Category Archives: Review

Hyundai Tucson proves it’s time to buy a Hyundai

BEVERLY HILLS — Hyundai needed a more-competitive small crossover-utility vehicle to get U.S. buyers to pay attention in a market segment dominated by Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 — the three best-selling SUVs of any kind.

So the South Korean car company chose a design from its Frankfurt unit and made sure it would accommodate every gadget typical of bigger, fancier machines.

But it did not bother to make room for a V-6. Those are passé at Hyundai these days, and a four-cylinder should be quite enough, thank you.

A variety of preproduction 2010 Tucsons tested around here seemed more refined, more comfortable and more agile than those key competitors.

If you need a third-row seat, though, RAV4 is the only one. Or if you crave a hybrid, help yourself to an Escape. Tote lots of stuff? Tucson’s cargo space is some 40% shy of main rivals’.

But if your only hesitation is the thought of snide remarks from outdated others who still think of Hyundai as a second-tier brand, grow up and make your own choice. The naysayers will be on board soon enough.

Perhaps it’ll be when they notice the much-longer Hyundai warranty (60,000 miles overall, 100,000 miles powertrain). Or the all-wheel drive (AWD) that lets you lock it into true four-wheel-drive mode (50% of power to each end). And how about fuel-economy ratings 5% to 10% (1 to 3 mpg) better than those of key rivals?

As if trying to dispel the “cheap car” myth, Hyundai picked this hoity-toity locale to present Tucson to journalists. Bit of a reach, the Beverly Hills connection, but the remade Tucson is pretty slick.

The appearance is supposed to be European, though it doesn’t look much like what was on the roads during a recent trip to Germany and the U.K.

By whatever name, the styling is dramatic: sweep and swoop and angles and edges. Will it wear well or soon seem outdated? For the moment, it looks good. Oddly color-sensitive. Nice in white, a color worn well by almost no vehicle.

Rear visibility is compromised by the way the sheet metal kicks up beginning at the back edge of the rear door. Pinches down the rear-most side window. Even so, you wouldn’t say it’s dangerously difficult to see out the back and rear quarter.

What about that four-banger-only business? Tucson has the perverse advantage of comparing the new powertrain with a ho-hum (at best) V-6 in the old Tucson. Wouldn’t take much to seem better.

Abetted by Hyundai’s self-designed, excellent-shifting, six-speed automatic, the Tucson’s 2.4-liter, 176-horsepower four felt lively, smooth and capable in a day rolling up miles on rural canyon roads, freeways and the Pacific Coast Highway in heavy traffic. More pleasant to drive than rivals’ four-bangers. All have similar power, but Tucson models generally weigh less. And despite being 3 inches longer and an inch wider, the 2010 Tucson base model weighs 61 pounds less than the 2009.

Did the four feel like a V-6? No. Did that seem to matter? No. Was the experience undercut by any sort of coarse, bust-a-gut roar you often get in four-cylinder vehicles? No. Floor it and go, liking the sound and sensations. Simple and satisfying.

What else the drives showcased:

-Dandy manual. The six-speed stick shift, offered only in the base GLS with front-wheel drive, was an easy joy. Light-touch clutch, little worry about killing the engine or jerky shifts.

-Panoramic sunroof. Hyundai’s first. Handsome option for those who can’t stand being unenlightened from above.

-Roomy interior. You’d think you were in a midsize machine, especially back-benchers.

-Clean, classy accommodations. Hyundai’s a champion at presenting all the dials, instruments and other hoo-hah you need in stunning simplicity that looks and feels inviting.

Favorite example of less-is-more: Manual-shift mode for Tucson’s automatic transmission is via the floor lever. Period. No goofy steering-column shift paddles that are useful to Grand Prix racers loath to lift a digit from the wheel at 200 mph but laughably silly in many modern family cars.

-Good down-the-road dynamics. Based on the commendable Elantra chassis, Tucson had modest body lean for an SUV. Electric power steering was well-tuned, with good on-center feel on straight roads and responsive turning and road feel in the snaky stuff. Brakes felt good, though nearly every automaker has room to approach the Audi standard of suddenness in the “whoa” pedal.

-Niggling details. Safety belt for middle rear-rider hangs from the ceiling. Messy looking, distracting in the rearview mirror and a possible entanglement when you fold the back seat.

It’s hard to lower windows just-so to prevent whistle or buffeting. Doable, but takes fussing.

Rear seat doesn’t slide fore-aft, as rivals’ do.

Hyundai’s hot. Sales up 6.2%, Autodata says, in an overall market down 23.9% through November. Only others up this year: Kia, 7.2%; Subaru, 13.6%.

The 2010 Tucson suggests that Hyundai will be among the winners for quite some time.

-What? Compact, four-door, five-passenger crossover-utility vehicle that’s different in almost every detail from the vehicle of the same name it replaces.

Two flavors: GLS and Limited, each available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).

-When? On sale this month.

-Where? Designed in Frankfurt, tweaked in California, manufactured in Ulsan, South Korea.

-Why? Needed a serious rival to Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, which currently outsell Tucson in the U.S. about 10-to-1.

-How much? Base GLS FWD manual starts at $19,790 including $795 shipping. High-end Limited AWD with premium package is $29,490.

-How potent? Optional V-6 has been discontinued. Only engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that Hyundai calls Theta II, rated 176 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 168 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000, mated to six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode. Six-speed manual available on GLS FWD only.

-How big? Six inches shorter than CR-V, otherwise similar but has considerably less cargo space. Tucson is 173.2 inches long, 71.7 in. wide, 66.3 in. tall (with roof rails), on a 103.9-in. wheelbase.

Weighs 3,179 to 3,516 lbs.

Passenger space: 101.9 cubic feet. Cargo space: 25.7 cu. ft. behind second row, 55.8 cu. ft. when rear seat’s folded.

Tows up to 2,000 lbs. Turning circle diameter, 34.7 ft. Carries 1,091 to 1,294 lbs. of people, cargo and accessories, depending on model.

-How thirsty? FWD automatic rated 23 miles per gallon in town, 31 highway, 26 in combined driving. FWD manual: 22/30/25. AWD automatic: 21/28/24.

Trip computers in preproduction test cars registered:

GLS AWD automatic: 22.3 mpg (4.48 gallons per 100 miles) in mixed driving including suburbs, freeway and winding canyon roads.

GLS FWD manual: 26.8 mpg (3.73 gal./100 mi.) in suburbs during heavy traffic.

Limited AWD automatic: 28.7 mpg (3.48 gal./100 mi.) in a mix of suburbs and winding, hilly canyon roads that were driven mainly in second and third gears.

