The 2009 Hyundai Genesis is a totally new luxury sport sedan. With its rear-wheel drive and available V8 power, the Genesis aspires to the BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Infiniti M, but is priced more like American competitors such as the Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8.
The Genesis seats five and is offered with V6 or V8 engines. Hyundai is best known here for the econoboxes it sold when it first came to America, but the Korean automaker has been moving upmarket for several years. The Genesis represents its biggest leap yet and is the company's most expensive and most luxurious car.
Inside, the Genesis is nicely appointed, with chrome accents, wood and aluminum trim, and soft-touch materials. Easy-to-read electroluminescent gauges greet the driver, and the available navigation system includes voice activation and a multimedia interface that is easier to use than those from most luxury manufacturers. An iPod interface is standard, and customers can choose a 17-speaker audio system that has 7.1 surround and sounds great. Room in the front and rear seats is excellent.
The Genesis marks the debut of Hyundai's first V8, a 4.6-liter dual overhead cam engine with 375 horsepower. The V8 provides plenty of smooth, willing power and gets decent fuel economy. Also available is a 290-hp 3.8-liter V6. The V6 offers enough pep for most needs and has the benefit of an extra couple mpg. Both engines run quietly and are mated to smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmissions with manual shiftgates.
Hyundai touts the Genesis as a sport sedan, with a rigid rear-wheel-drive structure and advanced five-link front and rear suspensions. On twisty roads, it performs well, with a generally nimble feel and a fairly flat disposition through corners. Of the two models, the V6 rotates easier through turns, while the V8 is more prone to push. The V8 model, on the other hand benefits from electrohydraulic steering that keeps the boost up in the tightest slaloms, while the V6's hydraulic steering can bind in quick changes of direction.
The Genesis rides well, ironing out most bumps with little effect on passengers. It doesn't float or wallow like other Hyundais, but the ride can get bouncy over humps and ruts at highway speeds. On the whole, the Genesis is a legitimate sport sedan, but it's not as agile as top performers, such as the BMW 5 Series.
Both Genesis models are fine values that deliver fine handling, a smooth ride, and willing power. They also have plenty of interior room, with nicely appointed interiors. Though not quite up to the high standards of the European and Japanese luxury cars the Genesis aspires to, it is viable and cheaper alternative to those cars and a better appointed option versus large American sedans.
The 2009 Hyundai Genesis is offered in two models. The 3.8 model has a 3.8-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 4.6 model has Hyundai's new 4.6-liter Tau V8. It puts out 375 hp (with premium fuel, 368 with regular fuel) and also comes with a six-speed automatic. Both transmissions have a manual shiftgate.
Genesis 3.8 ($32,250) comes standard with leather upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control; tilt/telescoping, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; heated front seats; eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment; four-way power-adjustable passenger seat; heated power mirrors; power windows and door locks; remote keyless access and starting; seven-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; XM satellite radio; auxiliary audio input jack; iPod interface; Bluetooth wireless cell phone link; auto-dimming rearview mirror; compass; universal garage door opener; automatic headlights; theft-deterrent system; fog lights; and P225/55R17 tires on alloy wheels.
Options for the 3.8 include a Premium Package ($2000) that adds a sunroof; leather-wrapped dash and door trim; power tilt/telescoping steering wheel; memory for the driver's seat, exterior mirrors and steering wheel; Lexicon 15-speaker audio system; six-disc CD changer; automatic windshield defogger; rain-sensing wipers; and a power rear sunshade. A Premium Plus Package ($3000) has the same equipment, plus P235/50R18 tires on alloy wheels with chrome inserts. The Technology Package ($4000) includes front- and rear park assist, navigation system, heated/cooled front seats, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system with 7.1 surround, HD radio, XM NavTraffic with one-year subscription, 40-gigabyte hard drive, rearview camera, and adaptive, auto-leveling xenon headlights.
Genesis 4.6 ($37,250) adds a power tilt/telescoping wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel; leather-wrapped dash and door trim; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel; sunroof; Lexicon 15-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer; rain-sensing wipers; power rear sunshade; auto-dimming exterior mirrors; and P235/50R18 tires. The only option is the Technology Package ($4000).
Safety features include dual front airbags, front and rear side airbags, curtain side airbags, tire-pressure monitor, electronic active front head restraints, antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, and electronic stability control. Front and rear park assist and a rearview camera come with the Technology Package.