2009 Hyundai GenesisEnlarge Photo
In a big score for Hyundai with its bold move upmarket into the luxury class with its new Genesis sedan, the firm was awarded the coveted North American Car of The Year by a group of auto journalists and critics from the U.S. and Canada. The Genesis beat out the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Ford Flex, the other finalists in the car category.
Time will tell whether the new Genesis sedan is a sales success. It arrives during a tough market and boldly competes with the likes of established players like the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6. Many critics have found fault with the Genesis' overly soft suspension tuning, but it's hard to argue with the power of its stout Tau V-8 or the impresssive blend of economy and power of its 3.8-liter V-6. In addition, its cavernous back seat is a standout. We rated the Genesis an 8.2 out of 10 overall in our review.
The timing might just be perfect, as the Genesis rings in at a lower base price than its Germanic competition, and by our yardstick the interior is the equal of the stunning Mercedes S-Class. Besides, most drivers in this luxury class are less concerned with corner carving than they are with comfort and convenience.
This is the 16th year of NACOTY, which was modeled after the well-known European Car Of The Year contest. Jurors judge the cars on a number of factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar, and showing that this isn't just a manufacturer-based PR stunt or a self-congratulatory press junket, the awards are funded entirely by the organization's dues, in turn paid by the jurors themselves.
Good work Hyundai. The Excel is but a hazy memory.--Colin Mathews