Burns regular, holds 14.5 gallons.

-Overall: Could be the new champ among small SUVs.

By James R. Healey

Five Reasons To Put the 2010 Hyundai Elantra on Your New Car Shopping List

Time was, Hyundai cars were a bit of a joke in this country. After a strong launch here in 1986 by selling sedan and hatchback versions of its Excel subcompact the firm managed to get a reputation for manufacturing less than high quality cars.

But that all changed with the introduction of Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000 mile warranty on all vehicles. And fortunately for the South Korean firm, this coincided with the company seeing its quality rankings improve to Honda- and Toyota-like levels.

With that as background, here are five reasons to consider the 2010 Hyundai Elantra.

Reason 1: Like Any Hyundai, the 2010 Elantra is a Screaming Bargain

Hyundais in this country have always sold in part on the strength of their high value-to-content ratio, and the Elantra is no different. With prices starting at $14,120 for a five-speed GLS model, Hyundai is still managing to keep its pricing humble.

Do take into account that any GLS purchaser will no doubt want the $1,700 popular equipment package, as it is the only way to get air conditioning.

Reason 2: Check out that Warranty

Even though Hyundai’s 10-year warranty is no longer revolutionary–what with brands like Suzuki copying the idea–who wouldn’t like to buy a new car with coverage for that long?

The most catastrophic thing that can happen to a car owner who is still making payments is the failure of a transmission or engine. With the Hyundai Elantra and its generous warranty, you never have to worry about it.

Reason 3: The 2010 Elantra Touring Model

If you’re on a tight budget for a new vehicle but know that your load-carrying needs extend beyond a sedan’s capability, check out the Hyundai Elantra Touring, a new model last year.

Known as the Hyundai i30 in Europe, this ultra-cool hatchback just oozes European charm and panache. Prices for the Elantra Touring maxed out at $17,800 for a well equipped 2009 model. The only option was a sunroof.

This year Hyundai saw fit to take out many features that made the Touring cool and created a version for $1800 less. Buy the top-line Touring model, or buy the sedan.

Reason 4: A Hyundai is as Reliable as a Toyota or Honda?

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a hyper-reliable Hyundai. In the latest J.D. Power quality surveys, Hyundai found its way into the upper echelon of car manufacturers, right below Honda and above Toyota.

Honestly, though, it makes sense that Hyundai would make their vehicles as reliable as possible. They don’t want to foot the bill for repairs from those seemingly endless warranties.

Reason 5: Since When Does Hyundai Equal Performance?

Time was that economy cars were tinny penalty boxes, with little or no concern for the latest safety and performance advances. But just check out the specs on the 2010 Hyundai Elantra.

All Elantras come with a 138-horsepower 2.0-liter engine with 16 valves, as well as four-wheel disc brakes. For drivers seeking the utmost in control, Hyundai offers a five-speed manual transmission on all models.

As you might expect, most of the Hyundai Elantra’s competition comes in the form of the ubiquitous Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. But everyone drives one of those, and the Elantra is on average $2,000 to $3,000 less than comparable versions of these Japanese models.

In buying an Elantra, not only do you get the joy of driving something unique, but you will have money left over to do something irrational … like buy a whole new clothes wardrobe.

In Milan, Italy.

Review: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track makes more out of less

The 2.0T is the low man on Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe totem pole, disappointing the power addled and whooping it up too much for pinkie-waving tea drinkers. However, raw power isn’t what this turbo model is all about, and once that’s made clear, the coupe becomes a delightful flavor in Hyundai’s best recipe. All the careful execution of the Genesis Sedan carries over, with an extra dollop of involvement. It’s a driver’s car, pure and simple. And that’s a recipe we enjoy as much as Mom’s London Broil.

While the car-crazies have hotly anticipated the Genesis Coupe’s retail arrival, mainstreamers have yet to get the memo that Hyundai has its afterburner lit. Entirely different than the Tiburon it sent packing, the Genesis Coupe is a rakishly good looking car with crisply pressed, creative styling. So it looks good, but how’s it drive?

One thing’s for certain, the Genesis Coupe has serious potential. In 2.0 Turbo form, the GEMA four-cylinder that Hyundai shares with Mitsubishi and Chrysler is mildly boosted to deliver 210 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. The torque is all-in by 2,000 rpm, and there’s serious untapped potential in the aluminum engine. In fact, the Hyundai 2.0 shares some of its design with the raucous Mitsubishi Evo’s powerplant, although parts differ between the two. The Evo connection is a tantalizing road map to increase the force-fed Genesis’ hijinks, and the aftermarket ought to have a field day once it sinks its teeth in.

In the engine room, things are tidy and laid out in a businesslike fashion; the details have clearly been sweated. The turbocharger hangs off the passenger side of the block, and is plumbed through an intercooler before pressurizing the intake tract. There’s plenty of room underhood for larger plumbing, aftermarket boost controllers and the usual hot-rodding suspects. The engine has been constructed with all of the right details: aluminum block and heads with cast-in cylinder liners, a bedplate for the lower end, oil sprayers to cool the pistons and dual overhead cams with continuously variable valve timing. Stout stuff. And the square dimensions, with both bore and stroke equaling 86 millimeters, make a good trade-off between off-boost torque and revvability.

The Track suspension package starches up the chassis with stiffened springs and dampers, adds larger diameter stabilizer bars (25mm front and 22 mm rear), stuffs 19-inch wheels with staggered, summer-only Bridgestones under the fenders, and upgrades the brakes with Brembo pieces. Four-piston calipers all around in the obligatory shade of red squeeze 13.4-inch rotors in front and 13-inchers out back, which is impressive braking hardware on a vehicle that’s just shy of $28,000 dollars. More importantly for building performance cred, the Track package is not available with an automatic transmission.

Exiting a corner with Tutta Forza called up, a Track-trim Torsen limited-slip differential helps get the power down. The 2.0T has to work hard to break loose – which might strike some as less impressive to some than the big-torque V6 version, but on the track, most wheelspin is little more than wasted motion. While the Coupe and Sedan share a platform, there’s nearly five fewer inches of Genesis wheelbase in the two door. A more substantive change is the strut front suspension in the coupe instead of the sedan’s control arms. The struts keep costs down, but not at the expense of performance, and the strut towers are braced to keep the geometry stable. The Track suspension in our Genesis Coupe 2.0T is simply the finest job of performance-minded chassis calibration we’ve ever sampled from Hyundai. The extra stiffness might make your pocket change jingle, but it’s still got enough compliance to be comfortable on most surfaces. The ride is busy, but it’s acceptable for the extra capability, and more cushion is available by opting out out of the Track package. It’s cheaper, too.

