The Hyundai Genesis, with its rear-wheel drive and available V8 power, aspires to the category of the BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Infiniti M, but is priced considerably below those brands. The Genesis seats five, is offered with a V6 or V8 engine and represents Hyundai’s biggest leap yet to go upmarket with a genuine luxury car.
Inside, it is nicely appointed, with chrome accents, wood and aluminum trim, and soft-touch materials. Easy-to-read electroluminescent gauges greet the driver, and the available navigation system includes voice activation and a multimedia interface that is easier to use than those from most luxury manufacturers. An iPod interface is standard, and customers can choose a 17-speaker audio system that has 7.1 Surround Sound and cranks out great music.
Room in the front and rear seats is excellent, though the Genesis could use a little more storage space for small items, and some customers will be disappointed that the rear seats don’t fold down.
The base engine is a 3.8-liter V6 of 290 horsepower, and we found it delivers enough pep for most peoples’ driving needs while returning good fuel economy. We also liked Hyundai’s first V8, a 4.6-liter dual overhead cam engine with 375 horsepower that provides plenty of smooth, willing power and gets quite decent fuel economy, particularly for its performance level. Both engines run quietly and are mated to smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmissions with manual shiftgates.
Hyundai touts the Genesis as a sports sedan, with a rigid structure, rear-wheel drive, and advanced five-link front and rear suspensions. On twisty roads it performs well, with a generally nimble feel and a fairly flat disposition through corners. Of the two models, the lighter V6 feels more responsive through turns. The V8 model, on the other hand, benefits from electrohydraulic steering that provides sure steering assist in the tightest corners.
The Genesis rides well, ironing out most bumps with little effect on passengers. It doesn’t float or wallow like other Hyundais, but the ride can get bouncy over humps and ruts at highway speeds. On the whole, the Genesis is a legitimate sports sedan, but it’s not as agile as the top performers, such as the BMW 5 Series.
Both Genesis models are excellent values that deliver fine handling, smooth rides, and willing power. They also have plenty of interior room, with nicely appointed interiors. Though not quite up to the high standards of the European and Japanese luxury cars the Genesis aspires to, it is a viable and less-expensive alternative to those cars and a better appointed option than large American sedans.
The 2010 Hyundai Genesis carries over largely unchanged. For 2010, the Technology Package offers a Smart Cruise Control and an electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold; touch-screen navigation is standard on the 3.8-liter V6 models with the Premium Navigation Package and on the 4.6-liter V8 model; and ultra-premium leather seating surfaces are standard on the 3.8-liter V6 models equipped with the Premium, Premium Navigation, and Technology Packages.