Hyundai, an auto manufacturer best known for small, inexpensive cars, is moving into larger, higher-priced territory this year with the XG300, a new front-drive sedan that eclipses the Sonata in size, cost and equipment. Though the XG300 is a midsize car like the Sonata, Hyundai positions it as an upper midsize sedan that competes with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, Oldsmobile Intrigue and other models that usually sell for more than $20,000.
With a starting price of around $24,000, the fully equipped XG300 tops the Sonata model range by about $5,000. A power moonroof is the only major option.
The XG300 is an Americanized version of the South Korean-market XG Grandeur and has a more elegant, upscale appearance than the Sonata. It is based on the same front-drive platform as the Sonata but is 7 inches longer at 192 overall. The XG300 is larger than the Sonata in most other dimensions and has more formal styling, with a Lincoln-style vertical bar grille and taillamps.
The five-passenger XG300 comes with front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench, and leather upholstery is standard. The rear seat has adequate headroom and ample legroom for taller passengers. Hyundai says the XGs trunk is large enough to carry four golf bags. The split rear seatback folds for additional cargo space.
Standard features include air conditioning, power front seats, cruise control, a CD player and remote keyless entry.
Under the Hood
A 192-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic transmission that allows manual gear selection comprise the lone powertrain. Neither the engine nor the transmission is available on the Sonata.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats.
Hyundai is definitely moving uptown with the XG300. It not only looks ritzier than other Hyundais, but it has smoother, more polished performance. The V-6 lacks a strong passing punch but delivers quiet, refined acceleration. The ride is smooth, the interior is nicely furnished and roomy, and the price is certainly right.
The XG300 is no threat to Lexus or Mercedes-Benz, but it does give buyers a new alternative to upscale versions of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.