that was supposed to replace rock and roll and piss off all the parents? Oh yeah, that takes too much effort to invent.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Derek makes some very salient points in his article but lets not get too carried away with trying to claim that a generational label will determine what you like or not like. Some folks will like the Veloster and some the Sonic and I’m sure both will sell well.

    As for the question about dynamics, everyone on this forum is a car enthusiast and values handling but that does not extend to the general public. The Veloster is a bit like the Audi A5 2.0T in that it looks good but has marginal power and only average handling. Apparently there is a big market for that. I’m sure the Sonic will also sell well once a 6-speed auto becomes optional in the 1.4 turbo.

  • avatar
    siuol11.2

    Stylistically I have to say they both suck, and I say this as someone who’s in the target market. I really have given up hope on modern car designers… I wouldn’t think it would be impossible to make something look like a Protege 5 or a slightly more practical Miata, but apparently it is nigh on imfuckingpossible.

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      I keep in mind that car designers need to work around safety dictates like having a minimum gap between the hard engine and the hood, so pedestrians won’t get destroyed. Take a look at hood lines across all cars. Yuck.

    • 0 avatar
      steeringwithmyknees

      Keep an open mind, if you can. I’ve noticed that I find a lot of cars out there crazy ugly when they first hit the roads, but then over time i got used to them and even grew to like some.

      That said, i know I love my favorite cars from the moment I see them. Luckily for me, I really cant afford to buy cars based on looks–so i don’t (which I guess puts me in the minority?). I find this liberating.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Not bad for a young writer, Derek. Keep it up. It’s also interesting to see a ‘younger’ perspective on things.

    Overall, a pretty good read.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This Hyundai fanboy thinks the Sonic is the better-looking car, especially in 4-door trim. I’m not so hot for the Veloster (or its name).

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    +1 Derek
    Well said. As a 27 year old who will almost certainly be purchasing a car in the next year, this is the big decision I’m faced with. The Focus is probably the leading new car on my list right now, but the question remains the same. Yes I could spend $18-25k on a brand new car that will likely be nice, fun to drive, and economical.

    Then I get behind the wheel of my Dad’s E36 BMW 328i, and I’m reminded that the $10-15k difference in price pays for a lot of repairs, and ultimately, no new Focus, Sonic, or Veloster will deliver the same amount of fun behind the wheel. While an $18k G35 will ultimately be far more expensive than an $18k Sonic, you can get a perfectly decent G35 for $10-12k, and again, that price difference will cover a lot of repair costs. Never mind I could either pay cash for the older car or at least do a short 1 year loan with a big down payment vs a 60 or 72 month one on a new car.

    Even more sensibly, less enthusiast minded drivers have other choices. My two friends who have most recently purchased cars in this price range each ended up with a nice low mileage Mazda (one a 6, one a 3) for under $15k. The other two who also bought cars were shopping more expensive, in the $25-30k range, but still ended up with used premium, with one getting an M35, and the other a CPO Volvo S80.

    • 0 avatar
      steeringwithmyknees

      I think that choice really depends on what you need the car to do. If you use the car for work and/or put a lot of miles on, or need low interest financing, a new car (that you break in yourself) that has a warranty and a lifespan starting from zero makes a lot of sense.

      But if you have a 10 mile commute and your spouse/girlfriend/family also has a car of his/her own, or you are paying for the car outright, buying a premium used car is very justified.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        My own experience is with a ’99 Chevrolet Corvette.

        I can count on around $500 in annual M&R, with the need to have cash/credit available to do a $1500-2500 repair if necessary if something big goes bad.

        After 2 years and 25000 miles it’s depreciated around $1500, which is about the difference between fall and spring prices.

        It’s probably burned around 1000 gallons of gas since I got it. Insurance for it is $1000 a year which is 20-30% cheaper than my old CRX and Miata cost.

        Back when I bought it I thought I’d own it about five years and it would cost me about the same to run as a late-model Civic Si, thinking the insurance and depreciation advantages would roughly equal the increased tire and maintenance costs.

