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2001 - 2005 Hyundai XG350/300 Information

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Hyundai's history is not littered with outstanding luxury cars, or any kind of luxury car, for that matter.

So, when the XG arrived from this maker of typically entry-level vehicles, the world was more than a little curious.

Bigger, better and bolder than anything it had ever built before, this full-size family sedan stayed true to the premise of offering a lot of substance for a relatively shallow price of admission.

Since its introduction, the XG350 has come in for more power and several styling updates, the latest of which took place for 2004.

Motivating all models is a194-horsepower 3.5-liter DOHC V6 backed by a five-speed automatic transmission.

The $24,000, base price stands pat, as does the long list of standard features.

For an extra $2,000, you can step up to the XG350 L with its heated leather seats, a memory function for the outside mirrors and driver's seat, a new eight-disc CD changer and a power moonroof.

Five years ago, when Hyundai launched the XG as the flagship of its fleet, luxury was not a word associated with the brand. After all, this South Korean car maker had made its reputation with bargain-basement compact cars, some seriously lacking in quality. Recently, Hyundai has done more than just keep up. Quality has improved dramatically in its bread-and-butter economy models, and it now offers a range of models that provide serious competition to mainstream brands.

With continuing improvement in power, convenience, and styling since its launch, the spacious and elegantly styled four-door, five passenger Hyundai XG350 offers the trappings of cars in the so-called near-luxury class. There is still one difference, however: price. The two XG350 models still have sticker prices closer to those of plain midsize sedans in the mid-20s.

Add in Hyundai's five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty coupled with its standard-setting 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and the Hyundai XG350 represents real value.

A full range of luxury features is standard on the base model, and the only slightly more expensive upgraded model adds a few more nice conveniences. Equally pleasing is the competent 194-horsepower engine, which delivers good acceleration performance. Anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, and traction control come standard, active safety features that can help the driver maintain control in an emergency maneuver.

Hyundai's flagship sedan comes in two trim levels: XG350 ($24,399) and XG350L ($25,999). XG350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6, which drives the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission with the company's dual-gate, Shiftronic manual override system. Befitting its near-luxury status, the XG350 comes standard with leather-faced seating surfaces, automatic climate control, power everything, a six-speaker CD stereo, heated outside mirrors, and carpeted floor mats. Wheels are 10-spoke 16-inch alloy with 205/60 Michelin tires. The 2005 XG350 also comes standard with an electrochromic rearview mirror, automatic headlights, the HomeLink integrated transceiver system, and rear-seat reading lights.

Safety is enhanced by four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and traction control. Also standard: dual front airbags, front-seat side-impact air bags.

The XG350L adds a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, upgraded audio with premium speakers, a 210-watt external amplifier and a trunk-mounted eight-disc CD changer, heated seats, memory for the driver's seat, a leather-and-woodgrain steering wheel, memory outside mirrors that tilt down when reverse gear is selected, and 12-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels.

Options are limited to the eight-disc trunk-mounted CD changer for the base model ($495). Options available for installation at port of entry are rear mudguards ($35), a cargo tray ($65), wheel locks ($40) and, for the XG350L, a sunroof wind deflector ($65).

The Hyundai XG350 has the presence of a luxury car. The front end could fool many a discerning observer, especially as it remains discreetly minus any Hyundai logo that might hint that this is a value-priced car.The stylish front end is set off by an impressive horizontal grille flanked by neatly integrated projection-lamp headlights. Thin, inset, chrome-like strips wrap around each corner of the bumper and are mirrored on the rear bumper. Detracting slightly from an otherwise gracefully clean nose presentation, Hyundai chose to break up the large air intake in the bumper with body-colored horizontal ribs and mold a license plate emboss into the center of the bumper. But you may need to bolt a license plate there, anyway.

