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Before Genesis, the XG was Hyundai’s first foray into luxury


No question that Hyundai’s Genesis division is finally a proper luxury, but it certainly got off to a rocky start with the XG300 that debuted in 2001. At the time, the XG was the most expensive Hyundai available with a $24,000 base price that was nearly double what the automaker asked for a contemporary Elantra. It was more than even a loaded-up version of the company’s first SUV — the bulbous first-generation Santa Fe that has evolved into the strong-selling model by the same name still sold today.

The XG300 may have looked like a new model to Americans, but it was actually the third-generation Hyundai Grandeur back home in South Korea. The original Grandeur was a rebadged Asian-market Mitsubishi sedan, a reminder of the close ties Hyundai and Mitsubishi had several decades ago.

Here in the US, the XG300 was met with considerable eyebrow raising from reviewers who looked beyond its standard 192-horsepower V6 engine, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, four airbags, and CD player and found a sedan as dull to drive as it looked. There were a few nice touches like stainless steel door sill plates, a manual gate for the automatic transmission, and nicer leather than a typical $25,000 car, but Honda charged about the same amount for a loaded, far more fun Accord EX V6. The similarly-sized XG300 was a dubious value that stood in the face of Hyundai’s otherwise impressive record of offering a lot of car for the money.

The XG was updated a year later with a slightly more powerful V6, and it lasted through the 2005 model year when the equally uninteresting 2006 Azera replaced it.

XG300s and XG350s are rare sights today. Around $4,000 buys you one of the best, like this one in Hilliard, Ohio, ordered with the optional L package that added a sunroof, heated front seats, and even a decadent woodgrain steering wheel.

Hyundai’s first luxury car has two successors today: the slow-selling, but uber-plush Kia Cadenza (which, incidentally, makes a great Uber car), and the Genesis G80 mid-size luxury car that costs way, way more even accounting for inflation. It’s worth it.

Twenty years ago, Hyundai was just beginning its roll that continues to this day, but its success hasn’t come from luxury sedans — and Genesis seems to be following the same path. Genesis became a separate entity in the Hyundai portfolio in 2017, but it wasn’t until the 2021 model year that its first SUV arrived. Now, with a second SUV on the way, Genesis may finally have the products it needs to compete for well-heeled buyers. Find a Hyundai XG300 for sale


Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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