Monthly Archives: December 2008

Evolution of Hyundai

With the Genesis sedan, automaker makes good first impression in entry-luxury segment

The hotel valet looked at today’s test car and said, “It looks like a Lexus — but it’s a Hyundai!”

That was an astute 10-second assessment, but I wondered how he saw that my Genesis sedan was a Hyundai.

From the front, there is no Hyundai badge on the grille or any company identifier. And the styling, while contemporary, it is also familiar — and so subtle that even I didn’t recognize the car when he pulled it around later in the day after a news conference.

Hyundai is making a big move into the entry-luxury segment with this large-class Genesis. And it can be compared in features and technology with the best luxury marques on sale today. But the company is not just breaking into a new segment, it has to break through a glass ceiling of perception that Hyundai makes economy cars.

Hyundai makes quality vehicles with long warranty coverage through accommodating dealerships. And the company has been gradually moving uplevel with every new generation of its cars and crossovers.

Genesis, like its name, represents the evolution of the company.

If this were the company’s first human son, he’d be facing years of therapy to shoulder the stress of family expectations. But as a car, this one makes a good first impression. Hyundai gave Genesis the budget to be a contender.

This large, rear-wheel-drive sedan is sold in V-6 and V-8 models, with six-speed Shiftronic automatic transmissions. Pricing ranges from $33,000 to $38,000.

The standard equipment is considerable, but the $3,000 Premium Plus package adds desirable extras, including a 14-speaker Lexicon surround sound audio system, leather-wrapped dashboard top (not just a steering wheel), power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, auto-defogging windshield and 18-inch Hyper Silver wheels.

Buyers will surely scrutinize this car, as I did. And they will find attention to refinement in the cabin that some top-tier luxury brands overlook.

It is how quietly the windows glide open and closed. It is in the padded cups of the door grabs and the softly padded armrests. The standard leather upholstery looks like leather, not like extra-thick vinyl. The dark-brown leather in the test car was beginning to show a patina like that of a gently worn bomber jacket. It will age well, while most seat leather doesn’t.

The interior is an environment of fine stitching, tasteful chrome accents, appealing textures and materials. All controls are in place and easy to figure out.

I might have wished for more swagger to the exterior styling, but the architecture has extraordinary interior space: 40.4 inches of headroom and 38.6 inches of rear legroom, with a big, easy-to-access trunk. Visibility is good all around. The doors open wide and seat hip height is comfortable for easy entry and exit.

The driving experience is, like Hyundai, efficient and youthful. The suspension is taut and, perhaps, too firm for those shopping for the Korean Buick. Braking is strong and flat from 12.6-inch discs, which was once the specification size for fast sports cars.

The engines are sophisticated, smooth and all aluminum. The 290-horsepower, 3.8 liter V-6 is plenty powerful while returning 27-plus mpg on the highway using regular unleaded gasoline. The 4.6-liter V-8 has 375-hp on premium fuel or 368-hp on regular. With 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, this engine is just five-tenths of a second faster than the V-6, and still delivers fuel economy of 17/25 mpg.

The car did everything so well in a week of driving more than 300 miles that I had to look deep for complaints, but, of course, found a few. The center back seat is the size of a kindergartner’s chair. The map lights are brilliant white and overwhelming. And now that Suzuki can include a navigation system as standard equipment on its least-expensive car, I expect that type of (standard) differentiator from Hyundai on its most expensive car. Navi with a rearview camera is available in an option package.

The exterior styling is the only vague element to the car. There is some imprint of Lexus — or is it Mercedes-Benz? And the rear quarter has some BMW in it. Hyundai styling is fairly distinct for its mainstream vehicles. You know those Hyundais when you see them. But there needs to be a more distinct DNA for its large and more expensive vehicles, which includes the Veracruz crossover. It is not good enough in today’s market to look a little like this one and a little like that one.

As an entry-level luxury sedan, Genesis may not distract a BMW or Lexus buyer, but it will be an ideal step up for the current Hyundai customer, or those from Honda, Toyota or other imports.

The rear-wheel-drive, large-class Hyundai Genesis sedan is sold in V-6 and V-8 models, with pricing that ranges from $33,000 to $38,000.

