Kona, Genesis G70 win top auto awards in US

By Cho Chung-un

At star-studded Detroit auto show, carmaker unveils Veloster N TCR, Kia Telluride

  • Published : Jan 15, 2019 - 16:15
  • Updated : Jan 18, 2019 - 15:29

Hyundai Motor became the first South Korean automaker to have two vehicles win top US auto awards this month, signaling a favorable start for the auto giant to gain fresh momentum in the sought-after market this year.

The annual award given by 55 automotive journalists was announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that officially kicked off Tuesday.

The Hyundai Genesis G70 and Hyundai Kona won the North American car and utility vehicle of the year awards, respectively. 

Manfred Fitzgerald, global head of the Genesis brand (left) and Erwin Raphael, executive director of Genesis Motor America pose after the G70 named the North American car of the year in Detroit on Monday.
(Hyundai Motor)

It is rare, but not the first case, for an automaker to take more than one out of three awards given to the most competitive cars in the North American market each year. It is the first time for a South Korean carmaker to win two awards at once, the company said.

G70, the smallest sedan in the Genesis line up, competed against the Honda Insight and Volvo S60/V60, while the Kona and its electric version beat the Acura RDX and Jaguar I-Pace. The G70 is the second Genesis model to win the award. The Genesis luxury sedan won a decade ago and was a finalist in 2015.

The awards are given to cars that achieves highest scores on categories of innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. The jury, made up of auto writers from outlets in the United States and Canada, started the selection process last June.

“The Genesis G70 is a game changer for the sedan market,” said Lauren Fix, president of the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year. “G70 offers a sophisticated, impressive vehicle that delivers an inspired driving experience, safety and technology at a reasonable price.”

Kona was the first Hyundai compact utility vehicle model to win in the utility vehicle of the year category.

(From left) Brian Smith, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor America, Lee Sang-yup, head of Hyundai’s design center and William Lee, president and CEO of Hyundai North celebrate after Hyundai Kona and Kona Electric CUV models named the 2019 North American utility vehicle of the year in Detroit on Monday. (Hyundai Motor)

“It’s setting new standards for its segment, with appealing design, cutting-edge connectivity and class-leading available safety features,” said Brian Smith, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor America. “We know our customers are going to agree with the top media confirming this impressive award.”

Meanwhile, at the annual Detroit Auto Show, the carmaker unveiled Veloster N TCR, a high-performance racing car, for its world premiere and Elantra GT N, a high-performance version of the compact car, for its North American debut. Its sister company Kia also unveiled Telluride, a large SUV, targeted for the US market.

By Cho Chung-un (