Keep your eye on the gorilla in the room

There's a new gorilla in the room, and it isn't named Toyota.

After checking out the latest Initial Quality Study from J.D. Power, I was most impressed by Hyundai's fourth-place finish among the nation's brands. Hyundai generated 95 problems per hundred vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership.

Only Lexus, Cadillac and Porsche performed better.

Three years ago, Hyundai shocked everyone with its third-place finish. Quality-wise, they are here to stay. So how does that make them a gorilla? They're an off-brand. They offer lots of value at a discount, and now they're making a successful foray into the near-luxury realm with the Genesis sedan and coupe.

By the way, Genesis was one of three newly introduced nameplates that scored well in its first year. (The other two strong launches were the Toyota Venza and Volkswagen CC).

And Hyundai hasn't lost its focus on entry-level vehicles. In the subcompact category, the Hyundai Accent finished just behind the top-ranked Toyota Yaris. And the top-quality compact car was the Elantra sedan, which finished ahead of the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic.

This year, Hyundai has relentlessly gained market share; its sales overtook Nissan in April. Even though Nissan regained its lead in May, it's only a matter of time before Hyundai comes back.

The U.S. market used to be a tidy little club. General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Honda and Nissan formed the Big Six, and everyone else was an also-ran. No longer. Hyundai won't go away.

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