2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

Body style: large, five-passenger, rear-wheel-drive sedan

Engine: aluminum, 290-horsepower, DOHC 3.8-liter V-6 with continuously variable valve timing

Transmission: six-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual shift mode

Acceleration: 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds

EPA fuel economy estimates: 18 mpg city, 27 highway; 87 octane recommended

Fuel capacity: 20.3 gallons


Trunk space: 15.9 cubic feet

Front head/leg/shoulder room: 40.4/44.3/58.3 inches

Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 37.3/38.6/57.9 inches

Length/wheelbase: 195.9/115.6 inches

Curb weight: 3,748 pounds


Standard equipment includes: automatic lock/unlock with electric push-button ignition, fog lights, automatic headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, acoustic laminated windshield and front side glass, dual power heated body-colored side mirrors with turn signal indicators, leather seating surfaces with heated front seats, power front seats, cruise control, floor mats, electroluminescent instrument cluster, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, dual zone automatic climate control, electrochromic rear view mirror with HomeLink integrated transceiver and compass, CD audio system with XM satellite radio and iPod-USB input jacks, Bluetooth hands-free phone system

Safety features include: advanced front air bags, front and rear seat-mounted side bags, roof-mounted side curtain bags, electronic active front head restraints, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability control with traction control


Base: $33,000, including $750 freight charge; price as tested, $36,000

Options on test car: Premium Plus package, $3,000, includes 18-inch Hyper Silver alloy wheels and 235/50 tires; Lexicon 14-speaker surround sound audio system; leather-wrapped dashboard and door trim; power tilt-slide sunroof; power tilt-telescopic steering column; memory presets for seats and mirrors; rain-sensing wipers; auto-defogging windshield

Final assembly: Ulsam, Korea

By Mark Maynard, Wheels editor

Hyundai offers upscale luxury vehicle

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — There’s a new luxury car on the market, but if you saw it, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out who makes it. That’s because the new Genesis is nothing like Hyundai’s more basic models.

This new large sedan definitely gives off a luxury vibe. The front end and grille might remind you of a Mercedes-Benz, while the taillights mimic those of some current BMW models. Inside, the overall look, and even the details, suggest a Lexus.

But it’s none of those upscale cars. This is a Hyundai. The new Genesis sedan breaks new ground for the Korean brand.

“Here you’ve got a vehicle that can give you a lot of those creature comforts and a smooth ride and plenty of power,” said James Bell, “But then also be fiscally much more responsible.”

The Genesis is a true luxury car, with all the ingredients for an upscale driving experience, including an optional V-8 engine.

The one thing you won’t find on or in this car: the word “Hyundai.” Only a simple badge that proclaims it the Genesis model, plus Hyundai’s stylized “H” logo here and there.

It would seem that Hyundai doesn’t necessarily want anyone to think of this premium-class car as a Hyundai.

“Hyundai’s got a big reputation, impression job to build,” said James Bell. “And so by leaving the name off, that might help them out.”

One thing Hyundai is proud to display on the Genesis is the sticker price: from $33,000, to $42,000 with all the options — a downright bargain in the luxury arena.

Will the Genesis attract luxury buyers who may be looking at a Lexus or Mercedes? Well … maybe. But what this new Hyundai is more likely to do is raise the overall image of the entire Hyundai brand.

For example, the mid-size Hyundai Sonata has often been thought of as a bargain-bin alternative to the Accord and Camry, but now it might get some upscale cred.

“To know that you now have a line of vehicles that you can kind of aspire to, that’s something Hyundai has never really had before,” said Bell. “Especially when the Genesis coupe comes out later.”

That coupe debuts next spring, and promises impressive performance, another attribute of upscale luxury brands. It will also be branded as a Genesis to complement the sedan.

If the Genesis line impresses enough people, the words “Hyundai” and “luxury” may end up no longer being mutually exclusive terms.

By Dave Kunz

2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring: Hyundai’s brightest star isn’t necessarily its biggest

When you think about it, the excitement is understandable. Of all the cars in Hyundai’s fleet, the Elantra Touring is the first wagon. And since wagon popularity has been on the rise, it’s no wonder Hyundai dealers are more than a little giddy.

But it might have been easy to miss the Touring since Hyundai also unleashed what many consider to be its most exciting vehicle ever: the Genesis luxury sedan. Yes, it’s a headline stealer, but as good as that car might be, the Elantra is more practical, better on gas, less money and will sell, by comparison, like hotcakes.

