Thank Heaven for Little (and Large) Crossovers: Hyundai's Recovery Continues Apace

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
thank heaven for little and large crossovers hyundais recovery continues apace

It wasn’t long ago that Hyundai, having rocketed out of the recession on the strength of efficient — and newly improved — product, canned its American CEO over declining sales and made Operation Crossover its primary focus.

The sales slump was almost entirely the product of American buyers’ cold-shouldering of traditional passenger cars, to which Hyundai brass saw a utility vehicle surge as the only remedy. Seems they were right, as Hyundai’s now sitting pretty — and there’s another crossover that’s yet to land.

Hyundai reported a year-over-year U.S. sales gain of 8 percent in October, with retail sales up 12 percent. Year to date, sales are up 3.3 percent. Not bad considering the stagnant market. It helps when you’ve got new product on display, and Hyundai has two it’s particularly pleased with: the redesigned Santa Fe, which replaces the former Santa Fe Sport, and the Palisade, a three-row model that replaced the Santa Fe (renamed the Santa Fe XL after the Santa Fe Sport’s replacement by the Santa Fe — no confusion here!).

Despite the fact that Hyundai grouped both models under one name in its sales tallies, the new, singular Santa Fe’s sales were up 42 percent in October. Add in the 4,357 units of Palisade sold last month, plus remaining stock of old models, and Hyundai’s midsize(ish) crossover sales last month topped any month from 2018 or 2017. Through October, the nameplate is up 10.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the Tucson, despite its advancing age and looming successor, came within 205 units of matching last October’s volume. Through the end of October, Tucson sales are off 2018’s tally by just 822 vehicles. That’s one steady ship.

Further down the ladder, the Kona — Hyundai’s first salvo in Operation Crossover — outpaced last October’s tally by 27 percent, selling nearly as many vehicles as the midsize Sonata sedan. Put another way, it sold more than the Accent and Ioniq combined, and the same goes for year-to-date volume (only more so). Cars just aren’t cutting it in the Hyundai stable; high-volume models like the Elantra and Sonata are down significantly since the start of the year, though niche models like the Ioniq and Veloster are still in the black.

Next to arrive is an A-segment crossover called the Venue, aimed squarely at urban Millennials who love tech and efficiency but can’t find many coins to rub together. Offered as a front-wheel-drive-only vehicle, the Venue should arrive at dealerships any day now.

[Images: Hyundai]

Join the conversation
7 of 11 comments
  • Whatnext Whatnext on Nov 04, 2019

    Looking back automotive historians will wonder how governments that mandated every manner of safety device could have let these view blocking mastodons onto roads filled with cars. They're a hazard to other drivers, to pedestrians and to the environment.

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Nov 04, 2019

      Roads aren't filled with cars...they are filled with vehicles similar to this. Perhaps you would rather people motor around in Duesenbergs or Pre war Buicks?

  • CKNSLS Sierra SLT CKNSLS Sierra SLT on Nov 04, 2019

    Art- I'm sure "whatnext" can't afford one anyway.......

    • See 3 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Nov 05, 2019

      @Whatnext I could have paid cash for my F150 (it is paid off now), but with the interest rate on a 5 or even 6 year note it made zero sense as my money was earning more than that so why not use someone elses.

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged