The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada named the 2009 Hyundai Genesis sedan Best New Luxury Car Under $50,000.
By any measure, the Genesis was a significant step forward for the South Korean company, and a worthy contender in the upscale sedan market. It also became the company's flagship model, supplanting the Azera.
Worth noting is the fact that the Genesis was – and still is – rear-wheel-drive and was not built on an existing platform; this was a brand-new car from end to end, and represented a complete market shift for Hyundai.
Although a coupe followed later, in 2009, there were initially two versions, both sedans. One was propelled by a 3.8-litre V-6 engine and the other by a 4.6-litre "Tau" V-8. Although the V-6 powerplant had been around for a while (used in the Azera, for example) the engine powering the latter version of the Genesis was all-new for the company and featured Hyundai's in-house variable valve timing system. Hyundai claimed it would take the 1,869-kilogram Genesis from a standing start to 100 km/h in less than six seconds. It developed 375 horsepower running on premium grade gas, and seven less on regular.
Both engines were mated to a six-speed automatic transmission only, with Hyundai's Shiftronic manual shift feature, and traction control and vehicle stability systems, and the V-8 came with a limited-slip differential as standard equipment.
The Genesis definitely projected luxury and presence and, although a tad generic, was easy on the eyes. Ditto with the interior, which was about as comfortable as these things get and featured graceful lines everywhere and simple, understandable ergonomics for the instrumentation and switchgear.
But, arguably, the Genesis' strongest point was its equipment level. Even the base model was loaded, with a full leather interior, dual-zone climate control system, tasteful wood trim, steering-wheel-mounted controls, XM satellite radio, heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, power tilt/telescoping steering, and Bluetooth capability.
With the Technology Package, you could also order a navi system, ventilated driver's seat, rear-window sunshade and a tilt/slide power sunroof with shade. It may have been Hyundai's first foray into luxury car territory, but the Genesis managed to make this car feel upscale without overdoing it.
So, how has it stood up in the intervening years?
Not completely trouble-free, but not bad for a first effort. The good news is that there are no safety recalls to report, either with Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, the latter organization has 30 technical service bulletins on file, ranging from "harsh shifting" issues with the transmission, problems with the fuel filler door, to wonky brake lights that blink on and off at random. Also, plenty of software and electrical updates and advisories for service personnel. Things appear to improve in 2010.
Consumer Reports is on the fence with this one. It appreciates the Genesis' value-for-money factor, but has apprehensions about its "nervous" ride, power equipment and fuel system. The 2009 edition (and 2010, for that matter) gets an "average" used-car prediction from this organization. Some comments from owners: "For the price, you can't beat it," "Brakes squeak in reverse on cold days," "Ride is unsettled and bumpy" and "Don't be concerned about this being a Hyundai."
Market research firm J.D. Power gives the first year of the Genesis top marks for overall performance, design and dependability. It also scores well for comfort and interior features. In short, this organization likes this one a lot.
From a base price of just less than $38,000 for the V-6 and $44,000 for the V-8, the Genesis has dropped by almost half, depending upon equipment level. Expect to pay in the low to mid-$20,000 range for the V-6 and another $3,000-$4,000 for the V-8.
2009 Hyundai Genesis
Original Base Price: $37,995 and $43,995; Black Book: $23,225-$26,875; Red Book: $18,875-$21,350
Engine: 3.8-litre V-6 and 4.6-litre V-8
290 hp/264 lb-ft for V-6; 375 hp/385 lb-ft for V-8
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual shift feature
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.6 city/8.1 highway (V-8); regular or premium gas
Alternatives:Toyota Avalon, Pontiac G8, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima, Dodge Charger SXT, Mazda6, Honda Accord V-6, Acura TL, Infiniti G37, Cadillac CTS, BMW 5-Series.