If there is one thing to be said about Korean automaker Hyundai, it is that they are impatient. While it took nearly 50 years for Japanese brands to be permanently rooted in America with domestic plants, a diverse range of products, and large market share, Hyundai is doing it in half the time, and their latest salvo takes on the big guns of the global luxury market, the Genesis. It’s a rear drive four-door that is also impatient for success.

Hyundai expects their 2009 Genesis flagship sedan to be a true breakout product, changing their image from a mass marketer to a premium brand and paving the way for the Genesis Coupe and other luxury-sport models to come.

The world first laid eyes on this BMW 5-Series pretender at the 2007 New York Auto Show.  Initial impressions were of a substantial four-door, with graceful lines and reflection pool-like surfaces.

In production form, the large, chrome grille, with no Hyundai “H” anywhere to be found, is bordered by jeweled lamp clusters with optional auto-leveling HID headlights.

The Genesis profile also speaks premium with a finely sculpted shape from stem to stern, that’s brightened with splashes of chrome. While the back-end continues the premium theme, adorned with wraparound LED tail lamps and shiny dual exhaust pipes.

Inside, the Genesis also shines with fit, finish, and soft touch materials that are equal or better than European rivals.  The artful dash unites flowing lines with leather, aluminum, and wood trim.  Gauges standout, while controls express a higher-end guise.  The standard leather, heated seats are comfy and supportive, with power adjust for both driver and passenger.
The V8’s music pours from a standard 11-speaker Lexicon sound system, the brand also used in the Rolls Royce Phantom.

With eight standard airbags and electronic active head restraints, front and side five-star safety ratings were assured.  The wide rear seat makes room for three and has it own climate controls.  There’s a chunky cup holder armrest, which hides a small trunk pass-thru. The trunk itself is large, measuring in at 15.9 cubic feet.

Under the hood, the rear-drive Genesis defines its luxury with two variable timing engines. There’s a familiar 3.8 liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. Or there’s Hyundai’s new Tau 4.6-liter V8, their first 8 cylinder for the U.S. It generates a brawny 375 horses and 333 pound-feet of torque. That’s more horsepower but slightly less torque than “eights” found in the Lexus GS and the Infiniti M.  Both engines mate to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode.

Our test V8 yielded Government Fuel Economy ratings of 17 city/25 highway.  We drove 21 miles-per-gallon on premium gas. Genesis V8 Energy Impact Score is a high 18 barrels of oil consumed per year, while its carbon footprint measures 9.6 annual tons of CO2 emitted.

On the track, our V8 Genesis was a delightful surprise, charging from 0 to 60 in a fast 5.8 seconds, and sprinting the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 103 miles-per-hour.  The V8 maintains a strong build throughout the run.  Shifts are smooth, well-spaced, and fall right into the heart of the power band. 

In terms of driving dynamics, the Genesis sports a nearly perfectly balanced chassis, with standard stability and traction control. The sophisticated suspension is defined by five-link geometries in the front and back.

Through the twisties, Genesis is far more agile than many large sedans. Relatively soft springs allow modest body roll, but turn-ins are quick. Steering is fast, if a little light, and the rear-end is just loose enough to be fun. The result is a well-mannered handler. Maybe not in BMW’s league yet, but certainly competitive with other Asian luxury rivals.

Stopping power comes from four-wheel disc brakes with Brake Assist.  Stops were stable and fade free, averaging a fine 126 feet from 60 to 0.  There was, however, a goodly amount of nose dive.

But you won’t get a nose bleed when it comes time to buy. The Genesis 3.8 starts at $33,000, while the Genesis 4.6 begins at $38,000.  That’s over $10,000 under rivals, and includes a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

The 2009 Genesis is a terrific effort by Hyundai to make a splash in the luxury segment and no less impressive than Lexus and Infiniti with their first models. Still, we know that some buyers will be unable to see past its Hyundai badging, no matter how discretely it’s used.

But, as impatient as Hyundai is, we’re also sure that any stumbling blocks encountered by Genesis will be quickly swept away.


  • Engine: 4.6-Liter V8
  • Horsepower: 375
  • Torque: 333 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5.8 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.3 Seconds @ 103 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 126 Feet
  • EPA: 17 MPG City/ 25 MPG Highway
  • Energy Impact: 18.0 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 9.6 Tons/Yr

Long Term Updates

Mileage: 1,100

The accolades keep pouring in for the Hyundai Genesis. Among them our Drivers’ Choice pick for Best Luxury Car.

Who would have thought that economy car maker Hyundai could so swiftly produced a real challenger to Lexus and other top notch brands.

While most of the publicity surrounds the Genesis V8, we opted for the standard 3.8-liter V6 to save fuel. It’s doing fine in that area, 24.2 miles-per-gallon of regular, and you really don’t miss the V8. From highways to hills there’s plenty of get-up-and-go.

Other initial impressions are an E-Class style highway ride, and a fine combination of ergonomics and fashion. The brown, leather dash trim is a nice change from wood. We’re not crazy about the centralized controller, but it’s no worse than most. So, so far so good with our Hyundai Genesis.

Mileage: 5,000

We chose the 2009 Hyundai Genesis as our Best Luxury Car of the year. What a gigantic leap for a brand that only a decade ago was best known for small cars of questionable quality.

But, this Lexus fighter is for real. We love its comfort, power, and yes, quality. We’re not sure using low sheen brown leather on the dash as a substitute for wood will please everyone, but we like the change.

