Comparison: 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS vs. 2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6

Hyundai Genesis 4.6

Whereas the Buick looked best parked in front of the country club, the Genesis reveals its incredible value and considerable polish only from behind the wheel. The Hyundai's faux Mercedes-Benz grille and generally anonymous exterior makes it painfully clear that the young Korean automaker lacks the heritage of premium design that Buick enjoys. And yet, our Four Seasons Genesis matches the LaCrosse feature for feature, adds to the mix rear-wheel drive and a V-8, and still comes in at just a few grand more (and it incurs only a slight fuel-economy penalty). Indeed, for $42,000, the Hyundai offers most of what you'll get in a $65,000 Lexus LS.

Still, it's worth noting that the Genesis 3.8, with its 290-hp V-6 and $33,250 starting price, might have made for a fairer comparison than our fully loaded V-8 model, so we won't dwell on the fact that everyone who went from the LaCrosse to the Genesis was immediately seduced by the extra 100 hp and unmistakable eight-cylinder growl. What we will dwell on is the Hyundai's superior delivery of that power. Whereas jabs at the Buick's throttle almost always brought on wheel spin and torque steer, the rear-wheel-drive Genesis was almost impossible to unsettle, delivering the silky-smooth, effortless acceleration one expects of a luxury sedan. That said, Hyundai's chassis engineers still have something to learn about tuning a premium car, as the ride can be unexpectedly harsh over bumps.

As in the Buick, there's an arsenal of technology and plenty of room for passengers. Those sitting in back will appreciate the Hyundai's extra width, especially when squeezing in with other adults. The metal iDrive-like controller on the center console is much more user-friendly than most similar systems, including iDrive, and it feels a bit more upscale than Buick's setup. Some editors commented on the rather plain, Sonata-like instrument panel and the somewhat low-end switchgear--a sharp contrast with the LaCrosse's colorful gauges and graphics--and wondered why only the driver got a cooled seat. Overall, though, we were reminded once again how much the Genesis truly offers compared with its competitors.

Base price: $38,000
As tested: $42,000
Body style: 4-door sedan
Accommodation: 5-passengers

Engine: DOHC 32-valve V-8
Displacement: 4.6 liters
Horsepower: 375 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Transmission type: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
EPA fuel economy: 17/25/19 mpg (city/highway/combined)
On sale: Now

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