Best Kept Secret Subtle exterior styling makes the 2009 Hyundai Genesis look more expensive than its $36K price tag. By Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor Date posted: 08-05-2008 3.8-liter V6 engine - 290 horsepower; 264 lb-ft of torque - 6-speed automatic transmission - 3,862 pounds Shhh. Do not disturb the 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6. It may be the quietest car we've ever driven. It would be rude to interrupt it. As Hyundai's newest creation slips slyly into the luxury sedan market, we can hear the silent screams of some other fancy automakers. This car is nice. Really nice. Like why-would-we-spend-our-money-anywhere-else nice. It's the Cadillac of Hyundais. What It Is Brand new for 2009, the Hyundai Genesis is a large, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan. All new, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis is a large, rear-wheel-drive sedan, wrapped in leather and full of luxury and comfort features. We slipped in and found ourselves surrounded by soft surfaces and quality materials. The seat leather was black while the dash was wrapped in a rich tone of brown leather set off by contrasting stitching. We pushed our finger into the dash and discovered it wasn't just covered, it was cushioned. It even smelled expensive. How much does this car cost? Well, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6 starts at $32,250 and the Premium Plus option brings the price of this test car to an even $36,000. Other features included in the option package were all the little things that make the difference between a car like an every-day Hyundai Sonata and this Lexus-style Hyundai Genesis V6: 18-inch wheels and tires, power sunroof, tilt and telescoping steering column with a leather-trimmed steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, auto-defogging windshield, power rear sunshade and a 14-speaker Lexicon audio system that you can control with thumb power on the steering wheel. Hyundai's Genesis doesn't really match up to any other car at this price. At a length of 195.9 inches overall on a 115.6-inch wheelbase, it's about the size of a Nissan Maxima or Pontiac G8 and a little larger than a Mercedes E-Class and Lexus ES 350. But there's more to all this than dimensions, because the Genesis is its own animal. Gentle Giant The Premium Plus option package adds a fine leather-wrapped dash. One of the first things we noticed about the 2009 Hyundai Genesis is its quietness. This is in part due to the acoustic laminated glass, yet even with the windows down and miles behind us on the highway, this car is soft-spoken. We're talking hybrid hush, meditation-room tranquility. Our readings from the sound-level meter show the Hyundai Genesis recorded fewer decibels than a Toyota Prius. It seems everything about the Genesis is quiet: the cabin, the engine and even the style. It's calming to pilot a car so peaceful, but don't mistake this for a suggestion that this car is asleep. The 3.8-liter, 290-horsepower V6 might be quiet but it's not shy on performance. It offers 264 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm, so acceleration is authoritative as well as smooth, and quick shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are sufficient for merging into freeway traffic. You can also shift for yourself if you are so inclined (although you probably won't be). In our track tests, the Hyundai Genesis moves from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds (6.1 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and manages the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds at 95.6 mph. The car shifts before redline in manual mode, which can be annoying when you're wringing it out at the track. Altogether, these are pretty good numbers for a luxury sedan that weighs 3,862 pounds. It Is Enough This 3.8-liter V6 develops 290 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. There is a 368-hp V8 available for the Genesis but we don't see why you would need it. The V8 offers more power, but it doesn't really deliver more performance. The Genesis V8 manages 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, and the 0.4-second improvement doesn't exactly spin your head around. Save yourself some headache at the gas pump and stick with the more fuel-efficient V6 that delivers 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway. We never found a situation where we felt we needed more oomph. In our deceleration tests, the Hyundai Genesis's disc brakes and Dunlop SP Sport 5000M tires bring the car down from 60 mph in 117 feet. Pedal feel is excellent and the response is quick. In repeated high-performance testing, however, the brakes faded quickly. We first chalked this up to brake pads that were relatively new and not yet thoroughly bedded in, but then we encountered the same glitch when we tested the Genesis V8. At the same time, we had no problems under normal conditions and the brakes performed as expected with clean, straight stops. Skid pad and slalom testing numbers were also impressive for a 3,862-pound car that carries 52.2 percent of its weight up front. It pulls 0.83g on the skid pad, a good number limited by the intervention of the stability control. It navigated our 600-foot slalom course at 62.8 mph. The steering could offer a little more feedback, yet the Genesis V6 is well-behaved and actually performs slightly better in our handling tests than the V8 and feels better doing it. With a well-tuned suspension both front and rear, the Genesis V6 offers a good balance between comfort and agility, offering good damping over the bumps and not much wobble or body roll in the corners. Not Just for Drivers These seats not only look expensive, but feel good as well. Shotgun passengers in the Genesis V6 get their own climate controls and a heated power seat. The A/C has a good variety of levels, and we appreciate that the lowest setting is really low and the system has the potential to crank up icily when you need it. Front legroom is more than other cars of this size at 44.3 inches, while headroom is also better at 40.4 inches. Rear passengers are not forgotten. The Genesis has a backseat that actually accommodates humans who