I drove into my mom’s driveway and heard her next-door neighbor, who was sitting on his porch, F-150 and Taurus parked in his driveway, call out to me, “Hey, is that a Bentley?”
I don’t think he’s ever seen a Bentley, but he knows that it is an upper-crust premium brand, something, as one might say, “large and in charge.”
“No,” I replied. “It’s a Hyundai. The new Genesis.”
“I’ve never seen a Hyundai like that!”
No doubt. Even though this is the second-generation car, with the first appearing on the scene in 2008 as a 2009 model. You see lots of Elantras and Sonatas. But not so many Genesis(es). Which is probably as it should be, as it is certainly more exclusive. But not unobtainable by mere mortals.
I’m sure that the folks at Hyundai are very pleased that the neighbor thought the Genesis was something that costs roughly $140,000 more.
I’m sure that the folks at Hyundai are not so pleased that the neighbor undoubtedly thinks that Hyundai doesn’t offer a model that has the presence of the Genesis.
You win some. You lose some.
And realize that there is actually a model in the company’s lineup—the Equus—which is above the Genesis. (Rolls-Royce Phantom, anyone?)
Without taking anything away from the Genesis, I would like to suggest that it is a car that fits into a category that doesn’t exist in the auto market, but which ought to. While Hyundai wants it to play against offerings from BMW and Lexus, Mercedes and Cadillac, perceptually I don’t think it does for the simple reason that the Hyundai brand goes down to the Accent, and you’re not going to find anything like that from the other brands. Some people were apoplectic when Mercedes offered a car with a sticker under $30,000, and you can pick up an Accent for half that.
The category that I would create is “Serious, Substantial Sedan.”
Yes, there are people who want to buy a car for more than its marque. They want to get a car because it is something that they think best suits their sensibilities, their needs, and their point of view. They’re willing to pay not crazy money, but more than the average transaction price for a vehicle (J.D. Power & Associates recently announced that the average transaction price for a vehicle during the first six months of 2014 was $29,630).
Among the Serious, Substantial Sedans I would put the Genesis, of course, as well as things like the Ford Taurus Ltd, the Chrysler 300C, the Chevrolet Impala 2LTZ, and the Toyota Avalon Limited. Which is to say that these are big(ish) cars that can be trimmed such that you’re looking at about $40,000 and pretty much getting what you’re paying for.
With the 2015 Genesis 3.8 base priced at $38,000, you are getting probably more than you’d expect for what you are paying.
That is, if you look at the Monroney (a.k.a., “window sticker”) for this car, there are so many items that are listed as “Included” that amazement finally gives way to boredom and then back to amazement: Vehicle Stability Management System. . . 9 Airbags including Driver Knee Airbag. . . 8-speed Auto Transmission with SHIFTRONIC & Paddle Shifters. . . Intelligent Drive Mode Select. . .18-inch Alloy Wheels with P245/45R18 All Season Tires. . . Auto Headlights with Daytime Running Lights & LED Accents. . .Power Folding Outside Mirrors with Genesis Logo Puddle Lamps. . .Leather Seating Surfaces with Heated Front Seats. . .Navigation System with 8” Display and Rearview Camera. . .Hyundai BlueLink Powered by Google. . . .
Yes, there are packages that you can buy beyond this. But for what this package offers—well, how much is enough?
From an exterior design point of view, this Serious, Substantial Sedan looks European. Sometimes when approaching it I thought “Audi.” Other times “BMW.” While the official design language used is “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0,” with the 1.0 being that of the 2011 Sonata, I would call it “Striking Presence 1.0.” It has a certain gravity about it.
This is a rear-wheel-drive sedan, which not only means the design puts the front wheels at the extreme edge of the front, but propels the vehicle in a way that front-drive usually doesn’t. The dash-to-axle proportions are key, so say designers who are interested in achieving a striking look, and that’s what rear drive facilitates. In addition to that oomph.
Inside, it is a Serious, Substantial Sedan in all aspects. Here’s one thing to look at when in a car that is in this category: the ignition. Does it require a key or an insertion of a keyfob into a slot? Or is there a pushbutton? If there is a pushbutton, is it small or large, is it plastic or metallic? The Genesis has a large, aluminum button. That nails it in my estimation.
There is one thing that the Genesis offers that no other car, no matter how Serious, has, which is a CO2 sensor. Turns out that if you breathe a lot in a car, expelling carbon dioxide, and the vents are shut so that air is recirculated, said carbon dioxide can make you drowsy. Think about it: you are in that comfortable Genesis cabin, listening to the outstanding audio system, the engine burbling under the hood, breathing in CO2, and the next thing you know. . . . So Hyundai engineers have installed a sensor that, when the amount of carbon dioxide hits 2,000 parts per million, opens up the vents to refresh the air so that you can do what you’re supposed to do when behind the wheel, which is drive.
And driving the Genesis is such a pleasant experience, that you do want all your wits about you so that you can appreciate it.
No, it’s not a Bentley. It doesn’t need to be.
Engine: 3.8-liter V6 with continuously variable valve timing
Materials: Aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 311 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 293 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed electronic automatic with SHIFTRONIC
Steering: Rack-mounted motor driven electric power steering
Wheelbase: 118.5 in.
Length: 196.5 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Coefficient of drag: 0.26
Curb weight: 4,138 lb.
EPA passenger volume: 107.7 cu-ft
EPA cargo volume: 15.3 cu-ft
EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 18/29/22 mpg