Over the years, the mainstream Elantra sedan/hatchback has served to enhance the company’s reputation of building well-designed automobiles for the sensible-shoes crowd. They’re solidly constructed and relatively conservative.

The Elantra Touring manages to break free of the humdrum with clean-slate good looks and a sporty driving profile that contrasts its more practical nature.

Other than wearing an Elantra badge, there’s virtually no sheetmetal that’s shared between the sedan and the Touring, which was originally designed for the European market where compact wagons are even more popular. From its open-mouth front air intake to its oversized vertical taillamps, the Touring appears more sleek than utilitarian.

Interestingly, the tale of the tape reveals that the Touring is about an inch shorter and a half-inch narrower that the sedan, but enjoys a two-inch advantage in distance between the front and rear wheels. The result is more rear-seat leg room and less body overhang, especially in the rear.

Still, Hyundai says you can cram more stuff in back with the rear seat folded than in either the Toyota Matrix, Mazda3 or Dodge Caliber as well as some major heavyweight haulers such as the BMW 3-series or Audi A4 Avant wagon.

In its own economical way, the Touring tries to emulate its pricier German rivals by tweaking the steering and suspension to provide a sport-wagon driving experience and not a station-wagon driving experience. Significantly stiffer springs, larger front and rear stabilizer bars and short-sidewall tires are the order of the day plus the steering rack has been adjusted to deliver more direct “feel.”

The sense of sportiness extends to the interior where a set of sport bucket seats with extra bolstering helps keep everyone in their place. The five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic transmission is available) comes with a short-throw shifter from California-based aftermarket-parts company B&M Racing. Sporty doesn’t mean brash, though, as Hyundai has installed additional sound deadening material to keep the experience a pleasant one.

So far, so good, but don’t expect to find a fire-breathing dragon under the Touring’s hood, just the sedan’s 141-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder that twists out 137 pound-feet of torque. However, this powerplant has served the Elantra sedan well and should be capable of propelling the 3,000-pound Touring with adequate gusto.

Hyundai has graced the Touring with a veritable full load of gear including air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with built-in audio controls, automatic speed control, keyless remote entry, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat (including lumbar support), heated outside mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels and a complete range of safety gear. The Touring also comes with a six-speaker 172-watt sound system that also includes XM satellite radio.

In fact, the Elantra arrives so complete that the only options consist of a power sunroof, heated front seats and 17-inch wheels.

Hyundai has yet to announce the base sticker for its upcoming wagon, which is expected to arrive early in 2009. But you can be sure that, with its history of competitive pricing, not to mention its standard five-year basic warranty coverage, the Elantra Touring will become a highly sought-after model and another feather in the company’s cap, along with the Genesis, of course. Whether you’re a buyer or you work at a Hyundai dealership, there’s plenty of excitement. And that’s understandable.

What you should know: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive compact wagon

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder (141 hp)

Transmissions: Five-speed manual; four-speed automatic (opt.)

Market position: Compact wagons occupy a small, but growing niche that’s being filled by a variety of European, Japanese and North American manufacturers.

Points: Unique body styling improves on Elantra sedan; More powerful engine, turbo option would match extra cargo capacity; Exceptionally spacious interior; No leather interior, backup warning, navigation system options a surprise; Most of the automotive world adopting five- and six-speed automatic transmissions for this class, except Hyundai; Price, fuel economy, will be strong selling points.

Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.

The numbers: MPG (city/hwy) 23/31 (MT); Base price $17,000 (est., including destination)

By comparison

Mazda 3 5-Door

Base price: $19,300

Popular hatch is fun to drive. New 2010 version arrives soon.

Dodge Caliber

Base price: $16,300

Bargain-priced base model shy on content. SRT4 offers big power.

VW Jetta Sportwagen

Base price: $19,700

Generously sized with loads of power. Diesel option available.

By Malcolm Gunn
Wheelbase Communications

Hyundai looks to exceptional Genesis to create new image

CHICAGO — When I first saw the 2009 Hyundai Genesis, I thought it looked nice in a nondescript sort of way. There’s no badge embossed on the grille, but its shoulders are wide and there’s a sense of power to it.

