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
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.
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.
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.
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.