The No.1 Korean automaker hits the U.S. market in full force for '01, with two entries designed to turn some heads and change some perceptions about Hyundai.

The Santa Fe sport/utility vehicle and the upscale, XG 300 sedan are the first "aspirational" vehicles from Hyundai; in other words, people will be buying them because they want them, not because they're inexpensive.

The Santa Fe is a car-based crossover that aspires to be more like the upscale Lexus RX300 - but with a $23,000 price tag. The "Crossover Utility Vehicle," as Hyundai dubs it, is powered by a 2.7L V-6, at 185 hp a meager powerplant for its class. The SUV makes up for its lack of power with its expansive cargo space.

The Santa Fe and Sonata will serve as Hyundai's volume vehicles in the coming model year.

But the lower-volume XG 300, Hyundai hopes, will be getting the accolades. The upscale sedan, powered by a 3L V-6 and larger than the Sonata, marks Hyundai's power play into a new market segment. The quasi-luxury flagship vehicle will be loaded with nice options and priced at about $23,000.

A rising star of a franchise, helped no little by the promise of the competitively priced (and handsome) Santa Fe. Who says inexpensive lines can't make money?