Genesis hits a home run for Hyundai

In any given year, I drive between 75 and 100 different vehicles. And we’re talking about everything from the Chevrolet Aveo to the Lamborghini Gallardo. So it is with complete sincerity and a fair bit of knowledge that I say this: You will not find a better car for the money than the all-new 2009 Hyundai Genesis.

Seriously.

I mean, here we have a handsome vehicle that — at a base level — has standard features such as leather seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, side-curtain airbags, iPod and auxiliary input jacks, a proximity key with bush-button start, Bluetooth phone system, heated front seats and traction control. Then you have the fact that it looks like a Lexus or a Mercedes. Plus, you could add in the rear-wheel drive platform and the base V-6 engine that delivers 290 horsepower.

Take a good look at the picture of the Genesis and forget that we’re talking about a Hyundai for a minute. With the way this car looks and the amenities that are included, what price tag would you give it? Have you got that number in your head? How does it compare to $33,000? If you gave an honest answer, it probably wasn’t even close.

Hyundai has been doing amazing things over the last couple years, but it has truly hit a home run with the launch of the Genesis.

The test vehicle came equipped with the base 3.8-liter V-6 engine, and it was absolutely brilliant. After my spirited but short trek to work on that first day of the test period, I actually had to double-check the sticker sheet on the car because I had a hard time believing there was simply a V-6 under the hood. It was responsive and fast and had all the power I could possibly want from a large luxury sedan.

You can certainly tell a difference between the V-6 and the up-level 4.6-liter V-8 when you drive them back to back, but unless you truly crave the extra 85 horsepower, I think you’ll be more than satisfied with the V-6 — especially when you look at the fuel economy numbers. The Environmental Protection Agency city/highway numbers ring in at 18/27 mpg for the V-6 and 17/25 mpg for the V-8.

The one thing you won’t find in the Genesis is a sporty ride, which is fine by me. This sedan is all about soft, luxurious comfort. The steering is a bit looser than you might find in a sports sedan, and it has the smooth ride of a touring sedan that, luckily, glides over all those Chicago potholes.

Fit and finish on the Genesis is on par with a luxury vehicle, and I was impressed by the interior quietness. Very little exterior noise makes its way into the cabin, and any engine and tire noise you might hear is negligible. There are zero squeaks and rattles.

While I would call the exterior of the Genesis handsome, the interior more closely resembles elegant. The simple center stack, the wood paneling and the brushed silver accents are easy on the eyes, and the clearly labeled gauges, buttons and dials are easy to use. I especially liked the glowing blue night lighting, which is a pleasant change from the typical red.

I liked the iPod integration in the test vehicle and thought the system navigation was relatively intuitive. However, I would like to point out that if you have a lot of songs and artists on your iPod, it does take a while to scroll through them all if you’re looking for something at the bottom.

While we’re on the topic of audio, I have to give a huge shout out to the optional Lexicon 14-speaker surround-sound system that was on the test vehicle. While I’m not an audiophile, my boyfriend is. On one of our suburban treks, he plugged in his iPod and cranked up various songs from Madonna to Metallica, and it was great. Well, maybe the Metallica wasn’t great, but the sound quality was.

In addition to an attractive price with an attractive car, Hyundai has done something else really well with this car: options bundling. It doesn’t nickel and dime you for every shiny bit on the car. Instead, you basically have three package options for the V-6 model: premium package ($2,000), premium package plus ($3,000) or technology package ($4,000). While the premium and premium plus packages are one or the other, the technology package requires the premium plus package.

Even so, your options will top out at $7,000, and you’ll have a car that includes everything from 18-inch wheels to a premium Lexicon 17-speaker surround-sound audio system to navigation to parking sensors to, well, almost everything else you could possibly want. Except seat massagers (hint, hint). And the final MSRP will top out at $40,000.

The test vehicle added the premium plus package, which included the 18-inch wheels, the Lexicon 14-speaker surround-sound system, sunroof and rain sensing wipers. The as-tested price of the car was $36,000.

The base price for the up-level V-8 model is $38,000. In addition to the extra horsepower, you’ll add standard features such as front seat and steering column memory, power rear sunshade, telescoping steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, Lexicon surround-sound audio system, power sunroof and automatic headlights, just to name a few. Since this model is so well equipped at its base, there is only one package option available: the technology package. So, again, even with the vroom, vroom power of the V-8, you have a vehicle that tops out at $42,000.

To say that this vehicle impresses me would be an understatement. The pricing, the option bundles, the appearance, the everything was well thought out and well done.

Plus, with the launch of the Genesis, Hyundai proves that even in this economic downturn you really can have it all.

BY JILL CIMINILLO
SunTimes.com

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