It's hard playing catch-up, especially when the race is for people's emotions.
The 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6 will tell us if the Korean manufacturer has learned this lesson. It's not an easy one to learn, as Lexus has discovered after two decades of persuading the market that it's up to more than re-branding Toyota hardware. Cadillac knows the lesson as well after nearly as many years spent trying to establish a European kind of credibility for its American luxury cars. And so Hyundai once again seeks to escape the stigma of its past, playing catch-up in the credibility race. Model by model, year by year, it slogs forward, as increasingly better vehicles amass an increasingly larger market share at the same languid pace as the rising oceans swallow our beaches.
If our experience so far is any measure, the Genesis might finally establish Hyundai's legitimacy in mainstream consciousness when it comes to luxury. Times are troubled, so people are making every penny count, and this makes them sensitive to Hyundai's traditional value-oriented message. And because they want change without sacrifice (so like those in the green movement), they're likely to be captivated by the way the Genesis offers all the toys of automotive luxury.
A premium purchase with no worries about hidden toxic assets — even Wall Street bankers can understand what the 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6 is all about.
What We Got
This 2009 Hyundai Genesis comes very well equipped with power leather-upholstered seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated controls for the audio system and tripmeter, an AM/FM/XM stereo with full iPod integration, Bluetooth phone connect, carpeted floor mats, foglights, proximity key access with push-button start and dual-pane front windows and windshield. Also standard is Hyundai's claim to "America's Best Warranty," which includes a five-year/60,000-mile new car warranty and a 10-year/100,000 powertrain warranty. This is a lot of stuff for an entry price of $32,250.
To motivate our Genesis, we selected the 290-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 with its Aisin-built six-speed automatic. The 4.6-liter V8 offers 85 more horsepower and a ZF-built six-speed automatic, but it comes with an extra 200 pounds and $5,000 more on the bottom line. The V8 car also has a somewhat sleepier personality. As our test driver reported in our comparison of a 2009 Hyundai Genesis V8 and a 2008 Lexus GS350, "Not an impressive V8. Lacking both big torque and high-rpm punch, this engine seems rather pointless. Not much quicker than the V6." The V6 might be slightly slower than the V8, but it feels good and returns better real-world fuel economy with a rating of 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway.
Besides, for the same price as a V8-powered base model, you can have a V6 example with all the options. We like options. Our Genesis came with the Premium Plus package, which adds 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, leather-wrapped door and dash trim, a power sunroof, power tilt-telescoping steering column with integrated memory, and rain-sensing wipers. This option is $3,000.
Our '09 Genesis is also equipped with the $4,000 Technology package. The money goes toward a navigation system with a six-disc CD/DVD changer; a 528-watt, 17-speaker Lexicon stereo system with Logic7; discrete 7.1 surround sound; HD Radio; and a one-year subscription to XM Radio and Navtraffic. It also includes some more functional bits like adaptive HID headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a cooled driver seat and a display for your Bluetooth connections.
Add the $750 inland freight and handling charge and our new 2009 Hyundai Genesis carries a sticker price of exactly $40,000.
Why We Got It
Hyundai came out swinging with the introduction of the Genesis by saying, "It's the size of the BMW 7 Series with the performance of the 5 Series and at the price of the 3 Series." If there's anything Americans like, it's something that's both bigger and cheaper. Finding cars to compare with the Genesis is a fruitless endeavor; they're either too small and too expensive or too big and too expensive. And then you consider the options. Just consider the 2008 Cadillac CTS in our long-term test fleet, which has similar gizmos but is 5 inches shorter and $6,000 more expensive.
On paper, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6 is a formidable package. Our full test confirmed our initial impressions that the Genesis sedan is something beyond Hyundai's usual lunge for a Lexus-style statement for its premium cars. As we said, "This is a different statement from the Korean automaker, one that promises a quiet appreciation that content matters more than simple branding. The Hyundai Genesis is the kind of sedan that will quietly transport you around town in secret sumptuousness." This kind of praise made it clear that a Genesis had to be a part of our long-term test fleet.
Another Lap Around the Block
This is not our first time around the block with a Hyundai product. We've had both a Sonata and an Azera, and a 2008 Hyundai Veracruz V6 has come and gone. These different vehicles garnered different specific reactions, but there are very few lasting impressions. Can the Genesis be the first long-term Hyundai we really remember? After 20,000 miles and 12 months, will we still be sold on its Lexus-fighting abilities? Will the Genesis' luxury accoutrements win us over in the long run, convincing us further that Hyundai has finally caught up with the premium competition, or will this be yet another Hyundai that ranks as a great commuter car, but little more?
Stay tuned to our long-term road test blog for the next year as we explore the ins and outs of the 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6.
Current Odometer: 1,253
Best Fuel Economy: 20.4 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.7 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 17.9 mpg
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.