But when I parked on the street in Chicago, it seemed everyone walked by it, smiling, nodding in approval, stopping by to tell me how nice the car was. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that kind of reaction.

Standing in the middle of Koreatown on the north side of the Windy City may have had something to do with the reactions, but they were right.

The new top dog for the South Korea-based company takes on the likes of Mercedes and Lexus with considerable aplomb.

It’s a flagship with something even Lincoln lacks: a V-8. However, even Hyundai executives point out that only 20 percent of models sold will carry the beefier engine.

While Hyundai used to carry the reputation as the “less expensive” carmaker, it’s been polishing its reputation with consumers, creating a new image of itself: Genesis could be just the beginning. It’s as if Hyundai has performed well in prep school, won a scholarship to Harvard and graduated at the top of its class.

Here’s why: At $40,000, the Genesis is an exceptional vehicle, but this one starts at $33,000.

For me, entry level luxury cars must do two things extremely well: offer a superior ride and remind me how special I really am. There’s a whole genre of entry level sport luxury that pairs performance and craftsmanship, and many cars such as the Cadillac CTS and BMW 3 Series fit well in that area. Hyundai aimed at a different target. It hit a sweet spot somewhere between a boring Buick and an overcomplicated Acura.

On the highway, it’s quiet and comfortable. Hyundai covers the basics extremely well: cutting wind and engine noise to extremely low levels. The interior is plush, understated and simplified. The brown leather trim across the front of the dash could come from an antique book, and the heated steering wheel could warm up leftovers. Every control is at my fingertips through the center console’s single control knob — similar to the systems offered by German luxury carmakers. Sit, spin, command.

By the time I finished the five-hour trip to Chicago, I still felt fresh and relaxed. The smooth ride stems from the five-link front and rear suspension, 115.6-inch wheelbase and the 18-inch wheels. (The V-6 model comes with 17-inchers.) I crossed all types of pavements along the way — seamed concrete, quiet asphalt and the post-apocalyptic ruins along patches of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The 4.6-liter V-8 performed phenomenally, especially on the highway near the Loop. Detroiters may complain about traffic, but it’s nothing compared to Chicago’s. There, you need a big car to wedge your way into the express lane and enough power to blast past the driver in the Mercedes on a cell phone.

The 368-horsepower V-8 manhandles the car on the open road and in Chicago’s high-speed tight traffic. (It can hit 375 horsepower with premium fuel, but I’m just too cheap.) It also produces 324-pound-feet torque and moves smoothly through the ZF six-speed automatic transmission.

While it can go from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, the 4,000 pound body seemed a little heavy for tight cornering on city streets, as the body would roll, and electro-hydraulic steering felt a little loose at slower speeds. After all, it’s a big car — stretching 195.9 inches — so I wasn’t expecting a sprinter. But really, it’s a minor complaint. It has the muscle and the underpinnings to perform at exceedingly high levels.

Another area where I thought the Genesis performed poorly was in the snow. The electronic stability control and traction control kicked on at the millisecond of wheel spin. While this is good in most conditions, when stopped on snow, it leaves the rear wheels sputtering for traction. An all-wheel-drive model might help it in weather conditions tougher than Southern California’s extreme sunshine, but there are no plans for such a model.

I’m even more curious to test the 3.8-liter V-6 model, which touts 290-horsepower and 264-pound-feet torque, with a body weight 250 pounds lighter than its V-8 brother. The heavy body may cut into the car’s fuel performance: 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for the V-8, and 18/27 for the V-6.

The Genesis really shines inside. There is more than 44 inches of legroom in the front and 38 inches of legroom in the back. Fill it up with five adults and every one has enough leg and elbow room to sit comfortably. The 15.9 cubic feet of truck space also offers ample room to hold everything from four sets of golf clubs to luggage.

The dash carries a graceful curve across the middle and then narrows out on the edges. A metallic U envelopes the 8-inch digital display screen that is neatly pushed into the canted dash to cut down on glare from the sun.

The Lexicon 14-speaker stereo can play your iPod, connect any other music device, satellite radio and anything you can cram onto an USB thumb drive.

Hyundai also uses a cool blue lighting scheme at night that works well with the black-faced instruments. It’s easy on the eyes and lets you adjust to the Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps, which feature an auto leveling feature that keeps the lights on the road, no matter how the sedan is loaded.

