Kia is the new Pontiac (Car thoughts 2022)

In the flavor of one of my favorite articles of all time, Facebook is the new AOL ( I am going to sum up some of the thoughts that I have been bouncing around my brain about Cars that are juuuuuust provocative enough to provoke all the wrong people, because I am a scamp and can’t help myself. So let’s get started.

Kia is the New Pontiac

So, Pontiac was a cheap car brand that people absolutely loved. The perfect intersection of affordable and sporty in the “Affordable, sporty, nice; pick 2” choices. A great majority of them were simply badge-engineered GMs that were cheap and looked fast whether they had big engines or not, and they kept calling back to their glory days of the muscle car era when their president within GM (John DeLorean) found sneaky ways to put CRAZY DRAG DRIVETRAINS into production cars which allowed folks who had money but not time to special order something that ABSOLUTELY RIPPED from their local dealership if they wanted to (and many wanted-to). By the 90’s and late 00’s they were… the cheapest version of GM vehicles with lots of cladding that got them mocked, and the few attempts to get them new product (which eventually showed up in other brands anyways) were notoriously roasted as Original Cringe (Remember the Aztek!?). Also, while Pontiac had their dedicated fans (who usually remember the really beefed up drivetrains in Tempests/GTO/LeMans and Firebirds/TransAms)… most people thought of them as kinda cheap and chintzy and unreliable. And it was a bit unfair because GrandAms weren’t less reliable than the similar Alero or Malibu… they were just very deliberately marketed and sold to people who drove more and had less time/money to do maintenance… or who got the bare-bones 4-cylinder model expecting the reliability/performance of the upmarket model with the bulletproof v6 and were sad when their 2.5 4-cyl engine got cooked… So they got a reputation for being crappy and problematic used vehicles when really they were holding up as well if not better than other cars.

Enter Kia. The grand majority of Kias are simply cheap/sporty Hyundais. Specrtra/Forte is a Elantra. Optima/5 is a Sonata. The Late Amanti was an Azera. The late K900 was a Genesis. During the great renaissance of the 2010s, however, a few fun only-Kia beloved models dropped that were surprisingly nicer/more-fun/faster than even some Hyundai stablemates like the Kia Soul and the Kia Stinger GT. Unfortunately, there are now Tik Tok’s making fun of the Soul as “the gateway to a credit crisis” and nobody remembers that the Stinger GT was a Kia (Several of them kept getting de-badged/re-badged). If in another 15-20 years there will be people on whatever is equivalent to Tik Tok getting into some late great-uncle’s Kia Telluride or a Kia Amanti going “whoah, I didn’t know Kias could be this nice!?” the same way I see Tik Tok’s today being INCREDIBLY impressed with old Top Trim 10th generation (2000-2005) Pontiac Bonnevilles… I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

I want to reach through the screen and say “Yes. They late generations of the Bonneville were very nice. But the the Aurora, LeSabre, Seville were a little bit nicer”.

If Kia is the new Pontiac, Hyundai is the new Oldsmobile

Hyundais exist to pretty much be nicer and more expensive than Kias. They are a little bit less affordable and a little bit nicer. They also are going through their very own Engine Replacement Crisis (Remember the Oldsmobile Diesel debacle in the ’80s).

Hyundai like Olds has some sleeper hits. There are ridiculously fast ‘N’ variants of their more pedestrian vehicles and their sport cars (that follows the tried and true formula of “let’s put the base engine of a Big Car into the car one or two sizes smaller”). People are going to be coveting Veloster N’s the same way people covet 4-4-2s and Quad4 Cutlesses.

Also, they’re made in America

I know, I know, Oldsmobile and Pontiac were made by a corporation that was headquartered in America. But several of the last gen models were assembled in Mexico and Canada. Several New Kias and Hyundais are being assembled in plants the SouthEast US.

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