Hyundai Motor Company has had to endure some serious hard knocks on the way to becoming one of the hottest inexpensive automobile brands to be sold in North America. The organization first hit the shores of the United States in 1986, and they struggled mightily to expand from offering a single, low-buck model that was not only poorly received but also suffered from a string of quality setbacks and questionable engineering. Instead of withdrawing meekly from the market with their tail between their legs, Hyundai's management team instead started on a long course that would see them not only drastically improve their vehicle designs and build processes but also have them offer what would become known as the most extensive warranty in the automobile business.
By the time the late 1990's rolled around, Hyundai was very much back on track and the company was looking to expand not only its economy lineup but also wanting to roll out vehicles that targeted some of the premium brands that it had never before competed with. The idea that a Korean car company notorious for its low-priced automobiles could ever make a successful run at automakers such as Acura or Lexus seemed laughable to some, but Hyundai set about the task with a single-minded focus that was determined to not only offer new products but also learn from mistakes and try again instead of retreating from a market segment. The company's initial foray into luxury, the XG was in many ways the match for some of the other premium vehicles available to consumers, even if it did fall behind in terms of styling.
Of course, Hyundai also made sure not to ignore the buyers at the lower end of the market that had traditionally supported the company, and a continual effort to re-invest in their economy platforms helped to launch the brand ahead of other, larger manufacturers who seemed to view their entry-level vehicles as somewhat of an afterthought. The success of the Accent compact and the larger Sonata sedan would bolster Hyundai's bankroll to the point where they could expand even more aggressively into the luxury sector without putting their financial stability at risk.
This article focuses on the three best used sedans available from the Hyundai, the Accent, the XG and the Sonata. While each of these vehicles is aimed at a very different buyer, they all feature the same dedication to quality that has become a hallmark of Hyundai products no matter what price level they are offered at.
2006 - 2007 Hyundai Accent
While it may have been tempting for Hyundai to place development of their least expensive vehicle on the back burner while pursuing loftier luxury heights, the Accent received the same level of attention as any of the newer automobiles in the company's lineup. The 2006 - 2007 Hyundai Accent rides on a then-new platform that is head and shoulders above the previous generation of vehicle and offers buyers a similar level of quality as that found in pricier Toyota offerings.
With an eye towards economy rather than blistering performance, the 2006 - 2007 Hyundai Accent is equipped with a 110 horsepower 4-cylinder engine that displaces 1.6-liters. When matched with a 5-speed manual transmission the vehicle is capable of achieving an impressive 32 miles per gallon in stop and go traffic. Highway fuel economy is rated at 35 miles per gallon, and a four-speed automatic is also available as an option on all trim levels.
An extra effort has been made to improve the interior of the 2006 - 2007 Hyundai Accent, as it was the greatest source of complaint from owners of the older edition of the vehicle. Cloth seats and soft-touch plastics are fairly standard in this area of the automobile market, but passengers in the Accent sit higher than in previous models in order to address concerns regarding visibility. The chassis is also somewhat stretched in order to help provide easier access to the rear seats. Passenger room is fairly good although taller passengers will of course find extended trips to be somewhat taxing. Buyers will have to pay more for air conditioning and any power equipment such as door locks or windows, but a CD player is standard equipment, as are anti-lock brakes.
The 2006 - 2007 Hyundai Accent is basic transportation, but as a used sedan it provides everything most drivers are looking for in a simple commuter car package.
2006 - 2007 Hyundai Sonata
The Accent wasn't the only vehicle to benefit from Hyundai's decision to re-invigorate their product lineup. The Hyundai Sonata continued its evolution from also-ran to solid buy in the mid-size field, adopting much more refined exterior styling that speaks of strength and sportiness and finally fits in with the vehicles it is competing against. The 2006 - 2007 Hyundai Sonata not only challenges other mid-size cars in terms of performance and features but it also dramatically undercuts them on price, attracting more than its fair share of curious buyers to the Korean company's showrooms.
Thrifty shoppers will appreciate the fact that the Sonata is available with a standard 4-cylinder engine. Displacing 2.4-liters, this unit cranks out 162 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque, flowing through either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Power-hungry drivers will want to upgrade to the available 3.3-liter, 235 horsepower V-6 that comes matched with a 5-speed automatic gearbox that allows for driver control over gear changes through Shiftronic technology. Both engines offer very good fuel economy for their class, with the 4-cylinder turning in 34 miles per gallon in highway cruising and 24 miles per gallon during city driving.
The 2006 - 2007 Hyundai Sonata has undergone somewhat of a metamorphosis when it comes to the passenger compartment, stretching out until the amount of interior room has put it right at the edge of full-size specifications. Both front and rear seating positions are quite comfortable, whether they are covered in the Sonata's available leather hides or not, and the vehicle is easily the match of other mid-size sedans when it comes to passenger space. All Sonatas come with power door locks and air conditioning, and a sunroof, automatic climate control and an upgraded stereo system can be found on the vehicle's options list.
2002 - 2005 Hyundai XG350
The Hyundai XG350 was the company's great experiment. Was the market ready for an economy car company to go head to head with luxury brands in an effort to offer the same levels of premium equipment in a vehicle priced well under what the market traditionally would bear? Aware that they faced the possibility of outright rejection by North American buyers, Hyundai bravely soldiered ahead with the 2002 - 2005 XG350 and along the way learned valuable lessons that would be applied to future editions of the company's better-appointed vehicles.
In order to capture the attention of the luxury buyer, Hyundai has outfitted the XG350 with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 194 horsepower and 216 lb-ft of torque. While these numbers might not be quite enough to set the world on fire, they are certainly competitive with entry-level vehicles from BMW and Audi. Each edition of the automobile also comes with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The 2002 - 2005 Hyundai XG350 is outfitted with independent suspension at all four corners and while it occasionally feels a bit unsettled over potholes it has no issue handling twisty roads or sudden steering inputs, providing a confident driving experience.
The XG350's interior is quite large, befitting a luxury pretender, and while the wood trim might not be real the comfort certainly is. Leather seats, full climate control and a CD player are standard equipment on the base model, and upgrading to the L trim provides such features as a leather steering wheel, front memory seats and a moon roof. The 2002 - 2005 XG350 features well designed control surfaces and an easy to read dashboard the finds strength in simplicity.
While the exterior styling might not be for everyone, the 2002 - 2006 XG350 is a used sedan that offers far more standard equipment than most vehicles in its price range.