- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2000

MONTEREY, Calif. Hyundai has taken the plunge and decided to challenge the tough midsize market currently dominated by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. No easy job, and the Korean automaker doesn't expect to win overnight.

They are in the battle for the long run their first model, XG300, is an impressive vehicle. The Koreans expect to sell roughly 15,000 annually a drop in the bucket in the midsize sector but a beginning.

Its biggest weapon, price, is extraordinary. You can end up with a fully loaded XG300, for between $4,000 and $5,000 less than you would pay for the two top Japanese models, and as they say back on the farm, that ain't hayseed.

You might be saying: "But it's a Hyundai." I can honestly report that Hyundai is building quality products and boasts America's best warranty.

That's a second good reason to purchase the XG300.

A third reason is that it is an extremely handsome vehicle, and its ride and handling are surprisingly good.

The flagship model in the United States the largest, most luxurious and most expensive Hyundai sold in America comes loaded with luxury standard features. Many of these are options on the competition. They include leather seating, four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock brake system, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, projector-beam headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels with Michelin V-rated tires, trip computer and front compartment side air bags to name a few.

Finbarr O'Neill, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America described the four-door, five-passenger sedan, "as providing the next step up for our Sonata owners who love their Hyundais but are looking for a car with more room and luxury features."

Powering the XG300 is a sophisticated all-aluminum 3-liter V-6 engine. It features a double-overhead-camshaft design and provides 192 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 178 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The front-drive car's engine is mounted transversely and has a variable intake system and anti-vibration balance shaft. Hyundai's five-speed dual-gate Shiftronic automatic transmission has manual-shift override. Shiftronic allows the driver to manually shift up or down the transmission. It is fully adaptive, adjusting to the driver's driving habits.

Suspension of the XG300 is an independent double wishbones in the front with an anti-roll bar. The rear features a multilink suspension with dynamic toe control and anti-roll bar. Nitrogen gas-filled shocks are all four corners. The front shocks have special low-velocity control valving to provide excellent high-speed ride control while still delivering a smooth ride.

The XG300 also carries the well-known Hyundai warranty, the best in the industry. The warranty provides coverage exceeding that found on models costing twice or even three times as much.

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