A larger V-6 engine was installed in Hyundai’s upscale sedan in 2002, which prompted a name change for the model from XG300 to XG350. For 2004, the premium midsize gets a substantial face-lift, but its overall appearance has not changed drastically.
Built on the same front-wheel-drive platform as Hyundai’s midsize Sonata, the XG350 not only displays a more formal look, but it also measures 5 inches longer overall. It is available in base and luxury XG350L trim levels.
Hyundai’s products have grown a lot more appealing as each model is redesigned. Positioned as an upper midsize model, the front-drive sedan competes against upscale editions of the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Camry and Toyota Avalon. Sales began in July 2003.
The 2004 XG350 is more elegant and formal in appearance than the Sonata. It features a new grille that has more slats, as well as fresh “jewellike” headlights. A new air dam produces a wider and more stable look. Projection fog lamps are new, and waistline moldings are wider. The taillights and vertical backup lamps are new, and the rear license plate has moved into the deck lid. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on both models, and new 12-spoke wheels are used for the XG350L. The front disc brakes are larger, and a full-size spare tire is included.
The freshened interior consists of front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench; it holds five people. Leather upholstery is standard, and the woodgrain trim is lighter than that in previous 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 woodgrain steering wheel, 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, which totals 14.5 cubic feet.
Hyundai’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine develops 194 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 216 pounds-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. A five-speed Shiftronic 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 on both models.
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 a Camry or Maxima. On reasonably smooth pavement, the XG350’s somewhat firm suspension absorbs or tones down 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 is exceptionally easy to drive and control and stays easily on course. The seats are firm and feature good support but more modest bolstering. Even though the backseat isn’t overly spacious, it’s reasonably comfortable. Legroom is adequate on the sides but not in the center. Headroom is sufficient throughout, but with the moonroof, it is slightly limited. White-on-black gauges are large and easy to read. Visibility is good all around. The trunk is reasonable in overall size, wide and easy to load, but it’s not extremely deep inside.
The XG350’s performance is more satisfying than the 194-hp figure might suggest. Hyundai’s Shiftronic transmission responds quickly, positively and smoothly, and except for some engine snarl when pushed hard in manual mode, it runs quietly.