stand over 6 feet tall, and you can easily fall asleep in the soft, enveloping cushions. Even better, the backseat is roomy even with the front seats all the way back, as rear legroom is generous at 38.6 inches and there are 37.7 inches of headroom. The rear-seat A/C vents are mounted on the B-pillars, so rear passengers get cool air on their bodies instead of just their knees. You could easily fit a couple of child seats in the rear seat of this luxury sedan and the rear power window shade can keep the sun off their sweet little heads. Or just fill the back with suitcases and get outta town. The rear seats do not fold down, although you can access the trunk via the pass-through behind the center armrest. Speaking of the trunk, the Genesis offers 16 cubic feet of cargo capacity with a mesh tie-down to keep your goodies from rolling around. A major expedition to the outlet mall might be in order. Bright Lights, Big City Our option package came with 18-inch alloy wheels and P235/50R18 Dunlop SP Sport 5000M tires. As an everyday car, the Hyundai Genesis is a pretty sweet ride. But it also makes you look smart. Its design is quietly elegant. The car has clean lines with no harsh angles and seams. The front and rear lamps look interesting but are not showy. The Genesis doesn't scream "look at me." Its beauty is refreshingly subtle. When you open the door, the interior lighting is bright — you know, in case someone wants to peek inside to get a look at that handsome dash. The instrument panel's design is restrained, featuring simple, clear readouts and intuitive controls. It has all the bells and whistles you expect in a modern luxury car, without the gazillion buttons. Name Brand, Outlet Mall Price Softly cushioned seats and lots of legroom offer comfort for tall rear passengers. The 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6 is a thoroughly thought-out example of the modern luxury car, a careful assembly of all the features and all the performance that make a car special rather than just ordinary. It's everything we expect. We're not suggesting Hyundai is ready to steal customers away from BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but Cadillac and Lexus are within reach, we think. With Cadillac and Lexus, the issue of value is as important as refinement, and in this the $36,000 Hyundai Genesis V6 makes a major statement. To paraphrase fashion designer Coco Chanel, "True luxury is the silk lining of a coat. Only you know it's there." This is the kind of luxury that feels wonderful against your skin, yet no one can see it. And that's why the Hyundai Genesis doesn't have "luxury" stamped across its grille. This is a different statement from the Korean automaker, one that promises a quiet appreciation that content matters more than simple branding. The Hyundai Genesis is the kind of sedan that will quietly transport you around town in secret sumptuousness. Tell your friends, but remember to whisper. This rear-wheel-drive sedan balances on a 115.6-inch wheelbase. MSRP of Test Vehicle: $36,000 What Works: Quiet; roomy; affordable; enough power What Needs Work: Rear seats do not fold down; no seat memory controls Bottom Line: A handsome luxury car that won't break the bank. Second Opinion Our Genesis V6 did not come with a navigation system. Even so, the display screen doesn't look like something is missing. Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh says: If the progress made by the Korean brands still hasn't caught your attention, the Hyundai Genesis will. Not in a literal sense — the anonymously handsome sheet metal of the Genesis can be mistaken for a half-dozen other cars and I couldn't spot a single exterior badge bearing the word "Hyundai." Rather, there is a lot to like in the car's execution. Start with the cabin, where the materials appear rich and noise levels have been kept to a respectably low level. Yet there is still a splash of personality in the sweep of contrasting leather across the dash. I'll take this over the played-out trend of garish chrome accents any day. Rear seat occupants can really stretch their legs, too. Those expecting a BMW-like experience will be disappointed, as Hyundai took no chances in the Genesis' driving dynamics. Although the double-wishbone front suspension helps deliver reasonably high grip and good ride quality, the chassis could use a shot of life, particularly the isolated and over-boosted steering. Fortunately, the powertrain leaves a consistently strong impression. The V6 provides enough scoot so that the V8 is probably redundant, and the smooth-shifting transmission lives up to the car's near-luxury billing. The Genesis might not turn the luxury sedan paradigm on its head in the way the Lexus LS 400 did all those years ago, but the content and execution of the Hyundai Genesis at this price is eye-opening. Performance This V6-powered Hyundai Genesis hits 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and reaches the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds at 95.6 mph. 0 - 30 (sec): 2.3 0 - 45 (sec): 4.2 0 - 60 (sec): 6.3 0 - 75 (sec): 9.3 1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.6 @ 95.6 0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.1 30 - 0 (ft): 29 60 - 0 (ft): 117 Braking Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Good Slalom (mph): 62.8 Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.83 Handling Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Good Db @ Idle: 39.6 Db @ Full Throttle: 70.8 Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 63.5 Edmunds Observed (mpg): 19.6 (combined) Acceleration Comments: Shifts before redline are annoying. Won't hold gears to redline in "Shiftronic" mode either. Engine is smooth and quiet. Handling Comments: Stability control cannot be disabled. Electronically limited. Still, even with the ECU defining the limits, this is a good number. Steering could stand a little more feel, but overall this is a well-mannered machine. Good damping offers solid control through midcorner bumps. Limits need more definition. Braking Comments: Excellent pedal feel and response for the first three stops. Then significant fade takes over. Benefit of doubt says this is "green fade." Anomaly?