2010 Hyundai Genesis: A V-6 Gem

December 29, 2009

Not long ago, the name Hyundai was to luxury cars what plastic roses are to Valentine's Day.  The Korean brand didn't generate motoring passion.

That's changed.  Like its mid-size Azera sedan, Hyundai's latest car shows that its designers, engineers and suppliers whip up a convincing alternatives to better-known tony mobility.  For instance, tastefully restrained thin-edge interior bright accents complement its rich coffee-color, bespoke dash inlays.  Above your head is a Germanic no-fray, nipped and tucked headliner. Another pleasant surprise: Steinway-quality climate controls.

Hyundai's Genesis creators wanted to blend in rather than stand out.  For instance, the badge-free Lexus-like waterfall grille, BMW-esque bubble-butt trunk lid, and stout Audi-style multifunction control knob flanked by buttons poached from a 1950s Zenith radio won't swivel heads at country clubs.  Parking valets, however, will expect their customary tips--unaware that what looks like an expensive V-8 land yacht costs $36,000.

Unless those valets go for a joy ride, they wont notice the 3.8-liter, 290-hp V-6 engine's satisfying punch or its cooperative six-speed automatic transmission.  They will notice the 2010 Genesis' sparkle-free instruments are a welcome relief from the current glitzy-gauge blitz.  In contrast, the info screen's Playskool graphics are amusing rather than sophisticated.  Other miscues include driveline whine, floppy headrests and a soft brake pedal.  Stability control is standard.

Four adults fit into the Genesis' nicely, if thinly, padded interior.  They'll appreciate its gentle ride.  But on Wisconsin's frost-heaved pavement, this car, which rolls on Dunlop's 235/50X18 Sport 5000 tires, slowly bounces heads against backrests like foam-rubber paddle balls.  Its a four-wheel waterbed with a rattling center-front arm rest.

Your luggage slides into a shallow but long trunk flanked by formfitting low-grade carpeting.  And there's a sub-par, rear-seat pass-through.  Yet, whether opening its lids or shutting its doors, the silky Genesis imparts the premium-car feel.

Overall, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis proves that, when it comes to affordable luxury, you can buy the real thing from the dealer who sold you your Sonata.

EPA estimates:  18 city mpg and 27 highway, 19 mpg observed during cold weather.

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