A modestly crisp beltline blends smoothly into gently rounded shoulders at the rear, capped by the bright jeweled tail lights. The license plate is located in a recess in the trunk lid, topped with a bold, horizontal strip of brightwork and framed by the backup lights; this gives it a look in keeping with other luxury cars. Only the trademark Hyundai logo on the rear belies the heritage of the elegant design.

The windshield and window design balances openness with structure. The slim windshield pillars minimize blind spots. Tall side windows add to the airy atmosphere inside. The outside door handles are well-designed: attractive, comfortable, and easy to grab.

Spaciousness may be the first attribute expected of a luxury car and the XG350 certainly measures up. It is a roomy car by midsize sedan standards. It bests the likes of the Maxima, Impala, Camry and Avalon in most interior measures.The leather-clad seats, front and rear, are comfortable, balancing on that fine line between firmly welcoming and aggressively hard. They are flat and firm like a Mercedes seat, but lack support in the seat bottom; snack and re-fueling stops will be welcome breaks on long drives. The lack of side bolsters makes getting in and out is easy.

>From the driver's seat, almost everything about the XG350 is friendly and familiar. The hefty steering wheel trimmed in wood and leather invites spirited inputs and features redesigned cruise controls with more pronounced and readily discerned delineations. A smooth, quiet dashboard houses gauges in a well-shaded recess. Faux-wood trim suggests luxury and the light color highlights the roomy feeling of the interior.

Instruments are straightforward, clearly marked and easy to read, using white markings on a black background. The speedometer is placed in the middle of the display, the tachometer is on the left side and the fuel level and engine coolant temperature gauges are in a large display on the right. A big emergency flasher button is mounted just to the right of the steering wheel, easy to reach quickly for those times when the traffic ahead comes to a sudden halt.

Audio and climate controls are paragons of ergonomic excellence. They are mounted high on the center dash, with the stereo properly positioned above the climate control panel. Buttons for both are large, clearly marked and easy to operate. The air conditioning automatically switches to recirculation mode when outside air quality deteriorates. LED readouts are large and easy to read. The stereo features an in-dash CD player, but the sound lacks dynamic range. A trip computer above the audio/climate controls includes a clock that's easy to read.

The XG350 offers good rear-seat headroom, but is a little lacking in legroom. It beats all but the Camry in rear-seat headroom, but in rear-seat legroom it comes in behind all except the Maxima. Rear-seat head restraints lock into their selected positions and ratchet forward, making them more effective at preventing injuries. When in position, they block rearward vision somewhat, but they can be removed (with a struggle) when not being used. XG350 does not have a head restraint for the center of the rear seat. However, it does have ISO-specification anchors (covered when not in use) for child safety seats across the rear bench.

The design of the garment hooks show attention to detail and makes picking up the dry cleaning a breeze. Instead of being suspended from the roof-mounted assist grips, they fold out from the headliner, making them much more user-friendly, and less likely to dump the week's dry cleaning onto the floor. Few manufacturers make garment hooks that work as well as this Hyundai's.

Trunk space is more limiting, and here the XG lags behind midsize sedans. An inside pull-down will keep your hands clean when the outside of the trunk lid is covered with slush or rainwater, a nice detail. Gas-pressurized struts are used instead of goose-neck hinges to eliminate the problem of hinges crushing cargo as the trunk is closed. Beneath the floor resides a full-size spare mounted on a matching alloy wheel. As with most new cars, the XG's trunk features an inside safety release, should someone be trapped in the trunk.

Driving Impressions
The Hyundai XG350 feels like a substantial automobile and it is, pushing the large end of the midsize envelope with mass to match, outweighing the opposition by as much as 300 pounds. Its long wheelbase stretches 108 inches to help smooth highway undulations and enhance high-speed stability. As expected of a car that aspires to luxury status, the XG features a fully independent suspension that smoothes out sharp pavement ridges and coddles the body through abrupt directional changes. Handling is helped by a multi-link rear suspension geometry that keeps the back tires in better line with turning front tires. On bumpy pavement, however, the XG350 doesn't quite match the sophistication of pricier luxury sedans. Road noise and tire noise seem a bit loud to merit upper class designation.