The rest of the goodies covered in the Track package are mostly cosmetic and comfort upgrades, including all the goods in the Premium trim level like an Infinity audio system, power moonroof, a power driver’s seat, auto-dim mirrors and push-button start. Inside, aluminum dresses up the pedals and the comfortable, bolstered seats are covered in a combination of black leather and red “high friction” cloth. Navigation is forthcoming, too, though our tester sported a large, legible LCD at the top of the center stack in its place. Exterior details include foglamps, high-intensity discharge headlamps, and a large rear spoiler that we’d have accepted reduced downforce to avoid.

The driver’s office is also a fantastically good effort. Controls are in the right places, the wheel and stubby shift knob are wrapped in leather, and the center stack is attractively clean while still carrying a full complement of controls for the ventilation and comprehensive entertainment systems. The metallized plastic that tastefully accents various surfaces in the interior may be easily marred, especially where the fob docks, so an entire keychain resting on the lower left corner of the console for thousands of miles is bound to leave a mark. In front of the driver are two metal-ringed nacelles housing legible gauges with halo-style lighting. All of the switches and buttons feel first-rate, and cheap plastics only invade unseen areas.

The only gripe we can muster is the way the steering wheel spokes occasionally block the stalks, making it difficult to see what you’ve set the intermittent wipers to. Casting an eye around the interior of the Genesis Coupe, you see refined design, and even though some surfaces appear richer than they feel, for the most part, only those who’d rather poke and prod the dash pad will be disappointed – the rest of us will be too busy driving the car.

Upon pressing the “go” button and setting off, we noticed pedals well placed for heel and toe downshifting, and the machinery is game to play along. Underway, there’s a growl from the four-cylinder’s exhaust, and you can detect the occasional whoosh from the mostly silent turbocharger. The Genesis impresses by being tight, rattle free, and more serene than we expected. A common complaint, at least among those who’ve tried the V6 Genesis Coupe, is that it has a heavy clutch. In the Turbo, we found the opposite to be the case; the clutch is light and the take-up point is vague. Likewise, steering feel has been widely praised when fitted with the other powertrain, but our initial impression was that it erred on the light side. However, the steering’s communication won the day, conveying plenty of detail about what’s going on at road level.

There’s some softness when off-boost, especially in the first couple of gears where the shorter gearing of the Turbo prevents boost from building. It all fizzes up nicely in 3rd gear, though, and the 2.0 pulls strongly. At speed, a poke at the pedal delivers a responsive surge of pressurized acceleration. When attempting a quick tear through the gears, the electronic throttle’s tendency to hang open during shifts precludes smooth driving. It’s an emissions thing, for sure, but the calibration forces either slower shifts, or an acceptance of less graceful forward progress.

While there’s certainly noticeable grunt delivered by the powertrain, the joy in the turbocharged Genesis Coupe is not in a thuggish shove into the seat. That’s what the V6 is for. The 2.0T Track is all about being a pavement scalpel. The handling is clean and deft, the transmission plays along nicely as you row the six-speed gearbox, and the overall execution is impressive for a first effort at a rear-wheel drive coupe that’s essentially a ponycar. The capable Genesis Coupe might not have you bellowing the theme to “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” in the same way that the telepathic Nissan 370Z does, and there are cars that will outrun it, but the Genesis Coupe can still hang without excuses.

The potential that lies within this inexpensive, well-crafted coupe is what’s really exciting. The easy way to increased capability is winding up the boost. With the aggressive buy in price, there ought to be coins left rattling in the piggy bank for immediate upgrades. On the practical side, the Genesis Coupe offers a (very tight) back seat that folds, a trunk that’s not too shabby for a coupe, and it can return 30 miles per gallon on the highway when driven far more gently than we managed. We made too many visits to Boostville to attain that EPA highway estimate.

While the Genesis Coupe is not perfect, it’s an extremely solid entry into a newly refreshed RWD sport/ponycar class with plenty of competition. Anyone contemplating the neo-retro Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger ought to check out the Genny, as it offers a whole lot of performance for a solid price without egregious corner cutting. Hyundai’s money has gone into the things that matter with this car, and it works phenomenally well, even if we were left wanting more torque in first and second gears every time we launched it hard. Wrap the package in handsome, original bodywork that’s not trying to recapture 1969, and Hyundai’s effort makes a compelling argument.

by Dan Roth

Hatchback Lacks Muscle, but Not Charm

CORNWALL, N.Y. — Rosa Parks Brown, our chocolate Labrador, prefers subcompact cars. We think it’s because subcompacts force humans to sit next to her. Parks, as we call her, loves humans, craves them. She hates being left alone in the rear compartments of large trucks, crossover utility vehicles or sedans.

In that regard, the subcompact Hyundai Accent SE hatchback, seemingly the least likely of vehicles to transport three adults, a large dog and all of their stuff, turned out to be ideal for our 320-mile journey here from our home in Northern Virginia.

Parks did the whole trip resting her head in the lap of her true master, our daughter Binta, or sticking her face as close as possible to the open front passenger window ostensibly to catch a breeze, but really to lick the back of the neck of the woman in the front passenger’s seat, my wife, Mary Anne.

Other than my wife’s occasional protests against being neck-slurped, it was a pleasant, easy trip — surprisingly pleasant and easy.

The little Accent is the most affordable car made by Hyundai, a South Korean manufacturer that prides itself on the design and production of affordable automobiles. At Hyundai in the 1980s, that meant motorized trash, such as the now-defunct, seldom mourned Hyundai Excel subcompact.

Today’s Hyundai no longer makes trash. In fact, the company has been reaching upscale and doing so successfully with models such as its new Genesis sedan. Next year, Hyundai will roll out its Equus sedan, a super luxurious automobile designed to compete with Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class and BMW’s 7-Series.

The only people laughing at the prospect of Hyundai taking on Mercedes-Benz and BMW are those who haven’t been paying close attention to Hyundai.

I have written here and other places that Hyundai has mastered the art of Wal-Mart marketing. Some of you have taken that as an insult. It isn’t.

To people who shop regularly at Wal-Mart, as we Browns do on our East Coast road trips, it is high praise. We get products and service we want with the quality we want at prices we consider unbeatable.

Hyundai understands that. It is committed to the proposition of high value for dollar, even in its least expensive car, the front-wheel-drive Accent hatchback.

