2009 Hyundai Genesis Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 13, 2008

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis is an extremely plush, comfortable luxury sedan, with a dash of sporty character; it costs less, but lacks the prestige of luxury-brand rivals.

The automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com have consulted with reviews from a range of respected sources to produce this comprehensive report covering the 2009 Hyundai Genesis. TheCarConnection.com’s editors have seen the Genesis up close and bring you additional observations that may help distinguish it from the competition.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis is an entirely new, sporty rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan that takes the top position in Hyundai’s lineup, above the front-wheel-drive Azera.

From the outside, the Genesis is proportioned as nicely as most sport sedans from Europe or Japan, but its styling cues are more familiar than fresh; its bright and prominent grille design is perhaps the most memorable attribute.

Review continues below

Inside, the cabin feels much less derivative and follows an especially distinctive design path, with gentle, flowing curves and a horizontal dashboard design that minimizes the center console and allows a more open front-seat area. Depending on the trim, the door panels and console lid are wrapped in leather. Seating space is also a strong point, especially in back where the Genesis is much more spacious than most sport sedans, and acoustic laminated glass helps cut down road and wind noise.

Two models of the 2009 Hyundai Genesis will be offered; the Genesis 3.8 comes with a 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6, while the Genesis 4.6 packs a 375-hp, 4.6-liter V-8. Both engines deliver their power through six-speed automatic transmissions, and both meet tighter ULEV-II emissions standards. Premium unleaded fuel is recommended for the V-8, but both models have respectable fuel economy, with the V-6 rating 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.

The V-8 model can accelerate to 60 mph in less than six seconds, according to Hyundai, and an advanced, aluminum-intensive, five-link suspension setup helps provide responsive handling with good ride comfort; kickback through the steering wheel is said to be reduced by the arrangement. Though the arrangement doesn’t provide the kind of road feel or agility when pushed hard as the best European sport sedans do, it strikes a good balance of comfort and responsiveness.

Standard features on both Genesis models include dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a proximity entry system, a power sunroof, power heated side mirrors, heated leather seats, and a seven-speaker sound system. The 4.6 model upgrades to premium upholstery, a rear sunshade, a leather-wrapped dash, and rain-sensing wipers. A Technology Package adds ultrasonic front and rear parking sensors, a heated and cooled driver’s seat, and adaptive front lighting, along with a navigation system and DVD changer.

There’s also a Lexicon surround-sound audio system with 500 watts, 12 channels, and 17 speakers, plus an HD radio tuner. All Genesis sound systems come with XM Satellite Radio and inputs for USB and iPod attachments, and models with the navigation system also bring the XM NavTraffic service, a Bluetooth interface, and a screen-based menu system.

The Genesis comes with all the expected safety equipment for a high-end luxury sedan, and then some. Side-curtain airbags for front and back occupants, front side airbags, rear side airbags, and active front head restraints are included, along with electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. The 2009 Hyundai Genesis received five-star crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but has not yet been crash-tested by the insurance-affiliated IIHS.

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2009 Hyundai Genesis

Styling

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis might be mistaken on the street—or inside—for a more prestigious luxury brand, but that’s a good thing.

Nearly every reviewer noted that the 2009 Hyundai Genesis has styling that takes no chances and is conservative, if not downright bland. “In contrast to the advanced engineering in the Genesis, the styling is more cautious,” said Car and Driver.

Several of the reviews also pointed to the tasteful but derivative nature of the design. Edmunds said, “This Hyundai looks and feels very much like a top-line Lexus,” and Automobile assessed the Genesis’s overall effect as “at worst benign, the car assuming a kind of generic upscale visage.” Car and Driver best summed up all the cues, pointing to “a bit of S-Class in the headlights, a hint of Lexus GS in the hood, some 5-series in the taillights, and a BMW- or Nissan-like kink in the C-pillars.”

The prominent, brightly chromed grille, which helps bring a sense of proportion from the front, was the focus of several positive comments. Autoblog didn’t heap as much praise as the rest, saying simply that beyond the grille, the styling isn’t that memorable.

Though the exterior of the 2009 Hyundai Genesis did little to raise the pulse of any reviewers, most were gushing with compliments regarding the stylish interior, which wows with surfaces, materials, and hues unseen on Hyundai’s lesser models. “If the exterior sets modest expectations, the interior exceeds them,” said Car and Driver. Nearly all versions of the Genesis come with a leather-wrapped dash and glossy wood accents. Most said that these rank it alongside vehicles from traditional luxury brands, but Motor Trend took issue with the “unconvincing fake wood appliqués.”

The dashboard forgoes the pronounced dual-cockpit design of some sport sedans for a more open design. “The soft curves of the sweeping dashboard architecture are complemented by an elegantly adorned center stack,” describes Edmunds, also noting, “The instrument panel’s white-on-black electroluminescent gauges look like they came straight out of a Lexus.”