        I’m about halfway there and I think I was right – but at the end of the five-year period I don’t think I’ll trade up. I think I’ll spend about $3000 on replacing almost every suspension component, getting a light flywheel and clutch, adding a pair of Sparco Evo seats, and converting it to manual steering.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        Steering, the only issue with the higher mileage driving on a new car is that only bends the depreciation curve more towards the used car, especially since I, like most people in my age group, cannot afford to pay cash for the new car and therefore would find ourselves upside down in a loan very quickly. We’d also need a parental/adult cosigner since I doubt a first time buyer is going to qualify for low rate financing on our own, not to mention we’d have to consider extending warranty coverage to ensure we didn’t lose that before the loan was up.

        In my case, I have a longish commute (35 miles one way) but its highway and only driven once to maybe 3 times a week. Plus I have a lot of local family with at least 2 extra cars (something I’m having to avail myself of more frequently as my 16 year old 232k mile car starts showign its age) as well as dirt cheap rentals through an old employment connection, so I can always grab a loaner when needed.

        OTOH, the new car will last a lot longer as a daily driver, which provides greater financial freedom down the road once it’s paid off, and the maintenance will be less once that warranty does run out. Of course, this will likely not mean much to a buyer in my demographic, since most aren’t going to want to keep that first cheap, new econobox any longer than they have to, no matter how wise a financial decision it might be.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I appreciate your insight, and I think you are spot on. Just the fact that Hyundai is focused SO MUCH on how they market this car, instead of just making it a car that people want to buy, turns me off completely. It is Scion all over again, trying to attract young buyers with flashy electronic options and sporty styling, while delivering nothing in the way of real sportiness. For a little while I thought that maybe this was going to be the Korean GTI, and they completely dropped the ball.

    The sad thing is, most of the target market will fall for it, just like how every high school kid wants a Tc because of all the cool body kits they make for it.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I don’t really recall the Cruze being poorly received, and to be honest when I rented it and random friends and friends of friends rode in it they were all surprised that it was a Chevy (blame the years of awful Chevy interiors for the one). The sales seem to be decent as well even taking into account the heavy fleet sales.
    I spent quite a bit of time behind the wheel of a turbo powered model and to be honest the only things that really keep it from being a top pick is that it’s somewhat inconsistent. The power steering feels taught at highway speeds though numb, but has this bizarrely artificial feeling overboost at slower speeds (it’s crazy easy to turn with a single finger in city traffic). Feels very, very bizarre even for an EPS system. And the engine bay noise dampening is very well done, but if you try to pop the hood after even driving the turbo version for a couple of blocks you realize they didn’t bother to insulate the hood latch from the flaming hot turbo piping-not fun. Ditto for the uber cheap hood prop where clearly someone at GM realized at the last second that you’d burn your damned hands off if they didn’t do *something* and threw a halfassed 1.5 inch piece of plastic on part of it so you could maybe hold it and only get a mild burn instead of touching a flaming hot metal hood prop. The suspension feels quite nicely tuned on good roads, but go on less than perfect pavement and the best way to describe it is that the heavy weight of the car becomes very apparent as the car tries to slam into the ground over every bump.

    Still, I’d give the car a B+ and honestly that’s quite good considering the grades I’d give cars like the HHR or Impala. If GM can tweak it a bit to be more consistent they’d have a serious contender for #1. The reality is that whether or not people mob cars at press events is friggin’ irrelevant when it comes to whether or not people buy them.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I’m 25 years of age, a few years out of college, have a pretty decent career going. But see, I don’t do text messages, Ipods, etc. In fact, my electronics usually date back to about the late 50′s or earlier.

    When I first saw the Hyundai, it looked intriguing. But after 10secs, it just wasn’t doing it for me any more. The Sonic on the other hand; I’ve never been that excited over a new car before. Digital read-out, direct-injection turbo engine, 6spd manual, all easily under $20k. Hell, I could actually afford all this!

    Then we bought a new Mustang. We both liked the Sonic, but for a few grand more we could get a new RWD 300hp that has the performance to back up it’s look. My wife was thinking like me; Sonic for $18k, or Mustang for $23k…. Is the Mustang even suppose to appeal are age group?

    But the car I drive on my hellish commute everyday is a 1978′ Chevy sedan. And I have a new diesel SUV that I never drive. And a few other vehicles.

    But I’m only 25 you see, and then when you consider the above, you’ll realize no stupid mickey-mouse marketing campaign is ever going to appeal to me. In fact, like the direction Hyundai is taken, I find it completely insulting.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Sounds like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders (although I question the need for so many vehicles at 25… why not consolidate and get a Mustang GT instead!) :)

      But I would also say you are not even remotely close to being typical of most 25yos.

      BTW — what new diesel SUV do you have? I thought there wasnt any that werent ridiculously expensive available over here? Or are you in Europe?

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    It seems every generation claims that marketing doesn’t work on them. If that were true then companies wouldn’t spend billions to create needs in the market that don’t exist. They will continue to do so as long as we continue buy things that we really don’t need. You may THINK you are smarter than the PR folks, and some of you are, or at least think you are, most are not. The worst part is marketing has become so effective that PR people now virtually run our elections, selling candidates like toothpaste. If you can create and then tap into insecurities to sell cars and electronics, why not political candidates?

  • avatar
    obbop

    But will any potential GMC buyer read mine or any of the other MANY Web-placed comments regarding GMC/Chevy/etc refusal to repair the MANY manufacturing defects under their BS warranty… proclaiming the well-honed apparently memorized mantra heard at several different dealerships; “We are unable to replicate the supposed defect you claim exists.”

    Ample evidence that little to no actual diagnosis took place.

    May GMC and its over-paid execs sink into the depths of Hades for eternal, perhaps longer, torment for abusing those who bought based upon a misplaced loyalty to the “home team.”

    I will never make that mistake again.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      And that type of behavior has never happened once with the Hyundai/Kia 10 year 100k warranty. Or maybe you should do a few searches for timing belt problems and the complaints associated with that.

  • avatar
    darex

    I cannot remember the last time I read such a stupid review of a car, but then again, that’s why Millennials shouldn’t be allowed to review things. They have no historical sense, no perspective, no experience and are jaded beyond belief.

    Gen Y is so pitiful compared to Gen X.

    Specifics?

    - Only a Millennial would be waving the GM flag, because they didn’t experience GM first-hand when it was using deceitful marketing practices (which they still are) and were putting out worthless drecky products. Touting the excellent reliability of a car that just came out over a MINI Clubman’s, when in fact, the MINI’s reliability is far from horrible (and I owned one for 6 years — I had a fantastic owner’s experience), is just irresponsible and ignorant. Any wise betting man would bet against the Sonic’s reliability.

    Have you really spent any time in a Veloster? That thing exudes quality, solidity. Hyundai somehow managed to have hard plastics that neither look, nor feel like hard plastics. In fact, there is not a single “cheap-looking/seeming” surface, knob, dial, of button in the whole car. Every detail looks like it belongs in a $40K Lexus or Acura, not in a $20K Hyundai. I don’t know how they did it. Even the welds look “perfect”, as if each one was Q.A.’d by Supervisor Robot. I was blown away by the quality and solid feel of the Veloster.

    Everyone knows the Veloster is not a rocket, but it is a very competent driver, and is as peppy as anything else I’ve driven in the sub-150HP B-Class, and a lot quieter than most. It just makes the whole experience wonderful due to the luxuriant surroundings and extremely sophisticated telematics package and iPhone integration (done RIGHT, for the first time every, as far as I’ve seen [unlike Sync!]).

    The Veloster will sell like hotcakes. Mark my words. You cannot help but come away impressed with it, unless you’re a snobby Auto Journalist, who refuses to look beyond the 0-60 mph time.