The Accent is a subcompact with wiggle room, arguably with as much usable interior space as that offered by the more expensive Toyota Corolla. Fit and finish are as good as anything offered by Hyundai’s Japanese rivals. In terms of air-bag count, standard safety equipment is better. You get standard side and head air bags in the Accent. You don’t in the Corolla.

The Corolla has a more powerful four-cylinder engine — 1.8 liters and 132 horsepower vs. 1.6 liters and 110 hp for the Accent. That makes the Accent more of a right-lane car than its Japanese rival. But both cars can exceed the top 65 mph speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike with the same unhappy result: an expensive conversation with a New Jersey state trooper.

Still, I would’ve preferred a larger engine in the Accent. And here’s hoping that Hyundai creates a special iteration of the Accent with, maybe, a turbocharged 1.8 liter, four-cylinder diesel. That would make getting up Mine Hill Road here a lot easier than struggling along in second gear, which is what we had to do in the gasoline-fueled four-cylinder Accent SE used on this trip.

But Parks didn’t mind the second-gear stuttering. With a fuel efficiency of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, using regular unleaded gasoline, we saved enough money to buy her some gourmet dog food.

Perhaps that’s really why she prefers subcompact cars.

By Warren Brown
Washington Post

Hyundai Genesis sedan earns top billing

After just a few miles behind the wheel of the Hyundai Genesis sedan, it was easy to understand why this vehicle was named the 2009 North American Car of the Year — the first such honor for any product from this South Korean automaker.

It was also easy to forget I was driving a Hyundai, because it felt more like I was behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz. I kid you not.

The company that made the mistake of introducing itself to the U.S. market in 1985 by introducing the miserable little Excel hatchback has graduated into a full-line automaker with a stable of vehicles designed to fit almost anyone’s tastes.

But there is more Hyundai magic on the way. While the Genesis has a base price range of $32,250-$37,250 (plus $800 freight), the automaker plans to bring an even more-expensive luxury car to the United States late next year — its Equus sedan, which it displayed at the recent Pebble Beach, Calif., luxury-car show.

The Equus is already on sale in South Korea, competed head-to-head against such vehicles as the BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-class. No U.S. prices have been announced yet for the Equus, and it might even get a different name for this market, but it probably will push into the $50,000 range when it arrives.

For now, though, people who want BMW, Lexus or Mercedes-style luxury — but without the prestigious name, mind you — can be happy with the Genesis sedan.

This car is not to be confused with the Genesis Coupe, which arrived this year as a 2010 model. The coupe, which I also tested recently, starts at $22,000 and is much-less luxurious than the larger and roomier sedan by the same name.

Hyundai’s U.S. sales have held remarkably strong during this year of historically depressed overall industry totals, a credit not only to cars such as the Genesis sedan and coupe, but the strength and value of the entire Hyundai lineup — which begins with the under-$10,000 Accent subcompact.

The company’s success this year, while other automakers have been struggling to survive, has been helped by its value-pricing strategy, and, perhaps most of all, its “Hyundai Assurance” plan. Under that program, the automaker pledges to buy back any new Hyundai during the first year of ownership if the buyer becomes unemployed or can’t work because of health problems.

The new luxury sedan, which was introduced to Super Bowl TV viewers in January, also was honored by the Web site as the “Best New Car of 2009,” and named a “Top 5 Luxury Car for 2009” by, the consumer Web site operated by the National Automobile Dealers Association.”

Genesis also earned five-star safety ratings for both front and side impacts in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Michael Deitz, Hyundai Motor America’s product planning manager, contends that the Genesis “has the technology and features comparable to the world’s leading premium sports sedans at a value Mercedes and BMW can’t beat.”

The car has the look and feel of a large, premium European sedan such as the BMW 5-series or Mercedes E-class, but at a much-lower cost. The styling is quite Mercedes-like — not flashy, just classy.

The $32,250 starting price is for the base 3.8 model, which comes with a 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine.

On the top end, there is the 4.6-liter V-8 model, with an impressive 375 horsepower, beginning at $37,250.

Our tester was the model that most consumers are choosing – the 3.8 V-6. With extras such as a Premium Plus package ($3,000) and Technology package ($4,000), our tester rang up at $40,050 with freight.

With the Premium Plus package came 18-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped door and dash, power sunroof, power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, rain-sensing wipers, and more.

The Technology package added a 528-watt Lexicon audio system, integrated with a navigation system, with HD radio, XM satellite radio, and XM NavTraffic; a rear backup camera; adaptive headlights; front and rear parking assist; and cooled front seats.

Hyundai said it expected the Genesis to compete for customers with cars such as the Lexus ES, Chrysler 300 and Cadillac CTS, but added that it has performance capabilities and luxury features “comparable to sedans costing tens of thousands of dollars more.”

The Genesis rides on a new rear-wheel-drive vehicle platform that Hyundai developed specifically for a luxury car, and it has an advanced five-link suspension at all four corners to give it both the ride and handling that consumers expect in a premium sedan.

Both engines come with six-speed automatic transmissions, although the gearboxes are different for each model.

With premium fuel, the V-8 has the 375 horsepower, but it’s also designed to run on regular gas. The horsepower drops just slightly, to 368, with regular, but Hyundai says the car still outperforms all competitors in the amount of horsepower produced per liter of engine displacement.

While I haven’t tested the V-8 model, I can tell you that the V-6 offered more power than I would ever need either in town or on the highway. The accelerator pedal takes a little getting used to, as just a small push gives the car a quick forward jolt — bringing groans from my passengers, who said they though I was trying to snap their necks.

But once I got the hang of it, I heard no more complaints. It reminded me of the way my flight instructor taught me to handle the control wheel in the airplane — “You don’t turn the wheel,” he said. “You just add pressure.”

The ride was smooth and quiet, even at top freeway speeds, yet during spirited driving on twisty roads, the Genesis performed quite well, with no squishiness at all. Steering was more precise than I expected, as well, although not quite as crisp as that of a comparably sized BMW.

The Genesis has impressive EPA fuel economy numbers for a car with this much power — 17 mpg city/25 highway for the V-8 and 18/27 for the V-6. Hyundai notes that this is better than many V-6 engines in smaller midsize cars.

Standard on the V-6 model are electronic stability control with traction control, antilock brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted side-curtain air bags, the electronic front head restraints, fog lights, automatic headlights, dual power/heated outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, heated leather seats with power adjustment up front, cruise control, white and blue interior lighting, keyless entry with push-button start, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, dual front fully automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage opener and compass, AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM audio system with iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth and floor mats.

