2001 Hyundai XG300 Review
Hyundai moves into the big league.
This is a card-carrying, not especially light, midsize sedan, but the all-coil spring suspension smoothes out sharp pavement ridges and coddles the XG300 through abrupt directional changes. It doesn't have quite the chassis sophistication on bumpy roads of a $30,000 Infiniti I30. Road and tire noise seemed a bit loud for the class but not enough to lighten the right foot's pressure on the go-fast pedal.
That go-fast pedal delivers less horsepower and torque than the competition, down 8 horsepower and 22 pound-feet of torque from the Taurus, the next-lowest on the power scale. But the XG300's engine revs freely and pulls decently. It won't win the stoplight grand prix, but what it promises it delivers. Just as important for a luxury car, it's smooth and quiet, adding to the pleasant ambience of the interior and providing a comfortable place for conversation or quiet reflection.
Shifts, whether relegated to the automatic or selected through the do-it-yourself gate, are very smooth. One complaint about the Shiftronic is it doesn't hold a lower gear but upshifts at a programmed engine speed; that's unfortunate because the XG is enough fun to drive there are times when you want to push the engine to redline and stay in the lower gear. When left in the auto mode, the transmission is slow to downshift; and the upshifts are on the long side. None of this is an issue when cruising at normal speeds.
A hefty steering wheel and strong hood profile invite spirited directional inputs; it's nice to know where the front of the car is pointed. The placement of the Shiftronic gate to the right side of the shift lever away from the driver seems counterintuitive, though. A more natural reflex would be to tug the lever toward the driver to activate the Shiftronic function, as then the shifts up and down a gear could be executed mostly intuitively without worrying about inadvertently slipping the lever back to the left into the straight, automatic mode.
All other inputs to the driver are positive. Braking is reassuringly linear. The variable power assist to the steering is mostly invisible, materializing only when the transmission upshifts before you expect it to, as in exiting a turn, at which point the assist increases when the engine speed drops.
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