    The Sonic is an Aveo, no matter how GM spins it, and if it looks like an Aveo both inside and out, then it’s a foregone conclusion that it will play the same role for GM, and that was a role played poorly! GM designers making excuses for the cheap interior like “I meant to do that”, ring childish and hollow. Even Millennials like creature comforts, I’m sure, and nobody likes to ride in a penalty box, at least not for the long-term. Just as with the Veloster, there is more to a car than the engine. A brilliant engine cannot overcome bad interior ergonomics/quality (e.g. Nissan Juke).

    Only 25 year olds are optimistic about the “new GM” and willing to accept their crap at first glance, because they don’t know any better. The rest of us are 1) pissed off at GM for stealing billions of tax-payer dollars. 2) Know that the New GM = The Old GM. They “got-off” too easily, and haven’t learned their lesson. 3) know that the only thing “new” is that they are now rebadging Opels and Daewoos exclusively.

    Keep drinking the NEW GM KOOL-AID, and by all means go buy a Sonic, and learn for yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Somehow this entire rant would be a lot more believable if you hadn’t shown yourself to be a complete GM hater in the first sentence after “Specifics?”. Sorry, I like to have at least the illusion of even mindedness when I’m reading someone’s submission.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      “Exudes quality”??? Seriously??

      Oh wait, I know… you just bought a Veloster, didn’t you? :)

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        Yes. I put my money where my mouth is. My first Hyundai. I traded in my Juke for it. It impressed me greatly, and so I bought it. I stand by my statement. It exudes quality. Have you spent any time driving one, mnm4ever? Your posts are very anti-Hyundai, so I’ll take that as a “no”.

        The interior quality in the Veloster vs. the Juke are NIGHT-AND-DAY.

        Yes, I am a GM-hater. Every personal experience I have with them is a bad one. Even the Opel Corsa I rented in France last year was a [pretty] piece of junk — among the worst cars I’ve ever driven. Couple that with the shameful way they behaved during the bailout, and yes, I dislike them intensely and will not buy anything they produce at this point in time.

        I just think that by-and-large everything GM says and everything they produce is garbage. They can prove me wrong if they are able to, but people do have longer memories than “overnight”, or “2 years later”. It takes a decade or more to change peoples’ car brand perceptions, and GM put out utter garbage from about 1978 through 2010. They still lose out in every head-to-head with their competition that I can think of.

        Remember how the Cobalt was supposed to make the Cavalier a bad memory? GM told us so! Now, they say the same about the Cruze. Ummm…yeah…okay, GM. Since YOU say so. Granted the Cruze is a better car, but that’s not saying much.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like someone is mad that their new purchase was invalidated by the opinion of somebody they never met before.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      @darex
      “Every detail looks like it belongs in a $40K Lexus or Acura, not in a $20K Hyundai.”

      Guess how I know your are delusional? Seriously, if you spent some time in a 40k Lexus, you wouldn’t be making that comment. Everyone makes hard cheap plastics and tries to hide them.

      Make no mistake about it, I am not saying the Sonic is a great car. It is a car that is going to be competitive in the segment. The Veloster, IMHO, will not be. 3 doors is the first problem. Anemic performance is the second. Not that cars need to be corner carvers here, they don’t. But no power power and a weird design is really going to hurt its chances.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I am not anti-Hyundai at all, actually I like thier products quite a lot. When my parents were car shopping recently, the first place I sent them was to the Hyundai dealer. They had never considered Hyundai because of their (outdated) rep as being crappy cars that only sold on price. I convinced them otherwise, and they bought an Elantra Limited. My dad was considering an Accent but decided on the Cruze instead.

      I looked at all 3 cars, and guess what? The quality level was about the same across the board. If anything, the Cruze was a bit more upscale than the other, but not quite as flashy and cool. My wife sat in the Elantra and the Cruze for all of 2 minutes, and immediately said “its a nice car, just made a little cheap, but it looks good”. None of them EXUDED anything but that. To compare them to a Lexus or BMW is simply showing your biased nature in attempting to blindly validate your own purchase. They dont even compare to my 2008 GTI for interior “quality feel”, although I will freely admit that all 3 seem to be a lot hardier than my VW and will most likely age better.