The V-8 models come with most of the features of the V-6, plus 18-inch silver alloy wheels, chrome lower body side moldings, upgraded leather seats, leather-wrapped dash and door trim inserts, power glass sunroof with tilt and slide, power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, integrated memory system, Lexicon 15-speaker surround -sound audio system, six-disc CD changer, illuminated scuff plates, wood-trimmed leather steering wheel, power rear sunshade and rain-sensing wipers with auto-defogger windshield.

The car seats five, and as a full-size sedan, it’s quite roomy for both front and rear passengers, with lots of rear legroom even when the front bucket seats are pushed all the way back on their tracks.

But my 11-year-old twin grandkids were much more comfortable in the back seat by themselves. With no one sitting in the middle, the center armrest can be pulled down, and it provides two decent cup holders.

The car comes with Hyundai’s great warranty, which includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, along with 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain coverage, seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation protection, and 24-hour roadside assistance for five years with no mileage limit.

Towing, lockout service and trip-interruption expenses are included.

G. Chambers Williams

San Antonio Express-New

2010 Hyundai Elantra Lineup Saves Gas And Goes Blue

Hyundai has made a very smart choice on its Elantra sedan for 2010: improved its fuel economy. And at the center of the improvement is a new frugal base model: the Elantra Blue.

Through some relatively simple engineering enhancements–such as a smart alternator, lower-friction components, and revised/taller gear ratios, along with revised engine calibration–Hyundai has improved fuel efficiency on the Elantra Blue (versus last year’s Elantra models) by up to eight percent. EPA ratings now stand at 26 mpg city, 35 highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission–up from 24 mpg city, 33 highway on last year’s model.

Due to “smart engineering enhancements” on other Elantra GLS and SE models, fuel economy ratings have gone up about one mpg in both city and highway ratings, to 26 mpg city, 34 highway.

Throughout the model line, the changes have been achieved while preserving the engine’s power output. All models remain powered by a 138-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; PZEV versions make 132 hp.

Unfortunately, these changes don’t apply to the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring sport wagon.

Prices are mostly unchanged, with the base Blue model just $25 higher than last year’s GLS. The base Blue, at a $14,145 MSRP, includes power heated mirrors, power locks and windows, keyless entry, a split-folding rear seatback, and a tilt (though not telescopic) steering wheel. Options include air conditioning, an upgraded 172-watt audio system with MP3 compatibility, iPod and USB inputs, and cruise control. In short, it’s a gas-saver but not a blue-light special.

The GLS moves a bit upscale from last year, adding most of those options plus a few more minor features, such as fog lamps, while the top-of-the-line SE includes steering-wheel audio controls, leather trim, telescopic steering-wheel adjustment, sport-tuned steering and suspension, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Of note is that the fuel-economy improvements in the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue model don’t involve an extra-cost package (such as in the 2010 Kia Forte) or the need to step up to a higher-priced model. Hyundai points out in a release that the 2010 Elantra Blue is priced lower than base models of the 2010 Toyota Corolla, 2010 Ford Focus, 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, and 2009 Honda Civic.

General Motors likely revived this trend toward special trims of small-models with improved fuel economy. Last year GM produced an improved-efficiency XFE version of its Chevrolet Cobalt last year.

In the 1980s and into the 1990s, automakers produced various high-mpg trims such as the Dodge Omni Miser, Honda CRX HF, and Chevrolet Sprint ER

Hyundai Genesis Coupe – Korean Exotic

As the Hyundai Genesis sedan marked the Korean company’s entrance to the rarefied luxury league, the Genesis Coupe shows the world that it can build a semi-exotic sport coupe that is the equal of all comers. From the Mitsubishi Eclipse to the Infiniti G37, the Genesis Coupe rips ’em up.

Hyundai’s next-generation Tiburon is rumored to be a fun little pocket rocket based on the Veloster concept from 2007, and may even be called something else entirely. It’s all OK because the Genesis Coupe will make you forget there ever was a Tiburon, no matter how good the front-drive GT has been all of these years.

Sharing a rear-drive platform with the award-winning Genesis Sedan, the coupe is tuned to be much sportier and more engaging for drivers. It rides on a four-wheel independent suspension system – five links in back like the Germans – that is firm and energetic, but not jarring. Our test car came with handsome 18″ alloy wheels, but 19″ rollers are optional. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with plenty of surface area suck the car down from speed with confidence. Electronic brake force distribution, traction control, and stability control are available.

Genesis Sedan comes with a choice of V6 or V8 engines, however the coupe offers four- and six-cylinder units. I have no complaints with the verve generated by our 210-horsepower 2.0-litre Turbo-four that provides a unique combination of efficient power with rear-drive balance. Fuel economy is rated 21/30-MPG city/highway. Uplevel models use the sedan’s 3.6-litre DOHC V6, which generates 308 horsepower. Four-cylinder engines are matched with a 6-speed manual or 5-speed manumatic transmission; V6s make friends with a 6-speed manumatic.

A reasonably priced sport coupe with rear drive and ample power makes tuner kids giddy when they romp on the throttle in first gear and drive their tires into road goo. The pros will tell you that they think the Genesis Coupe is divinity when it comes to getting all greasy on the track. Fortunately, the same balanced chassis and quick wit that dances to rock is also a pro when it comes to attacking quick on-ramps, mountain passes, or just a favorite backroad.

Exterior styling is reminiscent of the Tiburon, but the car is noticeably larger in person – especially across the front where the car looks Corvette wide and from the rear where thoughts of Aston Martin come to the fore. Two-tier side surfacing, menacing air intakes, and a “Z profile” windowline leave their calling cards. The overall styling was developed during the past few years on auto show concept cars, but it also shares much with the Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS convertible – both intended competitors on the high end.

A twin-cockpit interior is right in line with the sport-luxury exterior styling. Available leather seats (we enjoyed a comfy checked cloth pattern), leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, Bluetooth, USB iPOD interface, keyless push button starting, and silver console surfaces not only look great but also put a stake in the future. Auto up/down power windows, deep cupholders, door cubbies, and a large dead pedal add convenience.

“We think our entry-level Genesis Coupe 2.0T, with its unique combination of rear-wheel drive and four-cylinder turbo power, offers an intriguing alternative to existing front-wheel drive sport coupes,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. “The 3.8-litre version of Genesis Coupe takes driving to an even higher level, rivaling the capability of premium-performance coupes like the Infiniti G37.”

