Introduced in September 2000, the Hyundai XG350 is the first vehicle offered by the Korean manufacturer that approaches the $25,000 price range. In each of its four editions, new features have been added as the vehicle attempts to find a niche among its the high-selling competitors — the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
My test vehicle for the week showcased the four-door XG350 at its best. While its primary competition is more popular for good reason, the top-of-the-line Hyundai has a good list of attractive features. Unfortunately, it also has a list of needed improvements.
With a new exterior design, including restyled bumpers, headlights, taillights, and grille, the four-door sedan has a finished, if basic, style. Car manufacturers seemingly like fancy sounding color names, with my test vehicle’s exterior color no exception, It color is called Celadon Green.
Granted, Pale-Yellowish-Blue-Green doesn’t sound quite right. But by whatever name, the color works, and it gives the vehicle a more expensive look than its price.
I drove more than 500 miles in the vehicle, including a round-trip journey to the Monterey Peninsula from Sacramento. The route included long, open stretches of freeway, two-lance state routes and around-town driving in the cities of Monterey and Carmel. The XG350 fared well.
With its 3.5-liter, 24-valve, V6 engine, the automatic transmission vehicle has ample power and acceleration. It maneuvered through traffic nicely and didn’t hesitate or feel sluggish on steep climbs, even with the air conditioning on. The car drives smoothly, provides a generally hushed ride and brakes evenly.
Cruise control, AM/FM/cassette/CD player, digital clock, universal garage-door opener, full-sized spare (new for ’04), trip computer, automatic headlights and 60-40 rear split seat are the substantial standard features.
New also for the model is a newly patterned and attractive wood-grained interior trim. Combined with automatic climate control, straightforward instrumentation design, individually heated leather front seats, power windows, locks and doors and large, and separate digital read out of the estimated remaining fuel miles, the flagship sedan has plenty to offer. And with a standard price of 23,999, it’s hard to dismiss the car.
Still, there are a few letdowns.
Despite some reviewers’ description of “fine front leg room,” the general interior of the vehicle isn’t as a spacious as its exterior appearance might suggest. The driver’s side foot space was not extensive and the back seat while appreciably comfortable was snug. Two adults can ride without issue, but if they’re six-feet or taller, the head and foot room is modest. If comfort is a consideration, a child as a third back-seat passenger would ride comfortably, but not an adult.
Fuel mileage is not spectacular. The XG350 has 17 mpg (city) and 26 (mpg) ratings, five miles less per gallon in city traffic than the Accord, three miles less per gallon in the city than the Camry.
Hyundai’s warranty is appealing. And as such, the XG350 should be considered as a nicely appointed, well-priced sedan alternative to its well-established Japanese competitors.
Safety Features — Driver and front passenger airbags and driver and front passenger side impact airbags.
Fuel Mileage (estimates) — 17 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway).
Warranty — Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years, 60,000 miles; Roadside assistance, 5 years, unlimited miles
Base Price — $23,999.