2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Gas Station Focus Group
February 08, 2011
"Well, they're mostly like Honda people."
There I am at the Shell station in town, and my friend Mitch is playing the usual game of gas station focus group with me. That's where you make generalizations about what's happening in the world of cars from the people you meet and the things you see at the gas station.
Only Mitch is way smarter than most who play the game, partly because he owns and runs Plaza Automotive -- which is a very smart, very good automotive repair business that caters to a very large cross-section of people in my town -- and partly because Mitch is a very smart and very thoughtful guy about the car business in general.
We're talking about Hyundai owners, because Mitch has noticed (just like all of us) that there are a lot more of them than there used to be.
"When the Sante Fe first became popular," he says, "Hyundai people reminded me of Toyota owners. They just wanted a car that wouldn't break and that was about the end of it. Dependability and reliability, and they wouldn't have to think about it ever again. The 100,000-mile warranty.
"But now they're more like Honda owners. Smart people who want to be smart consumers. They're more in tune with the total on the gas pump after they fill up. They're maybe not drivers like you and me, but they're engaged with everything an automobile can do for them. They want good service, and they know when they're getting it.
"If you want to know what's happening with Hyundai, it's the way the owners are getting smarter."
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com