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By Jim Flammang
March 18, 2005
Vehicle Overview Apart from a newly standard, trunk-mounted eight-CD changer for the XG350L, Hyundai's upscale sedan enters the 2005 model year with few changes. A larger 3.5-liter V-6 was installed for 2002, prompting a change in the model designation from XG300 to XG350. For 2004, the XG350 got fresh front and rear styling and some minor trim changes, but the overall appearance didn't change dramatically.
Built on the same front-wheel-drive platform as Hyundai's midsize Sonata, the XG350 not only displays a more formal look, but it measures 5 inches longer overall. Both the base and luxury XG350L editions use a five-speed-automatic transmission.
Positioned as an upper-level midsize model, the front-drive sedan competes against upscale editions of the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and Toyota Camry.
Exterior The XG350 is more elegant and formal in appearance than the Sonata. The XG350 features a grille that has more slats and jewellike headlights. Projection fog lamps, wide waistline moldings and vertical backup lamps are installed. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on both models, and 12-spoke wheels are used on the XG350L. A full-size spare tire is included.
Interior Capable of seating up to five occupants, the interior consists of front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench. Leather seating surfaces are standard, and the woodgrain trim is lighter than in early 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 leather-wrapped steering wheel with woodgrain inserts, 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. Trunk volume is 14.5 cubic feet.
Under the Hood The XG350's 3.5-liter V-6 develops 194 horsepower and 216 pounds-feet of torque. The five-speed-automatic transmission permits manual gear selection.
Safety All-disc antilock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.
Driving Impressions 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 the Camry or Maxima. On reasonably smooth pavement, the XG350's somewhat firm suspension handles 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's exceptionally easy to drive and control, and the car stays easily on course. The seats are firm and have good support, but the bolstering is modest. Even though the backseat isn't overly spacious, it's reasonably comfortable. Legroom is adequate on the sides but not in the center position. Headroom is sufficient throughout. Large gauges are easy to read, and visibility is good all around.
Performance is more satisfying than the 194-hp figure might suggest. The automatic transmission responds quickly, positively and smoothly.