Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Hyundai Genesis marks entry into luxury market
It was a bold claim Hyundai honchos made in April - Genesis, Hyundai's all-new luxury sedan, they said, would deliver a smackdown to those tried-and-true jewels Mercedes, BMW and other swank rides people of means usually reward themselves with, and would run over Chrysler's 300 and Pontiac G8 in the process.
Hyundai's got reason enough to boast. After Toyota and Honda, their vehicles offer the best average mileage in America, and the company continues to keep offer cheap, quality vehicles. If the new ride was anything like the Elantra, Santa Fe or Sonata, it promised to be something special. Five months later came the unveiling of Hyundai's new baby at a gathering in Tarrytown, where a dozen or so Geneses were lined up for inspection, tire-kicking and test driving.
A fine sight they were, too, gleaming, handsome, solid and sturdy-looking on the outside and plush and luxurious on the inside, like luxe sedans ought to be. I opened the door, got into the driver's seat and inhaled the new-car bouquet, beheld the leather-wrapped dash and door panels and felt reasonably -- not overwhelmingly -- swaddled in comfort.
I took two half-hour rides, one driving and one as a passenger in the back seat. The quick verdict? Benz, Lexus, Cadillac and Chrysler needn't tremble. Hyundai has its staunch fans, and this car is for them. It is not so much a complete redesign of the brand as it is an extensive upping of quality on every aspect from body to engine to suspension and quality of materials.
The car comes in two trims. One is a 3.8-liter, 240-hp V-6 model starting at $33,000. There also is a more powerful, and expensive, 4.6-liter, 375-hp V-8 at $38,000 (both prices include delivery charges). The 3.8-liter model offers three option packages costing $2,000, $3,000 and $4,000, with the base package offering items like a leather-wrapped dash, power sunroof, a 14-speaker sound system and more. For another grand, you'll get 18-inch silver alloy wheels added to the package. For $4,000, a backup warning system, nav system, multimedia controller and satellite radio with a year's subscription, along with other accoutrements, are provided.
The 4.6-liter model has just one $4,000 package offered, which includes all you get in the 3.6-liter's most expensive package.
It's got a few challenges ahead, the big one being the car's entry into the marketplace at a time of crises for the economy and high gas prices. Mileage, as can be expected in a sedan, isn't great at 18 mpg city, 27 highway for the V-6, 17/25 for the V-8. But Hyundai fans wanting to upgrade now have another reason to buy and to take pride in their ride.
By JOSH MAX
DAILY NEWS AUTO CORRESPONDENT