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2004 Hyundai XG350

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San Francisco: Everybody likes a good deal. Hyundai, Korea’s industrial giant, sells lots of cars based on this philosophy. The company offers everything from econoboxes to sport utilities to luxury sedans, making sure that in each case, they exceed customer expectations for the price.

In September 2000, Hyundai took a chance and offered buyers its first $25,000 vehicle. The midsized XG300 sedan came with a 3.0-liter V6 under the hood and an interior full of luxury car features. Having succeeded beyond corporate expectations, the revised XG350 arrived for the 2002 model year. The new number indicated a welcome jump to 3.5 liters of engine displacement.

Subsequent model years have added more content, and 2004 brings new styling front and rear. The nose receives a new grille with 23 vertical vanes, new headlamps, projector fog lights, and a sporty air dam. The tail gets a tweak in the lights, decklid, and bumper, and even the center-mounted third brake light gets switched from a bulb to an LED.

The XG comes in two models, XG350 and XG350L. Every XG350 has a long list of standard equipment, including cruise control, fully automatic air conditioning, automatic-on headlights, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, and even some surprising items like rear seat reading lamps, an illuminated ignition keyhole, and the Homelink system. This is no pretend luxury sedan.

The L model (L stands for luxury) adds a power moonroof, heated seats with memory, leather-wrapped steering wheel with woodgrain inserts, and a premium sound system. It also includes bonus items like 12-spoke alloy wheels, and external mirrors with memory that tilt down when reverse is engaged to let you protect those pretty wheels from nasty curbs.

My Celadon Green tester was the L model, with an 8-disk CD changer ($500) as the only option. Like other Hyundai’s, its styling isn't drop-dead gorgeous, but every line looks well thought out and references other respected luxury vehicles. The overall proportions are of a previous generation Lexus, with the upright chrome grille of a Lincoln above a German-looking front airdam. There is even a bit of Rolls Royce in the elegantly proportioned trunk and taillamps.

Inside, a clean, but slightly dated dashboard wears what appears to be wood burl trim. It is a fairly faithful copy of what you might find in a $70,000 Jaguar, but it’s just this side of real looking. But there is quite a bit of it. The overall layout is neat, and the materials are of good quality and seem to be carefully assembled. A handsome metallic logo in the center of the steering wheel and some chrome trim contrast attractively with the pseudo woodgrain and real leather. The seats are well proportioned and fairly firm. The Infinity audio system pours out quality sound.

The 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 194 horsepower and 216 lb.-ft. of torque, which is enough to push the car down the interstate in a hurry. The XG350L earns 17 city, 26 highway fuel mileage. The five-speed Shiftronic automatic has enough gears to shift up smoothly, and being fully adaptive, it learns your driving style. If you want to control the shift points manually, you can push the lever to the other gate and select ratios to your liking. One surprise is the interior quietness, which is an essential in a luxury car.

The XG350L’s quiet cruising and smooth ride owe something to an independent double-wishbone front suspension with anti-roll bar, as well as a multi-link rear suspension and nitrogen gas-filled shocks all around. I didn’t push the XG too hard, but it never felt overmatched in town or in the rush of freeway commuting.

Hyundai enhanced the brakes for 2004, with front rotors growing from 10.9 inches to 12.1 inches in diameter. The car has standard four-wheel, four-sensor, four-channel anti-locking as well as Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). EBD increases the performance of the rear brakes by balancing the force of braking depending on weight and vehicle load.

My tester, with the aforementioned CD changer, came to $26,099. At that price, you can get many well-equipped midsize sedans, but not with all the luxuries and amenities the Hyundai possesses. And this car, like other Hyundai’s, enjoys a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile new vehicle warranty with free roadside assistance.

Naturally, some things have to be restrained to meet the price point. The woodgrain is simply not the same as the tree-based kind. The heated seats provide only one level of adjustment. The trip information system display does not divulge average fuel mileage.

Hyundai is growing substantially every year in the United States by providing value to its customers. From the Accent to the Santa Fe to the XG350L, the company delivers what people want for a price they can afford. By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  Hyundai delivers what people want at a price they can afford
Topic:  2004 Hyundai XG350
Word Count:   862
Photo Caption:  2004 Hyundai XG350
Photo Credits:  Hyundai Internet Media
Series #:   2004 - 12

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