We found the XG350's engine smooth and quiet, willing and free-revving. Its relative silence adds to the pleasant ambience of the interior, not intruding on comfortable conversation or quiet thought. This dual-overhead-cam engine produces 194 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 216 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. That's respectable power at reasonably low rpm, which translates to good throttle response around town.

Hyundai's five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly enough. Upshifts are on the long side, and the transmission is slow to kick down for passing. In semi-manual Shiftronic mode it always upshifts at a pre-programmed engine speed, rather than holding a lower gear when you open the throttle wide. That's unfortunate, because the XG is fun to drive and we would enjoy holding a lower gear and pushing the engine to its redline.

Steering is light and easy. The power assist to the steering varies with engine speed, a strategy that is invisible most of the time but noticeable when the transmission upshifts when exiting a turn and the power assist increases.

Braking is reassuringly linear. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) help maintain steering control while braking on slippery surfaces. Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) apportions brake application front-and-rear to minimize stopping distance. Traction control helps maintain steering control when accelerating, especially on slippery surfaces. EBD doesn't come into play in normal driving, but its presence was comforting as were the large front brake discs, now 12.1 inches in diameter. When it comes to stopping, any little bit can make a big difference.

Summary & Specifications
The Hyundai XG350 wouldn't be confused with a Mercedes or Lexus at close quarters, but passing on the street it is more likely to be mistaken for a new luxury car than a sedan in its price class. Close-up inspection displays a wide array of convenient features and luxury touches that aren't generally found in this price class and will be much appreciated by owners. With the impressive improvements in quality that Hyundai has made in the past few years, this comfortable, easy-to-drive, and attractive automobile offers exceptional overall value.



Vehicle Overview
Apart from a newly standard, trunk-mounted eight-CD changer for the XG350L, Hyundai's upscale sedan enters the 2005 model year with few changes. A larger 3.5-liter V-6 was installed for 2002, prompting a change in the model designation from XG300 to XG350. For 2004, the XG350 got fresh front and rear styling and some minor trim changes, but the overall appearance didn't change dramatically.

Built on the same front-wheel-drive platform as Hyundai's midsize Sonata, the XG350 not only displays a more formal look, but it measures 5 inches longer overall. Both the base and luxury XG350L editions use a five-speed-automatic transmission.

Positioned as an upper-level midsize model, the front-drive sedan competes against upscale editions of the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and Toyota Camry.

The XG350 is more elegant and formal in appearance than the Sonata. The XG350 features a grille that has more slats and jewellike headlights. Projection fog lamps, wide waistline moldings and vertical backup lamps are installed. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on both models, and 12-spoke wheels are used on the XG350L. A full-size spare tire is included.

Capable of seating up to five occupants, the interior consists of front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench. Leather seating surfaces are standard, and the woodgrain trim is lighter than in early models. Standard equipment includes automatic-temperature air conditioning, power front seats, a cassette/CD stereo and remote keyless entry. The XG350L adds a power moonroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with woodgrain inserts, tilt-down mirrors, heated front seats and a seat/mirror memory system. The split rear seatback in both models folds down to yield additional cargo space. Trunk volume is 14.5 cubic feet.

Under the Hood
The XG350's 3.5-liter V-6 develops 194 horsepower and 216 pounds-feet of torque. The five-speed-automatic transmission permits manual gear selection.

All-disc antilock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.

Driving Impressions
More stylish and costly than other Hyundai models, the XG350 delivers a lot of automobile for a moderate midsize price. The ride is smooth yet well controlled, and it feels at least as good as that of the Camry or Maxima. On reasonably smooth pavement, the XG350's somewhat firm suspension handles nearly all trouble spots.

