By on February 11, 2014

14 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI 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).
17 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 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.
07 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlus, 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.
03 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’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.
05 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHow 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.
01 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.

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71 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2001 Hyundai XG300...”

  • avatar

    Whilst driving a 96 Ford Ranger, I was rear ended by one of these Hyundai’s (the googly eyed, jaguar-esq version) driven by an elderly couple from South Dakota. The Ranger’s bumper was scuffed, the Hyundai was probably totaled.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s pretty much true of any accident involving a pickup’s rear bumper at the height of the car’s grill these days. The front clips are all plastic, and you’re looking at $2,000 minimum when hit a pickup bumper…no matter how well the car is otherwise built.

    • 0 avatar

      The Jaguar-esque one was the Kia Amanti?

      • 0 avatar

        Correct, aka Opirus.

        • 0 avatar

          Personally, I wouldn’t call that Jaguar-esque. I’d say they were going after the W210 E-class Benz.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah, you’re right. It was an XG 300, though, had my Korean’s mixed up there. And the front end wasn’t exactly recognizable afterwards.

        • 0 avatar

          Could’ve been an older Sonata. When I was car shopping about 10 years ago I drove a new 4 banger Sonata with a stick. The salesman tried to impress me by pointing out the fact that it looked like a Jaguar.

          • 0 avatar

            A friend of the family had one of those – four-cylinder, manual, like you drove. Someone stole it out of her driveway, if I recall correctly… I remember it because I remember being confused as to why.

    • 0 avatar

      So the crumple zone worked as designed and protected the passengers by dissipating the kinetic energy of the collision?

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    My Aunt and Uncle bought one of these things back in the day. Cars usually say something about the owner, or at least what the owner thinks they present themselves.
    My Aunt and Uncle had driven Oldsmobile Auroras, Lincoln Contintentals, and other upper end cars up to this time. When the XG300 showed up the silent discussion was “is their business going bad?”. Uncle Mike showed everyone the new car and said how nice it was and what a great deal it was.
    After two years and a couple of unexplained non-starts and tows to the dealership the car disapearred to be replaced with a succession of Cadillacs and Audis since then.
    His business wasn’t bad it was just his one time judgement and being pulled in by the “Why pay more when we can do it for less” sales pitch. Probably why so many people, myself included, can’t take up and coming car companies serious in the upper end of the car market.

  • avatar

    I looked at a few of these (used) when car shopping for my daughter a few years ago. Aside from being ugly and her being mortified at the thought of driving a Hyundai, I had to admit they were really just not very nice. I could really not tell any difference in the fit and finish between these cars and a Sonata with leather, everything just felt cheap, cheaply made and cheaply assembled.

    Normally I wouldn’t let my daughters snobbery direct which car she drives, she should feel lucky to have any car IMO, but I wouldn’t buy one of these. The American luxury cars were much better, even the American regular midsized cars were too.

  • avatar

    My mom bought a 2004 XG350 in that same tan/champagne/gold color with tan leather. She still has it with almost 80,000 miles peeling headliner ripped leather and peeling plastic wood.

  • avatar

    This car also starred in a recent korean flick as the sacrificial lamb and was summarily exploded as a distraction to cops in a bank robbery. I guess that tells you how much they think about the XG as well.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I would place this car in the faux-luxury division of the time.

    A few Buicks, tarted up Mercurys, and the less competitive luxury brands that were Diamante and Millenia covered this side of the business quite well back in the day.

    When these cars were first released, they actually offered a nicer interior than the Camry XLE, and arguably even the Accord EX four-door. At least until these aforementioned vehicles were redesigned around the 02/03 time period. Once every other manufacturer had a chance to re-do their offerings, the XG, and later the Amanti, were bound to be one-gen wonders.

    I financed all of one XG and zero Amantis (those I always sold for cash).

