When Hyundai rolled out their outrageously styled Sonata three years ago, car buyers took notice. It's eye-catching exterior styling, well-appointed interior and affordable price was just what a lot of family sedan buyers wanted.

Few will admit it, but carmakers sat up and paid attention, too. However, Andy Palmer, Nissan executive vice president for global planning, doesn't mind telling the world that his company certainly saw the significance of the midsize Korean sedan. So much so that they briefly halted design work on the 2013 Altima.

"We even delayed development by a short amount just to check that the (new Altima's) proportions were right, the (package) was right (and that) the product overall was right," Palmer tells Ward's Auto. "I'd say they (Hyundai) are our major point of reference."

But with the Altima as the second-best selling car in its segment, Nissan is focusing not on the Sonata, but on Toyota and the No. 1 best seller: Camry.

"If you keep coming with better cars and better communications, telling better stories, over a period of time," Palmer says. "I guarantee you'll be talking about Toyota and Nissan."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 94 Comments
      KMc Eng
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you're on Autoblog commenting about a Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, realize you are a car fanatic commenting on a vehicle built for moms, dads, husbands, and wives. I hate that it's bland too, but that's how you sell a car to the masses. And it's not terribly terrible looking....they all won't look like '13 Fusions.
      oollyoumn
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think the Sonata made a number of car makers reevaluate there products under development. Ford may not say so, but clearly they upped their game significantly with the new Fusion. The only major player that appears to be still sleeping is GM. The new Malibu is so forgettable that it would be a joke is anyone even thought about it. Even their hybrid is only getting about the mileage of the other non-hybrids. Come on GM, with $94 billion that you'll never pay back and $50 billion in taxpayer money and this is the best you can do?
        Zoom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @oollyoumn
        I agree. The new Malibu is a 5 year old car already. Just like the Cruze. Shame.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @oollyoumn
        Only the Eco is uncompetitive. The regular honestly isn't bad at all. It has good power pigures and a decent interior.
      Bassracerx
      • 2 Years Ago
      The thing that keeps me away from the sonata and optima is the 4 cylinder only lineup. I love deep sounding roaring v6 engines.
        Kimura
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bassracerx
        Yeah, because my V6 is always roaring, especially at the traffic light or cruising down the highway in rush hour traffic. B*tches don't know about my V6.
          ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Kimura
          Im with you bassracerx
      Slideways
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Kia Optima and the Hyundai Sonata have definitely set a new benchmark for the family midsize segment. Not saying that those two are the best, but with an unconventional exterior design packed with plentiful amount of features and improved efficiency backed by a low price, it has made this segment more competitive. I hope Honda has taken notes.. Ford and Nissan did. The upcoming Mondeo/ Fusion and the Altima are good and attractive additions to this segment.
      Dane Grant
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is boring and ugly....
      Rodrigo Alvergue
      • 2 Years Ago
      THIS CAR WAS INSPIRED BY THE NISSAN ELLURE CONCEPT VEHICLE, GO DO A SEARCH, NISSAN ELLURE, YOU WILL SEE !!
        Cody
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rodrigo Alvergue
        And it's equally as ugly, too.
        guyverfanboy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rodrigo Alvergue
        Turn off the caps lock please.
        Slideways
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rodrigo Alvergue
        Cool story fanboy. So what if it's inspired by the Allure concept? This is just a good looking family midsize.
        Dedrean Dixon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rodrigo Alvergue
        Dude can you say it was "INSPIRED BY THE NISSAN ELLURE CONCEPT VEHICLE" just one more time? Just one more. I don't think they heard you the OTHER 50 TIMES!!!!!!! CHILL OUT!
      peakarach1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Honestly Sonata look light yrs better inside out.
      Jesus!
      • 2 Years Ago
      They should be worried more by the Fusion. As where the Taurus rotted on the vine and sales took a nosedive, the 06 Fusion hit the streets and has gained share ever since. The first gen Fusion still looks nice whereas the Sonata already looks outdated with its way overdone styling.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      guyverfanboy
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a definite win for consumers because using the Sonata as a reference point, Nissan as put out a midsize sedan that beats the Sonata's fuel economy by 4 mpg city and 3 mpg highway. :D
      miketim1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I could care less about the Sonata. This Altima looks better but IMO it looks too similar to the Maxima . The Mainstream cars are not the only good options out there but alot of people rather stick with what they know doesn't matter what else is out there. This just doesn't go with cars this logic can go with anything. The Altima is not the best car in its class but for a person that has had nissans in their life all their life and had a good experience with them... even if the Sonata was a better car ( not saying its is ) what car you think he or she is going to go with... a Nissan or A Hyundai ? Reputation,loyalty and fan base are a big part to making sales. Not just one car... its a History you have to build. Hyundai isn't there but they are going in the right direction
        Rodrigo Alvergue
        • 2 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        all cars look similar, just look at all the Hyundai line up, they all look almost the same, the Altima and Maxima look similar on tail lights and roof line, they were inspired by the Concept car Nissan Ellure, not by a Lexus like so many people say, IT'S THE NISSAN ELLURE CONCEPT, This Altima looks so much better than the overdone Sonata, and still, go look at the Maxima and New Altima, the tail lights do have a difference, they do not look exactly alike, which is not a bad thing, The Maxima is gorgeous !!!
        futuramautoblog
        • 2 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        That's precisely why Hyundai has the best retention/customer loyalty rate in the business in US!
          Analyst
          • 2 Years Ago
          @futuramautoblog
          Hyundai has a good loyalty rate because they offer more on their trade-ins than they are worth. It's like hooking up people on drugs and forcing them to come back for more.
          miketim1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @futuramautoblog
          Plz show me where thats a fact ? I HIGHLY doubt that
          • 2 Years Ago
          @futuramautoblog
          [blocked]
      AJ
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm glad that other manufactures aren't taking any styling cues from the Sonata.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @AJ
        [blocked]
          Chris Young
          • 2 Years Ago
          Because Hyundai has had the biggest improvement in quality and innovation of any car makers today. Nissan is also not selling anywhere near what Hyundai sells. Here is a heading of an article I recently read. "As Car Sales Collapse, Hyundai Becomes The Most Successful Car Company In America" That was 3 years ago. Hyundai sales have only gotten stronger. I would say thats a pretty good reason to be scared of GOON-DAI. Its always funny how people rip into Hyundai and Kia. Its like people feel almost threatened by them which is really odd and makes me laugh.
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