2009 Hyundai Genesis V8

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

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