You would be hard pressed to tell the Genesis Sedan and Coupe share the same undercarriage and basic engineering, but it is easy to feel the premium genes that went into the coupe. It offers a firm, but comfortable and precise ride. As with the Genesis Sedan, Hyundai developed a world-class coupe that should make no excuses or apologies. It carries on Hyundai design tradition, including a fabulous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, while aiming directly at Japanese luxury competitors – not to mention the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Dodge Challenger. Equipped with a four-cylinder engine, our test car retails for $22,875. Slide one while you can.

Business Week Review: 2009 Hyundai Genesis

The sporty, well-designed Genesis is a reasonably priced, stylish, entry-level luxury car—and a big step up for Hyundai

Up Front
There’s nothing on the market quite like the new Hyundai Genesis. The Korean carmaker’s rear-wheel-drive Genesis Sedan, which is all new for ’09, is an entry-level luxury car that competes with the likes of BMW, Lexus, and Infiniti. And for 2010, there’s the new Genesis Coupe, a smaller, less expensive, sportier, two-door version of the car that’s so different from the sedan it almost seems like a separate model. The Genesis Coupe competes with everything from General Motors’ new 2010 Chevy Camaro Coupe to the Infiniti G37 and Nissan 370Z.

If you’re thinking it’s crazy that a Hyundai could challenge such varied and excellent rivals, think again. The Genesis is a sophisticated, well-engineered car with a tight feel, close tolerances around the doors and hood, and a co-efficient of drag of a mere 0.27, making the car’s exterior slipperier than most more expensive competitors’. The Genesis Sedan is extremely quiet inside and gobbles up potholes, yet has plenty of verve. And it sells at a much lower price than most of its rivals.

The entry-level Genesis Sedan, which I test-drove, probably has the broadest appeal. It’s powered by a fuel-efficient 3.8 liter, 290-hpV6. There’s also a V8-powered Genesis Sedan, with a muscle-car-style 4.6-liter, 375 hp engine, but it doesn’t seem worth the extra money. The V6-powered Genesis Sedan is as quick as a BMW 328i, which is plenty of get-up-and-go for me. However, the Genesis lacks an all-wheel-drive option, something that’s available on rivals such as the Audi A5, Acura TL, and BMW 328xi.

The Genesis Sedan comes only with a six-speed automatic with a manual shifting function. A six-speed stick shift is standard on the Coupe, with a five-speed automatic available with the small engine and a six-speed automatic with the V6. The Coupe’s automatics have steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

With V6 power, the Genesis Sedan starts out at $33,000 (compared with $38,000 for the V8-powered Genesis) and comes crammed with standard equipment, including leather upholstery, power accessories, a seven-CD sound system that includes satellite radio and an iPod hookup, dual-zone climate controls, and power-adjustable and heated front seats. The V8 Genesis has even more standard equipment, including rain-sensing wipers, leather dash and door trim, seat memory, and an upgraded sound system.

However, you can load up the V6 Genesis relatively inexpensively. A $2,000 package includes such options as a power sunroof, a better sound system with a six-CD changer, seat and mirror memory, stylish leather inserts on the doors and dash, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. A $3,000 package includes all that plus 18-inch alloy wheels. A $7,000 package adds such amenities as a backup camera, parking alerts, self-leveling headlights, a hard-drive-based sound system, a navigation system with traffic alerts, and Bluetooth capability.

Only one $4,000 option package is offered on the V8-powered Genesis. Among other things, it includes a navigation system with traffic alerts, a hard-drive-based 17-speaker sound system, self-leveling headlights, and Bluetooth.

The Genesis is very fuel-efficient. With the V6 engine, the Sedan is rated to get 18 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway (and in 382 miles of mixed driving, I averaged 22.6 mpg).

Among six-cylinder rivals, Toyota’s Lexus ES 350 gets 19/27, Honda’s Acura TL 18/26, the BMW 328i 18/38, and the Infiniti M35 to 17/25. The Genesis’s mileage drops slightly, to 17/25, with the V8 engine.

The Genesis Coupe, which I also briefly test-drove, does even better. It gets as much as 21 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway with a stick shift and a 2.0-liter, 210-horsepower turbo-charged four-cylinder engine (neither of which is offered on the Sedan). The Coupe also is available with a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 306 hp. The V6 powered Coupe gets 17 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.

Safety is another strong point. Standard gear on the Genesis includes antilock brakes and front, side, and head-protecting side-curtain airbags. The Genesis earned the U.S. government’s top, five-star crash-test rating in all categories.

The Genesis isn’t a big seller, but it’s off to a decent start considering how weak the car market is. Sales totaled 8,100 units in the first five months of 2009.

Behind the Wheel
Composed, is how I would describe the Genesis Sedan’s ride. It’s tuned much more for comfort than sport. The ride remains smooth whether on bumpy back roads or on the Interstate, and the cabin is extremely quiet. Even the smaller engine is powerful enough to inspire confidence. If you need a burst of power, the Genesis performs with no apparent strain.

One of the surprising things about the Genesis is how quick it is. Hyundai says the Sedan will jump from 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds with V6 power (a time I easily matched in my test car) and 5.7 seconds with the V8. The company rates the V6-powered Genesis Coupe at under six seconds. The Sedan’s six-speed automatic has the usual manual mode. Unfortunately, there’s no sport mode to quicken shifting response, a feature offered by many of the Hyundai’s competitors.

The Genesis’ cabin is tasteful and upscale. Designers took a risk by offering leather inserts on the doors and dash in the place of the usual wood veneer, but the two-tone leather (coffee on black in my test car) looks good and sets the Genesis apart from its many rivals. Touches of wood trim are available on the gearshift, center console and armrests, combining elegantly with the two-tone leather.

Everything in the Genesis seems sturdy and well-made. The glovebox is double-walled and closes solidly, and the sunroof door has a solid, heavy feel. Trunk space, at 15.9 cu. ft., is ample. But a significant negative is that the rear seats don’t fold down, limiting the car’s hauling capacity. There’s only a small pass-through from the trunk to accommodate long objects.

As in other vehicles in this class, leg, head and shoulder space is adequate for most adults, but legroom may be cramped for long-legged drivers. I’m only 5 ft. 10 in. tall, and I could comfortably reach the pedals with the seat set all the way back. I also found the front seats surprisingly uncomfortable. They’re too flat for my taste, with inadequate side-bolsters.

One design touch I like: You can crack the Genesis’ rear windows a few inches without any of the horrible wind buffeting you get in most cars.

Buy it or Bag It?
For $40,000, a loaded V6-powered Genesis Sedan has almost every gee-gaw available on models in its class, and you can get the V8 engine for only $2,000 extra on a loaded-up model. Either version of the Genesis is a bargain if you factor in all the standard and optional equipment that’s included.

