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2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6: Shocking competence

Posted by Bill Griffith  June 29, 2009 08:00 AM

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Hyundai's badge-less Genesis poses in downtown Newburyport. (All photos: Bill Griffith/

We were out taking some photos of the Hyundai Genesis early one morning. A woman passing by asked, “What kind of car is that? I don’t see a name badge on the front?”

My response was that, “It’s a Hyundai Genesis. They didn’t put a badge on front intentionally. They want you to see the car and do what you just did; that is, ask ‘What is it?’ “

Some of Hyundai’s earlier large-sedans bore resemblances to Jaguars (the XG 350), but the Genesis definitely causes you to pause a moment and notice resemblances to Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

Hyundai designed the Genesis sedan to be in the image of BMW’s 5-Series, the Lexus GS, Infiniti M cars and Mercedes E-Class. However, it’s priced and sized to compete with Chrysler’s 300C, the Lexus ES, Cadillac CTS, and Mercedes C-Class.

There’s no question that today’s test car, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6, is an intriguing vehicle.

It’s a full-sized rear-wheel-drive sedan with a 4.6 liter, 375 horsepower V-8. That V-8, with 333 lb.-ft. of pulling power, is relatively fuel efficient, being rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway. It may have been a filling quirk, but we pulled 27 on a highway trip, perhaps thanks to the steep overdrive sixth gear in the six-speed automatic transmission.

After people find out that this vehicle is a Hyundai, and a very nice looking one at that, they generally ask how much it costs.


Our test car – the more expensive 4.6 V-8 – has a sticker price of $37,250. Ours didn’t have the only option, a $4,000 technical package, that turns out to be aptly named and well thought out. It adds xenon headlights, a trip computer, navigation, front and rear park assist, a cooled driver’s seat, rear view camera, Bluetooth and upgraded Logic 7 sound system.

Then they have a sticker-shock reaction. “Thirty-seven thou for a Hyundai! That’s a lot of money. Are they kidding?”

It is. And they aren’t kidding in the least. Hyundai is making a run at the upscale market, starting with this sedan and continuing with the coupe version.


Hyundai came into the North American market with a terrible small car. They were so bad that most observers (me included) concluded that the brand was finished in this country.

To its credit, Hyundai’s Pooh-Bahs went back to the drawing board – and did some serious marketing planning while they were at it. They knew they had one more shot at best and the only way they could convince American consumers that they had a worthy product was to make it long on quality. The result was the company’s then-amazing 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and a lineup of cars that could compete in the small and mid-sized segments.

And their big cars – the XG 350 and Azera – weren’t so bad, either. Now comes the Genesis. It’s a serious bid by Hyundai at expanding its market reach.

If you’re a brand snob, the Hyundai logo doesn’t have that cachet yet; however, if you buy one now, it may have that cachet by the time – many miles down the road – when you’re ready to trade it.

You’re starting to see buyers’ comments mentioning that the Genesis is a “value proposition” and has an amazing “price point.”


Sales of the Genesis (8,100 to date) are encouraging. Overall, Hyundai sales were up nine percent in May (over April’s numbers) as the auto industry starts to show signs of a modest rally.

Want to go fast? The V-8 will get you from 0-to-60 m.p.h. in just under six seconds. Handling? It’s fine. Hyundai has a five-link system, front and back, that gives you a comfortable ride. While not a sports sedan, it does OK when pushed to an avoidance maneuver.

I generally prefer to travel in the driver’s seat and really avoid rear-seat time; however, this is one vehicle I’d make an exception for. The rear seats and legroom are fine.


The two-tone leather treatment on the Hyundai dash – a feature that carries over to the door panels – is distinctively nice.


Hyundai used a distinguished award – the North American Car of the Year – as a jumping-off point for my favorite commercial from the last Super Bowl: The Angry Bosses. The spot showed furious executives at Lexus and BMW seeing the headlines that Hyundai (“It’s Hyun-Day, like Sun-Day”) had won the award.

A decade ago, members of the New England Motor Press Association generally agreed that the early Acura TL was dollar-for-dollar as good a buy as you could find. I’ve got no problem transferring that badge to this Genesis. After all, it needs something on that grille.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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54 comments so far...
  1. I remember back in the 80's Honda was making cheap (in all senses of the word) little cars. Looks like Hyundai is following a similar course. No surprise here.

