2009 Hyundai Genesis
The sports sedan segment is a tough place to be for car manufacturers. Catering to clientele who don’t just require luxury, safety and speed, but demand it; and combined with a marketplace that’s already crowded with successful, long-standing competition, it’s a ruthless place. This is the ring Hyundai
has willingly thrown its hat into with the brand new 2009 Genesis
. Designed to take on heavy hitters like the BMW 5-Series
, Lexus’s fleet of super-sedans and Infinity’s M
and G sedans
, the Genesis is a hard fought attempt to establish the Hyundai brand as something other than a purveyor of inexpensive transportation with a long warranty. Delivering well-executed, if not inventive features, and an incredibly powerful V-8 engine option, the Genesis steps into the ring ready to go all ten rounds with the best of them. If the car’s comparable power and appointments don’t have the segment mainstays quaking in their boots, the Genesis’s price tag should. A fully-loaded-with-every-bell-and-whistle Genesis equipped with a V-8 tops out at $42,000, undercutting its main competitor, the Lexus GS 460
by more than $17,000.
What's to Like
Incredibly smooth power with either the V-6 or V-8 engine. The interior design and execution is on par with the Lexus GS and the price tag is truly unbeatable. The back seat offers enough room to for three full sized adults. Have we mentioned the price tag?
What's Not to Like
The exterior is somewhat lackluster with elements snipped and borrowed form a number of more prominent luxury sedans. Standard touch screen navigation inside would be nice. We wish the V-8 had cylinder deactivation for better fuel economy.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
We were quite surprised; the Genesis delivered a driving experience befitting a large sedan. The 375 horsepower V-8 had plenty of power and the pleasingly smooth six-speed automatic transmission seemed never to second-guess what gear to be in. The V-6 model offers both high-horsepower and a more balanced ride thanks to the lighter engine and a better weight distribution; 52:48 on the V6 model compared to a 54:46 split on the V-8. The cabin remains amazingly quiet, even at above freeway legal speeds, thanks to a double-laminated acoustic windshield. The Genesis remained planted to the road even as the speedometer reached higher and higher, lending credit to the Genesis’ all-new design and a special tuned-for-America suspension. Visibility from the driver’s vantage point is clear and vehicle controls are well situated without being too cluttered. This is a large car, sitting nearly as long as the new Ford Flex, so it takes some getting used to piloting something with a little more heft than usual.
Engine and Drivetrain
Available with a choice of two engines, a 4.6-liter V-8 engine which produces 375 horsepower and 333 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.8-liter V-6 engine with 290 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque. Both of the rear-wheel drive Genesis models use automatic transmissions, the V-6 comes equipped with an Aisen transmission and the V-8, with a ZF model.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
Hyundai has worked hard to equip the Genesis with all the high-end gadgets and features that customers have come to expect from a full-sized premium sedan. A nifty retractable sun shade keeps rear occupants cool and withdraws automatically when the vehicle is shifted into reverse, and night time visibility is aided by headlights that track with the steering wheel to illuminate the path in front of the vehicle. We also like the Genesis pricing ladder, on the 4.6-liter model, there is one $4,000 package, and on the 3.8-liter there are three, a premium package, premium plus and the technology package. No a la carte options to befuddle the consumer and their wallet.
Key Technology Evaluation
While the Genesis comes with the obligatory DVD navigation system
complete with Bluetooth hands-free calling, the real gem in this car is the sound system. A Lexicon 14-speaker 7.1 surround audio system permeates the cabin with sound and adjusts the volume level to compensate for cabin noise. With the optional $4,000 technology package, you get a 17-speaker Lexicon system, DVD navigation system and a rear backup camera, along with a slew of other features.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage Fuel economy
numbers are in line for the segment, with the 4.6-liter V-8 getting 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway and the smaller V-6 engine delivering 19 city and 27 highway. Both are pretty darn good considering the sheer size of the vehicle – the Genesis weighs in at close to two tons. Both the V-6 and V-8 rated in as ULEV-II.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Inside, the Genesis dishes out levels of refinement previously absent from the Hyundai line up. A leather-wrapped dash, wood accents and large, comfortable leather seating offer a true taste of class. Dash controls are solid and functional and the driver’s seat provides a clear view of the road at almost any angle. We were impressed with the leather seats, the standard Lexicon sound system and the high quality fit and finish of the sedan.
The sedan caries a pleasing look, but there just isn’t enough definitive styling outside to make a lasting impression. Even the bright, sloping grille out front lacks the pizzazz necessary to command craning necks. That said, we tend to forgive the Genesis for its somewhat bland styling due to its price and where it sits in the segment. We can see Hyundai not wanting to go over the top on styling and let the car speak for itself.
Market Segment and Pricing
Hyundai has priced the Genesis at $33,000 for the 3.8-liter V-6 model and $38,000 for the 4.6-liter V-8. The V-6 tops out at $40,000 and the V-8 at $42,000, a bargain in the segment. The low MSRP makes up for any features that may be missing when lined up against potential competitors like the Lexus GS
at $44,550, the Infiniti M
at $43,900 and the BMW 5-Series
at $44,600. The only competitors we can see are the V-8 equipped Pontiac G8
at $29,310 and the somewhat long in the tooth Chrysler 300C
at $25,270, both of which offer fewer amenities and luxury than the Genesis but (somewhat) sportier rides.
What We Think
We think the price presents a compelling buy in these days of economic downsizing. The Genesis features all the styling and options of a more expensive premium sedan at a price point that is downright affordable. That said, do we honestly believe that this Hyundai is a proper match for king-of-the-heap BMW? Probably not. It is, however, a fantastic entry in the luxury sedan segment, proving that you can get the world on a string for thousands less than the Genesis’s competitors. This alone should be cause enough for more than a few shoppers to take a long, hard look at this car. After all, $10,000 is a lot of gas in the tank.