By on July 17, 2013


For all of Hyundai’s successes in Europe, it is conspicuously absent in perhaps the lone major growth segment on the continent; small crossovers. We’re not talking “small” in the sense of the Hyundai Tucson either. Think more along the lines of the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Ford EcoSport and the Dacia Duster. Even premium brands are getting into the fold, with the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA vying for market share.

It would only make sense that Hyundai would be whipping something up to compete in that space, and this was only confirmed by Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, who told Edmunds

“I think it is something that we have to look at,” Krafcik said. “We don’t have any plans. (But) it does seem like there is a lot of action in stuff below RAV4- and Tucson-sized vehicles. A new segment is emerging.”

Krafcik is certainly correct about the emergence of a segment that barely existed in the United States prior to the arrival of the Buick Encore. Sure, the Suzuki SX4 existed, but it was basically irrelevant in the broader context of the market. The Encore has had a relatively stable time on the market so far – inventories suddenly shot up this month to 72 days, but prior to that, they were firmly in the 30 day range. Sales have been in the 2,000-3,000 month ballpark, a respectable figure for a very niche vehicle.

Small cars have traditionally been less than popular in America, but when wrapped in crossover packaging, it may prove more palatable to Americans. In world markets, these cars have been astoundingly popular for different reasons. While small cars are the norm over there, Europeans tend to like the higher driving position without sacrificing the small size required for their tight urban spaces. In the BRIC countries, the SUV-aesthetics are considered a premium feature over regular small cars. Either way, it looks like we’ll be getting a few more of these products in the near future – Hyundai included.

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33 Comments on “Hyundai Next To Enter The Small Crossover Party?...”

  • avatar

    Good, something else they can place in primary shots in The Walking Dead! AKA Another car which started production after the zombie-end-of-world event started.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    I saw a Buick Encore parked right beside a Hyundai Accent at a Tim’s. The only thing it had on the small hatch was ride height and headroom. I thought to myself “really?”

    But for some reason, it seems to make sense to me that a mainstream volume brand like Hyundai would be more logical. Not a premium or luxury brand.

  • avatar

    I see everyone forgot about the Nissan Juke. Not sure how, given how unforgettable it looks. But I see a ton of them here in the Northeast, they’re pretty popular.

    There’s definitely room in most manufacturer’s lineups for a true “compact” SUV, now that what people are calling “compacts” have grown so much. I could see a Mazda CX-3, A Chevy Encore variant (with a more powerful engine please), A C-Max SUV. Doesn’t Fiat have a 500-based XUV in the pipe somewhere too? Hyundai would be foolish to not be at least thinking about it. And Kia could make the Soul an XUV pretty easily.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      … you just mentioned the one vehicle in this class that I actually inexplicably like.

      If there was a Juke sold for every one of these other market segment projects, well let’s just say my world would be at equilibrium.

      • 0 avatar

        I like it too, they really struck an excellent balance between handling, size, and seating height. It’s a nice 1-2 person car, just don’t ask it to carry more people comfortably. Then again, how many vehicles are out there with just the driver?

  • avatar

    The Buick Encore out sells the Honda Crosstour/Acura ZDX, combined this year. Buick as a whole is outselling Acura year-to-date. I’m thinking woman like the CUV vs the butch-mobile.

  • avatar

    A CUV based on the HB20 is already confirmed for Brazil. But the HB20 is a low-cost car, a butchered version of the i20 with poor safety and ugly ride. I guess Hyundai will probably make a “global” CUV based on a better platform while leaving the HB20 for the third world.

  • avatar

    I have not driven an Encore but I did sit in one (and slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night) at the Seattle Car Show. I was very impressed. The cabin is amazingly roomy (I’m 6’1″ tall all torso) and the Encore would fit four of me, and the back two passengers don’t need to be amputees.

    The couple I’ve seen on dealer lots have CLEAR fit and finish problems. The 1.4L in the engine bay is tiny (tons of room) which makes me wonder if down the road a 2.0L version maybe, possibly, could be offered.

    Given I have a commute of about 5 miles a day, and most of that will be done only in foul weather (bike when the weather is nicer) I’m targeting retirement of the weather beater GM U-Body 2.0 in late 2015 or early 2016 (will be at 160K to 170K miles at that point) and a 12 to 18 month old used Encore – for now – is on my, “check it out list.”

    I knew the Encore would sell reasonably well, it may have less than perfect looks, but it does fit a niche very nicely and one has to give the folks at Buick some credit for creating a new market in the US. At least a little.

    • 0 avatar

      Local Buick dealer can’t keep Encores in stock and he told me that dealers are regularly calling each other about dealer trades to get the options or color that a customer wants.

    • 0 avatar

      I was watching what the tuners are doing with the 1.4 and with ecu tune, intake, and exhaust your looking at 250 horsepower/torque on premium. If they do bring the 2.0T it’ll less than the than that more like a base 2.0T Regal output in Sonic platform.

      Laura Buick GMC in IL has Encores for $3,000-4,000 off. I just need the time to bring one back.

    • 0 avatar

      I did pick up an AWD Encore during the “Buick Experience” 24 month lease deal. Though it is not as quiet as my Verano, not much competes with the Verano in sound deadening for this size of car, it rides well and is very responsive in handling and braking. I took it on my favorite off ramp to trail braking turn at the bottom….very impressive! The size is small overall but very roomy for passengers.

      Of course it’s only got a couple hundred miles on it and it is proven to be the most efficient AWD around seeing just under 40 mpg on my 52 mile all highway, two way average loop at 60 mph.

  • avatar

    I say this with honesty, I thought Hyundai was already in the small CUV market with the Tuscon. It gets smaller and s****ier than that?

    • 0 avatar

      Apparently so. I have nightmares of crossovers like these with electric drivetrains and golf cart proportions becoming the only vehicles available to consumers in 20 years. Better buy that Challenger SRT8 while I still can.

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t a re-badged Kia Soul suffice?

    I swear that automakers will use any excuse to make another CUV.

    • 0 avatar

      There seems to be a pent-up demand for tall station wagons that look like little off-roaders. Most have run silent tires that have trouble climbing 2% graded slick clay laneway, regardless of on-board AWD.

      • 0 avatar

        Now that minivans and traditional SUVs are out of fashion, people need to get their high seating position somehow. Personally, I find CUVs to be useless. Can’t tow anything significant, they cost more than a comparable sedan, use more fuel than a comparable sedan, don’t have much more (if any) room than a comparable sedan, and drive like warm poo compared to a decent comparable sedan.

      • 0 avatar

        More like tall hatches.

        With what BMW is going to do with the 1 Series – there won’t be much difference btwn the 1 Series hatch and the X1.

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