TheCarConnection.com’s editors share the views of most of our colleagues; if you don’t catch the grille—which looks a bit like those on older Mercedes-Benz models from some angles—the Genesis blends into the crowd. But then again, that probably goes to show that Hyundai has achieved its goal. Its interior, with its rich materials and a design unlike that of Hyundai’s mainstream vehicles, is impressive by any measure.

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2009 Hyundai Genesis

Performance

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis has impressive power and poise but ultimately lacks sport-sedan edginess.

Hyundai positions the rear-wheel-drive 2009 Hyundai Genesis as a competitor to some of the top sport sedans from Germany. Most reviewers lauded the depth and sophistication of the engineering in the Genesis but reported that performance, while rivaling them in numbers, wasn’t quite up to European standards of tactility and poise.

Nearly all of the publications who have reviewed the Genesis at the time of this writing were invited to a preview event in South Korea, and some reported that the driving experience was too short to provide a full evaluation of the Genesis’s performance. TheCarConnection.com’s editors drove the Genesis extensively on U.S. roads.

The base 2009 Hyundai Genesis comes with a 290-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 engine, but the real star of the lineup is the new V-8 model, featuring an all-new 4.6-liter Tau V-8. Car and Driver noted that the engine’s output of 375 hp on premium fuel “puts the engine in a fairly exclusive crowd,” but several other reviewers noted the lack of direct-injection technology in the V-8 engine, surprised by such an omission on a new engine. But Popular Mechanics commended the V-8’s 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway fuel economy numbers, declaring them “right in line with the best of the segment.”

Both engines get a six-speed manual transmission, but several reviewers noticed the omission of steering-wheel paddle-shifters—now almost a requisite feature in sport sedans. Automobile clarified that the Genesis actually gets two different automatic transmissions: an Aisin with the V-6 and a ZF with the V-8.

There were no complaints about the Genesis’s straight-line quickness or braking. Car and Driver cited the Genesis’s 5.6-second 0-60-mph time, among other impressive performance figures, saying, “That puts the Genesis in with the lofty company it aspires to compare with.” Autoblog couldn’t find a good practical reason to buy the V-8 over the V-6, though, as the latter is nearly as fast, costs less money, and is otherwise almost identical. The V-6 version can reach 130 mph, while the V-8 tops out at 155 mph.

The way in which the 2009 Hyundai Genesis handles was much more a subject of controversy. The suspension, according to Car and Driver, “is as sophisticated as they come,” with aluminum components and a four-link front arrangement that helps reduce bump steer. “Our brief driving impression revealed well-controlled drive motions, predictable handling, and an excellent powertrain,” said Car and Driver.

Automobile appealed for more road and steering feel, commenting that “for a sedan that so unabashedly aims for the best from Germany, it still needs a more Teutonic tilt to the chassis tuning.” Road & Track explained that Hyundai has made an effort to firm up the Genesis’s multilink front and rear suspension for the U.S. market, yet it’s tuned to favor comfort. Car and Driver agreed that “the Genesis is tuned more for Lexus-like isolation than BMW-like involvement.” “Push it hard, though, and the front tires scrub into the pavement,” said Motor Trend, reiterating the lack of handling sportiness.

While the electrohydraulic steering system in V-8 models brings reasonably communicative steering, the V-6 models have an inferior system with “a disappointing lack of steering feel,” according to Automobile. The steering was also criticized by Motor Trend as somewhat light and numb, and said that it required more small corrections at high speed than the Infiniti M35. Popular Mechanics was more creative, saying that when pushed hard, the Genesis “felt like it was floating through a bucket of marshmallow fluff.”

With comparison BMW 530i, Infiniti M35, and Lexus ES 350 models on hand in South Korea, Winding Road said otherwise, curiously. Hyundai got the chassis tuning just about right, they said. “The solid chassis is nimble and strikes the right balance between agile and comfy.”

To TheCarConnection.com's editors, it's difficult to find a reason not to choose either engine. The 290-horsepower V-6 is strong and smooth enough, but the V-8 is truly remarkable. With 375 horsepower, it never seems to run out of energy. The six-speed automatic transmission coupled to both engines has a manual mode, but shift paddles would greatly accentuate the "sport" tag that Hyundai wants to be applied to the Genesis. In terms of ride and handling, the Genesis is clearly biased toward the former. It's fairly unflappable cruising over large bumps at freeway speed, and even in some back-to-back handling tests arranged by Hyundai, the Genesis acquits itself well against the Mercedes E-Class and the BMW 7-Series, even. The Genesis, though, is less confident at truly high speeds than the Germans; the cushy ride gets a little nervous at triple-digit speeds, though it never loses composure. Rapid switchbacks bring out the roll and lean designed into the ride quality, but it's controllable stuff--and another sign of Hyundai's growing confidence in tuning its cars to handle well, if on the softer side of the spectrum.