    Posted by DL June 29, 09 11:22 AM
  1. You know I couldn't disagree more with the dismissal of the Hyundai entry in the US as being a piece of crap. It was the first car (1986 Excel hatchback) that I ever owned and it lasted far longer (150,000) miles than the Honda Civic that I replaced it with. When I went to trade it, the Honda Service Mgr had all his mechanics stop what they were doing and check it out-couldn't believe the mileage. Oh, and this was before global warming and that car climbed snowbanks that my neighbor's Toyota Tacoma struggled with. All for $4995!

    Posted by Peter June 29, 09 01:43 PM
  1. The Genesis is truely the begenning of taking a second look at Hyundai.

    The XG 'Grandeur' models were stately lookers. The Azera is a curvaceous subtle beauty. And now the Genesis; the proper executive's car with an ominous rib-cage grill and wide appearance.

    The coupe on the other hand is the automotive version of abstract art. Those who 'get it', love it. But to many it's too avante-gard with that unusual window design and other unharmonious lines. But it's fast, if thats any consolation.

    Next time you see the coupe up close notice the square shaped door mirrors. It seems weird on a curved body but I must admit, it works.

    Posted by Andy June 29, 09 01:46 PM
  1. Don't forget to mention it has a Lexicon sound system, only available elsewhere on a Rolls Royce.
    Everytime I see a well-styled Genesis on the road, I think, there goes a savvy auto consumer whose saving hard-earned dollars or spending on something additional...
    One day I hope to join their ranks. :-)
    And, have you seen their upcoming new Equus, one size up?
    Well done, Hyundai.

    Posted by Autoist June 29, 09 02:32 PM
  1. It's strange though that Hyundai couldn't come up with a new badge for these cars as the Japanese car makers did with theirs. The current badge leaves much to be desired--one reason why I don't buy Hyundai. It must be outright the worst badge design ever conceived. Any Hyundai executive listening?

    Posted by Anonymous June 29, 09 03:03 PM
  1. "4.6 liter, 375 horsepower V-8. That V-8, with 333 lb.-ft. of pulling power, is relatively fuel efficient, being rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway. "

    WOW!!! That is impressive. I'd do 'er.

    Not with the taupe two-tone dash though.

    Posted by mikeybigboy June 29, 09 03:36 PM
  1. $38K? Give me a 328xi.

    Posted by FJ June 29, 09 03:37 PM
  1. Is this a review or an advertisement?

    Posted by TTT123 June 29, 09 03:55 PM
  1. Bought an Azera in spring 06, 55K on the clock now and NO problems. When the time comes it will be replaced with a Genesis. Hyundai gives you the most bang for buck,

    Posted by CK June 29, 09 04:15 PM
  1. After a lifetime of owning Volvo and Honda cars, the Genesis made me take my first look at Hyundai. I ended up purchasing the Genesis Coupe, which I've had now for two weeks. After test driving and considering other brands, there was no reason to purchase anything else. The Hyundai Genesis cars are exceptional, in my opinion. You can't beat the price and the features, not to mention the warranty. I can't believe I am in love with a Hyundai, but I am!!

    Posted by Rick Pie June 29, 09 04:27 PM
  1. I thought Hyundai hit it right with the Azera, great entry-level luxury car for the money. Clearly the Genesis is a step above the Azera, but it's so much more than that. I have an Audi Allroad and Cadillac SRX and the Genesis is spot on for alot less money. If you haven't driven a Hyundai in the last few years you owe it to yourself.

    Posted by KB June 29, 09 05:09 PM
  1. Would have liked to have seen a few more comments on driving the car. Road noise, engine sounds and responsiveness, steering, handling, braking. "The proof of the pudding is in the driving."

    Posted by J.D., Boston June 29, 09 05:18 PM
  1. Hyundai seems to be morphing into a powerhouse car maker.
    I hear their dealer services are terrible. Maybe they'll get better too.

    Posted by Steve L. June 29, 09 07:18 PM
  1. Or for $45k you can get a REAL Mercedes Benz S-Class that is only 2 to 3 years old.

    Posted by Philipp June 29, 09 07:19 PM
  1. Its that persistent, steady march forward in the auto market, that impresses me. Good for them.
    That Hyundai Excel , first introduced in 1985, was essentially a rebadged Mitsubishi.
    In a ferocious market they held their own and is now selling more units as all others selling fewer.
    Hyundai, as in Mr. Hyundai; is an enormous conglomerate which has GIVEN North Korea gifts. Gifts such as complete railroad systems, complete cities. All buit with Hyundai technology.

    Posted by Chuck June 29, 09 11:18 PM
  1. That is funny how ppl doesn't take into account of how long before the car start falling apart, comparing apple to orange, come on get your head out of those advertising hype.

