2015 Hyundai Genesis AWD 3.8 – Big plush comfort and a five foot hood.


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2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan first-drive

Written by Josh Merva  –  Photography by Zane Merva

Hyundai is demanding your attention with the all new and completely redesigned 2015 Genesis.  Can the Genesis Sedan compete with the latest and greatest from the big German luxury brands ?  Yesterday we took the new Genesis Sedan for a spin and walked away a little closer to the answer of that question.

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First Drive: Thrashing the 2013 Genesis Coupe

Technically, the 2013 Genesis Coupe is a mid-cycle refresh. For any other manufacturer that would mean no change in powertrain, a few new colors, and probably a price increase. The 2013 Nissan 370Z is a perfect example. Not content with the status-quo, Hyundai decided to go another route. They fixed everything that was wrong, re-vamped the exterior, designed a new interior,  and poured on a lot more horsepower. Did it work? We took the ’13 Coupe out for a day long beating on the track and have the answer.

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Hyundai Genesis Sedan V8: Power, Luxury & Style

In August, reviewing the Genesis Coupe, I mentioned that Hyundai’s new deluxe Genesis sedan had been named the North American Car of the Year for 2009; and fortunately the Coupe wasn’t available then or it might have deadlocked the jury. Which one to pick? A better question might be, how can these two cars even be related? The two-door is a hooligan’s delight; the four-door not only looks completely different, inside and out, it has a different powertrain and mission specialty. (But it too can satisfy the inner bad boy. Person.)

At less than $40,000, this Genesis could almost pass as the body double for a certain German sedan that costs twice as much. Within limits—see paragraph #4, below—that’s how it behaves, too. This is a super-cruiser that ate up a two-day, 800-mile blast across northern New England (coastal Maine through the White Mountains, the Green Mountains and into upstate New York and back) and begged for more. This 4.6 model, named for its V-8 engine, packs a 375hp wallop, but it delivered 24 mpg at an average speed of 53 mph. With a creamy-smooth six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive, merely the pressure of one’s big toe is enough to catapult the 4,000-pound Genesis around the motor homes and packs of Harleys that clog the foliage routes at this season. Winding secondary roads, even pitted with potholes, don’t upset the car. And on divided-lane highways, Genesis doesn’t just run with the big dogs, it’s one of them—quiet and stable at speed and in crosswinds, and with tremendous brakes for those oops moments.


The cabin is a lovely place in which to spend a few hours—full of fine materials, shown off in tasteful hues and elegantly highlighted here and there with touches of chrome or glossy wood. As befits a sedan, there is ample room for four adults, five if necessary, and a trunk deep enough to create an echo. The “stripper” 4.6—$37,250—has about every mod con one could expect, from rain-sensing wipers and dual-zone automatic heating/cooling to a power rear sunshade and tire-pressure monitors. It lacks only features such as swiveling headlamps, backup sensors and a rear-view camera, GPS and so on, which are of course available for not much more. The entry-level 3.8 model, with a 290hp V-6, is kitted out the same way but is a couple of ticks slower to 60 mph and starts at just $32,250.

There must be a flaw in this brilliant car, and it finally surfaced: At high speed in high cornering angles, the steering begins to fight back and the wheel wants to move in the hands. Not enough to throw the car off-line, but there it is. At normal velocities, the Genesis steering is predictable and precise, if numb. OK, I feel better now.

Hyundai says its Genesis received the highest score among midsize premium cars in the J.D. Power 2009 Automotive Performance Execution and Layout Study. As the maker avers on the car’s Monroney, its window sticker: “Genesis offers an unprecedented combination of performance, luxury, and fuel efficiency.” To which we would add only, “at an unbeatable price.”

Road Test: 2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Fresh off it’s 2009 North American Car of the Year award we wanted to see if the Hyundai Genesis Sedan was truly worthy of the win or a product made entirely of clever marketing.  We drive one and you find out.

Summary – As Tested
As-Tested Price: $32,250
Engine: 290-horsepower DOHC 3.8L V6
Transmission: 6-speed Aisin B600 automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: 18-city, 21-combined, 27-highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 19.5 mpg
Days/Miles Tested: 14 days / 891 miles

The paradigm shift that moves Hyundai out of the bargain bin and into the “A-List” automaker isle


  • Sewing machine smooth V6
  • Well balanced and fun to drive
  • Mercedes-like interior design is classy


  • 6-speed automatic that comes with the V6 is soft / mushy
  • Exterior design is a mash-up of styling from other brands
  • Don’t even bother trying after a dusting of snow

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Vehicle Dynamics & Performance
With 290-horsepower, the base V6 is hardly “base.”  It’s a wonderfully smooth engine that sounds as satisfying as a sewing machine. We wish Hyundai would have splurged for the ZF transmission found in the V8 model – we found the Aisen unit in the V6 to be little mushy.

Driving the Genesis is nothing but a pleasure.  A well balanced chassis and smooth ride are definitely tuned for highway cruising comfort but never give so much as to make back road carving a chore.  Rear-wheel-drive character gives the Genesis a nice edge but did make us think twice before venturing out on slick winter roads.

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Design Execution, Appearance, Fit & Finish
If there’s one area that Hyundai is still showing some weakness- it’s exterior styling.  There’s no real unique visual element to the Genesis. Instead, you’ll find little bits of other brands everywhere you look. Some Mercedes in the grille, Infiniti in the headlamps, perhaps a little BMW in the rear.  That’s not a bad thing mind you- we just wish the Genesis was a little more unique.  LED tail lamps, complete with light pipes, are upscale and a nice touch.

Inside, Hyundai has again done well.  The interior is smooth, refined, and well fitted.  Switch gear has a solid feel and console materials are soft to the touch.  The wood accents are prone to reflect sunlight into the drivers eyes but at least the grain looks realistic and upscale.


Audio, Electronics, & Technology
Even though our model did not have the much touted Lexicon audio system, we were impressed. The Genesis is equipped with a USB/Aux input port for iPod and thumb-drive playability.  The audio system was also able to play burned MP3 CDs.  Sound quality was well above par for this price range and peaked our interest to how well the Lexicon system must perform.

Hyundai offers a full navigation and 40-gig hard drive multimedia system if you so choose. Adaptive HID headlights are also on the option sheet.  Fully loaded- the Genesis is an audiophile’s dream.

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Comfort & Ergonomics
Not only does the Genesis perform on the road but it coddles you in comfort at the same time.  We appreciated heated seats that actually got hot and an HVAC system that kept the interior comfortable without much fuss.

The steering wheel on the Genesis is bloated and odd.  We often found our thumbs moving in awkward angles, stretching to adjust the audio system volume or to set the cruise control.  A thinner and more ergonomic design would go a long way to improve the driver interface.

Optionally, the Genesis is avaliable with a slew of luxury items. Automatic rain sensing wipers, back-up camera, park assist, and even a cooled drivers seat. All the right stuff to compete with Lexus and Infiniti.

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Closing Words
Admittedly, the Genesis we had a chance to drive was a base V6 with none of the goodies that Hyundai has been touting in its marketing.  In a way though, it worked in the Genesis’s favor. Even without the 528-watt Lexicon stereo, 375-horsepower V8, or BMW shared ZF-automatic, the car was a stunner. The Genesis is a great car without them and lets face it- many won’t opt for those options anyways.   All the luxury and horsepower in the world can’t overcome a bad car- which is exactly why the Genesis doesn’t need them.  We look forward to driving the V8 in the future, but for our money the V6 is more than enough to impress.

Check out our Road Test Gallery
We’ve got a huge set of photos from our time in the 2009 Hyundai Genesis.  Click the image below and take a look.

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan