Pros: Price, sporty. Tons of things come standard, good sound system
Cons: Backseat, gas mileage
I bought a 2004 Tiburon (Auto I4) and am more than happy with the car. First of all, you can't beat the value. You get power locks, power windows, power mirrors, remote entry, alarm, CD player and air conditioning standard on the base model which retails around $16,000 (MSRP) and Im sure most dealers could knock a chunk off that price if you work with them. For the $18,000 I paid, I got all that, plus the upgraded Infinity sound system, with 6 speakers and a subwoofer as well as the moonroof. Finding another new car as sporty as the Tiburon's with all that for the same price is probably impossible.
One of the things I like about the Tiburon is it handles quite well. On the street I have to take to get just about anywhere, the speed limit is 40 but there's a funky curve with a recommended speed of 30. In my old car (1997 Pontiac Grand Am) I'd be scared of going off the road at anything above 30. My Tiburon can take that curve at 45 and I feel as safe as I would on a straight road. When making turns, I don't find myself hitting the brakes while making the turn like you sometimes have to do in other cars in order to stay on the road.
Acceleration is pretty good too. It's not a Supra or anything and compared to some of the more expensive cars out there, the Tib's performance isn't wonderful, but it's still quite impressive. My old car would take ages to accelerate to 70 on the highway, whereas with my Tiburon, acceleration is quick enough that I'm going 70 by the time I get off the entrance ramp. Braking is also quite well too. A slight tap on the brake and the Tib will come to a stop, no need to put the pedal to the floor.
The interior is beautiful as well. Personally, I love the metal trim around the radio and climate controls. And with the lights on, the instrument panel and radio emits off a nice orange glow, a nice change from the green backlighting seen in so many cars. The cloth seats are comfortable. My only complaint is the small backseat, but if I'm driving, its no big deal. I wouldn't call the interior roomy or anything, but on the other hand, with a sports coupe, you can't expect as much room as an SUV. I'm a pretty big guy, 6'1" and I have plenty of room. Some of the other cars I was looking at while shopping, for example, the Celica, I found myself ducking just to fit inside the car. But, if you're a giant, then the Tiburon may not be for you. And there's quite a bit of room in the trunk. But if Hyundai made the trunk smaller and put more room between the front and back seats, Im sure a lot less people would complain about backseat room.
For a stock system, the sound system is great (keep in mind I have the upgraded Infinity system). Once you mess with bass, treble and EQ settings on the radio, you'll get a nice, clear system out of the speakers, plus the extra boom from the sub in the trunk. One good thing about the Infinity system, is that in addition to the CD player, it has a cassete player. You never know when you'll need one of those.
As far as reliability goes, I haven't had a single problem with mine, but the again, I just got it a couple days ago so its brand new and hasnt had a chance to have any problems. I hope it stays problem-free for a long time.
Gas mileage is the one thing that hasn't impressed me. The dealer filled up the tank Tuesday before I drove it off the lot, and now it's Thursday and I'm between 1/2 and 3/4 a tank and I just passed 100 miles driven on the car tonight, so it hasnt been driven a lot. But, I have been driving quite a bit in traffic (The drive home from the dealer was stop-and-go traffic on the highway) and I know that can have a negative impact on gas mileage. Plus, I'm hoping after the break-in period, gas mileage will improve.
And you can't forget safety. Of course, you have front airbags, but you have side airbags as a standard feature, something not commonly seen as a standard feature in cars. Plus, an alarm system. So far, I haven't had to deal with it, but I guess that's a good thing. But those are definitley a couple features that should knock a bit off your insurance bill if they offer discounts for extra safety features.
The Tiburon is definitley fun to drive. The past couple days since I got my Tiburon, I couldn't wait to go to school and work because I wanted to drive my Tiburon, I love the thing. (Of course, I couldn't wait to get out of school and work either for the drive home). I'll sound insane for saying this, but I can't wait for my doctor's appointment tomorrow because I'll get to drive my Tiburon down the highway for a good 7 or 8 miles, hopefully after the morning rush hour has cleared up.
Overall, the Tiburon is a great car. If you're looking to buy a sporty coupe but don't want to spend more than $20,000 then definitley check out the Tiburons. All the features that typically cost a lot more on other cars come standard on the Tiburons. Of course, test drive one first to make sure it's the car for you.