The Genesis is based on an all-new rear-wheel-drive architecture. (This same structure will host an upcoming two-door Genesis coupe.) The Genesis is sized similar to the Pontiac G8, both in length and wheelbase, and is about six inches shorter than the Chrysler 300.
On the outside, the Genesis looks like the lovechild of a BMW 5 Series and a Mercedes-Benz E Class. Hyundai says the design is "athletic, not so aggressive, assertive, but not polarizing." We agree, though, we feel a little more flavor might draw more customers.
Up front, the trapezoidal grille is reminiscent of a Mercedes design, but instead of rounded headlights, it's flanked by more modern eye-slit headlights. Fog lights are standard on the lower fascia, which also features a large lower air intake. Halogen headlights are standard, and the Technology Package includes auto-leveling high-intensity discharge adaptive headlights that point into turns to improve night-time vision on dark corners.
Character lines echoing the shape of the grille flow into the hood and resolve themselves at the front pillars. The rest of the car has more angular shapes like a BMW instead of the softer, rounder shapes of a Mercedes. The greenhouse is practically identical to that of the 5 Series, right down to the dogleg shape of the rear pillars. Ornamentation along the flanks is minimal, with only an upper beltline that flows from the front wheel openings to the taillights and a kickout at the bottom of the doors. Standard 17-inch wheels fill the wheelwells nicely, and the available 18s look even better.
At the rear, the Genesis has the high trunk line that was so controversial for BMW five years ago but has now come into use by several manufacturers. A lower fascia flanked by dual exhaust gives a hint to the Genesis's sporty character.
Nowhere are the Genesis's luxury intentions more clear than in the cockpit. From the driver's seat, customers are greeted with tight tolerances, chrome accents, and numerous soft-touch materials, including a leather-wrapped dash, a feature usually reserved for much more expensive vehicles. While the materials are certainly nice, the rounded shape of the dash isn't as appealing or modern as the best from Europe.
The driver is presented with electroluminescent gauges with white numbers on a black background and blue accents. The gauges are easy to see and read. There is a small, rectangular display between the two main gauges (speedo and tach) that shows trip computer information.
The base setup includes a small screen at the top of the center stack that shows radio and climate information. Below that are the radio controls and at the bottom of the rounded center stack are 10 buttons devoted to climate control. We would prefer the three easy-to-use knobs that many manufacturers are using these days. The CD slot sits below the center stack and below it is a small cubby to fit CDs and the like.
The center console has an ashtray-type bin below the center stack and behind that is an aluminum plate that houses the shift knob. Two cupholders sit behind the shifter, and the center console bin is big enough to carry most of the small bits we carry day to day, though a flat, rubberized tray in front of the shifter would help, too. More small items storage can be found in fold-out pockets on each door.
The navigation option features a central multimedia controller for the radio, navigation system, iPod interface, trip computer, Bluetooth phone, and settings in the Driver Information System. It uses a large rotating knob and six buttons. Compared to BMW's iDrive, the Hyundai system is simpler to use, but it still adds a couple steps to simple tasks like programming a radio station. The iPod interface works well, too, displaying songs, artists or playlists on the dashboard screen. However, returning to a previous menu always starts you over alphabetically. It would be nice if the system returned to the last spot you visited. Nonetheless, other manufacturers would do well to study the simplicity of Hyundai's multimedia interface.
The Technology Package includes a 40-gigabyte hard drive to hold music files and navigation map information. Songs can be loaded from CDs or through a USB interface.
Front and rear head and leg room are plentiful. Only tall rear passengers will have a complaint, and probably only with head room. The rear center passenger will also have to deal with the driveshaft hump as well as a seat hump, but four passengers should ride with ease. The front seats are comfortable, but sit up higher than we'd prefer and they don't have all that many adjustments for a car with this level of luxury. Getting in and out is easy.
The trunk is deep, with 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room, but it is a bit compromised by the lack of split folding rear seats. Hyundai opted against them for structural reasons. For some, this may be a deal breaker, but at least a rear pass-through is provided.