As for the car’s profile, the back looks slightly higher than the front, giving it that sporty wedge look, though its sheer size and gracious roofline provide luxury sedan appeal.

The front wheel is pushed forward while the back allows for some overhang. The front end is powerful with its horizontal grille and black intake below the bumper.

My feeling is that as Hyundai was taking a big risk entering the rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan market already, it wasn’t going to take too much of a risk with the exterior. It’s conservative. Then again, so are the people who will buy it.

Detriot News

Hyundai Announces Pricing for Fuel-Efficient Elantra Touring

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., December 23, 2008Hyundai Motor America has announced prices for its Elantra Touring five-door compact, starting at $18,495 for a very well-equipped entry-level model and $19,995 for one featuring a Premium-Sport package. The all-new 2009 Elantra Touring is a sportier, more functional variant of Hyundai’s popular Elantra sedan, and will be available at dealerships in the first quarter of 2009.

2009 Elantra Touring Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Pricing
Touring M/T
Standard Equipment
Five-Speed M/T with B&M Sport shifter

Touring A/T
Standard Equipment
Four-Speed A/T

Touring M/T
Five-Speed M/T with B&M Sport shifter

Touring A/T
Four-Speed A/T

Note: All prices in this release contain a freight charge of $695

“The all-new Elantra Touring is a fun-to-drive, functional five-door,” said Mark Dipko, manager, small car product development, Hyundai Motor America. “Elantra Touring provides buyers a unique offering in the compact segment, raising the bar as Hyundai likes to do in value, safety and quality. It is remarkable how many features a customer can get for under $20,000 in such a versatile five-door.”

The Elantra Touring is the first five-door compact to offer standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC) in addition to a host of other class-leading safety technologies. As with all Hyundai vehicles, the Elantra Touring was designed and manufactured to meet the most stringent quality standards in the industry, exemplifying Hyundai’s quality leadership position worldwide.

The Elantra Touring, with its modern, sleek styling and fun-to-drive qualities, was developed by Hyundai in response to the growing demand for stylish and functional five-door vehicles, sales of which doubled from 2001 to 2006. Five-door vehicle sales are projected to be strong into the next decade as well.

Elantra Touring builds on Hyundai’s reputation for offering loads of standard equipment, including air conditioning, power windows, heated mirrors, door locks, remote keyless entry with alarm, steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio controls, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, a cooled glove box and plenty of storage compartments. For audiophiles, an integrated 172-Watt AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers, USB input and auxiliary input jack are standard. The Premium-Sport package adds a power sunroof with tilt and slide functions, heated front seats and 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/45VR17 tires.

Like every Hyundai, top-tier safety was a key development goal for the Elantra Touring, which is fully equipped to protect driver and passengers. Passive safety features include dual front, side and curtain airbags — a total of six protective airbags in the vehicle. Other safety features include active front headrests, seatbelt pretensioners and seatbelt reminders. The combination of side and curtain airbags, which help protect the head and body during side impacts, can reduce fatalities by more than 50 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS also notes that active front head restraints improve rear crash protection.

The Elantra Touring comes standard with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), one of the industry’s most effective life-saving technologies. NHTSA studies show that passenger cars equipped with ESC experience 30 percent fewer fatalities in single-vehicle crashes than cars without ESC. Santa Fe, Veracruz, Tucson, Sonata, Azera, Elantra SE, Entourage and Genesis are all equipped with standard ESC. Elantra Touring has earned five-star frontal and four-star side crash ratings in the compact passenger car segment from NHTSA.

The long wheelbase and generous width of the Elantra Touring, combined with Hyundai’s expertise in interior packaging, have produced an interior that delivers class-leading comfort, functionality and practicality. Elantra Touring has the most interior volume (passenger volume plus cargo space) of any five-door in its class at 125.5 cubic feet. In fact, Elantra Touring’s cargo capacity is 65.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, which is more cargo space than many larger wagons and crossovers.

The Elantra Touring is the first compact five-door to offer XM Satellite Radio® and USB/iPod® auxiliary inputs as standard equipment. When an iPod or flash drive is connected through the USB port, located in the center storage compartment, not only does it play music through the vehicle’s six-speaker audio system, but it also charges the iPod and allows the driver to access tracks with the steering wheel audio controls. This system also allows both driver and passengers to easily view song/artist/title information and control the music from the audio head unit rather than only the iPod itself. The center storage compartment location of the USB assures that iPods can be safely stowed out of sight.

