The Genesis is the start of something big for Hyundai, that is, a budding reputation for desirable cars. Not just sensible, decent cars, but desirable cars. I made the mental leap myself a couple of years ago, driving home late one night, when suddenly I looked around in the dark cabin and realized I didn't know what car I had signed out and was now driving. The ride was supple, the whole experience cosseting, but what was I in? Was it a Maxima? An Acura? Nope, I was driving a Hyundai Sonata. And I started to pay closer attention.
The Genesis should get the attention of every carmaker in the luxury business, because it is now squarely and seriously sitting in Lexus territory, complete with electroluminescent gauges and soft blue interior lighting. Like its fairly bland exterior, the Genesis's interior takes no chances designwise. It's a very straightforward array of instruments, switches, and buttons. Materials are first-rate: brown leather, finely perforated black leather, nicely grained plastics, and a judicious touch of wood and chrome. All very manly and elegant. Fit and finish is commendable, and the nav system is super, although it's part of a very pricey ($4000) package that includes HID auto-leveling headlamps, a killer sound system, and a cooled drivers seat, among several other luxury features. Still, when the base price is $38,000 with freight and handling, a loaded Genesis is one helluva deal.
If this actually were a Lexus, we'd give it a harder shakedown, because that's how you treat the King of the Hill. But right now, at the "genesis" of its auspicious launch, we'd like to just give the Genesis a big round of applause.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
This is my first time in the Genesis since I drove it at Hyundai's proving grounds in Korea in May. Now that I've driven it on American roads, it strikes me as a very credible Lexus competitor. The car has real presence on the street; it definitely reads "luxury sedan." The cabin ambience is very pleasing, especially at night with the blue accent lighting. The iDrive-style controller is much more intuitive and easier to use than iDrive itself.
The Genesis is very quiet and refined. The engine is smooth and powerful and works seamlessly with the six-speed automatic, and the ride is creamy smooth. However, I'd certainly like to see more body control, a firmer brake pedal movement, and more feedback from the steering. Hyundai engineers would do well to carefully study the new Jaguar XF's chassis setup, which provides a perfect blend of ride comfort and handling.
The interior is very, very spacious, and the trunk is positively huge, with a big opening and lots of flat floor space.
It will be very interesting to see what Americans make of the first true luxury car from Korea.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
I didn't climb into the Genesis until almost 10:00 last night, having stayed late to wrap up the next issue. Because it was so late, I was just happy to be heading home and wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to the car. It wasn't until I was a couple blocks from home that I was able to appreciate the hush-quietness of the car. I rolled down the window and realized that I could hardly hear the engine as I cruised through my neighborhood-in fact, it was almost as quiet as a Prius driving in EV mode. Even when I pulled into the garage, where the engine sounds generally reverberate off the walls, the Genesis's engine produced only the most gentle purring sound.
The next morning, with the benefit of daylight, I could appreciate the quality of the interior materials, the lovely chocolate-brown leather, the smartly placed controls, and the comfortable seats. As hard as it might be to believe, this sedan from Korea is a true luxury car. The only question is whether American buyers will be willing to fork over the money for a luxury car from a manufacturer that has no track record of building luxury cars.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor