Move over, America, Germany and Japan — South Korea is making an argument to be considered the primary hub of automotive quality.
Hyundai on Monday earned its second North American Car of the Year award in four years as the fifth-generation Hyundai Elantra compact joined its luxurious big brother Genesis (2009) in bringing Detroit’s top honor back to Seoul.
The Elantra beat out its classmate, the Ford (NYSE:F) Focus, and the larger Volkswagen (PINK:VLKAY) Passat, which also won Motor Trend’s top honor this year. The news could help to further boost Hyundai’s sales, which enjoyed a 13% spike in December and a 20% year-over-year increase in 2011, announced during last week’s auto sales reports. The Elantra itself has grown sales 41% since 2010.
Truck of the Year honors were poorly named this year, with SUVs making up the top three competitors. The Range Rover Evoque, which only began production in summer 2011, took down the Honda (NYSE:HMC) CR-V and the BMW X3.
Range Rover, which is owned by Indian company Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM), is known for its large, rugged, well-appointed vehicles but won this year’s honor with the Evoque, which wowed judges with its fuel efficiency (28 miles per gallon), design and street performance.