Usually, car companies plaster their new vehicles with brand logos and name badges.

But you won't find badges or a name on the front, fenders or four doors of the new-for-2009 Hyundai Genesis. Only in back, on the trunk lid, does the Hyundai logo exist on the body of this new, five-passenger car. The name Genesis is found back there, too - below the trunk lid, under a taillight.

And you know what? The missing badges are good for this new luxury model, because the badge-free front end has headlights, grille and styling like that of a pricey Mercedes-Benz large sedan, while the side profile of the Genesis is akin to that of a Lexus.

During the test drive, no one guessed the Genesis was from South Korean automaker Hyundai.

Even better, everyone thought the Genesis was priced higher than its starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $33,000 for a 290-horsepower, V-6-powered model and the $38,000 starting price for a 368-horsepower Genesis with V-8.

Sure, the Genesis has none of the heritage that a German luxury marque provides or the panache of a Lexus hybrid. And some options that Mercedes and Lexus have aren't offered.

But a low-priced, sizable, rear-drive luxury sedan - which scored the top, five-out-of-five stars in federal government crash testing - seems apropos for today's tight-budget times.

The Genesis comes standard with leather-trimmed seats, Bluetooth cell-phone interface, dual automatic climate control, an attractive, soft-to-the-touch instrument panel with wood trim accents and power-adjustable front seats that are heated.

The ride is refined - supple and well-controlled. As a matter of fact, the independent, front and rear five-link suspension system works in sophisticated fashion to cushion road bumps while retaining dynamic handling. The suspension is impressive and usually is found on cars that cost more.

Steering was quick and responsive but not overly done, and the Genesis maneuvered confidently in everyday driving and in aggressive situations.

With little wind and road noise coming through, the interior was serene.

Everything was well-arranged and easy to find. All safety equipment is standard, including curtain air bags, stability control and traction control. It even includes side-mounted air bags for the back seat. *