    Posted by nguyen27 June 30, 09 08:23 AM
  1. Hyundai doesnt make luxury cars....this car will get no respect as long as it keeps the hyundai name...the hyundai image is just tainted by its recent success...the brand image is of small entry level cars...there is no heritage to be proud will never hear kids saying they wish they could drive a hyundai when they grow needs to create another division to put this and the larger equus sedan into upperscale line...because this car is a joke if its a hyundai...dont you people have standards?

    Posted by EJFX June 30, 09 08:56 AM
  1. Steve L. wrote "I hear their dealer services are terrible."

    You would be right if they went to the Hyundai in Auburn. The main guy there is a characature of the sleezy salesman image. Slicked back hair, dollar store suit, and a smile that charms snakes.

    I wanted a Hyundai XG that they had in the paper. It was used, 60k,$6,999. I wanted it.

    I called ahead, they said they had it. Drove down and they said it just sold. Yeah right. I was like 15 mins away.

    The sick thing is in the next weeks paper the SAME exact listing for the XG was printed. I called and they said they had it. It was a scam to get you in the door. The car did not exist on the lot. Bad business.

    They tried to get me to look at an Accent. Bah! I came for the top of the line sedan and they try to sell me the bottom of the barrel subcompact. Ridicullous.

    I'm sure there are better Hyundai dealers elsewhere.

    Posted by Andy June 30, 09 09:06 AM
  1. For Steve L. --- had a Hyundai Santa Fe (the early version) and loved it. Got rid of it BECAUSE of the service at the dealer. They were always polite, etc. and I never felt that things were over priced (and/or it was covered under the warranty) but it always took so freaking long ... they covered the rental car, but the hassle was too much. I know others who like/love Hyundai but also hate the service. If you have a good local mechanic who knows foreign cars, go with them. And/or live close to the dealer ... and drop it off at the crack of dawn.

    Posted by Edward S. June 30, 09 09:26 AM
  1. why not just buy a lexus or an audi or something not a hyundai for that money? why not a fully loaded camaro with a 100 more horsepower for the same money? especially if its rear wheel drive

    Posted by kyle June 30, 09 09:54 AM
  1. Hyundai has come a long way. I had a Hyundai Sonata for a rental car last month and was really impressed. It didn't handle very well and the styling was pretty bland, but the V-6 engine had plenty of power and the interior was comfortable and spacious. It manages to hold its own against the Malibus and Impalas. It's definitely a good buy for someone who doesn't care about cars. The downside was that the transmission started to die (it had about 27K miles), so I had to return it to the rental company - they gave me a sluggish, cramped, 4-cylinder Mazda 6 as a replacement which left me yearning for the Sonata.

    Posted by kdilkington June 30, 09 10:26 AM
  1. I attended the car show this winter in Boston and was disappointed by the uninspired American models - design and engineering. I kept coming back to the Genesis - beautiful! It's going to take more than waving the American flag to get consumers to part with their hard-earned dollars. Hyundai is on the money.

    Posted by wallbuck June 30, 09 11:15 AM
  1. How much did Hyundai pay for this "review?"

    Posted by Keating5 June 30, 09 11:52 AM
  1. Rick Pie - what did you shop it against?

    Posted by mikeybigboy June 30, 09 12:15 PM
  1. Philipp - why? "Or for $45k you can get a REAL Mercedes Benz S-Class that is only 2 to 3 years old." Because image is worth more than true performance and value?

    It will be interesting to see how this car holds its value in the resale market and what the actual reliability results look like in a few years.

    Posted by NHViewpoint June 30, 09 12:23 PM
  1. Look it's the little car made of clay - made to look like a real car. Got to love the east asians. Let the rest of the world develop the quality merchandise, then take one, cheapen the crap out of it, and whore it out at cut throat prices.

    Posted by whole new hyudai.... suckers June 30, 09 12:24 PM
  1. Me thinks that servicing the Hyundai will be a fair sight cheaper than servicing a Benz.

    Hyundai is applying the successful formula of Honda, Toyota, and Nissan.

    Dark clouds continue to gather over the world's car makers.

    Neither Porsche nor BMW can afford to go it alone in the future.

    Further consolidation/fallout is enevitable.

    Posted by The End is Near June 30, 09 12:53 PM
  1. Right, and you get all the 'real' Mercedes Benz issues and service costs to go with it. The days of the over engineered, teutonic MB are long past... it's time to let go.

