Hyundai adds some spice to its 2002 model mix

What's new at Hyundai
Model changes for 2002


Sonata

Sheet metal changes

Larger V-6

Restyled interior

Side airbags in front doors

Suspension tweaks to improve ride, handling


XG350

Larger V-6: More horsepower, torque


Elantra

New model: Sporty GT hatchback

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. - Hyundai Motor America sales got a major boost this year from the introduction of two upmarket vehicles, the XG300 mid-sized sedan and the Santa Fe sport wagon. The company expects to sell a record 320,000 vehicles this year, up 31 percent from last year.

Hyundai CEO Finbarr O'Neill expects that rate of growth to continue next year, but on the strength of the current product line.

"We have made the transition from cheap to value," O'Neill said here at the press introduction of the redesigned Sonata.

"We are no longer viewed as Yugo class. We have made the leap where it is now acceptable to drive a Hyundai and put it in your driveway and not feel as though you need to explain it to your neighbors."

O'Neill rejected suggestions that Hyundai's market success rests entirely on its 100,000-mile warranty.

"People don't come down to the store to buy a warranty," he said. "They come down ultimately because of products they want to look at. They want something that is well styled, with high content and high value."

Here's a look at Hyundai's changes for 2002.

Sonata

Hyundai expects that Sonata's new look, price and more powerful V-6 will boost its sales 40 percent. The company sold 45,983 Sonatas last year.

The styling was changed to give the vehicle "a more upscale look, more character," said David Ossenmacher, director of product and strategic planning. The sedan gets new front fenders, hood, rear deck and rear quarter panels. The interior also has been restyled.

A 2.7-liter V-6 rated at 181 hp replaces the 2.5-liter, 170-hp engine in the outgoing model. The V-6 is standard on the GLS and the new LX model. The base model is equipped with a 149-hp, 2.4-liter double overhead cam I-4.

Although the equipment level is increased, the 2002 GLS is priced lower than the 2001 model. The 2002 GLS with a four-speed automatic is $17,994, including $495 transportation, compared with $18,294 for the 2001 model. New for 2002 are side airbags in the front doors, which is standard on all models.

Hyundai expects 85 percent of the Sonatas sold to be V-6 models, compared with 50 percent for the 2001 model year.

XG350

The XG300 evolves into the XG350 for 2002, a name change that reflects the car's new 194-hp 3.5-liter V-6. The engine replaces a 192-hp 3.0-liter V-6 standard on the 2001 model. Torque is increased to 216 pounds-feet from 178 on the 2001 model. The larger engine addresses complaints that the 2001 model lacked enough power at low and mid-range speeds.

The price has not been given, although a $500 spike over the base 2001 model is being considered, a Hyundai executive said. The base 2001 model was $23,994, including transportation, a five-speed automatic transmission, front side airbags and antilock brakes. Hyundai expected to sell 12,000 XG300s this year, but sales through September already totaled 13,268.

Elantra GT

The five-door GT hatchback expands the Elantra line to two models. The basic GLS sedan was redesigned for the 2001 model year.

While both cars are powered by a 140-hp double overhead cam I-4, the GT's standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes, larger diameter front and rear anti-roll bars, 15-inch five-spoke wheels, leather seating, fog lamps, cruise control and a CD player. Air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and side airbags are standard on both models; antilock brakes are optional. The five-speed manual GT sticker price is $14,494, including transportation.

The GT is expected to account for 15 percent of Elantra sales.

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