Monthly Archives: January 2009 Review: 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6

Voted 2009 North American Car of the Year at the 2009 Detroit auto show, the Hyundai Genesis 4.6 sedan that arrived in our garage had a lot to live up to. We were ready to cast aside biases based on our experience with previous Hyundai cars and see if the Genesis really could come up to the level of luxury set by brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. Apparently, Hyundai is aware of its image problem, as there is no H badge on the front of the car. It seems Hyundai wants you to judge the car for what it is before you know what kind it is.

The Genesis does an excellent job of asserting Hyundai’s new image, with cabin materials consistent with a luxury car and a very smooth-running power train. But it does have a few shortcomings. Cabin tech is equivalent to Lexus circa 2005, and is blown away by the similarly priced Lincoln MKS. The suspension is fine on smooth surfaces, but reveals harshness when the road gets rough. The handling is fine for a luxury car, but it doesn’t come up to the level of sport luxury.

On the road
Although we drove the 2009 Hyundai Genesis over a number of roads, we’re highlighting one particular road test here, a drive through San Francisco to the Presidio. The Genesis proved very maneuverable in the crowded downtown streets of San Francisco. The steering is tuned to require a little effort to turn, which may not be completely luxury-oriented, but we liked the deliberateness it gave to our quick lane changes.

Doing the zigzag course that is downtown SF, the power from the 4.6-liter V-8 came in handy. Moderate power was always on tap to push us easily into traffic openings, but quick launches were held back by the transmission’s hesitant kickdown. Moving away from the heart of the city onto clearer roads, we enjoyed the peace and quiet in the cabin. That is, until we grabbed the console controller, an iDrive-like joystick/button/dial, and explored the music on our connected iPod.

Just like on the Hyundai Sonata we tested last year, the 2009 Genesis has an iPod/USB connection that gives full browsing capabilities. We selected an album encoded in Apple’s lossless format and were blown away by the audio quality from the car’s Lexicon stereo system. Sounds were coming from the speakers that we rarely heard on these tracks, background and layered sounds that get lost in lesser systems. Its bass was strong, without being overwhelming, and the clarity was amazing. Of course, with 17 speakers, a 525 watt amplifier, and the same Logic 7 audio processing as you get in BMWs, we would expect it to be good.

We also admired the maps on the navigation system, which used high-resolution graphics on the large LCD. It was a sunny day, but glare wasn’t a problem. As we paralleled Lombard Street, which also serves as Highway 101 through San Francisco, green indicators on the map showed traffic was flowing freely, although it got yellow just before the Golden Gate Bridge, meaning traffic was moving between 20 mph and 40 mph.

The quality of the streets varied substantially along the route we took, from smooth asphalt to pock-marked pavement that looked as if a tank had driven over it. Although the Genesis damped out the bumps quickly, keeping the car from bouncing around, we felt quite a few harsh jolts, with one particularly strong bash when we got a little playful with the acceleration. A Mercedes-Benz S-class floats over rough stuff like this, but the Genesis revealed that it’s not quite up to that level.

In the cabin
A mixture of wood, leather, and metal adorns the cabin of the 2009 Hyundai Genesis, giving it a look like no other Hyundai, and strengthening the luxury impression. The soft plastics on top and bottom of the dashboard bring the quality quotient down just a little, and it gets worse when you run your hand over the simple cloth headliner, which on a Lexus would be a nice velvety material.

We were impressed by the metal switchgear on console and stack, with a controller new for Hyundai. Buttons surround the multidirectional knob, giving you quick access to navigation, telephone, and different audio sources. From that list of functions, you can tell the Genesis is loaded with tech. The onscreen menus for controlling the cars applications look good and are intuitive to use, with a vertical cascading architecture for drilling down to particular functions. The controller is complemented by a voice command system, which works reasonably well. Saying “help” shows you available commands, making it possible to learn the system as you use it. Entering an address, it only took a couple of tries for it to understand the street name “Tehama.”

As we mentioned, the maps in the navigation system look very good, with high resolution and readable street names. The navigation system refreshed quickly as we pushed the cursor around the map. You can enter destinations by the usual means, such as address or point of interest, but there aren’t many options beyond that. Route guidance works well, too, although it lacks text-to-speech, so it won’t read out street names. Integrated traffic is one advanced feature we’re happy to see here. It shows traffic flow on major roads, and incidents such as accidents and road construction. However, we found that the system won’t automatically route you around bad traffic. During one drive, the system verbally warned us of bad traffic ahead, but didn’t offer a detour to the programmed route. We zoomed out the map and could see a section of red traffic flow on the freeway, so we quickly exited, letting the navigation system recalculate the route.

The Genesis also has Bluetooth phone support to meet its tech car credentials, but we weren’t impressed by the system. It paired easily with our Samsung SGH-D807 phone, but it didn’t copy over the address book to the car. Instead, we would have to manually fill the phone book. Dialing actual numbers, those few we had memorized, was made easy by the onscreen interface, which uses a kind of oval track for alpha-numeric entry, or with the voice command system.

The stereo is really the high point of the tech in the Genesis. It features a six-disc changer that can play CDs, CD-RWs, and DVDs. There is also an iPod connector with an excellent interface that also works as a USB port, satellite radio (a necessity for the navigation’s traffic reporting), and an HD radio tuner. This latter proved particularly good, as it receives multicasts, letting you choose from the various audio broadcasts from a single station.

This Lexicon stereo is so good, we just wanted to drive around and listen to music. Only a few other cars we’ve driven have had stereos this good, including the Lincoln MKS, Lexus LS 600h, and Jaguar XF.

Under the hood
One of the big surprises when Hyundai first announced the Genesis was its available V-8 engine. Asian automakers don’t often come out with large engines, and Hyundai in particular was thought of as an economy car brand. However, the company has delivered, putting an exceptionally smooth 4.6-liter V-8 in the 2009 Hyundai Genesis, pairing it up with a six-speed automatic transmission. Variable timing on its 32 valves along with a double-overhead cam contribute to its efficiency, but it uses standard, port injection, rather than the direct injection system being adopted by many automakers.

That engine produces 375 horsepower at 6,500rpm and 333 pound-feet of torque at 3,500rpm. According to Hyundai, the Genesis attains these numbers with premium fuel–you can use regular unleaded and only get 368 horsepower. Also, according to Hyundai, the car gets a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. As a point of comparison, the Lexus GS 460, which uses the same size engine, only makes 342 horsepower.

The Genesis gives a suitable push when you mash the gas pedal, after waiting a moment for the automatic to kick down. The cabin generally insulates from engine sound, although there is a palpable growl when the RPMs are up. The ZF automatic transmission generally kept its presence unobtrusive, quietly shifting from one gear to the next without a lot of drama. It’s programmed to seek higher gears for better fuel efficiency, and won’t actively kick down to lower gears for cornering, so we found ourselves lacking power when we tried to push the Genesis hard through a turn.

However, pushing the stick to the right puts the car in manual mode, letting us use the wide power bands in second and third gears. We could do a lot of work in the bends just using third gear, if the suspension was up to it. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Although the car doesn’t roll wildly when the lateral g-forces hit it, the front end feels very heavy in the corners, leading to serious understeer. The Genesis may have a big engine, but it’s not a sport driver.

The EPA fuel economy for the V-8 Genesis is 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, which is about what we would expect. Our average fuel economy during our time with the car came in at 18.3 mpg, on the low side of the EPA range. Although it’s not the most economical car around, it does earn a ULEV II rating for emissions, a good achievement for a high displacement engine. The Genesis can also be had with a 3.8-liter V-6, getting a couple of miles per gallon better than the V-8, but only putting out 290 horsepower.

In sum
Our 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 came in with a base price of $37,250. Our only option was the $4,000 tech package, which includes the Lexicon stereo and navigation system, a must-have add-on. The $750 destination charge brought our total up to $42,000, an apparently low price that contributed to the Genesis’ Car of the Year award. By comparison, the Lexus GS 460 is close to $60,000, but it handles a lot better, and when that model gets the update it is due for, it will get an impressive bundle of new cabin technology. The Lincoln MKS compares better with the Genesis, as both come in about the same price. The cabin of the MKS doesn’t have the same luxury feel as the Genesis, but the tech is a lot better.

In our ratings for the car, we found both the cabin tech excellent, largely buoyed by the audio quality from the stereo. The navigation system could use a few more features, and the phone system is only basic. We considered the car’s design excellent, with the cabin tech interface largely winning us over–the exterior isn’t offensive, but isn’t striking, either. Finally, the performance is good, but not spectacular in any way. The engine puts out the power we would expect from a big V-8, however, the suspension doesn’t handle jolts as well as it could. The handling is fine for normal driving, but isn’t designed for stress.

The good: The Lexicon stereo in the 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 produces superb sound, ranking among the best. The iPod interface works well, and the navigation system includes traffic information. The engine and transmission work smoothly.

The bad: The suspension doesn’t handle rough roads well. In the cabin, the phone system won’t copy over address books, and the navigation system doesn’t dynamically route around bad traffic.

The bottom line: The 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 is an excellent car for cruising around and listening to music, but it doesn’t offer all the latest cabin tech, and some of its veneer of luxury wears thin when exposed to close scrutiny.

Specifications: Body style: Sedan ; Available Engine: Gas

Wayne Cunningham
CNET editors’ review

2009 Hyundai Sonata gets more powerful engines and upgraded interiors

One of the toughest segments of the automotive business is the mid-size family sedan market, a segment in which most manufacturers have an entry and Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda have been the leaders for a long time.

Hyundai’s entry is the Sonata. For 2009, the Sonata has been given a rather comprehensive freshening of its fourth generation front-wheel-drive sedan that was introduced as a 2006 model.

But don’t think you’ll be able to notice the difference when you see one pass by. That’s because exterior changes are minor, consisting mainly of a new front grille, revised bumpers, headlights, taillights and moldings. If you’re really into the Sonata, you may notice that seven new colors and alloy wheels have been added to the mix.

The serious work was done under the hood and in the passenger cabin, two areas that were in need of upgrading for Hyundai to keep its nose on the tail of the Japanese front-runners. The base 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine gets variable valve timing and a power boost from 162 to 175 horsepower. Torque increases from 164 pound-feet to 168. In addition, the automatic transmission is upgraded to five speeds, from four, and accounts for a one-mile-a-gallon increase in fuel mileage to an EPA-rated 22 city/ 32 highway. A five-speed manual shifter is still available for the do-it-yourself types.

The 3.3-liter V-6 engine is rated at 249 horsepower, up from 234. Torque is up three pound-feet, to 229. The engine of choice for about 30 percent of Sonata buyers, it falls 19 horsepower short of the leaders, but is about equal in fuel efficiency with a rating of 19 mpg city/29 highway. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available with this engine.

Upgrades to the independent suspension improve handling in the entry-level GSL and Limited models, but they still don’t move the Sonata into sporty territory. A third model, the SE, gets even more serious suspension tuning, but I did not have an opportunity to sample it.

Inside, where 121.7 cubic feet of space make it the roomiest sedan in its class, the Sonata has been given a complete makeover. Trim and fabric materials have been significantly upgraded, the front bucket seats have been improved for additional support and comfort, the center console has been modernized to make room for a touch-screen navigation system and the instrument panel has been revised. In addition, there is Ipod and USB connectivity.

I spent limited time in a V-6-powered Sonata and a whole week with a four-cylinder model. In both cases, the extra power was much appreciated, and made both cars more enjoyable to drive. In the four-cylinder car, I averaged between 18 and 28 miles per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

Still, despite the suspension and engine improvements, the mainstream Sonatas have a workman-like demeanor that is devoid of any sporting pretensions. Family and friends will enjoy the comfortable and compliant ride, but the pilot will find nothing to encourage spirited driving.

More important to the family-transportation mission, all Sonatas come with a comprehensive list of standard safety equipment that includes electronic stability control, active front head restraints, side-curtain airbags and four-wheel disc brakes with emergency-stop assist and electronic brake force distribution.

Perhaps the Sonata’s biggest attraction is its value quotient, which puts it several thousand dollars below much of the competition. Prices start at $19,395 for a base GLS with manual transmission, cruise control, air conditioning, six-speaker am/fm/cd/MP3 sound system and power windows, locks and heated mirrors.

The top-of-the-line Limited with four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission carries a $25,245 sticker price and adds luxury touches such as leather upholstery, trip computer, upgraded sound system, sunroof and 17-inch wheels. The V-6 Limited has a suggested price of $27,745. A navigation system, available only on the Limited, costs an extra $1,250.

The Hyundai Sonata may not have the sporty attributes of a Honda Accord or a Nissan Altima, but it is a solid sedan at an attractive price. In these days of economic uncertainty and high gas prices, that’s a pretty powerful combination.

by Nick Yost
NY Autos Examiner

Hyundai Genesis Named One of the Best New Cars of 2009 Recognizes Genesis Luxury and Value on the Best New Car List for 2009

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 01/23/2009 Hyundai’s new luxury flagship Genesis is named a “Best New Car of 2009” in Cars’ third annual Best New Car List. This marks the first time that a Hyundai vehicle has been recognized in the Cars annual list. Cars highlighted Genesis‘ notable luxury features, smooth and quiet ride, spacious interior and value. “This car would make the Best New Car List no matter who built it — but I just love the fact that it’s a Hyundai,” said Aaron Gold, Guide to Cars for

The Cars Best New Car recognition continues to showcase the quality, performance, safety and value available with Genesis. The 2009 Genesis was recently named the North American Car of the Year and was named a “Top 5 Luxury Car for 2009” by In addition, Genesis earned five-star crash test ratings for both front and side by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“We are honored to have the Genesis recognized as one of the ‘Best New Cars of 2009’ by Cars,” said Michael Deitz, product planning manager, Hyundai Motor America. “Genesis has the technology and features comparable to the world’s leading premium sports sedans at a value Mercedes and BMW can’t beat.” Cars’ Best New Cars of 2009 list can be found online at


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 almost 790 dealerships nationwide.

Top Cars for Tough Times

Though falling gasoline prices have eased driving costs in recent weeks, economic uncertainty and the feeling that $4.00-a-gallon fuel may come around yet again is causing those in the market for a new car to consider ones that are not only more fuel efficient, but are inexpensive to purchase. Fortunately there are several small cars out there these days that fit the bill, and while they’re far from being the most luxurious vehicles in existence, they don’t necessarily make their owners feel unduly penalized for their frugality, either.

Here’s a quick look at several subcompact sedans and hatchbacks for 2009 that are not only the lowest-priced models on the market, but generally carry fuel economy ratings that are surpassed only by costlier hybrid-powered models. They’re not the top performers on the road, certainly aren’t the roomiest and for the most part only offer a modicum of features, but they get the job done and do so with inherent thrift as their main virtue.

* Hyundai Accent. As of this writing the lowest-priced car sold in the U.S. at $9,970 (for the hatchback; the sedan starts at $12,920), the subcompact Accent affords essential four-passenger transportation and good fuel economy without feeling overly cheap. It’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces a barely-adequate 110 horsepower, though the reward comes with an estimated 27-city/35-mpg fuel economy. Six air bags, a 100,000-mile warranty and a five-speed manual transmission come standard, with a four-speed automatic gearbox available.

* Kia Rio. Corporate cousin to the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio comes in specific, curvier styling, though it’s likewise offered in sedan and hatchback models and packs a 110-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Its sticker price starts at $11,495, though the hatchbacks are priced higher. Six air bags and a 100,000-mile warranty are included. As with the Accent, the Rio remains a worthy alternative to a used Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic for about the same price.

Pougkeepsie Journal

Out of South Korea, cut-rate luxury

The South Korean automaker’s first full-size, rear-drive luxury car is a near-peer to Euro sport sedans — but at a 20% discount.

The chocolate-brown leather is softer than a Hershey bar in a cop’s back pocket. The topstitched upholstery across the dash and doors seems sewn with a needle borrowed from Miuccia Prada. The interior wood accents are carved from the most majestic lumber in the old-growth faux forest.

If you didn’t know better — and really, Hyundai would prefer you didn’t know better — you’d think the South Korean company had been at this luxury-car business a long time. In fact, the Genesis is the company’s first full-size, rear-drive luxury car, an audacious shot whistling across the sport-sedan bows of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus. And the Genesis — $33,000 with the base 290-horsepower V-6; $38,000 with the optional 375-hp V-8 — undercuts whatever relevant competitor you care to name by a good $10,000.

Cut-rate luxury is a complicated notion. It is true that when you buy a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, some incalculable percentage of the cost resides in the badge. But there is value in those names, and not just as a matter of getting good spots in valet parking.

Premium-brand cars keep more of their residual value and offer owners the satisfactions of heritage — Mercedes at Monza, BMW at Le Mans — and the sense of belonging to a great automaking tradition.

Hyundai — storied maker of cracker boxes such as the Excel and Accent — has no such poetry to fall back on. But it does have an extraordinarily lean and efficient manufacturing process, cheap labor and great relationships with its suppliers. So it’s possible for the company to offer this near-peer to Euro sport sedans at about a 20% discount. In these leaner times, many customers will forgive the Hyundai its relative lack of brand cachet.