    Posted by Matt June 30, 09 12:57 PM
  1. This April, I traded my Mercedes E430 sport and bought the fully loaded Genesis. I have driven the car 4600 (mostly highway)miles and could not be happier. The car handles every bit as well as the Mercedes. Rides better,is faster,stops quicker. Doesn't require premium gas and on a trip from Florida to Ohio and on to N.E. my MPG reading exceeded 28. My interior is solid black (not two toned as shown). The dealer put a Genesis badge on the trunk rather than the wavy H. My grandson, who is a car nut, thought it was the new Bentley.
    My only complaint: Lulu, the GPS girl, tends to end the search 2 or 3 houses before you actually get there. Make sure you remember the house #.

    Posted by Bill Brauneis June 30, 09 01:03 PM
  1. While it does look good, and I'm sure it drives well, it's still hard to get past the Hyundai "stigma". Let's be honest, for the majority of luxury sedan buyers, the brand is as important as any other feature. Hyundai's brand reads affordability, not luxury. It will take a major shift in their current lineup to change that, unless they decide to branch out, like Toyota did with Lexus, and Honda did with Acura.

    Posted by Alex A June 30, 09 01:53 PM
  1. i bet it is poorly designed and low quality inside, once it reaches 50k miles it will start falling cant compare this with a BMW or Mercedes

    Posted by albialbi June 30, 09 01:54 PM
  1. Would have liked to have seen a few more comments on driving the car. Road noise, engine sounds and responsiveness, steering, handling, braking. "The proof of the pudding is in the driving."

    Posted by J.D., Boston June 30, 09 02:29 PM
  1. 328xi coming right up FJ, don't forget the extra $9k you'll pay
    for the lack of room and the $2,500 of free maintenance BMW
    is kindly "giving" you. Enjoy!

    Posted by Phil June 30, 09 03:32 PM
  1. Drove the Acrura TL, Mercedes 300 4Matic & Infiniti G37..........bought the Genesis last month. The car is ANY PRICE!
    I haven't gone a day where somebody didn't ask me about it. My Lexus, Mercedes, BMW driving friends can't believe this car for the money. I've got the reputation among the guys as "the research guy". Typically I buy first..........they follow.

    Posted by Jackson June 30, 09 05:38 PM
  1. I have to be honest - I'm a snob, and hence, wouldn't buy anything with the Hyundai name on it. I remember all too well how really awful their cars were, and they developed such a bad reputation that I'd snicker at every one.

    They should have ditched the name and gone with something else when they first started to build good cars - about 5 years ago. If they changed the name of the company, I'd buy one now.

    Posted by jeff3851 June 30, 09 06:20 PM
  1. I agree with comment #4. Hyundai needs to come up with a luxury line like Acura and Lexus. Then, and only then, will the luxury buyer seriously consider the Genesis. It might be a great car with all the bells and whistles. It might be the best value out there. But Hyundai has a reputation as a value car not a premium label with dealerships built to pamper the luxury customer.

    Posted by kentrosi June 30, 09 07:12 PM
  1. Buy American.

    Posted by Anonymous June 30, 09 08:58 PM
  1. Hey Philipp, why would anyone pay $45K for a 2-3 yr old car? Just because it's an S class? Please. There's a reason they depreciate so quickly - the tranny in the E and S classes are terrible. But hey, if you like having your car in for repairs, by all means go ahead and spend your money on a used S class.

    Posted by KB June 30, 09 10:03 PM
  1. The Genesis sedan is roughly the same exterior size as the Lexus LS,

    spacious interior as Lexus LS,

    and the Genesis outperformed Lexus GS.

    The Mark Levinson (which equipped in Lexus LS) and the Lexicon, two manufacturers are made by the same company, Harman International.

    The Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Genesis sedan are the only automobiles to offer the Lexicon audio system.

    This car is the most safest car than any other vehicles in its class.

    Conclusion : BMW 5 series, Lexus GS are not "image" competitors of Genesis sedan. THIS car certainly surpass BMW 5 series and Lexus GS, with hyundai price.

    Posted by Anonymous July 1, 09 05:57 AM
  1. I'm not interested in a Luxury car, especially with poor mileage. Anyone conciencious about the environment shound't buy a car with V8 and 4.6 litter engine. I consider buying small Hyundai, however, I just hate the name Hyundai. It sounds so aweful. Unless they change their name or come up with a new brand, they need a lot of convincing for me..

    Posted by Ikuko Otsuka July 1, 09 09:00 AM
  1. Korea does not allow any American products, especially American cars, into their market so I always avoid buying Korean products.