The roomy and functional interior is also a quiet place to be. Based on internal tests, Elantra Touring has four decibels lower road noise levels than the Mazda3 five-door.

The Elantra Touring’s exterior dimensions (176.2 inches long, 69.5 inches wide and 59.8 inches high) make it a great fit in the compact five-door segment, while its long wheelbase (106.3 inches) offers class-leading interior volume. Elantra Touring features outstanding front legroom and both front and rear shoulder room. In addition, every Elantra Touring has 60/40 split folding rear seats that fold when needed for added storage, functionality and practicality.

The Elantra Touring matches best-in-class passenger volume with best-in-class cargo capacity. There is a useful 24.3 cubic feet of luggage space with rear seats upright and a cavernous 65.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. As in any Hyundai, the utility and convenience in the Elantra Touring has not been overlooked, with a stow-and-go removable luggage cover that stores conveniently out-of-site under the trunk area compartment. An optional restraining net is also offered.

The Elantra Touring includes a number of convenient, standard stowage and storage features, including a sunglass holder, two front and two rear cupholders, door bottle holders, dash storage, central console storage, front storage tray, front seatback pockets and a cargo area under-floor storage. For tailgaters, the cargo area also has a power-retained, 12-volt outlet that does not require the vehicle to be turned on in order to work.

Elantra Touring is powered by the same fuel-efficient, 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder found in the Elantra sedan. This sophisticated, 16-valve powerplant employs Dual Overhead Camshafts (DOHC) and Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) for a power band, coupled with high fuel efficiency and low emissions. Elantra Touring is certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV). With a manual transmission, the Elantra Touring’s mileage is 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway according to the EPA. With the optional four-speed, automatic transmission, the Elantra Touring’s EPA rating is 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

The 2009 Elantra Touring is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, America’s Best Warranty. Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. In addition, Elantra Touring buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance coverage at no extra charge for five years (no mileage limit), including emergency service.

A new chapter in Hyundai’s history

South Korean automaker rolls out upscale Genesis

Rolled out in the 1980s as the South Korean automaker’s first foray into the U.S. market, the Excel offered decent transportation at rock-bottom prices.

But two decades after entering the U.S. market, Hyundai is working hard to reposition itself as more than just a low-cost brand.

Enter the 2009 Hyundai Genesis: The South Korean automaker’s fanciest (and most expensive) car to date.

With a $32,250 base price and lots of posh accoutrements, the Genesis aims to compete with upscale sedans like the Acura TL and Lexus ES 350 – but costs some $2,000 less.

Motor Mouth recently tested the Genesis 3.8, which comes with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine. (Hyundai also offers a $37,250 Genesis 4.6, which upgrades the engine to a 4.6-liter V-8.)

On the outside, the Korean-built Genesis features a classic “Japanese-sedan” look.

Diamond-shaped headlights and an aerodynamic hood and grille sweep back toward 14-spoke alloy wheels and large doors outfitted with folding side mirrors.

All the way back, a keyless-entry trunk sits above dual chrome exhaust pipes.

Inside, the Genesis has standard perforated stitched-leather upholstery along the seats, door interiors and steering wheel. This material looks pretty nice, but a tad on the cheap side.

Still, the model’s driver’s and front passenger’s heated seats both offered excellent hiproom, along with good headroom and legroom – all thanks to standard electric seat adjusters.

The Genesis also comes standard with a seven-speaker AM/FM/MP3/XM/6CD audio system that’s fairly easy to use, with 16 well-marked knobs and buttons. The model’s standard dual-zone climate system likewise relies on 12 clearly marked buttons.

Other nice standard Genesis features include a built-in iPod port, as well as special plastic coverings under the hood to keep all of the car’s engine components clean.

In back, the model’s rear seats provide excellent headroom, legroom and hiproom for two. However, a third person in the center seat might find things a little bit tight after 15 minutes or so.

All the way back, the Genesis’ 15.9-cubic-foot trunk can accommodate two big suitcases and perhaps three knapsacks.

On the road, the Genesis 3.8’s 290-horsepower engine teams up with a standard rear-wheel-drive system – a first for a U.S. Hyundai model – to provide a generally good ride.

The sedan comes standard with keyless start-up, meaning you just push a button to turn on the car on. (There’s no need to insert a car key.)

The Genesis’ braking capabilities are good, while parking and backing up are easy given the model’s modest size.

Acceleration is fairly solid, although a tad jerky and uneven at times. My test model revved up noisily to 5,000 rpm to go from 0 mph to just 50 mph.

As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the Genesis 3.8 at 18 city and 27/mpg highway. During a week of test drives, Motor Mouth logged a combined 22.2 mpg city/highway.

But pricing is where the Genesis really excels.

As noted above, the model’s $32,250 base price easily beats that of the $34,995 Acura TL, $34,320 Lexus ES and other Japanese rivals. The Genesis likewise costs less than the $35,905 Cadillac CTS and other domestic competitors.

The bottom line: Watch your step, Acura, Lexus and Cadillac. With the 2009 Genesis, Hyundai is pulling out all stops to make an exodus out of the auto world’s bargain basement.

By Jerry Kronenberg / Motor Mouth

Hyundai Elantra Named "Best Compact Car for the Money" by U.S. News and World Report

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 12/19/2008 The affordable 2009 Hyundai Elantra, with unsurpassed standard safety in the compact segment, was named “Best Compact Car for the Money” by U.S. News and World Report. The “Best Car for the Money” awards are designed to help customers find the best car values at affordable prices without sacrificing quality and design.

“The case of the Hyundai Elantra, the ‘Best Compact Car for the Money,’ proves what many have been saying for years: Honda and Toyota should watch their backs because Hyundai is making not just economical cars, but very good ones,” said Jamie Page Deaton, editor, U.S. News and World Report.

The “Best Car for the Money” awards are based on data from U.S. News and World Report’s online automotive rankings evaluated with the opinions of the automotive press and IntelliChoice that measures the value of a vehicle after five-year ownership and maintenance costs. Overall appeal, quality, safety, initial pricing and the five-year total cost of ownership are the major categories for choosing winners.

“We’re honored to be recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the ‘Best Compact Car for the Money'” said Scott Margason, National Manager, Product Development, Hyundai Motor America. “2009 Elantra is equipped with six standard airbags and extras like standard audio auxiliary input jack — all at an affordable price point any customer will appreciate. We are pleased to see Elantra being recognized for its continued quality and value.”


Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 790 dealerships nationwide.

Hyundai Genesis a Finalist for North American Car of the Year

Korean Manufacturer Earns a Place in Finals for First Time in 16-Year History of Award

Detroit, 12/18/2008 When Hyundai introduced the all-new Genesis at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, it promised to shatter automobile paradigms by offering a sedan with capabilities and features comparable to the world’s leading premium sports sedans. That claim was underscored today when the North American Car of the Year jury announced Genesis as one of the three finalists in its annual quest to name the most outstanding and significant new car, besting competitors such as Nissan GT-R, Audi A4, Dodge Challenger and BMW 1-Series.

“We are extremely proud of the Hyundai Genesis,” said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America acting president and chief executive officer. “It’s our flagship vehicle. It is the ultimate expression of the engineering excellence found in all of our products. We are honored to be named a finalist for this prestigious award.”

This year the jurors considered more than 50 new vehicles before selecting the top three cars and top three trucks. Genesis‘ spot in the North American Car of the Year finals marks the first time a Korean manufacturer’s product has made it to the final three.

U.S. domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year eight times. Japanese automakers have won three times. European automakers have won four times. The Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Ford Flex are the other finalists this year.

The North American Car of the Year award is decided by a jury of 50 independent, full-time automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. This is the 16th year of the awards, which were inspired by the prestigious European “Car of the Year” awards. The U.S. program is administered by an organizing committee and is funded exclusively with dues paid by the jurors. Jurors judge the cars on a number of factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.

The winner will be named at next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 11, 2009.

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 790 dealerships nationwide.

Hyundai’s New Tau V8 Engine Named to Ward’s "10 Best Engines" List

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 12/08/2008 Hyundai’s all-new 4.6-liter Tau V8 engine, which debuted in the premium Genesis sedan this year, has been named one of the “Ward’s 10 Best Engines” for 2009 by Ward’s Auto World. This marks the first time a Hyundai engine has appeared on the prestigious “Ward’s 10 Best Engines” list.

