I went to the auto show again over the weekend. I went last year and didn't plan on going again this year; it isn't the sort of thing I feel like I need to attend every year, but my friend asked if I wanted to go and I thought why not?
The show draws tens of thousands of people each year, and not all of them are considering a vehicle purchase or cross-shopping in one location. There are a lot of people that, like me, just like cars. The average price of a new car is approaching $30,000, but one can get a good car for a lot less than that. Competition makes everyone try a little harder.
Plus it's admittedly fun to sit in the back seat of a $110,000 Audi (because you'd have someone driving you, duh), or to test the sound quality of various car audio systems. And there's always at least one surprise. The car that impressed both of us most was the Hyundai Genesis, a large luxury sedan that spans the $40,000-50,000 price bracket (depending on engine choice and option packages).
With its recent redesign it looks like it could be an Audi, and in fact you can get it with all-wheel-drive, just like an Audi. If you were blindfolded and put inside, and the logos and identifying markings were removed, you would most likely think you were in something German and a lot more expensive. And it has a ridiculous stereo system.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Genesis is that it isn't the top of Hyundai's lineup. I remember when the original Accent went on sale here in the mid-1980s for about $6000 (pricing was a prominent feature of its advertising). It was what we used to call a penalty box. Now three decades later there's a Hyundai, the Equus, that lists for ten times that amount.
Is anyone buying it? I don't know. It's much more of a status symbol back in Korea, Hyundai's home market, and if they can sell a few thousand of them a year in other countries it probably doesn't hurt the balance sheet very much. But as someone who has never been especially impressed with Hyundai's offerings (I don't necessarily dislike them, I just find them pretty uninspiring) I think the Genesis is the car that may end up having more of an impact.