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Hyundai Reliability – Which Model Is The Safest For Me To Buy?

Hyundai Reliability – Which Model Is The Safest For Me To Buy?

Hyundai Motor Company is a multinational automotive manufacturer that produces sedans, hatchbacks, crossover SUVs, pickups, vans, trucks, and buses in various facilities around the world. With high-selling units that are popular worldwide, the high Hyundai reliability ratings only increase buyer confidence, driver safety, and passenger comfort. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Let’s take a look at the most reliable Hyundai models you can purchase, including the best years with safety mechanisms and high-tech features. Along with researching the most reliable Hyundai cars, we need to know the most common Hyundai problems that can occur in various model years, like in the 2016 Tucson or 2011 Sonata. 


Lastly, we will make a head-to-head comparison between Honda and Hyundai to see which company has the most reliable vehicles on the road today!  

Most Reliable Hyundai Models

To figure out the overall ranking of Hyundai reliability, we need to know which models are the safest and most confidence-inspiring for car shoppers to purchase. Despite not all models being the best choice for those who want a consistent and reliable vehicle, some production years and models stand out in terms of constant performance and safety features. 

Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra is one of the more affordable cars in Hyundai’s lineup, starting at just $19,300 for the base trim level. Designed for families who need some space without breaking the bank, or a potential first-time car buyer, the Elantra provides a reliable option that won’t cost too much money for everyday driving. 


With technical compatibility and features like CarPlay, the Elantra doesn’t skimp on the extras. Along with the add-ons and comfortable interior, the Elantra consistently earns a 4 out of 5 stars for JD Power Reliability. In addition, RepairPal gives the Elantra 4.5 out of 5 stars for the Hyundai reliability.


The latest model, the 2020 Hyundai Elantra, has a reliability rating of 8.1 out of 10 according to the US News Scorecard, with the critics’ rating coming in at 8.0, the performance rating being 7.2, the interior rating coming in at 7.8, and the safety rating being 9.2 out of 10. The Hyundai Elantra earns a #7 ranking based on the score with the Compact Cars category, also earning the #7 ranking in Hatchbacks and #8 in Small Cars.

Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata consistently ranks at the top in terms of Hyundai reliability in the mid-size sedan category, earning a favorable reliability score with customers and JD Power ranking system. Complete with a 60,000-mile warranty and 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the safety and performance guarantees with this vehicle give it a top spot compared to the competition. 


The accolades of the Sonata include the IIHS Top Safety Pick 6 years in a row, ‘10 Best Sedans Under $30,000’ by KBB, 2018 NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating, and ‘Best Bet for 2016’ by The Car Book. 

Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe ranks highly in terms of Hyundai reliability, earning a ranking of 4 out of 5 stars according to RepairPal. Along with the high safety ranking, this model earned a near-perfect score in terms of receiving no complaints from the NHTSA and CarComplaints from owners and drivers. 


The Santa Fe earned numerous awards and accolades due to its safety and Hyundai reliability. This model earned the ‘Highest Ranked Midsize SUV in Long-Term Quality’ by JD Power, 2016-2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick, 2020 NHTSA 5-Star Overall Safety Rating, and the Best Family Car of 2019 by Kelley Blue Book. 

Hyundai Kona

The 2020 Kona has numerous pros, showing the increased Hyundai reliability for this model year. The positives of the 2020 Hyundai Kona is a powerful turbocharged engine option available, composed handling for a smooth ride, upscale and stylish interior, and a straightforward infotainment system that has numerous features. 


The 2020 Hyundai Kona has balanced driving dynamics, a strong engine, and ranks at the top of the subcompact SUV class compared to other options. The car earns 26-28 miles per gallon in the city, and 29-33 miles per gallon on highway driving. It is also offered in four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive for versatility, offering 147-175 horsepower. 


The 2020 Hyundai Kona is ranked #1 in the subcompact SUV category, #9 in crossover SUVs, and #6 in the SUV with two rows category, earning a finalist award for the 2020 Best Subcompact SUV For the Money, according to US News. As you can see, the Konda ranks highly in terms of Hyundai reliability when compared to other vehicles.

Hyundai Tucson

The Tucson earned numerous accolades for its safety, performance, and Hyundai reliability. The Tucson earned the 2016-2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick, ‘Most Dependable Small SUV’ by JD Power, ‘Highest Ranked Small SUV in Initial Quality’ by JD Power, 2018 NHTSA 5-Star Ranking, and the 2016 ‘Best Compact SUV for the Money’ by US World Report. 

Hyundai Reliability Awards

If you are wondering about the Hyundai reliability, the proof is in the data and the accolades. With a variety of different models that work depending on the owner’s necessary performance features and safety aspects required, Hyundai ensures that nearly every vehicle in the fleet is consistent and reliable for drivers. 


You can tell that Hyundai prides itself on affordable vehicles, safety, reliability, and performance in one, reliable vehicle. 

  • WhatCar Reliability Survey – In the WhatCar Reliability Survey, Hyundai reliability earned a 95.7% and ranked one of the most reliable global automakers. 
  • JD Power Initial Quality Study – JD Power ranked Hyundai Motor Group as the ‘Highest in Initial Quality’ due to the high-scoring Hyundai reliability measurement. 
  • IIHS Top Safety Picks – the IIHS selected 13 Hyundai vehicles as Top Safety Picks, with 12 of the 13 selections earning the highest Top Safety Pick Plus rating due to the impressive Hyundai reliability. 
  • KBB Ratings – Kelley Blue Book awarded Hyundai as the car brand with the lowest cost-to-own compared to other brands. The award recognized the Hyundai reliability, fuel-effectiveness, dependability, and affordable nature for all drivers. 