To make that compromise easier to swallow, Hyundai has taken the extraordinary step of de-badging its own car: There is no flying H on the big grille of the Genesis This is a first, in my experience, and it’s a move that subverts the grammar of luxury in ways I can scarcely wrap my head around. It’s like taking a Rolex knockoff — a Romex, say — and scratching off the name. A real counterfeit, a fake genuine article? I’m dizzy.

Doubling down on its own perverse anonymity, the Genesis‘ styling is hyper-generic — a ransom-note collage of cues from BMW (tail lights), Mercedes (grille) and Lexus. Check out that Hofmeister kink in the C-pillar. Been to Munich lately, have we?

Still, there’s no denying that, like Hyundai’s Sonata and Azera, the Genesis is a staggering amount of car for the money. Our test vehicle was the 4.6-liter, V-8-powered model with the $4,000 technology package (528-watt, 17-speaker sound system with XM radio; navigation system; adaptive front headlamps; heated and cooled driver’s seat; and more).

In some ways, the Genesis delivers a deep-pile luxury that betters the badge-bearing competitors. The cabin ambience is exceptionally quiet. The windshield and side windows are glazed with double-laminated acoustic glass; the unibody and body panels are crammed with sound-deadening panels and adhesives that all but mute the outside hurly-burly.

The creamiest and most luscious part of the car, though, is Hyundai’s new 4.6-liter, all-alloy V-8, a lovely watch-work of reciprocation that hits all the right notes. Near-silent and under-taxed around town, the engine is capable of big torque and acceleration — zero to 60 mph is well below six seconds — and a bit of a feral growl. Let there be no doubt, this thing has a motor in it.

At 80 miles per hour, I slipped the six-speed ZF automatic transmission into third and kicked the slats. The car pulled like a rabid malamute up to its 6,850-rpm redline. Another shift, another redline, and without much ado I was exceeding the posted speed limit of most Autobahnen and traffic was reversing past me at an alarming clip.

Interestingly, the overhead-cam V-8 — with dual-intake runners and variable timing on its 32 valves — will happily digest both regular and premium fuel, Hyundai says.

The company even offers horsepower figures for both fuels: 368 hp on regular and the nominal 375 hp on premium. Fuel economy is 17 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway, though I lead-footed my way to an 18-mpg average.

The Genesis has respectable undergirding: five-link suspension front and rear, with all the bits in cast alloy. The suspension tuning on the 4.6-liter model (by Sachs) is firm but compliant, though it lacks the silk-wrapped dreaminess of a comparable Lexus.

On a fairly vigorous flog up the secret canyon test road, the Genesis acquitted itself well enough, with good body control and well-damped transient behavior.

The steering has a nice heft to it but isn’t particularly communicative. The car will hustle, but given the all-season radials’ relative lack of bite and the car’s significant weight, it doesn’t seem to enjoy it.

Generally speaking, this car is much happier defying expectations in a straight line than confirming them in aggressive cornering.

I’m far too much of a romantic to buy this car. I like a brand with provenance and I’m willing to pay for it. For more hard-nosed, practical types, the Genesis 4.6 will present an all-but-irresistible case of value per dollar. And they won’t be wrong.

By Dan Neil

Auto Review: Hyundai Genesis

Every promotion tends to have a catch, but it looks like Hyundai is just trying to move some cars. All auto manufacturers are feeling a crunch right now, and people are skittish about the turbulent economy. It’s hard to see into the future even six months from now and know what your situation will be (national gas prices averaged $4.11 six months ago). Hyundai’s new program, which they are calling Hyundai Assurance, will take your car back if you lose your job.

The program actually covers a variety of issues including physical disability, loss of driver’s license due to medical impairment, international employment transfer, self-employed personal bankruptcy or accidental death. The offer clearly states that only involuntary unemployment qualifies, so you aren’t allowed to tell your boss off and let him know where he should actually file those TPS reports.

Another benefit of the program is that they will cover up to $7,500 in negative equity. Whenever you make a claim with the program, you will meet with an adjuster and they will help determine how much your vehicle is worth. As long as that is within $7,500 of the amount you owe, then you walk away without paying a dime.

Hyundai even goes as far to say that it will not negatively affect your credit at all. The Hyundai Assurance paired with the extremely generous warranty offered on all vehicles means that Hyundai is standing firm behind all of its products. A 10- year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty is standard on all vehicles along with a five-year, bumper-to-bumper and five years of free towing.

