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If you'd like to break away from the mainstream and save a couple of bucks doing it, the XG350 is worth a look. However, the mainstream is the mainstream for a reason...
Lots of standard equipment, decent power, roomy cabin.
Funky home-market styling, low expected resale value.
Available XG350 Sedan Models
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The XG300 becomes the XG350, as engine displacement is bumped up 0.5 liters to 3.5. Although horsepower is only increased by 2 to 194, 39 more pound-feet is on tap for a grand total of 217, which should provide quicker acceleration.
We're as surprised as anybody. We didn't give Hyundai much of a chance in North America after the atrocious Excel of the 1980s. But the Korean marque has dutifully soldiered on, getting better and better every year.
Now, the manufacturer is aiming high. The XG300 was created last year as Hyundai's flagship model and is meant to lead the automaker's fleet proudly into the new millennium. Hyundai's goal is to use the XG to garner serious consideration from consumers. It sure beats Hyundai's previous status as the Oh-man-I-want-a-new-car-but-don't-have-enough-money-for-anything-but-a-Hyundai alternative.
Powered by an enlarged 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine, the XG350 manages a smooth 194 horsepower that allows for comfortable highway cruising and merging and passing with elan. A five-speed automatic with a manual shifting provision, called H-matic, is standard.
Bigger than the four-door Sonata and about the same size as the Nissan Maxima, the XG350 seats five comfortably. In an attempt to attract attention, Hyundai loaded the XG350 with many standard features, including four-wheel disc brakes with ABS; 15-inch alloy wheels with Michelin V-rated tires; leather upholstery; power driver and passenger seats; power windows, locks and mirrors; six-speaker stereo with CD player; air conditioning; cruise control; keyless remote entry; trip computer; projector beam headlights; and driver and passenger front- and side-impact airbags. Spring for the L trim level and get a power moonroof, leather wrapped steering wheel with faux wood inserts, an electrochromic rear view mirror, a memory driver's seat and exterior mirrors and heated front seats.
For a sedan priced in the lower-$20,000 range, XG350 offers a whole lot of content and makes for a compelling alternative to the competition. Hyundai's generous 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and substantial roadside assistance program sweeten the deal.
In every month of 2000, Hyundai set sales records. But this success hasn't made Hyundai think it can knock Nissan, Toyota and Honda off their pedestals; the company plans to hawk only 15,000 XGs per year. We, learning from our past mistakes, won't discount Hyundai's ability to meet, or exceed, that goal. And, if you're in the market for a new mid-range sedan, maybe you shouldn't either.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.