The Sonata's Lack Of 'Dependability' Is Hurting Hyundai

It's undeniable that the current Hyundai Sonata has been a hit for the company, propelling itself from an also-ran to a mainstream midsize sedan. But apparently it's come at the price of Hyundai's advancing reputation for reliability.

Automotive News reported that the 2011 Sonata, the first year of the current body style, had something to do with Hyundai falling five places in the 2014 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study, from 22nd last year to 27th out of 32 brands. Last year's tumble from 10 to 22 was even bigger.

But Auto News and JD Power point to the fact the 2011 Sonata featured a lot of new-to-Hyundai technology, like a direct injected turbo four and a new transmission. What that study revealed for the industry as a whole was that cars are apparently getting "less dependable" because of "new technology."

What we said about that study was that it remains to be seen if survey participants are marking their cars down because the downsized engines are as not economical as they hoped, or if the navigation systems and infotainment systems are more complicated than expected. And how much of that is vehicle dependability or vehicle annoyance?

Hyundai points to first-year issues and expects their rankings to improve next year. Sure, they had an issue with wandering Sonatas early on and a few other recalls, but the Sonata hasn't developed a reputation for catching fire or having an incompetent MyFord Touch system like in the 2013 Ford Escape, another car that's likely to score low in a future dependability study.

If this generation of Hyundai Sonata does, in fact, have actual dependability problems as it ages, is that going to slow down Hyundai's growth spurt more?

Photo: Hyundai