One of the pleasant surprises of the 2009 model year is the Hyundai Genesis. This new, rear-wheel drive sedan fits neatly into the luxury category with such standard items as plush leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering wheel radio controls, a full complement of safety equipment (including eight airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control) and alloy wheels among the many features. The surprises? One, it's a Hyundai!
The South Korean automaker that came onto the scene with budget vehicles had already inched its way into "bigger" territory with the Azera sedan, but now is aiming at what previously would have been pipe-dream rivals like Lexus or even Mercedes.
The reason for this reach comparison is price, which takes us along to surprise No. 2. The Genesis starts at $32,250 for a car with a 290-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 engine. The 375-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 that we drove starts at $37,250 and adds a sunroof, driver's memory system, in-dash six-disc CD changer, rain-sensing wipers and 18-inch wheels.
Even with a $4,000 Technology Package that includes navigation system, cooled driver's seat, back-up camera and front and rear parking sensors and auto-leveling headlights among other items, the final retail price was $41,250. Compare that to some vehicles with similar features for $20,000 more.
Quality concerns? Don't underestimate Hyundai, plus there is a stellar warranty. The third surprise is the modest (make that calculated) approach by Hyundai. There is no Hyundai badging on the front. To see this vehicle is to first be impressed by the looks of another classy sedan. Only the Hyundai H and Genesis labeling on the rear fill you in. Actually, check that. You won't be completely filled in until you give the Genesis a try. You might be surprised.
By David Mikesell
Cox News Service
New York Daily News