Ward’s Auto World editors tested the Tau V8 engine in Hyundai’s all-new Genesis sedan this fall and concluded, “The engine’s velvety power delivery, competitive performance and attainable price epitomize the Korean auto maker’s drive for world-class engineering.”

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis is available with the Tau V8 combined with a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission, delivering the rewarding driving performance that premium sports sedan buyers demand.

The critically acclaimed Hyundai Genesis and the Tau V8 engine were designed to rival the best premium sport sedans and V8 engines the world has to offer,” said Scott Margason, national manager, Product Development, Hyundai Motor America. “Hyundai is particularly proud of Genesis and the Tau V8 engine as they embody the brand’s commitment to performance and efficiency and are delivered to the customer with exceptional value.”

The 375-horsepower 4.6-liter Tau V8 engine leads Genesis competitors with the highest specific output – 82-horsepower per liter. The 2009 Hyundai Genesis equipped with a Tau V8 engine achieves up to 25 miles per gallon on the highway, surpassing many prestigious key competitors’ V6 models in fuel economy as well as power.

Additionally, Genesis and the Tau V8 engine, like all Hyundai products are backed by the Hyundai Advantage, America’s Best Warranty. Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage.

The Tau V8 engine and the Hyundai Genesis are built at Hyundai’s Ulsan Plant in Ulsan City, Korea.


Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 790 dealerships nationwide.

Chris Paukert drove the 2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

Even (or perhaps especially) in V-6 form, the Hyundai Genesis is one of those cars whose value proposition is so strong that it simply cannot be ignored. Like Lexus’ first LS400, the Genesis convincingly elevates its parent company into the luxury sedan market. Similarly, like the original LS, the Genesis surprises with its generously cut, high-quality interior and silent operation, but aesthetically it’s rather underwhelming.

Around our Ann Arbor offices, we still see cladded-up old Genesis test mules circulating, and some of them feature the prototype grille that was passed on in favor of the anonymous sternum-like assembly that reminds of those badgeless surrogates used in commercials when companies don’t want automobiles’ identities highlighted. Neither are particularly attractive, but at least the stillborn grille featured a company emblem–as it is, there are exactly zero badges to inform passers-by that the Genesis is a Hyundai. As good as it is, you’d think that the Koreans would want to take credit.

Banal styling aside, there’s plenty to like here, especially at our modestly-specc’d example’s MSRP of $36k. It offers the room and performance of mid-level luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class at a fraction of the price. Furthermore, by being priced so reasonably, Hyundai ought to avoid the Icarus trap that Volkswagen’s Phaeton fell into (if nothing else, the Genesis doesn’t have a sister brand like Audi to compete with), as its value proposition remains clear.

I drove our tester home to (and around) the Cleveland area for the Thanksgiving holiday, and everyone was shocked and by the fact that this was a Hyundai (even current brand owners were bowled over–they apparently didn’t get the memo). Further, for the company’s first stab at a modern rear-drive sedan, the balance and power distribution is impressive stuff–even in slushy, icy conditions–and the 3.8-liter V-6 provided adequate thrust while returning a respectable 24 miles per gallon during what was primarily highway driving.

Any performance issues we experienced with the Genesis can largely be classified as “niggles,” as this is a fine automobile at an exceptional price. If we have a primary complaint, it’s that Hyundai has yet to grasp the concept of premium interior lighting. The gauge cluster’s white backlighting is pleasing to the eye, but it clashes with the buttons and audio system’s blue illumination. Similarly, our optional Lexicon fourteen-speaker stereo (part of the $3000 Premium Plus package) sounded good, but the display’s text and blue backlighting looks downmarket and out-of-place (we turned it off most of the time, especially at night when it was too bright). Worse still are the reading lights, which are incredibly bright LED units–not a bad thing in and of themselves, but they are aimed poorly and blind the driver at night. A bit of attention would go a long way here.

For those who care more about value and less about badge snobbery, the Genesis is a whale of a car for the money. By massaging just a few minor areas (styling, lighting, etc.), who knows… we might even be able to remove the financial qualifier.