    The engine in the XG blew about a year into the note (bad radiator leak). I spent $1250 replacing the engine, which is an awful lot in my world. The Hyundai held up from there and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the powertrain will regularly last past the 200k with proper care. The transmission in particular isn’t as nearly stressed as it is in say, the Kia Sedona.

    Oh before I forget, Phil? Can you mail a few hundred of those tree scents to my lot when you get the chance? Thanks!

  • avatar

    Repo Man quote FTW!

  • avatar

    So I actually have experience riding in more than one of these, as this generation can still be seen driving around S Korea a lot, and often in the form of a taxi Grandeur. I usually tried to avoid getting them, as the SM5 or the Sonata options were better inside, and newer. But you don’t get to pick your taxi in S Korea if they’re all lined up, you must pick the one in the front – it’s the unspoken way of the taxi, and drivers will refuse to take you if you hop in their car and they aren’t at the front of the line.

    They are extra mushy in the suspension department, and there’s a real cheap/thin feeling to everything on the inside. Materials don’t really mesh well in appearance, and the buttons have a very distinct “late 90s” appearance, which Japanese cars from the time don’t have. The engines seem buzzy, though the taxis there run on LPG, so that might have been part of it. I was never impressed, at all.

    In Korea this car is a step above the Sonata, and you could proudly say you drove a Grandeur. It’s also advertised heavily. You see this generation around a lot, as well as the larger prior Mitsu-based generation, which was IMO a much better looking car, and more formal.

    Also, around where I live a few streets over, there are two different XG’s parked, at different houses. Both have paint issues, both have exterior trim looseness, and both of them have oil underneath, all the time. One’s taupe colored, the other is gold, IIRC. Both of them look pathetic.

  • avatar

    I always liked the look of these cars — conservative and classic. I drove an XG a few years ago (dashed out some thoughts on it here It wasn’t a bad car, just dull and a little unrefined for what purported to be a pseudo-luxury car. Strikes me as maybe being a decent buy for someone looking for a cheap, high-content used car.

  • avatar

    did you get an good otto parts off of it?

  • avatar

    My stepdaughter bought an XG350 about a year ago for 2 or 3 grand. It’s had some issues, but it runs. Hopefully she can get another year out of it, and have enough saved by then to buy another cheap beater. It’s decent. The engine is really nice; it’s a shame the rest of the mechanical bits aren’t up to par with the heart.

  • avatar

    Any sign of what went wrong with this car ? It’s a little worrying that a 13 year old car already has a date with the crusher. I had an Excel that didn’t see its 5th birthday, 13 years is an improvement but not really much.

  • avatar

    I worked for Hertz in the summer cleaning cars while in college, and we had a ton of these in our fleet. For the price it was not a bad car, but it was easy to tell where costs were cut. I remember the power being ok, but they rode all floaty-like they were trying to copy a mid-90’s Buick Lesabre.

    I will say this-they held up as a rental car fairly well.

  • avatar

    I may be the only one interested; but one of these days, I would like an explanation of what all the writing on these cars means. The date on the passenger side rear quarter panel is probably the date recieved; and I think I see mention that they have the title as another. What about the F with the circle around it?

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      I’d love to know this too, and I don’t think it’s any secret that a worker wouldn’t divulge if asked.
      If there is any standardization across yards, learning to decipher this stuff could have it’s uses, or at least be a neat trick.

  • avatar

    My arts teacher had an XG, I think it was available earlier in Europe!? Traded his Sonata for it. Odd car, but so conservative and pleasant in styling, it doesn’t offend anyone.

    But picking actual lemons in a car ad doesn’t seem like the smartest move. Especially in the English-speaking world.

  • avatar

    That XG evidently has a healthy appetite for plastic orange fencing.

  • avatar

    It kinda looks like they copied a late 90s Infiniti…but without the goodness.

    Also that V6 sure is a bit gutless. Though probably not as gutless as a Dynasty with a 3.0 Mitsu V6 would have been.