The ’09 Genesis Sedan sells for an average of $36,610, according to the Power Information Network (PIN), vs. $37,938 for the ’09 BMW 328i sedan, $40,875 for Ford’s Lincoln MKS, $47,566 for the Lexus GS 350, $48,260 for the Infiniti M35, and $49,356 for the Mercedes E350 sedan.

If you can get by with a smaller car, the Genesis Coupe is an incredible bargain. It’s 14 inches shorter than the Sedan (and, obviously, lacks rear doors), so it’s less practical. But it’s even tighter and sportier than the Sedan, starts at only $22,750 with a stick shift and the four-cylinder engine, and sells for an average of just $27,170, according to PIN (which, like BusinessWeek, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies)

I know, I know. It’s still a Hyundai. The Genesis doesn’t have the cachet and history of a BMW, Lexus or Infiniti, and many shoppers will be reluctant to pay so much for a Korean car. But check it out. The Genesis is a big step up for Hyundai.

Business Week

2009 Hyundai Tucson Limited 4×4 Review & Test Drive

For 2009, the Hyundai Tucson returns with additional exterior and interior changes that make it even more desirable. These changes include 4-6% improved fuel economy, all-new 16X6in. alloy wheels, 200-watt Kenwood Navigation/Audio System, a more distinctive chrome grille, new tailgate trim, metal grain interior accents, more color choices and new GLS seat fabric. The Tucson SE 4X4 receives standard heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer. An optional B&M Racing sport shifter adds shorter throw-lengths and enhances precision to Tucson’s manual four-speed transmission. All Tucson’s now come with standard XM Satellite radio and an auxiliary audio input.

The Tucson is a very competitive compact sport utility that rates high against the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Patriot and Toyota RAV4. The Tucson has good looks, a choice of two engines, a fully independent suspension, 4X4 option with plenty of room for up to 5-persons and is fun and easy to drive with excellent fuel mileage. Young families will like the sporty looks and very functional interior.

With gas prices on the rise again and consumers demanding better fuel economy, the 2009 Tucson delivers with a choice of two engines-a 2.0 liter DOHC ‘Beta’ in-line four-cylinder engine that when mated to the four-speed automatic achieves 20mpg/city and 26mpg/highway. Horsepower is rated at 140 at 6,000rpm, and torque is 136lb.ft. at 4,500rpm.

In addition to the smooth and efficient four-cylinder engine, the Tucson also offers an optional 2.7 liter V6 for improved acceleration and passing power. This ‘Delta’ series engine has an aluminum block and heads to keep weight down, while four-valve combustion chambers and DOHC ensure ample performance. Horsepower peaks at 173 at 6,000rpm and torque crests at 178lb.ft. at 4,000rpm. I was impressed with the launch in my Limited 4X4 model. The V6 with its standard four-speed Shiftronic automatic four-speed and 4X4 drive now delivers 18mpg/city and 23mpg/highway.

Tucson offers a wide range of transmission choices to suit a variety of customer needs. In the GLS trim with the standard 4-cylinder engine, owners can choose between a precise five-speed manual with an optional B&M Racing Sport Shifter for more precise shifting or a convenient four-speed Shiftronic automatic. This sophisticated unit can function like a conventional automatic, but also has manual controls for a more sporty driving experience. The Shiftronic automatic comes standard with the V6 engine.

The fully independent suspension underpinning the Tucson is excellent for on-road or off-road driving. a robust MacPheson strut front suspension is used in combination with a multi-link independent rear setup that uses trailing arms and multiple links to control wheel geometry precisely through a full range of suspension motion. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs and fade-resistant gas-charged shocks. To help balance the Tucson’s handling and minimizing body roll during cornering, front and rear stabilizer bars are standard on all trim levels. The handling dynamics are handled beautifully by a responsive power-assisted rack & pinion steering system with a good feel for the road and minimum boost. Tucson is easy to handle in parking lots and on backcountry trails and has a tighter turning circle, 35.4ft. than a Jeep Patriot 35.6ft., Honda CR-V 37.8ft. or Ford Escape 36.7ft.

Braking from speed is also excellent with power-assisted four-wheel discs brakes. Up front are 11in. vented discs and in the rear are 10.3in. solid discs, with 11.2in. solid disc found in the 4X4 models. Enhancing braking power and control are four-wheel ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution which is hard to find in other compact sport utility vehicles.

All Tucson models ride on 16X6in. aluminum wheels wrapped with 215.65R16in. all-season radials with 235/60R16in. standard in the Limited models. That’s not bad for a compact sport utility and it helps with upgrading the looks in comparison to the competition.

The optional 4X4 system is one of the best of the competition. For maximum all-season traction and fuel economy, the Tucson 4X4 models come with an electronic torque management system that routes up to 99% of the power to the front wheels. As road conditions or torque demand changes, the system automatically diverts up to 50% of the power to the rear wheels. This on-demand system operates quickly and unobtrusively by monitoring the throttle position, wheel angle, wheel slippage and routes power to the axle offering the best traction. The 4X4 system can be manually locked into 4X4 drive for a continuous 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels for off-road and very slippery road situations. The system automatically disengages when ABS is activated to provide optimal braking performance.

Besides excellent mechanicals under the skin, the new 2009 Hyundai Tucson looks good.

The purposeful exterior has a strong, urban presence. The new distinctive grille and standard alloy wheels enhance its appearance and flexibility. There is a large rear hatch for easy loading and unloading with a convenient flip-up rear window which eases loading of small or long items. Both SE and Limited models provide more amenities with new unique alloy wheels, wider tires, as well as fog lamps, bodyside cladding, bodycolored door handles and mirrors, and chrome rear accent trim. The Tucson looks great from any angle.

Tucson’s five-passenger interior is a handsome blend of comfort, thoughtful features and utility. It echoes the sleek athleticism of the exterior, with matte-black accents on GLS trim and new metalgrain accents in SE and Limited versions. Illuminated power window and door lock switches, combined with high legible analog instrumentation aid in functionality and convenience. Drive comfort is a top priority in the Tucson’s design, as evidenced by the eight-way adjustable seat with lumbar support and tilt-adjustable steering column. There are even grab handles above all four-doors, that’s an extra touch.