If the promotion proves popular, then expect to see it copied by other manufacturers (Remember employee pricing? It worked well for GM and then everybody had it). In a desperate time for auto manufacturers, Hyundai is stirring the pot. Not only with creative sales incentives, but with innovative vehicles such as the Genesis.

For more information on Hyundai vehicles, visit and for more information on the Hyundai Assurance, visit

Wilson Calvert

Hyundai Genesis Named Car of the Year by On Wheels Media at the 13th Annual Urban Wheel Awards

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 01/14/2009 On Wheels Media, Inc. — publisher of African Americans On Wheels, Asians On Wheels, and Latinos On Wheels – named the Hyundai Genesis Car of the Year at the 2009 Urban Wheel Awards. The prestigious award, presented during the North American International Auto Show held at the Detroit Opera House, recognizes Hyundai’s effort in raising the automotive bar with the introduction of the all-new 2009 Hyundai Genesis.

Hyundai is honored to have On Wheels Media, a giant in multicultural automotive multimedia, select the 2009 Hyundai Genesis as the Urban Wheels Awards Car of the Year,” said Dave Zuchowski, vice president, national sales, Hyundai Motor America. “The United States is a diversified market. Hyundai focuses on producing vehicles that meet universal satisfaction and this award is proof-positive that the face of Hyundai has translated well throughout.”

Held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show since 1996, the annual Urban Wheel Awards produced by On Wheels Media, Inc., is the automotive industry’s premier diversity awards ceremony. The Urban Wheel Awards honor pioneering automotive industry leaders and serve as an educational vehicle to increase awareness among minority audiences about the importance of diversity to the industry. Awards are presented in categories including: Company of the Year, Minority Executive of the Year, Diversity in Motorsports, Urban Car of the Year and Urban Truck of the Year; voted on by an independent panel of automotive journalists. Consumers also play a role in the Urban Wheel Awards, selecting their favorite diversity-oriented automotive advertisements through online voting.

The 2009 Hyundai rear-wheel drive Genesis sedan offers capabilities and features comparable to the world’s leading premium sports sedans at a more reasonable price. It is fully equipped with a powerful, world-class Tau 4.6-liter V8 engine that delivers 375 horsepower, segment-leading standard safety features such as electronic active head restraints, technology rivaling more expensive luxury sedans including XM NavTraffic, an Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFLS), and a Lexicon® audio system; and The Hyundai Advantage: America’s Best Warranty – Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Genesis five-star crash test ratings for both frontal and side-impact crash tests, the highest government rankings under the agency’s New Car Assessment Program. Additionally, every Genesis, as well as all other Hyundai vehicles, is covered by the “Hyundai Assurance Program“, a complimentary vehicle return program for the first year on every new Hyundai that is financed or leased for owners who experience an involuntary loss of income within 12 months of the purchase date.


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.

2009 Hyundai Genesis Luxury Road Test Review

One of the reasons the world of automobiles never really gets boring is that every now and then something special arrives on the scene, a car that seemingly comes out of nowhere and manages to upstage brands that have been entrenching themselves in a key segment for years.

We had a hint that Hyundai was readying a luxury V8 sedan during the World Soccer Cup in Germany, where the Korean automaker was official vehicle supplier. Word was that some of the sedans supplied to the Cup organizers had V8s under their hoods, but nobody was really sure.

Now, for 2009, the all-new Genesis has arrived at Hyundai dealerships and it’s proved to be a rare example of a product that exceeds all expectations. I imagined that the Genesis would be a decent effort – after all, Hyundai’s mainstream Sonata is surprisingly well-executed and capable for its price range and the smaller products from this automaker are very well done too. But the Genesis is something else altogether. I hesitate to say that it “matches Brand X” for refinement and quality when, in fact, it’s even better than most of its competition – especially when price is considered. This is no mere “almost as good as” automobile.

Like some of its rivals, this rear-wheel drive car has an impressive hunkered-down look with a kind of visual solidity about it. There was no particular effort to create a head-turner here, nor any serious attempt to imitate rivals. It’s simply a very handsome luxury car with cleverly understated lines – the sort of product buyers will like in these “economically challenged” times where displays of obvious wealth can have the worst possible effect on colleagues and employees. Interestingly, nose, grille and fenders have no names or logos of any kind. Possibly, Hyundai skipped the badges so that people who see the car front-end-on don’t go away thinking that this is just another Hyundai (there are logos on the trunk lid, so it’s not THAT anonymous).