      You are so overboard anti-GM and so blantantly pro-Hyundai that your opinions become invalidated on both topics. GM has a long history of making crap cars, no doubt. So does Hyundai, they only started making good products in the last few years, anything older than 2005 is the bargain bin of the used car market. I believe both of them have potential but definitely Hyundai has better product and a better chance. I just dont think the Veloster is anything special. It has the bones of thier cheapest car, no special suspension tuning or engine, just a “sort of” stylish body and fancy electronics to wow the masses. I expected more, but I am not surprised, they took the safe easy route.

      Oh, and the interior of the Veloster is not worlds above the Juke, the Juke is just as nice, or as bad, depending on your view. They are very similar in quality, if not style. If you prefer one over the other, fine, but there isnt a huge difference like you make it sound. I also happen to think the Juke looks better too, but obviously I am in the minority on that one, most people think its ugly as sin! I dont sit here and try to preach about it, its just a preference.

  • avatar
    Les

    So all the press going about has gotten me intrigued by the Sonic in LTZ trim, maybe it’s not value for money compared to a larger sedan but I’ve been driving a ladder-frame SUV for twelve years so I’m just much more in the mood for Small.

    Then I went to the Car & Driver website to leaf through it on their car-pricing thingamagig, as you do, when I noticed.. they Have no listing for the LTZ trim level on Chevrolet Sonics. The highest trim level they list is 2LZ, and none of the trim levels listed has the 1.4l turbo engine, all the nat-asp 1.8

    Did someone at C&D get lazy, or is Chevrolet pulling a bait-and-switch?

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Having been on Chevrolet’s website, which happily admits to the LTZ, 1.4 turbo, six speed manual, etc.; I’ll put my money on C&D getting lazy (like this is new?). Just the same, hit two other Chevrolet dealers on my weekly Sunday 30 mile roadwork, and all that’s sitting in the lot at the moment are LT’s with automatic, 1.8 and the connectivity package.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        My thought, of course ‘Everyone’ knows nobody in America actually wants one of those Hot-Hatch things the ‘Enthusiasts’ are always raving about; they only want small cars that are fuel-efficient, cheep, and boring. So, the LTZ will only exist to make auto-journos swoon and create buzz for the brand while we’ll never actually see one on a dealer lot.

  • avatar
    mattdaddy

    “but the Sonic is the real deal for the real world, a sort of poor man’s Mini Cooper S without the awful reliability.”

    Wow is that a stretch of a comparison. I will admit to owning a Cooper S and have only sat in a Sonic. I highly doubt that the daily thrill I have in pressing the gas pedal down can be had in a Chevy Sonic (or Chevy anything for that matter). Sure there have been some issues, but who owns any BMW product without warranty?

    I was hoping to find some opinion about the Veloster as the subject suggests, but I can’t find it…

    • 0 avatar

      “I will admit to owning a Cooper S and have only sat in a Sonic.”

      Well, that’s your problem right there. It’s nowhere as sharp as say, my friend’s Cooper S JCW, but for what you’re paying, it’s as close as you’ll get.

      If you want to read my thoughts on the Veloster http://www.autoguide.com/manufacturer/hyundai/2012-hyundai-veloster-review-1605.html

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I love how this “we don’t like to be marketed too” thing works. How many of the millennials have smart phones? How many have iPads or other Apple products. Trust me, marketing works, people just hate to admit it.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      In fairness, I do have a Blackberry (it was one of the few phones I could get “free” with the cell plan that I’m on). However, I refuse to buy Apple products since I kind of avoid all things trendy (at least paying for them, the aforementioned Blackberry being an example of something I have, but didn’t pay for). Whenever commercials come on I mute them and walk away since most of them are more offensive than anything.

      Most people would probably be surprised that I don’t have a Twitter account and the only thing I use Facebook for is to set up times to hang out with friends in the real world.

