By KBB.com Editors
After entering the U.S. market with an inexpensive (some might say cheap) subcompact car more than 20 years ago, Hyundai has continued a climb upscale. Last year, the brand took its most ambitious step in that direction ever with the introduction of the Hyundai Genesis, a luxury sedan with the amenities of vehicles costing thousands of dollars more. Though intended to compete against the likes of the Chrysler 300C, Lexus ES 350 and the Volkswagen CC, the new Genesis actually channels attributes of even more expensive models, like the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Powered by either advanced V6 or V8 engines, the rear-drive Genesis is filled with upscale items like adaptive front lighting, proximity key with push-button start and a truly amazing Lexicon 7.1 surround-sound audio system.You'll Like This Car If...
We think you'll like the Genesis if you are less concerned about brand prestige and more concerned about the driving experience and the vehicle's feature set.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you seek the razor-sharp handling of the best of the German luxury brands, you may not be satisfied with the Genesis despite the fact that in V8 form it mimics them well.What's New for 2010
Smart Cruise Control and an electronic parking brake with automatic hill hold are added to the Technology Package, while a new 7-inch navigation system is made available on 3.8 and standard on 4.6 trims. Ultra-premium leather seats are added to 3.8 Premium, Premium Navigation and Technology Packages.
While hard to distinguish from the outside except for their different wheels, the V6-powered Genesis 3.8 and the V8-powered Genesis 4.6 have different characters. The 3.8 offers 290 horsepower, which is plenty, and feels softer over the road and in hard cornering than its 375-horsepower near-twin. Both accelerate smartly, but we prefer the extra horsepower, taut feel and more responsive electro-hydraulic steering of the 4.6. Stopping is swift and sure thanks to large four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution (EBD). The brakes on the 4.6 models are especially notable – four-piston fixed-caliper front brakes with larger front rotors. Hyundai calls the Genesis a sports sedan, and while the 3.8-liter version might be a little soft to justify that, the V8-powered car lives up to it. The interior quiet during all types of driving is praiseworthy, and a sophisticated rear backup camera plus eight ultrasonic sensors located on the front and rear bumpers help detect how close objects are when parking.Favorite Features
Lexicon Audio System
The sound from this 7.1 discrete audio system is not only powerful, it is beautifully nuanced – one of the best factory sound systems we've ever heard in a vehicle of any price. Auxiliary USB and iPod inputs allow drivers to fully control and charge iPods directly from the head unit.
As noted before, the interior of the Genesis is truly outstanding. The extravagant use of genuine leather and wood plus meticulous fit-and-finish make for an interior worthy of a top luxury brand.
To our practiced eyes the interior of the Hyundai Genesis is almost shockingly good. The leather-wrapped dashboard and steering wheel show levels of design and execution that would put many luxury-brand interiors to shame. The front seats are not only covered with rich leather but, optionally, they are both heated and cooled. The rear seat area is equally well-finished and has ample head-, hip-, shoulder- and legroom. The design of the dash is simple, which makes operation of the climate control system easy. (Of course, with automatic temperature control, it doesn't take much fooling with.) Hyundai decided to emulate the European brands by using a joystick-type controller for navigation and audio functions, and that is a mixed blessing. Yes, you need master only one interface, but that interface isn't all that intuitive.Exterior
Attractive though conservative and largely derivative are ways to describe the Hyundai Genesis's exterior. Its light but torsionally stiff body structure echoes styling motifs from several luxury brand competitors. The grille and front end evoke Mercedes-Benz, while the rear quarters complete with LED taillights pay homage to both BMW and Lexus. The judicious use of polished metal for items like window surrounds, door handles and the attractive wheels add a decidedly upscale feel. The overall exterior look is handsome but without much hint that this sedan is a Hyundai. However, the architecture does facilitate a laudable 52-percent/48-percent front/rear weight bias that aids both handling and ride.Notable Standard Equipment
In the Hyundai tradition the Genesis provides a rich assortment of standard features per dollar spent, including the handy proximity key with alarm and entry system; power windows with front auto-up/down with pinch protection; remote fuel door, hood and trunk releases; one-touch power tilt-and-slide sunroof; leather seats; woodgrain accented dash; Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone interface and USB/iPod auxiliary inputs. The wealth of safety items includes electronic stability control (ESC), advanced dual front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags, roof-mounted side curtain airbags for both front and rear outboard seat occupants, and electronic active head restraints.
For everyday enjoyment of the vehicle, the prime option is the Lexicon-branded audio system featuring LOGIC 7 technology. Rolls-Royce is the only other automotive brand to offer a Lexicon system, and the surround-sound, 11-channel, 17-speaker extravaganza that produces more than 500 watts is certainly of super-luxury-brand quality. It features both HD and XM satellite radio, and in navigation-equipped models it includes a 40-gigabyte hard drive and XM NavTraffic. Another key option is the automatic front lighting system that allows the Xenon high intensity discharge headlights to swivel automatically for better visibility when cornering.Under the Hood
We have nothing but good things to say about both engines available in the Genesis sedan. For most drivers we think the 290-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 will be more than adequate, while offering slightly better fuel economy. But we can't help preferring the intoxicating power of the 4.6 liter V8, which is ably abetted by its six-speed automatic transmission. Happily, the fuel economy penalty is small. Both engines are rated to run on regular fuel, but premium gas gives the V8 a slight power and torque boost.
290 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
264 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27
375 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
333 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
With Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices ranging from just under $34,000 up to approximately $44,000 when fully loaded, the Hyundai Genesis sedan seems like an incredible bargain, and that is the case when matched up feature-for-feature versus luxury-brand sedans of similar size. But against non-luxury brand sedans like Chrysler 300 and Volkswagen CC, the bargain is not quite as clear-cut, though we think the Genesis's materials and fit-and-finish outdo those of the domestic-brand vehicles. Resale value, an important factor in overall cost of ownership, is also open to question on the new Genesis, since the model is blazing a trail for Hyundai in an image-conscious segment. We expect Genesis to offer good residual values, bettering its domestic rivals and remaining on par with vehicles like the Volkswagen CC. However, it does not yet match the resale values of the top luxury imports.