    • 0 avatar

      90’s Infiniti with Lincoln LS grille and headlights is exactly what I see in this thing. Luxury Korean cars of this vintage always had this weird effect that when you go to pass one, from the rear they look oddly proportioned, from the side they look kind of Japanese and in your mirror the front looks like they copied a US or euro front end.

  • avatar

    I used to see these occasionally, but for the life of me, I don’t see any appeal in them.

    The model with the what I call “church-window” tail lights – Optima or Sonata? Those drove me crazy they were so ugly.

    Sorry, but after mulling over this for a day, that’s all I have. Good riddance.

    • 0 avatar

      99-01 Sonata. They must have realized it because after only 3 model years they updated it to the style with the Mercedes-esque peanut style headlamps and jewelled tail lamps. Then Aston copied the newer tail lamps for the Vanquish…

  • avatar

    Ca. 1994 I was riding around bases on Guam a lot, my co-worker, a Korean, drove sometimes. One time we were turning onto base and the manual shifter was being sticky in his Hyundai, I asked why he didn’t buy an automatic…he looked at me and said “You think this is bad, Koreans can’t build automatics”.

  • avatar

    The grille looks like Maybach. And it’s not clear who copied whom.

  • avatar

    I regularly see these and the updated 350 version listed on Craigslist, not in the best shape, but with 200k+ for around $1800-$2000. They seem to have held up pretty well. They are on par with the prices for 2 year older, similar mileage and condition Maximas, Millenias, Avalons, and Diamantes.

    Only thing that really scares me away is that they have the wonderful Sigma V6 valve adjustment requirement. I’m betting the ones hitting 200K had them on time and all other ones are gone already.

    When they came out, I remember the styling, particularly in the rear, being compared favorably with the contemporary Bentley 4-door (Arnage, maybe?). They have a distinctive look overall, especially in the way the greenhouse’s rear slope matches the decklid’s vertical face from the front 3/4. See Wikipedia for an example.

    Edit: I guess I was wrong, it’s the NEWER Lambda V6 family that needs the valve lash adjustment every 90k… Why they would introduce something like that in a newer engine family is beyond me.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I think we’ve found the car for this guy:

      A lot of newer engines have gone back to manual valve lash adjustment in recent years. I would bet that upwards of 90% of those will never get the adjustments called for in the service schedule.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    What are the odds that this one goes to the shredder without a single part having been taken to keep another one running?

  • avatar

    These occasionally pop up on AutoTrader or Craigslist, so they must be more durable than some 10+ year old cars because I see fewer other makes around. (Like Chevys, Fords, non-Panther Lincolns, Oldsmobiles) These were obviously better put together than the Kia Amanti of the day because you’ll find nearly none of those in used car listings compared to the XG. The next gen was the XG350L which was a little nicer and a little more powerful.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Here in western PA, there are a ton of XGs still running around. I only ever see this car in silver.

  • avatar

    Question for Junkyardites. How many post-2000 cars are starting to appear in junkyards? I noticed on here only the Sunfire and this car so far.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re very common, but I don’t shoot many of them due to lack of interest. GM and Chrysler stuff from the 21st century is all over the place at these yards, plus Daewoos, Suzukis, etc.

      • 0 avatar

        What about a feature on 21st Century Junkyard pieces?

      • 0 avatar

        These cars are rapidly becoming the millenial Curbside Classics. Add the Tupperware ’00-’05 Impala, the ’00-’04 Taurus, any of the Chrysler Cloud cars after Y2K, and everyone’s fav appliance, the four banger Camry.

      • 0 avatar

        You see Chryslers and certain Fords and GMs all the time in the yards. I saw a 2008 Dodge Caliber in one a year ago. No body damage so it wasn’t wrecked, interior was pretty clean. Absolutely pathetic a barely 6 year old car is in a yard.

        Taurus, Cloud Cars, Neon, Cavalier/Sunturds, Caliber, all common cars found built well after 2005. Newest Toyota or Honda you’ll typically see is 1999 or 2000, and a lot of those were wrecked.

