Ask The Best & Brightest: What's The Korean Discount Nowadays?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

We’ve reviewed a lot of Korean designs here lately. The Soul. The Rio. The Veloster. The Sorrento. The Genesis. The Optima Hybrid. The Cayenne S. Actually, rumors that Porsche made a straight-up trade of engineering (the original Hyundai Santa Fe’s 2.7L V-6) for styling (the original Cayenne is clearly pretty much the same as said original Santa Fe) are completely unfounded. Some of these cars may not be quite up to the standard of their competition, but others are either the critic’s choice of the segment or the actual freaking segment sales volume leader.

Price has been a big part — for a long time, maybe the only part — of Korean-brand appeal in the United States since the very first Excel arrived with “$4995!” plastered on the windshield. In 2011, however, the Hyundai, Kia, and Daewoo vehicles aren’t always the cheapest choice. Which leads us to the question:

What should the “Korean discount” be? What form should it take? Should the Korean entries in a segment be cheaper? Better-equipped? Both? Compared to the competitors from Honda, Toyota and (maybe) Nissan, how much money do you need to save to look at a Hyundai, Kia, or Daewoo (meaning Chevy)? Or have we finally reached a point in time where the answer to the “discount question” is nothing at all?

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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11 of 91 comments
  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Oct 25, 2011

    Twice in the past couple of weeks I have seen a new car in the distance, and thought that it was one of the new Jaguars. Both times it turned out to be a new Optima. I am very favorably impressed.

  • Eldard Eldard on Oct 25, 2011

    Someone on another site said: Korean = 90% Japanese quality-wise at 70% of the price. That's good enough for me.

    • See 4 previous
    • Eldard Eldard on Oct 26, 2011

      @JCraig And whether you PCily agree with this or not, it's in the Korean psyche to try to top everything that Japan does.

  • Mnm4ever Mnm4ever on Oct 25, 2011

    I think all of you are giving the general public way too much credit here. The "discount" nowadays is styling. Hyundai and Kia are putting out some really great designs, and that is whats bringing in the buyers. Toyota and Honda have a stellar reputation, but thier product is SO boring! As for the quality arguement, aside from Honda/Toyota/Nissan, no one else has a significant advantage there. The domestic brands have basically just as poor a reputation for longevity, especially for small cars.

    • See 1 previous
    • Eldard Eldard on Oct 26, 2011

      LIke I said just a few days ago in another post, HOnda can learn a lot from Audi (and BMW). Just make your products aesthetically pleasing even though they're really just gussied up crap VWs. Make it good looking, and they will come.

  • JCraig JCraig on Oct 25, 2011

    Purchased my second Hyundai new in 2008, which has been flawless for the 50k miles I've put on it. The price, warranty and loyalty rebate were huge factors in my decision, although I felt it compared well to the competition that year. I was never a fan of the Civic's styling, the Corolla was already dated and didn't justify the price difference, and the domestics at the time had nothing compelling. At this point I consider Hyundai a standard brand and their new crop of products proves the point, as they have low incentives and cannot keep up with demand. As I eye the Genesis coupe and Veloster (turbo) as a possible next car price and incentives will not be much of a factor, and the warranty is just gravy.