SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The full-sized Azera sedan hasn't done it, and neither has the mid-sized Veracruz crossover.
But Hyundai won't give up. Company officials believe they are closer than ever to shedding the brand's inexpensive, small-car image.
In June, Hyundai launched its most expensive car ever with the introduction of the Genesis sedan. The Genesis has a base price of $33,000 for the V-6 version and $38,000 for the V-8. With options, the V-6 goes as high as $40,000 and the V-8 for $42,000.
The Genesis is Hyundai's first rear-wheel drive vehicle and its first to be powered by a V-8. It is also the company's most expensive vehicle program: $760 million, including $260 million for the new V-8 engine.
For Hyundai this is an important step. Executives are trying to raise the brand's esteem and further distance it from sister brand Kia.
"The average MSRP of cars sold in the U.S. this year is $32,800 with lots less technology than Genesis," says John Krafcik, vice president of product planning at Hyundai Motor America. He says the Genesis is priced thousands of dollars less than a comparably equipped Infiniti, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes.
The basics: The five-seat Genesis sits on a 115.6-inch wheelbase and is nearly 196 inches long. The base 3.8-liter V-6 churns out 290 hp. The standard six-speed transmission also can be operated manually. Fuel economy is 18 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.
The 4.6-liter V-8 produces 375 hp and gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. That's a good combination of power and fuel efficiency when measured against major competitors. The 109.4 cubic feet of interior space is the same as that of a Mercedes-Benz S class.