New products on the way from Hyundai and Kia will continue to test the boundaries of both brands.
Following the launch of its up-to-$42,000 Cadenza sedan, Kia will continue its march upscale when it brings a flagship sedan, the Quoris, to the United States as early as next year. Kia's rear-wheel-drive counterpart to Hyundai's Equus flagship is expected to cost more than $50,000 and have loads of high-tech features and luxury amenities. If consumers embrace it, the car will help diversify the brand beyond the design-oriented, value-based attributes for which Kia is best known.
Hyundai's next big test will be on two fronts: luxury cars and mainstream popularity. Its second-generation Genesis arriving next summer needs big leaps in interior refinement, ride and handling for it to be a true competitor to luxury rides from Germany. The same goes for the next Equus when it arrives, possibly in 2016.
More important is the next-generation Sonata, which will be critical to Hyundai's success next year.
The seventh generation of Hyundai's mid-sized family sedan, expected to arrive in the third quarter next year, will go up against a crop of sedans from Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet and Mazda that have all launched in the last 18 months or so. That means the competitive bar will be higher than it was when the current Sonata went on sale in 2010, when competing models were getting long-in-the-tooth.
Serious change also could be afoot on the design front. The next Sonata will incorporate a new design language Hyundai has called "fluidic precision," which should be more restrained than the current theme of swoopy, expressive lines.
And with Kia global design boss Peter Schreyer now heading design operations at both Hyundai and Kia, the look of future Hyundai vehicles is very much a work in progress.