Review: 2009 Hyundai Genesis
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
In the beginning, Hyundai created econoboxes. Then, in the early 2000s, the fledgling South Korean automaker began a move upmarket, with larger, more luxurious vehicles. For 2009, Hyundai is taking its biggest leap yet with Genesis. This large rear-wheel-drive sport sedan has aspirations to take on the likes of the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but is priced closer to that of the Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8. We’ve driven the Genesis, and saw that it is good.
The 3.8 is available with much of the 4.6’s equipment, and both versions can be ordered with a Technology Package that includes front- and rear obstacle detection, heated and cooled front seats, a 17-speaker, 7.1-channel Lexicon surround sound audio system, an HD radio, XM NavTraffic, a rearview camera, adaptive xenon headlights, a navigation system, and a 40-gigabyte hard drive for music files and navigation map information. A fully loaded 4.6 tops out at $42,000, including destination charges.
Under the Hood
The V8 version offers Hyundai’s new Tau 4.6-liter DOHC V8. Hyundai has outfitted this engine with the latest technology, including continuously variable timing for both the intake and exhaust valves and a Variable Intake System designed to allow the engine to breathe more efficiently at both low and high speeds. The result is 375 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 333 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm with premium fuel. Opt for regular fuel and those numbers drop slightly to 368 horsepower and 324 lb-ft of torque. Like the V6, the V8 comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic, and is rated at 17/25 mpg.
With the optional navigation system, the Genesis has a central multimedia control to operate the radio, navigation system, iPod interface, trip computer, and Bluetooth phone, among other settings. It uses a large rotating knob and six buttons to select the various functions. Compared to similar systems from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, the Hyundai system is simpler to use, but it still adds a couple steps to simple tasks such as programming a radio station. The navigation system can be programmed on the fly and can also be controlled by voice commands.
Front- and rear-seat legroom is quite good, though tall rear-seat passengers might want more headroom. The seats are comfortable, but sit up higher than some might prefer and don’t have all that many adjustments given the Genesis’s overall level of luxury. Small item storage is decent, but the Genesis could use a couple more cubbies for cell phones, keys and the like. The trunk is deep, with 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room. It has a standard rear pass-through, but we’d much prefer folding rear seats, which Hyundai opted against for structural reasons.
On the Road
We had the opportunity to drive the Genesis on both twisty two-lane roads and on a small California road course. The Genesis proved to be a capable handler, and a viable match for the Mercedes. By comparison, the Genesis feels a bit number and doesn’t have as much steering feel as the E-Class, but it stays flatter through turns. The V6 version has a better weight balance than the V8, making it easier to direct through high-speed corners.
On the road, the Genesis provides a smooth, quiet ride, even with the 4.6’s 18-inch wheels. The ride offered no float or wallow, though it was prone to bounding motions over humps and ruts at highway speeds. The V6 has plenty of zip for most every need. The car gets underway with gusto and highway passing is worry free. Hyundai claims a 6.2-second 0-60 mph time for the V6, but our seat-of-the-pants feel and an unofficial run told us it feels more like 7.5 seconds, which is still fairly quick.
Hyundai boasts that the Tau V8 puts out more horsepower per liter than any vehicle in its class. A turn behind the wheel seemed to bear that out. The V8 has lots of power from a stop, responsive midrange punch, and plenty of reserve when that extra bit is needed to get around traffic on the highway. The V8’s extra power comes with little fuel economy penalty, and we believe Hyundai’s quoted 5.7-second 0-60 mph time.
Each engine is mated to a different 6-speed automatic transmission and both shift smoothly, with quick downshifts for passing. Given the Genesis’s sporty aspirations, however, Hyundai might consider adding steering wheel paddles to enhance the fun when canyon carving.
Right for You?
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.
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