When I first drove off in a Genesis, the one factor that impressed me most was its ride and general refinement. It’s so quiet, so silky (even on rough roads), that it felt more like one of the upscale hybrids than anything else. How Hyundai pulled this off with its limited experience in building luxury cars is a mystery, though the company has sold its flagship Grandeur for years in Korea. I drove one some years back in that country and it wasn’t bad, if not in the Genesis‘ class.

The V8 under the hood of the Genesis is Hyundai’s first, but try one of these cars and you might well think they’ve been making them for years. I’ve only tried the V8 version – more thrifty buyers can opt for a V6 if the big engine seems a little over the top. Actually, today’s V8s can be surprisingly economical if the car is driven with a little care and speed limits are heeded. It’s hard to drive the Genesis gently, though, because a dab on the gas pedal produces an exciting surge of acceleration that would shame an awful lot of sports cars. The 32-valve V8 is a 4.6-liter unit that puts out 375-horsepower fed through a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine has dual continuously-variable valve timing, and this probably contributes a great deal to the car’s fuss-free acceleration. It certainly lays down the power with effortless poise and you can be way over the speed limit in a few near-noiseless moments if you don’t keep an eye on the elegant instrument panel. Sound insulation is outstanding – possibly the best I’ve experienced in a sedan this side of a Bentley or a full-size Lexus or German competitor. To get this kind of a feel from a car that’s half the price of some of its close rivals is nothing short of remarkable.

While this is very much a luxury sedan and nobody is pretending it’s a sports car, the Genesis handles very well indeed and certainly has impressively brisk acceleration. A driver who’s had to give up on sportier cars because of family or business needs won’t be very disappointed with switching to a Genesis. It’s worth noting, though, that Hyundai is readying a 2-door version of this car which could well prove a serious low-cost rival to products like the BMW 6-Series.

The interior is a great place to spend trip time with its restrained and tasteful approach to design. The driver is presented with a sensibly-grouped, almost spartan set of controls and instruments – rather than the panorama of gadgetry some cars in this class feature. The fascia incorporates graceful curves and contrasting material tones and many of the functions, including the navigation system, are operated from a large easy-to-grasp knob on the central console. There are certainly fine leathers and burl-wood tones wherever the occupants glance, but it’s all done without flash or flimflam. This relatively plain-jane approach doesn’t mean that the Genesis is scantily equipped. It has just about every convenience you’ll normally find in this class of car. Some reviewers have said that the optional Lexicon 17-speaker sound system in the Genesis is the best they’ve ever heard and I’d find it hard to disagree.

It may not be an easy task for Hyundai to convince potential buyers that they have a real contender in what is a busy vehicle class, but anyone shopping for a mid-sized Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Lexus, Infiniti, Volvo or similar rival should take a close look at the Genesis before they make a final decision.


Hyundai Genesis Named 2009 North American Car of the Year

Hyundai Takes Home its First North American Car of the Year Honor

DETROIT, 01/11/2009 After months of expert test-drives, critical acclaim and independent awards, the Hyundai Genesis took top honors in the most exclusive award in North America when it was named 2009 North American Car of the Year.

A jury of 50 independent automotive journalists evaluated all the new cars introduced last year and chose the 2009 Hyundai Genesis as the best new model. The award was announced at a news conference at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Genesis represents everything we’ve learned, so far, about engineering great automobiles – and we’re delighted that the judges have recognized the good work of our R&D teams,” said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America acting president and chief executive officer. “And we’re not stopping here…Genesis will share company in Hyundai showrooms this spring with its rear-wheel drive platform-mate, the Genesis Coupe.”

This year the jurors considered more than 50 new vehicles before selecting the top three cars and top three trucks. The Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Ford Flex were the other finalists.

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.” They are administered by an organizing committee and are 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.

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 780 dealerships nationwide.

2009 Hyundai Genesis–A Bold Challenge to the Competition

The Genesis is Hyundai’s flagship sedan and first foray into the premium luxury sedan segment of the automotive market. The design goal of the Genesis is to deliver equal parts performance and luxury, but with a significantly lower price tag than its targeted rivals. A Hyundai press release states that this car was positioned to compete against cars such as Lexus GS, Infiniti M, Mercedes-Benz E, and BMW 5-series.

Starting at $32,250 for the standard V6 version, Genesis does come with a very competitive amount of luxury and performance. Also available is the 4.6-litre Tau V8 engine, which bumps the starting price to $37,250. The Genesis package encompasses a clean exterior facade, a spacious and highly pleasant interior, and an ample amount of horsepower.

