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Ever considered a Kia? How about a Hyundai?


In February you talked about car-buying options that included a Mazda3. We're pretty much done with Toyota until it gets its act together plus we're not fond of its bland design philosophy.

We are looking for a small car like the Mazda. First on our collective list is reliability followed closely by safety. I've never owned European so maybe we should look across the right-hand pond.

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I know this isn't much to go on but anything you can add to our car search tool kit would be a help.

Otto and Irene

Well Otto and Irene, your timing is perfect. You do have options and they're not Japanese or European - consider the very capable offerings from South Korea.

Before everyone starts in with me about the Hyundai Pony, let me say two things:

All the Pony stories have become old. And (sorry Ford) have you driven a Kia or a Hyundai lately?

Smooth and responsive, this budget runabout is similar to the Honda Civic in terms of drivability.

These two auto makers, especially Hyundai, have been pumping out a decent product the last few years, and people are finally starting to take notice, (since Kia was folded into the Hyundai family in 1998, it has made huge gains also). The sales numbers speak for themselves never mind the cool products out there like the Hyundai Genesis, the new Sonata (which I think will stand the mid-sized market segment on its ear) and the Kia Forte Koup and the very funky Soul.

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Kia's sales jumped of 11.3 per cent in March as the company set an internal sales record with its best first quarter in North America. Combine this with steadily climbing resale values, J.D. Power and Associate numbers that rival BMW and Acura, and the Kia Forte being named the Top Safety Pick by the (American) Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, you've got to figure that it's doing something right. Kia is also keeping pace in the politically correct hybrid race - in 2009, it unveiled a Forte Hybrid at the Seoul Motor Show.

Otto and Irene, the next time you drive by a Hyundai or a Kia dealership, stop to take a look. Not only do you still have options over the left-hand pond, you have options within the "new" automotive companies from South Korea.

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