With more bells and whistles than I could count, the 2009 Hyundai Genesis appeared to be a knight in shining armor...at first. I swooned over the automatic tilting/telescoping steering wheel. My heart melted when I adjusted the ultra comfy, heated leather seats and then skipped a beat when I noticed the automatic sunscreen shading my rear passengers.
The equally impressive yet subtle exterior lived up to any fairy godmother's standards. This sedan looks good. Really good.
However, the Genesis does have a few strikes against it; in fairy-tale terms, hold onto your glass slippers, ladies, because the clock is about to strike midnight. To my surprise, my test car, the top-of-the-line Genesis, was just as expensive as many of its luxury competitors once you added in all of the fun stuff. Try as I might, the huge savings could not and would not be found.
For the record, the 375-horsepower V-8 engine in my test car had plenty of power, and I didn't question its roadworthiness whatsoever. However, I was expecting more. The Genesis engine runs quiet and lacks the sporty "vroom-vroom" appeal needed to catch my attention. Of course, tastes differ. Our friends at Cars.com named the Genesis its 2009 Car of the Year.
The Genesis shows strength of character where we moms like it most - in the safety and security categories. Phenomenal crash-test ratings gave the Genesis the extra oomph it needed to earn this skeptical mom's praise.
The Genesis' exterior is so sleek-looking that it's slippery. It even caught the eye of many luxury-car drivers out on the roads. Despite a seemingly low profile, the Genesis actually sits higher up than I had expected. The sedan's nose is quiet - save the snickering fog lights - and unassuming without a logo in sight for added intrigue.
Wide door openings made getting in and out easy for my little ones without the doors themselves being so wide that they'd cause problems in tight parking lots.
The Genesis' side mirrors could have been much, much larger as the standard set seemed like an afterthought. Since the rest of the car is so nice, these teeny-tiny mirrors just didn't fit the overall look.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
Here is where all of the oohs and aahs really took place. A two-toned dash swooped its way around front passengers in the same fashion as a whirl of a fairy godmother's wand. The power-adjustable leather front seats are both heated and cooled. Glossy wood accents added refinement to the doors, center console and gearshift.
What I appreciated most in Genesis was its joystick for controlling the multimedia system; this was inspired by its luxury competitors. Despite being a much simpler version (not necessarily a bad thing), I liked Hyundai's take on incorporating this technology. The large center knob both spins and toggles, allowing you to scroll quickly through menus. You push down on the knob when you reach your selection. Smaller buttons with menu headings surround the central knob for fast access to the most used features.
In the backseat, my kids appreciated their dedicated perks: climate controls, seatback pockets (often used as a target in backseat foot-and-leg exercises rather than for storing things) and an armrest with integrated cupholders. All of these items have become routine check points on their list of second-row must-haves.
The rear seats don't fold down, but the Genesis does have a center pass-through for longer items. My kids got a kick out of the pass-through door behind the center armrest. They're always so tempted to play around with these doors that I must confess I've warned them not to open the door because doing so would free the monsters lurking in the trunk!
Speaking of which, the trunk is large with lots of extras like tie-down hooks and cargo nets. It'd be no problem hauling loads of groceries or even skis, golf clubs or scary gremlins in this cavernous space.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Safety wasn't overlooked in the Genesis' drive to conquer the competition. It received crash-test ratings of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which when combined with its standard stability control, makes it a 2009 Top Safety Pick. The Genesis also scored five stars in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash tests. This is like getting a score of 100 percent on the most important exam of your life.
The Genesis also scored well in my own real-life test with my children's booster seats. There's some bolstering back there, but it didn't interfere too much with the booster seats' fit. The Latch connectors are also easy to find, and there's tons of legroom, which would make it easy to fit a rear-facing infant-safety seat back there.
With eight airbags, including side-impact and side curtain airbags for both rows, and standard antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction control and active head restraints for the front seats, Hyundai sends the message that safety shouldn't be optional. This mom thinks Genesis should definitely be on each families test-drive list.
In Diapers: The Latch connectors are easy to reach, and there's plenty of room for rear-facing infant-safety seats.
In School: Older kids could get used to the good life with this car's backseat climate controls, easy-to-reach cupholders and seatback pockets.
Teens: With plenty of airbags and lots of standard safety features, this is a great car for teen drivers if they can get the keys away from their parents.