The 2011 Hyundai Sonata was the carmaker’s hottest item three years ago, but it turned out to be its weakest point in the J.D. Power's 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study. Hyundai owners reported an average of 169 problems per 100 vehicles in the latest dependability rankings from J.D. Power and Associates, making the Hyundai brand rank fifth from the bottom.
It marked Hyundai's second year of surging problems after recording an improvement from 2009 through 2012. J.D. Power also attributed Hyundai’s low ranking to its Elantra compact car. The current generation of the Sonata and Elantra rolled out as 2011 models from Hyundai's Alabama site, which has been running on three shifts since the fall of 2012.
Ed Kim, an analyst with AutoPacific, remarked that Hyundai’s dependability rankings are unlikely to hurt the brand in the near term. He noted that most consumers pay more attention to J.D. Power's initial-quality rankings. He, however, also noted that poor dependability scores should serve as a red flag for a brand that already worked for years improving its quality reputation.
"We've finally reached the point where people have far fewer prejudices against Hyundai's quality," Kim said. "The poor VDS performance is a warning sign to Hyundai because it takes a lot of time and money to build and rebuild a reputation for quality, which they've successfully done for a long time since introducing their 100,000-mile warranty.“