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Expert Reviews 2 of 7
By Tom Strongman
May 26, 2001
"Excuse me, but what's an XG300?" The woman who asked that question was driving an Acura Legend, and she had just pulled into a parking space next to me at the hardware store. I think this same question will be asked by a lot of folks, and the
answer Ð "It's a Hyundai" Ð will be as surprising to them as it was to the Acura lady. An even bigger surprise is the fact that the XG300 lists for $23,499 and is loaded with the same level of amenities one usually finds in entry-level luxury cars costing
at least $10,000 more. Hyundai is undergoing a significant product revolution, moving upscale with the new XG300 luxury sedan and the Santa Fe SUV. Both vehicles are attracting considerable attention because they are a shift away from the basic
transportation vehicles that launched Hyundai initially, but also because they offer a lot of vehicle for the price. More importantly, they are going a long way to dispel Hyundai's past reputation of questionable build quality. The new models seem to be
solid and well-constructed, and to prove the company has faith in them, they have warranties longer than most high-dollar luxury brands: five-years or 60,000 miles and 10 years, 100,000 miles on the powertrain. The XG300 won't startle you with its
styling. The nose, with an upright chrome grille and projector beam headlights, bears a vague resemblance to the previous Infiniti Q45. From the back, the styling is more generic, but some will like it because styling is so subjective. The design is
certainly understated, and that can be a real benefit to those who like to swim through the river of vehicle traffic without attracting undue attention. In fact, the XG300's anonymity, plus the fact that only the driver really knows that this plain
vanilla sedan feels and drives like a much more expensive car, was appealing to me. Slide inside and the door closes with a solid thunk. The 3.0-liter, DOHC V-6 hums like a sewing machine. Out of the driveway and down the street, it seems to be
almost as quiet as a Toyota, Lexus or Infiniti. I couldn't believe my ears at first, but I came to realize that the XG300 gives up very little in comparison to its pricier competition. Interior accommodations are quite commodious given the
vehicle's 108.3-inch wheelbase. The back seat is more than adequate for full-size passengers. The requisite leather upholstery adorns the seats and door panels, while woodgrain trim lends a look of elegance even though it is not real. The seats are quite
comfortable and the instrument panel contains gauges that look suitably elegant. Convenience items run the gamut from AM/FM/CD player to fully automatic climate control to power seats, locks, mirrors and windows. Keyless entry, cruise control and trip
computer are standard as well. Airbags, front and side, are standard, as are anti-lock, four-wheel disc brakes. Alloy wheels are shod with Michelin V-rated tires. The 3.0-liter engine is plenty smooth, thanks
to an internal balance shaft that offsets vibrations. A variable-length intake system helps make the most of the engine's 192 horsepower, but maximum torque, or pulling power, comes at 4,000 rpm. My criticism is that the off-the-line acceleration isn't
quite as robust as some of the comparably sized engines from Japanese competitors, many of which have about 30 more horses. The five-speed automatic transmission has a Shiftronic feature that enables it to be shifted manually by sliding the gear
lever into a separate slot and then nudging the lever forward or back for each shift. A double-wishbone suspension is used in front, while the back is a multi-link unit. The ride is plush and handling unremarkable. Power steering is nicely
weighted, and most controls feel like those of a luxury car. The XG300 is not Hyundai's largest, most lavish vehicle. The home market has the even-larger Equus, powered by a 4.5-liter V-8. It is not imported here, it has been on display
several auto shows to gauge public reaction. The gentrification of Hyundai may not be over yet. Hyundai says the goal of the XG300 is to offer an "extremely well equipped vehicle that offers everything the driver would want at a price that
represents outstanding value." They have met that goal, and then some. Price The base price of our test car was $23,499. Freight, floor mats and a cargo net for the trunk brought the sticker price to $23,615. Warranty Five years or
60,000 miles. Point: With the XG300, Hyundai offers a well-equipped car at a reasonable price and with one of the best warranties in the business. It looks, feels and drives like a much more expensive car, yet it doesnÕt draw attention to
itself. Nice combination. Counterpoint: The conventional styling belies the quality of the car underneath, and the engine could use a bit more low-speed responsiveness. SPECIFICATIONS: Engine: 3.0-liter, 192-hp V-6 Transmission:
automatic Front-wheel drive Wheelbase: 108.3 inches Curb weight: 3,604 lbs. Base price: $23,499 As driven: $23,615 Mpg rating: 19 city, 27 hwy. > >