    Posted by wilson July 1, 09 11:03 AM
  1. Back in the 1980's, Hyundai make cheap tin-can cars. Their quality improved greatly in the 1990's. I owned a 1999 Hyundai Elantra for several years. That car made it to 160K miles with very few issues. They've improved quite a bit more in the last 10 years. Although my current car is not a Hyundai, I would gladly purchase another one in the future.

    Posted by rox63 July 1, 09 12:53 PM
  1. Just bought a Hyundai Sonata to replace a 10 year old Toyota. I agree with the review that Hyundai has come a long way in 10 years. I saw the Genesis in the showroom, would have bought it, but it was out of my price range.

    Posted by RB July 1, 09 12:55 PM
  1. I can't believe everyone here knocking Hyundai as a cheap automobile and raving the Honda and Toyotas. When Toyota/Datsun/Honda's first came into the states, they were considered the Cheap "rice cookers" of its day. Now they're considered the best quality cars on the market. Give it time.....Hyundai will be up that same "quality" ladder too. I remember Toyota/Hondas/Datsun (now Nissan) were considered "junk".
    Toyota's quality is good...but what made they're quality great was years ago, shops were making repairs without reporting it and made their "quality" look off the chart fantastic!

    Posted by falcon July 2, 09 08:50 AM
  1. Folks, it's still a Hyundai. I'll keep my BMW, thanks. What a f-in stupid car.

    Posted by jojo July 2, 09 10:29 AM
  1. Hey Hyundai owners! Call in 2 yrs when the paint on this POS is faded, plastic is falling off, and it's making strange noises. Buy German cars always!

    Posted by kappy July 2, 09 10:37 AM
  1. I work at a car rental place where we have pretty much all kinds of cars and I think Korean cars are the best deal you can find. Hyundai and Kia has come a long way and their cars are a little less expensive than competitors but with better features and much longer warranty. If someone offered me a Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, Chevy Cobalt or Ford Focus for free, I would definitely pick Hyundai or Kia. Seriously even if I had to pay more for the Hyundai or Kia I would do it. I read an article by consumer reports that Hyundai rates better in reliabilty than Honda. I'm not kidding, you have to test drive these cars.

    Posted by Bro July 2, 09 10:48 AM
  1. I've owned a 2009 Sonata since last November and love it, however also had a very bad experience with the dealership - Route 44 Hyundai in Raynham. Had the car for two days and the tire went flat. Took it back to the dealership and they told me I hit something and there was piece of metal in it. Wanted to sell me a replacement for $293.00. I took it to Sears and they sold me the same Michelin tire for $177.00. Also said there was no metal in it. Sears called Michelin on my behalf and found out it was a defective tire - seam separation. Within two weeks I had a check from Michelin for full reimbursement.

    Posted by MC July 2, 09 11:17 AM
  1. I agree with comment #5 110%

    Honda came out with Acura, Nissan with Infiniti, Toyota with Lexus...Heck VW owns Audi and Porche...this car deserves an upscale brand name because it's gorgeous, but at the end of the day you're still driving around in a $40k Hyundai...and frankly that brand will never command that kind of money.

    Posted by Car man July 2, 09 11:20 AM
  1. I drove the Genesis when it first was introduced an impressive vehicle. I have been equally impressed with the Azera that is smaller and sells for $8,000 less.

    This month I was in the market for a new car and once again drove and considered the Genesis. At the end of the day I could not rationalize paying $30K+ for the Hyundai and opted for a certified pre owned Mercedes for considerably less.

    I could not look myself in the mirror for spending over $30K for the Hyundai regardless of how good a car it might be.

    Posted by Geek July 2, 09 06:01 PM
  1. fiat owns now has a stake in american and u have ferrari parts..


    seriously, only problem with hyundai's is trade in value...the cars truly tank in value quickly.

    Posted by nino s July 2, 09 11:22 PM
  1. just like japanese vehicles once were, the koreans have had a historically low volume of car production in their own country, hence the low quality and few model introductions introduced into the US markets.

    Opening a door into the US market of consumers will produce better vehicles over time, as sales increase. I believe both korean makes have shattered any growth numbers year after year over other competitors.

    japanese vehicle's have a 15 year head start on US consumers..and fairly giving them the value and quality they produce in automobiles.

    history repeats itself..

    Posted by nino s July 2, 09 11:34 PM
  1. I'll buy an Audi A4 for that money

    Posted by ace1957 July 3, 09 09:54 AM
  1. I seem to recall that the Genesis was suppposed to be the first car in the lineup of a new Hyundai luxury division but after the design was along, they decided not to start it with the start of the economic downturn.

    Posted by Mark McKenna August 9, 09 03:00 PM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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