Most Common Hyundai Reliability Concerns

To get an idea of the overall Hyundai reliability rating in various car models, drivers should be aware of the most prevalent vehicle issues in different model years. As with all car brands across the world, not all of Hyundai’s vehicles earn top-of-the-line safety and reliability ratings. Let’s find out the most problematic Hyundai offerings, including the severity of the problems, driver complaints, and average repair costs. 

Hyundai Tucson Transmission Failure

There are over 600 complaints on the NHTSA website regarding the transmission failure in the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. According to a recall that affected the Tucson, NHTSA stated that Hyundai had to recall the particular model year 2016 vehicles that contain the 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch transmission. The affected vehicles could suffer from excessive temperatures and friction, causing the accelerator pedal to not work properly. 

  • Driver Complaints – Owners of the Tucson stated that the vehicle reportedly shuts down as the car comes to a stop. At this point, the car would get stuck and not accelerate again after slowing down, leading to unsafe driving conditions while in traffic, at a stoplight, or slowing down for a turn.
  • Repair Costs – The average repair price for the Tucson transmission comes to around $3,500 depending on the model year and any other internal issues. However, if your vehicle has been covered by the recall, the procedure of replacing the transmission should be free. 

Hyundai Santa Fe Engine Failure

The NHTSA complaints regarding the engine are mainly about the engine and vehicle speed control, with these issues occurring at just 16,000 miles on average and causing one fire. Users state that there is bad hesitation when stepping on the gas pedal, the oil light begins flickering on and off, metallic debris leaks in the oil, and the oil can leak and cause engine noise. 

  • Driver Complaints – The user concerns regarding the transmission focused on the hesitation, the poor shifting while in cruise control, the rough shifting of the transmission, and the transmission slipping. To fix the hesitation in the transmission, users generally say this occurs at a very low mileage of just 1,000 miles, and that the vehicle responds very poorly when driving at fast speeds.
    • Along with the transmission, owners reported the engine would stall while driving at high speeds. The car’s gas gauge suddenly plummets during use, causing the engine to become unresponsive and requiring a tow to a nearby mechanic. Examination of the internal engine system showed internal damage that required an engine replacement.
  • Repair Cost – Replacing the engine in a Santa Fe typically costs around $5,000 for the entire procedure, including the cost of labor and parts. 

Hyundai Sonata Engine Failure

Similar to the Santa Fe concerns, the 2011 and 2012 Sonata experience engine failure. The signs of this engine failure include random seizing, stalling, and unresponsiveness, showing a lack of Hyundai reliability in these model years. 

  • Driver Complaints – Owners of the 2011 and 2012 Sonatas state that the accelerator pedal does not increase the engine speed while driving on the highway, causing the car to stop without warning completely. If this occurs, the most likely culprit is the engine seizing while driving. 
  • Repair Cost – According to CarComplaints, the average price of repairing the Sonata’s engine in the 2011 and 2012 model years comes to a whopping $5,000 for most scenarios. 

Hyundai Elantra Engine Problems

The fifth generation of the Hyundai Elantra is the worst considered generation in terms of user reliability, confidence, and NHTSA complaints. This generation contains the 2013 model year, which has the overall highest amount of complaints and the worst model year based on various factors. 

  • Driver Complaints – The user complaints of the engine system revolve around the engine ticking, the engine failure, the engine running rough, the engine shaking, no acceleration in the car, unintended acceleration, clicking noise from the engine, the car stalling while driving, the check engine light turning on, and the car smoking at acceleration. 
  • Repair Cost – To remedy the engine problems, the typical repair cost comes in at around $4,400 and occurs at around 69,00 miles, with the most common solution being to replace the engine. 

Hyundai Reliability vs. Honda reliability

In a head-to-head match between two of the biggest automakers in the world, let’s compare the safety and reliability ratings to see which company really has the most consistent and safest vehicles across the board. 


According to data in the US News rankings, Hyundai’s vehicles are more reliable than Hondas when comparing all different models and trim levels. 

Hyundai Cars 

  • Almost all of Hyundai’s vehicles earned a predicted reliability rating of at least 3.5 out of 5 stars, with the exception of the Kona EV, which did not yet have data to be included in this analysis. 
  • Three of Hyundai’s cars – the Elantra, Tucson, and Sonata – earned 4 out of 5 stars in the reliability category. 
  • The highest-scoring vehicle was the Santa Fe, which earned a 4.5 out of 5 stars. 
  • Along with the high-reliability ratings, Hyundai offers a greater warranty package than Honda, with the vehicles containing a 60,000-mile basic warranty and a 100,000 powertrain warranty. 

Honda Cars

When comparing the Hyundai reliability to the Honda reliability, we need to analyze the Honda vehicles in direct competition with the Hyundai cars on the market.

  • The Honda Accord, Honda HR-V, and the Honda Pilot all earned very low predicted reliability ratings of just 2.5 out of 5 stars. 
  • The Honda Civic, Clarity, Insight, Accord Hybrid, Odyssey, and passport all earned a reliability score of 3 out of 5.
  • No Honda vehicle earned a score of 4 or higher in the reliability category. 
  • Honda cars come with a 35,000-mile warranty and a 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is approximately 25,000 and 40,000 miles less than the Hyundai warranty.

The Bottom Line

Drivers should be aware of the overall ranking of Hyundai reliability across the years and models. By knowing the safest models – lie the sonata and Santa Fe – you can make smart decisions about which production years are the best to purchase!