1988 Hyundai Excel

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$12,000

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    Expert Reviews 1 of 2

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washingtonpost.com
THE 1988 HYUNDAI Excel GS is one of the best auto values in America.It's also one of the slickest sucker packages on the road.

This car offers an impressive array of standard equipment at a baseprice of $7,595. But it seldom leaves the dealer's lot for less than$10,000.

Hey, don't blame the dealer. Look in the mirror. You're the culprit.

You say you want a new car, but can't afford one over $8,000. You'veheard lots of good stuff about Hyundai, the South Korean auto makerthat's been swiping sales from the Japanese ever since it pulled intothe United States in 1986. You even like their philosophy: "Nothingsucceeds like cars that make sense."

But you mess up and check your common sense at the showroom door. Towit:

You arrive at the Hyundai shop, still wedded to your $8,000 limit.You even fantasize about getting out of the deal for under $7,500. Andthere's no reason why you shouldn't be able to do that at Hyundai, wherethe base three-door, four-speed manual Excel hatchback sells for $5,395.

But once inside the showroom, you start acting like The Great Gatsby.You no longer want sense. You want sex appeal -- the automotiveequivalent, anyway. So you bypass the base Excel and move on to theExcel GL five-speed, which starts at $6,495.

The salesperson senses your weakness and makes a pass at luring youinto the top-line Hyundai Excel GLS, a three-speed automatic, four-doorsedan that starts at $8,095.

You get nervous and a little embarrassed. Now all you want is towithdraw with dignity. The salesperson obliges: "How about this sportyExcel GS? Looks good, feels great, and only $7,595!"

That does it. You don't even ask for a price below sticker. That$7,595 seems affordable and, shoot, you're ready to celebrate. Bring onthe options! And before you know it, you and your new Excel GS -- theone with the black alloy wheels, hot-shot sound system, and (if you'rereally goofy) sun roof and special "ground effects" -- are scootinghome with about $12,000 in overall debt, depending on financing.

Ahh, but who cares? The Excel GS is a nifty econocar, right?

Complaints: The test-model GS, which had about 8,500 miles on it atdelivery, emitted an irritating chirp, coming from somewhere around theright rear wheel. There were a few other minor squeaks and rattles.

Also, reverse gear was often hard to find in this five-speed-manual,front-wheel-drive car.

Praise: The Excel GS offers an abundance of standard equipment,including bumpers with 5-mph crash protection, fully reclining frontbucket seats, a remote-control trunk lock, and quite nice Goodyear Corsamud 'n' snow tires.

Head-turning quotient: Aggressively mundane; could run for office oneither the Democratic or Republican ticket.

Ride, acceleration, braking, handling: Several steps above mediocrein all four categories. Power comes from a four-cylinder, 1.5-liter,12-valve engine rated 68 hp at 5,500 rpm. It makes for a very decent commute. But longer trips in this one, aggravated by high winds and roadnoise, can be a pain.

Sound system: AM/FM electronic Panasonic Hi-Power radio and cassettewith four speakers and Dolby sound. Superior small-car boogie.

Mileage:About 33 to the gallon (10.6-gallon tank, estimated 339-mile range onusable volume), combined city-highway, running mostly driver only. Noair conditioner in the test model.

Price: Base price is $7,595. Dealer's invoice price on base car is$6,456. Price as tested is $8,490, including $240 for power steering,$430 for the stereo, and a $225 destination charge. Air conditionercosts $715. Throw in $395 more for a power sunroof.

Purse-strings note: The best way to avoid ruining an econocar deal isto avoid going into an econocar showroom with Mercedes-Benz tastes.




    Expert Reviews 1 of 2

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