  • avatar

    My dad bought one of these shortly before he died. My brother got it after that. It was a comfortable enough car to ride in but it had terrible nagging problems. The fuse for the power windows would blow all the time. The power seat memory was very forgetful and the fuse for the power seats went out a lot. Nagging transmissions problems. Very slow shifts. Not good gas mileage considering how underpowered it felt. For the money it was overpriced. This was one of the last bastions of bad Hyundai before they started to get fairly reliable. This wasn’t one of those.

  • avatar

    I too have a fascination with oddball luxury and performance cars. Heck, I still think the Chrysler TC by Maserati is cool and actually knew a dental hygenist that had one for several years.

    As for this Hyundai, I’ve got a coworker with a white XG350 that he loves. Seems to have held up pretty well too, but seems very small compared to most newer luxury cars.

  • avatar

    2005’s are starting to appear at ‘pick n pulls’ and I’m not surprised. after all 9 years is still beaterville for most common cars.

    I agree with poster who said ‘I bet no parts get pulled from this car’. This ain’t a 2001 Lexus.

  • avatar

    I don’t know whether this is a testament to how Americans treat cars or not. These Grandeurs (XG300 USDM) are all over the place in Korea and many are still in excellent condition. I’m not sure whether the interior materials or paint were the same for the export models, but most of the Grandeurs I see here are well taken care of.

    Many are on taxi duty and many others are on the second+ owner these days. There are a few around the military installations that are driven by US Service members that have been passed around who knows how many times and still look decent.

    At any rate, I’ve always had a thing for how these looked. The interior space is more than what meets the eye on the exterior.

  • avatar

    “….and the Mazda 929…” Surely you mean the Millenia which by this time was the lux end for the brand.

  • avatar

    I rented one back in around 02/03 on a business trip. The car had only around 18K on it, it still feels new, but that’s about it. It was very underpowered (about as good as a Corolla), thirsty (something around 20mpg), float all over the place (like a Corolla), and the interior has all the sales item checked but just doesn’t feel right: cheap leather, funny low quality faux wood, low quality plastic, etc. It is one step below regular American domestic mid size cars and quite a bit below regular Japanese mid size, and way below the Luxury of any brand. I’m not surprised that it didn’t age well.

  • avatar

    At a high line dealership I worked at up until about 4 months ago, we appraised a 2011 Genesis sedan V8 with about 50K for $17000. I was shocked at that low number. The car did not have body damage or a poor color or anything like that. Needless to say the customer kept riding.

  • avatar

    I really appreciate this post MM. I have a strange obsession with Luxury cars from non-luxe brands myself. I always found this model to be somewhat intriguing with its basic lines and understated looks. Good find! I never find as many interesting imports at the Salt Lake Yards…..although, I’m starting to see a rather high number of Gen 3 Camry wagons lately……which leaves me slightly unsettled…..

  • avatar

    These ill-fated pseudo-luxo boxes weren’t all that bad. Most sadly find their way to ghetto-fab buy-here-pay-here places in the East Side of town. LOL. My friend’s dad has one, which we took on a road trip from Buffalo to Calhoun, Louisiana. Better on gas than my bud’s two-door Cherokee and roomier than the ’93 945 Turbo I was rocking at the time. It was actually the Kia variant, an ’05 Amanti. The 3.5 provided more than adequate power, the AC cranked, interior roomy, comfortable and truly well put together. Nineteen hours one-way with three adults, one toddler and all our luggage and I can’t complain. I drove it probably total sixteen hours and actually liked it compared to say my Mom’s ’06 Impala (gag) she had at the time. Amazing fuel economy considering the conditions of driving. Great looking, ehhhh well ya know. The front clip looked like a pygmy-shrunken Edsel. It did the job and blew away the 23 mpg we’d have gotten outta my turbo Volvo wagon.

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