Hyundai, the company that built its reputation in America with inexpensive, basic
transportation, continues to surprise car shoppers. After introducing economy sedans like
the surprisingly refined Accent, sleeper sports cars like the Tiburon, and the competitive
midsize Sonata, Hyundai now debuts a flagship full-size sedan in America. Welcome the
The name sounds like a 1950s test rocket or a secret ingredient, but actually it is
typical of today's alphanumeric nomenclature. Everybody wants their cars to sound like an
upscale Mercedes, BMW or Volvo, and the XG300 fits right in.
In any case, the XG300 includes practically every feature a shopper would expect in an
entry-level luxury car, for a price well below its near-luxury segment competitors. And
who are those competitors? They start with the top-of-the-line Toyota Camry, Honda Accord,
and Nissan Maxima and move up to the territory of the Lexus ES300, Acura TL, and even the
The XG300 matches up well against those vehicles in size and power. That means generous
front and rear legroom, plentiful trunk space, and a dual-overhead-cam V6 engine with
about 200 horsepower on tap. The XG300's engine produces 192 horsepower, and fuel mileage
is typical, at 19 city, 27 highway.
Controlling the V6 is a Hyundai's Shiftronic five-speed automatic transmission. Getting
five forward speeds in a "value-priced" car is remarkable in itself, but this
one offers a second gate that enables drivers to select gears manually, a feature usually
reserved for upscale European and Japanese models.
The list is just beginning. The XG300 sits on a four-wheel independent suspension with
double wishbones up front, with front and rear stabilizer bars to keep the car level in
curves. For superior stopping power, Hyundai serves up four-wheel disc brakes with
antilock and mounts Michelin V-rated tires on alloy wheels to make them stick.
Inside the car, there is little to wish for. The long list begins with power windows,
locks, and mirrors. The sound system features AM/FM and CD (cassette decks are on their
way out). Then, there are the power driver and front passenger seats, covered in rich
leather. Throw in air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, a trip computer,
and heated outside mirrors and the package gets better and better. There are many other
little touches, like pop-out coat hooks, an illuminated ignition keyhole, and a rear
fold-down armrest with storage compartment.
A couple of omissions show the downside of value pricing, however. The air conditioning
was not a fully automatic climate control system and the trip computer did not include
either outside temperature or fuel mileage information.
Hyundai seems to have modeled the XG300 after the $60,000 Infiniti Q45. You can see it
inside, in the beveled sections of artificial wood, the chrome accents, the handsome
typeface on the instrument panel gauges, and the center console proportions. Outside, the
oversized chrome door handles, complex and handsome alloy wheels, formal grille and the
high chiseled tail all show Q45 influences. My pal Jim sees a touch of Rolls Royce in the
The XG300 is more than a list of ingredients and influences, however. Driving down the
road, it is hard to connect this imposing, whisper quiet, luxuriously appointed sedan with
the ill-fated Excel of the 1980s. In a 400-mile week of commuting and around-town errands,
the XG300 felt strong, quiet and pleasant, like a luxury sedan should.
Quality is always an issue, but Korean cars now are approaching Toyota levels of
fit-and-finish. The materials appear substantial and the seams are straight. I detected no
squeaks or rattles, and even the scent was unobtrusive. Color choices in the XG300 are
sophisticated inside and out, mine sported midnight green paint, and the artificial wood
seems real enough out of the corner of your eye. You don't get real wood in this market
I have only a couple of minor complaints. For some reason, courtesy lighting is
nonexistent in the rear seat area, although red lights on the door edges provide
visibility to other drivers when the doors are opened. Also, the wavy pattern on the
instrument panel gauge faces is an odd choice in my opinion.
Although cars like the XG300 have been marketed in Hyundai's native Korea for years,
Americans are just now seeing upscale Korean products. Hyundai's planners apparently feel
we are ready for them. Maybe that's true, because this car, loaded to the gunwales,
equipped with the industry's best warranty, is priced at just $23,827, including
everything but tax and license. You simply can't touch it with anything else. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Hyundai Home Page
Byline: By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name: A flagship full-size sedan for America
Topic: 2001 Hyundai XG300
Word Count: 819
Photo Caption: 2001 Hyundai XG300
Photo Credits: Hyundai Internet Media
Series #: 2001 - 10
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