I admit I’ve got a sick fascination with luxury cars sold by companies not (at the time, in this market) known for luxury. There’s the Mitsubishi Diamante, of course, and the Mazda 929, and even the Volvo 262C Bertone (I’m still looking for a junked Daewoo Leganza, but either they don’t exist or— more likely— they fade into the junkyard background so perfectly that I never notice them). The Hyundai XG, well, that’s a perfect example of the “who’s laughing now?” phenomenon; just a decade ago, we all chortled at the idea of a Korean luxury sedan selling in the United States. Today, German and Japanese car-industry execs wake up screaming from Hyundai-themed nightmares. So, that makes today’s Junkyard Find of great historical significance (to me and maybe a dozen others).
The XG was a Hyundai Grandeur, which started life as a rebadged Mitsubishi Debonair but had become an all-Hyundai machine by the time of the XG. Not a bad-looking car at all, but American car shoppers didn’t have a good reason to buy it.
Perhaps some Korean-style TV ads might have boosted sales on this side of the Pacific.
It would have been hard to replicate the macho-yet-restrained voiceovers that make Korean car ads so great, though.
Plus, there was the fact that you could buy an Infiniti or Lexus with a V8 and rear-wheel-drive, or even a Cadillac with a front-drive V8. The 189-horse Sigma V6 failed to impress American car shoppers.
I’ve never been inside a moving XG, but Hyundai was building pretty good cars by the dawn of the current century (in amazingly stark contrast to the car that made the Yugo GV seem reliable barely a decade earlier) and I’ll bet these cars were very comfortable and held together well for the price.
How much? The MSRP on the base XG300 was $23,499 (about 31 grand in 2013 bucks), which was less than half that of the $48,895 Infiniti Q45. Sure, a fairer comparison would be with the Camry-based, front-wheel-drive/V6-powered Lexus ES300… which had a $31,505 price tag in 2001.
You’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.