Versatility is another hallmark for Tucson. It delivers an impressive 102.6cu.ft. of passenger interior volume, which surpasses Nissan Rogue at 97.5, Ford Escape at 99.5 and Jeep Patriot at 101.7cu.ft. The standard 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback makes it easy to accommodate passengers and cargo. Single-lever operation and shingle-style headrests that remain in place speed the conversion from passenger to cargo use. Tucson has greater cargo space behind the front row at 165.5cu.ft. compared to Patriot’s 54.2 and Rogue’s 57.9cu.ft. Tucson is ready to haul gear with an easy-to-clean composite floor load floor. Underneath the load floor is an additional sectionalized storage area with the spare tire positioned below. Plenty of storage bins, compartments and eight-cup/bottle holders are positioned throughout the interior, as are three 12-volt power plugs. Comfort and convenience features include a two-tier front storage console; two cupholders are positioned nearby, with one more in each door pocket. The rear armrest also includes two cupholders.

Other standard features in the Tucson Limited that I tested include automatic temperature control with outside temperature readout, heated/power-remote side mirrors, remote keyless entry with alarm, AM-FM-XM 6-CD changer with MP3 with auxiliary jack, cruise control, trip computer, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, power sunroof, metalgrain interior trim, illuminated vanity mirrors, front intermittent windshield wipers/washer/deicer, rear wiper/washer, dual map lamps, and cargo cover.

The optional 200-watt Kenwood in-dash navigation/audio system has been added and was developed exclusively for Hyundai by Kenwood and combines audio, navigation, an auxiliary input into a single head unit, SD card slot and 700MB internal memory.

Standard safety features include electronic stability control and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, LATCH system for child seats, 3-point safety belts for all seats, front airbags for driver/front passenger and active headrests.

In the fast growing but competitive compact sport utility segment, the new 2009 Hyundai Tucson has quickly gained the respect of the competitors from the US and Japan with its excellent looks, first-rate powertrains, fully independent suspension, strong braking system and fully functional and versatile interior.


Price: MSRP $25,620
Type: Compact SUV
Where Built: South Korea
EPA Class: Sport Utility Vehicles


Length: 170.3 in.
Width: 72.1 in.
Height: 68.1 in.
Wheel Base: 103.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 7.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3548 lbs.
Front Head Room: 38.5 in.
Front Hip Room: 52.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 56.6 in.
Rear Head Room: 38.8 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 56.3 in.
Rear Hip Room: 51.2 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.1 in.
Rear Leg Room: 37.2 in.
Luggage Capacity: 22.7 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 66 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Size: 2.7 liters
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 173 hp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 178 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4000 rpm
Maximum Payload: 1280 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 2000 lbs.
Drive Type: 4WD
Turning Circle: 35.4 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.2 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 18 mpg / 23 mpg / 20 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 309.6 mi. / 395.6 mi. / 344 mi.


2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6: Shocking competence

We were out taking some photos of the Hyundai Genesis early one morning. A woman passing by asked, “What kind of car is that? I don’t see a name badge on the front?”

My response was that, “It’s a Hyundai Genesis. They didn’t put a badge on front intentionally. They want you to see the car and do what you just did; that is, ask ‘What is it?’ “

Some of Hyundai’s earlier large-sedans bore resemblances to Jaguars (the XG 350), but the Genesis definitely causes you to pause a moment and notice resemblances to Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

Hyundai designed the Genesis sedan to be in the image of BMW’s 5-Series, the Lexus GS, Infiniti M cars and Mercedes E-Class. However, it’s priced and sized to compete with Chrysler’s 300C, the Lexus ES, Cadillac CTS, and Mercedes C-Class.

There’s no question that today’s test car, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6, is an intriguing vehicle.

It’s a full-sized rear-wheel-drive sedan with a 4.6 liter, 375 horsepower V-8. That V-8, with 333 lb.-ft. of pulling power, is relatively fuel efficient, being rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway. It may have been a filling quirk, but we pulled 27 on a highway trip, perhaps thanks to the steep overdrive sixth gear in the six-speed automatic transmission.

After people find out that this vehicle is a Hyundai, and a very nice looking one at that, they generally ask how much it costs.

Our test car – the more expensive 4.6 V-8 – has a sticker price of $37,250. Ours didn’t have the only option, a $4,000 technical package, that turns out to be aptly named and well thought out. It adds xenon headlights, a trip computer, navigation, front and rear park assist, a cooled driver’s seat, rear view camera, Bluetooth and upgraded Logic 7 sound system.

Then they have a sticker-shock reaction. “Thirty-seven thou for a Hyundai! That’s a lot of money. Are they kidding?”

It is. And they aren’t kidding in the least. Hyundai is making a run at the upscale market, starting with this sedan and continuing with the coupe version.

Hyundai came into the North American market with a terrible small car. They were so bad that most observers (me included) concluded that the brand was finished in this country.

To its credit, Hyundai’s Pooh-Bahs went back to the drawing board – and did some serious marketing planning while they were at it. They knew they had one more shot at best and the only way they could convince American consumers that they had a worthy product was to make it long on quality. The result was the company’s then-amazing 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and a lineup of cars that could compete in the small and mid-sized segments.

And their big cars – the XG 350 and Azera – weren’t so bad, either. Now comes the Genesis. It’s a serious bid by Hyundai at expanding its market reach.

If you’re a brand snob, the Hyundai logo doesn’t have that cachet yet; however, if you buy one now, it may have that cachet by the time – many miles down the road – when you’re ready to trade it.

You’re starting to see buyers’ comments mentioning that the Genesis is a “value proposition” and has an amazing “price point.”

Sales of the Genesis (8,100 to date) are encouraging. Overall, Hyundai sales were up nine percent in May (over April’s numbers) as the auto industry starts to show signs of a modest rally.

Want to go fast? The V-8 will get you from 0-to-60 m.p.h. in just under six seconds. Handling? It’s fine. Hyundai has a five-link system, front and back, that gives you a comfortable ride. While not a sports sedan, it does OK when pushed to an avoidance maneuver.

I generally prefer to travel in the driver’s seat and really avoid rear-seat time; however, this is one vehicle I’d make an exception for. The rear seats and legroom are fine.

The two-tone leather treatment on the Hyundai dash – a feature that carries over to the door panels – is distinctively nice.

Hyundai used a distinguished award – the North American Car of the Year – as a jumping-off point for my favorite commercial from the last Super Bowl: The Angry Bosses. The spot showed furious executives at Lexus and BMW seeing the headlines that Hyundai (“It’s Hyun-Day, like Sun-Day”) had won the award.

A decade ago, members of the New England Motor Press Association generally agreed that the early Acura TL was dollar-for-dollar as good a buy as you could find. I’ve got no problem transferring that badge to this Genesis. After all, it needs something on that grille.