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2009 Hyundai Genesis

Comfort & Quality

The plush 2009 Hyundai Genesis is one of the roomiest and quietest large sedans, with interior trim that rivals top luxury brands.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis has an extremely spacious interior—especially in back. “Every single passenger dimension on a spec sheet is more ample in the Genesis than in any of its competition,” said Winding Road. Automobile mentioned that the Genesis qualifies as a "large" sedan according to the EPA, though it doesn’t quite have the rear-seat space of a long-wheelbase 7-Series or Lexus LS.

“The seats are as comfortable as they appear,” said Edmunds, regarding the front seats, “although they lack the kind of firm, highly bolstered Germanic treatment a sport sedan enthusiast might enjoy.”

The Genesis’s cabin is quieter and more refined than most entry-luxury vehicles, according to reviewers. Popular Mechanics mentioned the “thick levels of engine sound damping,” while Winding Road declared, “Wind, road, and engine noise are at or close to segment best.” Popular Mechanics also relished the isolation inside, saying that “there was very little noise intrusion inside the cocoon-like cockpit of this quiet sedan.”

Reviewers were at odds about assembly quality and the fine details of the 2009 Hyundai Genesis. “Fit and finish, stitching, touch, materials, and integration are all very good,” raved Autoblog, keeping in mind the under-$40,000 price tag for the V-8.

“The Genesis isn’t just the best-appointed Hyundai, it’s good enough to be judged against established marques,” raved Car and Driver.

Automobile also lauded fit and finish and the materials used, but pointed to the unconvincing “stitched leather” seats, saying that it would be more convincing “if it were French stitched, with two rows of stitching rather than one.” Popular Mechanics found fault with some of the details on their pre-production test car, including doors that shudder when slammed, and rear shelf speakers that were exposed to the trunk.

TheCarConnection.com's editors could only find a minor flaw or two in the Genesis' upscale cabin. It's heavily reminiscent of the Infiniti M, especially in the center stack, where a wave of silver buttons controls the major functions (there's also an iDrive-like controller that manipulates media and climate controls). The buttons can be hard to pick out from behind the wheel, when you just want to speed up the fan--but the look is sophisticated and rich. Hyundai's entertainment controller made connecting to music in an iPhone a breeze, and its navigation menus seemed far easier to use than some setups. Front seats have ample cushioning, and the back seat has truly adult-sized room; you can cross a leg over knee and still have enough room between it and the front seatback. A minor ripple in a pre-production V-8 sedan with the leather-trimmed dash was the only noticeable flaw on TheCarConnection.com's test vehicles.

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2009 Hyundai Genesis

Safety

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis has an all-new structure, along with the latest safety features, but it has not yet been tested.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis received five stars for front and side-impact crash protection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not tested it yet. TheCarConnection.com will update this section when those scores become available.

Edmunds reported expected “world-class crashworthiness” from its new structure and pointed to its “full complement of active and passive safety features” such as the fully integrated stability control and braking systems and full roster of airbags.

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2009 Hyundai Genesis

Features

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis will be well equipped even by most luxury standards, but it lacks a few of the standout high-tech features that differentiate the world’s top sport sedans.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis uses a centralized, screen-driven control system similar to BMW’s iDrive, called the Driver Information System, and it was almost universally appreciated by reviewers. Motor Trend declared that “it works much better, with controls duplicated elsewhere on the dash.” Edmunds also applauded how some frequently used controls are “thankfully made redundant with more ergonomically friendly controls on the steering wheel or by the multimedia controller on the center console just aft of the shift lever.” Autoblog also heaped on the praise, saying, “Credit goes to Hyundai for creating an IP interface that we like almost as much as the Jaguar XF’s,” with the right amount of buttons to get the job done quickly, though they noted that a touch screen would have made it even better.

Inside the cabin, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis has a few of the latest high-tech features available, such as a live traffic feature for the navigation system and a power rear sunshade. Adaptive cruise control will be available in late 2009, according to Car and Driver.

But Automobile pointed out the technology features that the Genesis lacks compared to the competition, including all-wheel drive, direct injection, variable valve lift, air suspension, and dual-clutch gearboxes.

Several reviewers noted that Hyundai is offering a high-end sound system from Lexicon—a brand that’s only otherwise available in Rolls-Royce.

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November 12, 2015
2009 Hyundai Genesis 4-Door Sedan 3.8L V6

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This vehicle is a pleasure to drive and has a ton of standard comforts/technologies cost extra in the upper end luxury vehicles. It is really great car when driving for long periods of time. The ease of using... + More »
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