The physical dimensions of the Genesis provide a generous amount of cabin space and a huge trunk. The visibility is superb from inside. The flow of the curve from the front door through the hinges into the front panel is very appealing. I appreciate the modest, unobtrusive design of the CD/DVD unit in the center console. The instrument panel design is conventional and very easy to read. The test vehicle was equipped with the Tech package, which includes a high-end Lexicon speaker system, a navigation system, 6-disc CD/DVD changer, a rear back-up camera, and an advanced multimedia information centre console with iDrive style control dial placed between the center armrest and the gear selector box.

The leather seats are firm and provide good support without being too hard, and with the Technology package, seat cooling is added with the standard heating function. The Technology package model also includes options from the premium package, which includes a power sunroof and 18-inch wheels. Standard amenities include dual-zone climate control, power-adjusted front seats, leather interior, and HomeLink programmable garage door remote, which is built into the rear view mirror.

The 3.8 litre engine produces a maximum of 290 horses at 6,200 rpm, which gives the car good acceleration. With less than 3,100 miles on the odometer, the engine sounded slightly rough when running below 2,000 rpm in the first few gears, and I found the gas consumption to be slightly on the high side in stop-and-go city traffic. However, the sound smoothed out a good deal after a week of driving, I would expect the sound and fuel consumption to improve after putting more mileage on the engine.

Another thing to note is that the Lambda V6 engine only requires standard grade fuel instead of premium, so it’s a bit less costly to fill up the tank. The 6-speed Aisin transmission carries the power to the rear wheels for well-controlled acceleration and the connection feels solid. The Shifttronic transmission allows manual gear selection when the driver wants more control over the gear change. In fully automatic mode, the control logic upshifts at around 2,000 rpm when driving in crowded city traffic. In manual control mode, it seems that for the first couple of gears, the logic will wait until the engine reaches around 3,000 rpm before it upshifts even if you want to change at around 2,000.

The suspension is sport-tuned. For a luxury sedan of this size, the Genesis corners very well. The 18-inch tires and firm suspension hold the car steady on the road when making aggressive turns. I was somewhat surprised by this characteristic, thinking that potential buyers of luxury sedans would be looking for either a softer ride or something firm but with more dampening, rather than a sporty suspension like this; but this design decision gave the Genesis energy and spirit in its ride.

When it comes to stopping, power-assisted 12.6-inch vented-disc brakes in the front and 12.36-inch solid-disc brakes in the rear bring the car to a stop with control and ease. I was impressed by the stopping capability every time I approached a red light.

The Genesis comes with an impressive array of safety features. Besides the great braking performance, the body itself is a high tensile steel unibody with body side reinforcements. Electronic controls include the usual ABS, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and traction control. In the unfortunate event of a crash, there is a bundle of airbags including front, seat-mounted side-impact, rear outbound, and side-curtain airbags. Another nice touch is the active head restraints on the front seats, which moves forward to reduce/prevent head and neck injury when it senses a rear impact.

The electronic-assisted power steering makes controlling the car’s direction effortless. The handling is quick and responsive, but there is a little bit of ambiguity in the connection between the driver’s hands and the wheels. This and easy steering combined with the superb amount of engine and braking power isolates the driver from feeling the actual weight of this car. It makes driving this vehicle very easy, but under some situations, I wished I had sense of the loading on the tires. This is not a problem when making turns around corners because you can feel the weight being placed on the suspension, but when you come up to a long, constant, curvy stretch of the highway at high speed (sure, we definitely shouldn’t be driving above the legal speed limit, but it does happen), you don’t feel body lean because of the firm suspension. With a lot of weight riding on the tires you don’t have feedback of how well the tires are gripping the road from the steering wheel. According to Hyundai’s official material, the power-assisted steering is engine-rpm-sensing. It would be great if Hyundai engineers would also add a speed-sensing function to the steering so it becomes heavier at faster speeds.

I personally prefer a heavier and more direct steering feel, but other than that, the Genesis delivers plenty of luxury, amenities, safety, and performance with a remarkable price. In the same price range, potential buyers will be weighing the Genesis against the likes of Lexus ES, BMW 3-series, and Infiniti G37. Backed by a 5-year/60,000 mile warranty, it represents a solid entry into the luxury sedan market.

By Titus Hsu
The Epoch Times