      All in all, I take your point though. On some level marketing works on everybody. Some people are just more conscious of it than others.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        You know how that sounds, right? Avoiding things because they’re trendy or mainstream. The moment I hear that, I think to myself, “Look at this effing hipster.” That’s a trendy statement in and of itself.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Signal

        As a matter of fact, I do know how it sounds. Everybody who says they avoid, “trendy or mainstream”, myself included, sound hypocritical. I’m willing to sound hypocritical. My point is that I don’t buy that Apple is the end all, be all of personal electronics. I’m also more than a little price conscious. I bought an MP3, a decent one made by “Creative” since I don’t feel the need to line Steve Jobs’ pockets because he tells me to. I got an 8gb unit for $80, the equivalent space on an iPod Nano would have been $130ish.

        I may sound like a hypocrite, people are entitled to their opinions. But you know what they say about opinions?

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        Well, so long as you know how it sounds. :)

        And regarding opinions – what I don’t get is the need to preface or postface opinions in adult conversations with a statement highlighting that the preceding/following is an opinion. I thought people were supposed to get past that in fourth grade.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Regarding pointing out that X is an opinion, I really have no answer. I guess it’s SOP for many.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, the thing is people want to identify with a brand, and while Apple says the “right” things for these self-absorbed M.Sociology espresso jockeys, Chevrolet does not.

  • avatar
    bamelin

    I bought a Veloster. Age 35 which I guess makes me gen X although I’ve always identified with gen Y at least on the tech side of things.

    The Gen X side of me though doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of my ride … The car was for ME not for the omg you should have bought an economical used/a better brand/a turbo crowd.

    The Veloster was for me:

    A. Affordable for a new car
    B. Loaded with tech and features other brands only dream about at this price point
    C. Had Hyundai’s signature new styling (which I love, but YMMV)
    D. Good fuel economy
    C. Could be ought loaded for less than the price of a loaded Ford Focus Titanium (another car which I cross shopped)

    Veloster is a love it or hate it type of car. Haters will call it a factory produced ricer, lovers will appreciate it’s styling and muliple standard features included at a low price…. Not really the type of car to find a middle ground. At the very least even if u hate it, the Veloster has a unique look and feel compared to everything else out there.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I think this is what I was trying to get at earlier, less than successfully. I will say that I like your, “namn the torpedoes” attitude of, “if you don’t like it, fine don’t buy it.”

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    Yo, kiddo: You might be a “millenial” wretch, but what you wanted to do was retch, without the w. HTH!

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    21 year old here in University.

    Appearance and swag is the name of the game.

    Everyone here has Macbook Pros, gets designer crap at Buffalo Exchange for cheap, wears Northface and Uggs. You think people are going to shell out thousands of their own money to get something that won’t even impress anyone? Seriously, you ain’t going to pick up chicks in a Sonic or Veloster. Maybe a Veloster, because chicks are attracted to novelty. Trust me, I’ve read the Art of Seduction.

    Whether it’s in material goods or going on vacation to Ghana/India/Vail/whatever, symbols of status and social capital are the names of the game when you’re young and trying to network and build connections.

    FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT!!!

    I have no idea what I’m talking about.

    • 0 avatar

      No, you are absolutely dead on, and I am hoping to explore this topic later on. And girls really don’t care what kind of car you drive. Having a car is awesome to them. If they judge you based on the badge, you don’t want them anyways.

  • avatar
    Shorty

    As someone in this demo I have to say I am in the market for a NEW car. Not used. It’s easier to budget a monthly payment out versus 1k out because my used car broke down. Also I don’t want a car that I have to meet and befriend a mechanic over and I really don’t care how people see me (ie the whole Lexus vs Chevy name branding). That’s another thing you have to realize about us. Some of us don’t want to drive a Lexus because it’s “cool”.We crack jokes on people who say things like “Oh you got a new Chevy, well I have a 85 Lexus” I would MUCH rather get a car I know I don’t have to fix something on for 5+ years (no accidents) versus a car that my savings account drains.
    What lead me here is that I was looking at getting one of these two and this has made my mind up. I’m going GM. It’s got the handling I need in the mountains and the economy of a car I have to drive across the state with the space to tote my crap. I have driven both and was on the fence until I did my research. That’s another thing about us, we usually put more time into research than purchasing. Thanks for helping me!


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