Car Reviews

1989: Hyundai moves beyond the Excel in America

Hyundai made a big splash in North America when the 1986 Excel went on sale; priced at a mere $4,995 (at a time when the Chevy Chevette listed at $5,645 and a Toyota Tercel for $5,448), the Excel was so incredibly cheap that examples flooded American streets right away (and most of them were scrapped within a few years, because the Excel turned out to be a wretchedly bad car). But Hyundai wasn’t standing still, and the new Sonata debuted for the 1989 model year. The Sonata was bigger and better-built than the Excel, but still came with a tiny price tag ($9,695, versus $11,770 for the cheapest Honda Accord sedan, $11,299 for a Mazda 626 sedan, or $11,488 for a Toyota Camry sedan). From that point forward, Hyundais got better and better, finally erasing the negative memories of the miserable Excel. Here’s a full-page-spread magazine advertisement from late 1988, showing off the features of the new Hyundai sedan.