AWD takes a hit, at least on the 2.0T it's rated 3 mpg less for highway on my 2013. I'd agree that Hyundai isn't top of the line, Toyotas are much more durable - that will draw some response from folks that had issues with Toyotas, had Hyundai done it's EPA testing properly in 2013 I'd be driving a 4runner - which is a very rugged vehicle , see hordes of them in CO .
I'm read posts here and don't see all that many about rear diff failures and not that many on their tranny, recall seeing that at one point Hyundai was buying their auto boxes but then started making their own - the 6 speed is not a lightweight but seems to be well built. Of course tranny fluid darkens over time - just like oil will doesn't necessarily mean it's past it's useful life.
To me hyundai on the whole builds reliable vehicles - but not the most reliable nor the best design, hence the lower cost. Lease returns are always a gamble as are rental cars - did you have access to maintenance records I hope.
I recently went on a trip requiring high clearance vehicle - really bad road with all sorts of rock, couldn't fit all the gear in friends 4runner so rented a Ford F150, gave that thing quite the workout but even with high clearance frame scraped rocks many times but truck performed well and with 10 speed auto fuel mileage was surprising good, but it's a 50k truck.
Given your experience I can understand your prespective, I'm one and done just because I want something better engineered for off road use. Daughter had excellent results with her 2007 Elantra, but the suspension was p*ss poor on it.