No one will mistake its steering and handling for a sports car, but the XG350 responds with a good degree of preciseness. It's exceptionally easy to drive and control, and the car stays easily on course. The seats are firm and have good support, but the bolstering is modest. Even though the backseat isn't overly spacious, it's reasonably comfortable. Legroom is adequate on the sides but not in the center position. Headroom is sufficient throughout. Large gauges are easy to read, and visibility is good all around.

Performance is more satisfying than the 194-hp figure might suggest. The automatic transmission responds quickly, positively and smoothly.



The XG350 was first introduced in 2001 as the XG300 (a larger 3.5-liter V6 made it the XG350 starting in 2002). Positioned as the company's flagship model, the XG was meant to lead the automaker's fleet proudly into the new millennium. Although vehicles like the Elantra and Santa Fe make for compelling choices in their respective segments, Hyundai wanted to use the XG to garner serious consideration from consumers who weren't necessarily limited by a strict budget -- consumers who could afford a Toyota Camry or Volkswagen Passat but might choose the Hyundai instead. Bigger than the four-door Sonata and about the same size as the Nissan Maxima, the XG350 seats five comfortably. Like other Hyundais, the XG is loaded with standard features and costs significantly less than comparably equipped competitors. Its V6 engine offers strong acceleration, though buyers might be turned off by its touchy throttle response and continually befuddled five-speed automatic transmission. Inside, styling is traditional to the point of anonymity, while materials quality is excellent for the price. Along with the transmission issue, handling is a weak spot for the XG350. The ride is certainly smooth enough to please commuters, but push the car even a little, and the suspension gives up, crashing over bumps and allowing plenty of body roll around corners. Moreover, the steering offers minimal road feel, thereby increasing the guesswork during turning maneuvers. If you're not much of an enthusiast, however, you won't find much to dislike about the XG350. Its combination of size, price and features makes it an intriguing alternative to more expensive mainstream cars.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
Hyundai's XG350 flagship sedan is available in two trim levels -- base and L. The base car comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, side airbags, leather upholstery, dual power seats, automatic climate control, a CD player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a full-size spare tire with matching alloy wheel and power windows, locks and mirrors. The L adds a sunroof, an eight-disc CD changer, seat heaters, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, memory for the driver seat and mirror settings and a faux wood- and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The L version also gets unique 12-spoke alloy wheels.

Powertrains and Performance:
Every XG350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 194 horsepower and 216 pound-feet of torque. This engine is smooth, quiet and reasonably powerful compared with the other offerings in the family sedan segment, though touchy throttle response mars the driving experience somewhat. A five-speed automatic with a sequential-shift manual mode is standard. Despite the XG's non-sporting personality, the manual mode actually works quite well. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.

Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control and side airbags for front occupants are standard. Full-length head curtain airbags are not available. The XG earned a "Good" rating (the highest possible) in IIHS' 40-mph offset crash testing. In government crash tests the XG earned a perfect five stars for frontal impacts, and four for side impacts.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Overall, the cabin imparts a sense of traditional luxury. Materials quality is high, especially considering the price, and storage space is generous. Although roomy, the rear seats are contoured more for two passengers than three and toe room is tight. Still, backseat riders will appreciate the rear vents and 12-volt power point. The trunk offers decent capacity at 14.5 cubic feet and even has non-luggage-crushing external strut hinges.

Driving Impressions:
The XG350 is suitable for the average driver who prefers comfort over performance as it provides a smooth ride over almost any surface. If you push it harder, however, its non-athletic personality is immediately evident, as its suspension wallows over bumps and ruts and allows plenty of body roll when cornering, and its steering maintains a limp, uncommunicative feel. While we think the XG is worth your consideration if a dressed-up cabin and a lengthy standard features list are your top priorities, we'll readily acknowledge that it's unlikely to please those looking for a fun-to-drive midsize sedan.



For a great deal on a new or used 2005 Hyundai XG350 go to Gary Rome Hyundai.

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