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Sports coupes stand out among the vehicles that defined the late 1990s and early 2000s. Chevrolet had the best-selling Cavalier, Pontiac produced the zippy Sunfire GT, and Dodge peddled the trendy Neon. But Hyundai created a sports coupe that held its own with the best, even if it’s largely forgotten today. Following the Excel’s success, the Hyundai Tiburon was the South Korean automaker’s first attempt at a genuinely sporty car for the American market. 

Thanks to solid sales and a few generations of the Tiburon, the project led to many of Hyundai’s performance vehicles that drivers enjoy today. If you’re considering buying this sports coupe, here’s everything you need to know, including the best Hyundai Tiburon years with the fewest owner complaints.

When was the Hyundai Tiburon produced?

Best Hyundai Tiburon years, Hyundai Tiburon complaints
2007 Hyundai Tiburon | Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Tiburon’s history starts with the Scoupe. It was a small sports coupe with boxy styling that Hyundai designed for consumers on a budget. The Scoupe even had motorized seatbelts instead of airbags through 1995 to save on production costs. 

The Hyundai Tiburon glided onto the scene in 1996. It boasted a cutting-edge design with sloping lines that matched its name, meaning “shark” in Spanish. But unlike the mighty ocean predator, the Tiburon was weak, making only about 130 hp from its base engine and 140 hp on the higher trim. 

Still, the Tiburon swam into its second generation in 2003 with a redesign and a 172-hp V6. This model even appeared in the acclaimed racing video game Need for Speed Underground

For the 2006 model year, the Tiburon received another facelift. It gained a sleek front fascia and a few extra brushed aluminum accents in the cabin.  

But eventually, the Tiburon failed to sell well enough to remain in the lineup. Hyundai replaced it with the Veloster in 2011. The Tiburon’s retirement benefited the carmaker, whose best-selling 2012 Veloster sold over 34,000 units.

What Hyundai Tiburon model years are the best?

Any second-generation Tiburon — from 2003 to 2008 — is worth owning, HotCars reports. Additionally, shows the best Hyundai Tiburon years are 2005, 2007, and 2008. They have the fewest owner-reported complaints. 

So if you want a Tiburon with fewer problems, search for those model years on the used marketplace.

Which model years should you avoid?

Conversely, avoid Hyundai Tiburon models in the first generation. The first-gen Tiburon, produced from 1996 to 2002, was plagued with quality-control issues that caused premature wear on interior components. This lack of build quality, along with an anemic engine, makes the first-generation Tiburon easy to skip.

Specifically, the 2003 and 2006 models appear to be the worst. The 2003 Tiburon has drawn the most owner complaints on Most problems involve clutch components, leading the car to get stuck in gears with a clutch that refuses to engage. These issues persist through the 2006 model, but consumers also reported 2006 as the year when these clutch components became costliest to repair, data shows.


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