While there is a new V8 for the Genesis, we opted for the standard 3.8-liter V6 to save fuel. We’re managing a respectable 22.7 miles-per-gallon of regular, and there’s still plenty of power for passing.

After 2 months and 5,000 miles, we’re getting used to the central controller, and the way the navigation system works. They’re easier to use than some rivals. So it’s onto summer vacations for our Hyundai Genesis.

Mileage: 9,900

At the other end of the scale, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis is our Best Luxury Car of the year, and it’s a very understated luxury car at that.

Styling is conservative, while the interior is rich without being garish. The low sheen brown leather on the dash is a nice touch.

While there is a Genesis V8, we’re more than satisfied with the reserve power from our car’s standard 290-horsepower 3.8-liter V6. After 4 months and 9,900 miles, fuel economy is a steady 22.7 miles per gallon of regular.

More staff comments are rolling in about the central controller and the nav system. Both are turning out to be easier to use than rivals. Otherwise, our Genesis is fault-free, and we’re enjoying every new mile of discovery.

Mileage: 13,500

We’re half way through our year with the Hyundai Genesis sedan, our 2009 pick for Best Luxury Car. And, so far it’s living up to our billing.

The Genesis is quiet, and responsive, even with our car’s standard 290-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, and very competent to drive hard. The interior is rich and warm with excellent fit and finish.

After 6 months and 13,500 miles, fuel economy is 22.2 miles per gallon of regular. Down by a half an MPG since last report.

The satellite navigation system is one of the easiest we’ve ever used. And the optional Lexicon sound system also gets applause. But, with all this finesse, why did Hyundai choose to use old fashioned, cargo crushing trunk hinges?

Oh well, no car is perfect. But, for an affordable luxury sedan, the Hyundai Genesis comes close.

Mileage: 16,000

Last winter we picked the Hyundai Genesis sedan as our 2009 MotorWeek Driver’s Choice Best Luxury Car. And now, 8 months into our long-term test, we have no regrets.

Indeed, the Genesis has exceeded our expectations in quality fitment, with a warm, welcoming use of materials and space, as well as a refined driving response. With a smooth, well-controlled highway ride, and ample handling prowess, our car’s standard 290-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 delivers good reserve power for passing. While a V8 is available, we’re happy without it.

Especially since at the 16,000 mile mark, fuel economy is a stable 22.1 miles per gallon of regular. Not bad for any premium family sedan.

Trouble-free, our only design complaints are the old-fashioned trunk hinges that can crush luggage. Otherwise, the Hyundai Genesis continues to earn our applause.

Mileage: 17,500

After 9 months and 17,500 miles, we love passing the miles in its superb comfort – knowing, however, that when we need performance, its sophisticated chassis and 290-horsepower V6 are eager to respond.

Long-term fuel economy stands at a reasonable 22.0 mile per gallon of regular. But we’ve seen interstate mileage exceed 30 with cruise control on.

Our only issue is the plastic chrome trim affixed to the spokes on the wheels. Some just flew off, while others met their match with curbs. Do away with them please.

Still, the Hyundai Genesis is a very impressive luxury sedan.

Mileage: 21,000

After 10 months and 21,000 miles, we love the concept and execution of our Drivers’ Choice Best Luxury Sedan. Its comfort, style, and performance are all impressive.

There are a few warts: easily damaged chrome trim on the wheels, steering wheel vibration indicated the tires need balancing. Also, on at least one occasion, the Nav system went blank for no reason.

On the other hand, its responsive 3.8-liter V6 has managed to deliver reasonable fuel economy of 22.0 miles per gallon…and on regular at that! So, the Genesis is still a winner with us.

Mileage: 22,000

Calling its new luxury series Genesis seemed like an arrogant move for Hyundai. But not only did the Genesis sedan live up to its luxury billing and win accolades from us and numerous other auto media, it also set the tone for a brand that is now closely linked to the best quality in the industry.

Our own experience with this Genesis four-door certainly supports that. After 12 months and 22,000 miles, we’ve had no mechanical problems.

You’ve heard us complain about easily damaged alloy wheel trim, and out-of-balanced tires, but that’s pretty much it.

Genesis comfort, style, and performance-both on the open road and more confined back roads-is impressive. That includes the standard 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6. Oh, you can opt for a V8, but it doesn’t need it. Fuel economy is good too at 21.9 miles per gallon of regular.

So, drive on, Genesis, your name does suit you.

Mileage: 22,000+

Last year, when we picked the Hyundai Genesis as our Drivers’ Choice Winner as Best luxury Car, we were clearly already smitten by the robust yet silky behavior of this four-door Lexus challenger.

Now, more than a year later, and after a chance to experience a Genesis as a daily driver for some 22,000 miles, we can say without equivocation, the Genesis sedan still looks like an outstanding luxury sedan choice.

Genesis is also closely linked to the continuing accolades due Hyundai for its outstanding quality. Indeed, we had no mechanical problems with our Genesis, with easily broken plastic wheel trim and out of balance tires our only issues.

We were genuinely impressed by the comfort, style, and performance of Genesis, both on the open interstate and back road switchbacks. The standard 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 is flawless, and except for bragging rights, we saw no need for the optional V8. V6 fuel economy is better too. We averaged 21.5 miles per gallon of regular.

So, our Genesis year is over, but the pleasant memories will last for many miles to come.