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By Jim Flammang
May 20, 2003
Vehicle Overview A larger V-6 engine went into Hyundais upscale sedan for 2002, changing the model designation from XG300 to XG350. For the 2003 model year, the XG350 is a carryover and modifications are minimal.
Launched in 2001 and aimed squarely at the U.S. market, the XG300/350 is based on the Korean-market XG Grandeur. Built on the same front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform as the midsize Sonata, the XG350 not only displays a more formal look but it also measures 4.6 inches longer in overall length. It is available in base and L trim levels.
Until the past couple of years, Hyundai South Koreas largest automaker was known for small, inexpensive cars. The company had also started off on a dubious note by encountering quality problems that have since been addressed. Nowadays, Hyundais products have grown a lot more appealing as each model is redesigned. Launching the XG300 in 2001 moved the South Korean automaker into higher-priced territory.
Positioned as an upper midsize model, the FWD sedan competes against the Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, Oldsmobile Intrigue, Toyota Camry and other midsize models that sell for more than $20,000.
Exterior The XG350 presents a more elegant and formal appearance than the Sonata, which has been marketed in the United States much longer. Its based on the same FWD platform as the Sonata, but the XG350 is larger in most dimensions. A Lincoln-style vertical-bar grille and taillamps help give the newest sedan a memorable appearance. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires.
Interior The XG350s five-passenger seating capacity consists of front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench. Leather upholstery is standard, which sets the tone for the amenities that a buyer can anticipate. Headroom is adequate and legroom is ample for taller passengers in the backseat. The split rear seatback folds down to yield additional cargo space. Standard equipment includes automatic-temperature air conditioning, power front seats, cruise control, a cassette/CD stereo and remote keyless entry with an alarm. The XG350 L adds a power sunroof and a seat/mirror memory system. Cargo space totals 14.5 cubic feet.
Under the Hood Hyundais 3.5-liter V-6 engine develops 194 horsepower. A five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission permits manual gear selection.
Safety All-disc antilock brakes, traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.
Driving Impressions Considering the original 3.0-liter V-6 engine in the XG300 produced rather vigorous performance, the extra displacement and improved torque output in the XG350 cannot help but make acceleration even more satisfying. The XG350 is easy to drive, and it also handles capably and rides comfortably; however, significant road imperfections may result in a bit of jarring to occupants. Those passengers can expect to savor a roomy, well-furnished interior and a pleasantly quiet engine.
More stylish than other Hyundai models, the XG350 promises a lot of automobile for a moderate midsize price. Shoppers at the higher end of the Honda Accord/Toyota Camry spectrum might find a test drive worthwhile.