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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Hyundai XG350 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Hyundai XG350 Overview

The New Look of Affordable Luxury

It may be a case of the chicken and the egg, but at this year's North American International Auto Show, more than a few murmurs could be heard around the Maybach display stand comparing the styling of the $300,000 super car to that of the Hyundai XG350. There are definitely visual similarities between the two, especially in the hood and tail lamp areas, but no one can really say which design came first. No matter what the conclusion, there is no denying that for just a hair over $26,500 you could either buy a few parts of the Maybach (maybe the power rear seat and a set of wheels) or you could place yourself in a full-function vehicle like the XG350.

From the outside, the XG350 shows itself to be a subtle yet alluring design, like a piece of modern art that at first you only glance, but later find yourself going back to again and again, trying to figure out what it is that keeps drawing you to it. Perhaps it's the unconventional styling that sets it apart from all the other cars in its class, but the XG350 really does draw both stares and questions from those who chance upon it. For 2004, the XG350 gets a modest freshening, with a more formal grille and a new set of projector beam fog lights. Around back, the XG350 gets a new tail lens design and reworked trunk lid that includes a large chrome license plate surround. Simple improvements like an LED third brake light and wider side molding trim complete the exterior makeover.

A look inside the XG350 reveals a few upgrades here as well. Though minor, the speed at which Hyundai makes running changes based on owner feed back is practically unrivaled in the industry. Take the faux wood trim for example; many owners commented on how it was a bit dark and unrealistic looking, so for 2004, there is a new, lighter trim that looks much nicer; also new are a revised tilt-steering wheel and a new parking brake release. Indeed Hyundai seems to delight (as do their customers) in the small changes that occur to each new model; from the leather covered front armrest tray to the tiny ribs on the face of the cruise control button, it's a constant game of fine-tuning.

The rest of the XG350 interior remains the same as last year, which is to say it is still tastefully executed and loaded with features. The wide leather seats are a joy to sit in, with nice wide seat bottoms that provide excellent thigh support. The dash design can best be described as low key yet elegant, with large, legible instrumentation and controls. There are steering-wheel-mounted controls for the cruise control, an automatic climate control system, power assists for the seats, windows and door locks, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a really fine AM/FM stereo with CD. The XG350 will continue to amaze you with features that just should not be found on a car in this price range. For us, it was the discovery of the power side-view mirrors that tilt down to show you the ground whenever the car is placed into reverse.

Rear-seat passengers not only enjoy generous head and legroom, they are separated by a folding center armrest that includes built-in cup holders; new this year are a set of rear reading lights mounted on the insides of the rear pillars.

A robust 3.5-liter V6 engine provides power for the XG350. Rated at 194 horsepower, the 3.5-liter has more than enough power to deal with the XG350's weight and heavy equipment load. Hyundai's V6 places an emphasis on low-end torque, something needed for quick off the line starts as well as confidence when passing or merging with traffic. An excellent five-speed transmission comes standard on every car, and features a cool SHIFTRONIC feature that allows you to shift gears just like with a manual transmission, only without the need for a clutch pedal. We think the XG350's transmission is one of the silent stars that make this product feel so good out on the road; its shifts are nearly seamless and it never hunts or jumps inappropriately under hard acceleration.

The driving experience is pleasant, so long as you remember that the XG350 is designed to be more plush than push. Handling is adequate at all speeds and the ride is supremely soft with little bounce or lean. The steering feel is also a bit light, but always on track, even at highway speeds. The XG350 gets a big boost in braking performance with the addition of new 12-inch front brake rotors (that's a two-inch increase over last year) and the addition of EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution.) EBD electronically measures the amount of braking force going to both the front and rear brakes and ensures that there is an even distribution of power all the way around.

If value is what you seek in mid-size sedan, than the XG350 has got to be on your list of test drives. The base XG350 starts around $24,500 and comes fairly well equipped, including a 10-year/100,000 mile warranty. The more expensive XG350L adds in a power sunroof, 215-watt sound system with Infinity speakers, 12-spoke alloy wheels, leather and wood steering wheel, heated leather seats and memory side-view mirrors. No matter how you slice it, the XG350 is just one hot deal.

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