Hyundai Genesis — Updated with more power, luxury

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Hyundai’s first foray into the premium sedan market was the 2009 Genesis, proving that the South Korean maker of low-budget economy cars could build a premium sedan. It was received favorably as a true luxury car at a price that undercut virtually all competition.

It no longer sits atop the Hyundai family tree, replaced in 2010 with an even more upscale model, the Equus.

The original Genesis is still very competitive against such stalwarts as the Lexus ES 350, Acura TL, Mercedes E-Class and Cadillac CTS. But Hyundai decided not to wait until the next complete remake before seriously upgrading the sedan. And for 2012 the Genesis gets more powerful engines, an eight-speed transmission, and exterior and interior styling updates.

To say the Genesis retains its luster and cements its place among American, German and Japanese luxury competition may be an understatement.

The 2012 version comes with three engine choices and now provides everyone from performance junkies to retirees in their golden years a clear choice.

Those choices entail:
• A 3.8-liter direct-injection V-6 that produces 333 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque;
• A 4.6-liter V-8 that makes a healthy 378 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque;
• A 5.0-liter R-Spec direct-injection V-8 that is good for a neck-snapping 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque.

We recommend for most people the fuel-efficient-yet-energetic  V-6. We found that when paired to the standard eight-speed automatic it provided us with all the confidence-inspiring performance that we needed and demanded in a variety of driving situations.

In addition to a base price of around 35 grand, it offers 0-to-60 times under six seconds and a quarter-mile time of about 14 seconds, which puts it squarely in the upper echelon of luxury performance.

Perhaps more importantly to many folks, the Genesis 3.8 is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city and 29 highway on regular 87 octane gas.

During a Hyundai-sponsored drive last summer we covered a lot of miles through a series of twisty mountain and desert roads in Nevada, and the Genesis 3.8 hardly broke a sweat even though it was 107 degrees outside.

In addition to its confident performance, Genesis displayed a relatively soft — but not floaty — ride that suited us just fine and should suit those people in the market for this type vehicle.

We found its cornering ability acceptable and its steering precise.
Yes, the Genesis 3.8 is more luxurious than sporty, but then we don’t think Hyundai intended it to be a sports sedan.

The luxurious nature of the car came shining through in its remarkably quiet interior.

Clearly, the 3.8 starting at $35,050 including destination charge gets the biggest percentage of orders, but for those who desire more horsepower and some sportiness, Hyundai can deliver the goods.

The 4.6-liter V-8 delivers solid performance from its 378 horsepower, but we don’t think it is significantly faster than the 3.8. It costs considerably more, starting at $45,350, but many items optional in the 3.8 are standard in the 4.6. Gas mileage suffers with the V-8 rated at 17/26.

For true performance, Hyundai has slammed its new 5.0-liter V-8 engine that powers the more upscale Equus into the Genesis. Starting at $47,350 for the performance-oriented R-Spec, buyers will get neck-snapping straight-ahead performance measured at 5.1 seconds from 0-to-60 and 13.7 seconds at 103 mph in the quarter mile.

In our short stint behind the wheel of the R-Spec in Florida, we found the car almost BMW M-Class fast. The ride, however, was somewhat rough, perhaps too firm especially when broken pavement rears its ugly head.

The R-Spec gives the performance-leaning buyer a clear price advantage over the competition. For instance, the Genesis has a $16,445 advantage over the 2012 Infiniti M56S and $17,525 over the 2011 BMW 550i. Money not being a determining factor, with the extra content available on the 5.0 R-Spec and the new powerful engine it is one vehicle that may prove hard to resist.

And there is more icing on this cake — as with all Hyundai models Genesis comes with a 10-year/100,000 powertrain warranty, a 5-year/60,000 basic warranty and 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance.

The Genesis facelift includes revised headlamps with daytime running lights and headlight LED accents, a revised front bumper, an Equus-like grille, revised chrome accent trim and revised rocker panels. The rear sports an integrated exhaust design, revised rear bumper and revised combination lamps.

Inside the Genesis there are more standard luxury features in  than one should be entitled to and more interior room than a lot of New York City apartments. It even has heated rear seats. The LCD cluster display would make a fighter pilot jealous. A new exterior color is offered (Twilight Blue Pearl) as well as three new interior trims (Red Eucalyptus, Brown Zebra and Black Maple).

The library-quiet cabin in our 3.8 test car featured high-quality leather on the dashboard, doors and consoles; soft, but compliant seats, and adequate legroom in the rear for adult passengers.

The interior makes a great listening room for a good audio system, and Hyundai has just the ticket in a choice of two Lexicon system that provide crystal clear sound. We were delighted with the optional 17-speaker 7.1 surround system. It came with the $4,000 technology package that also included navigation with an eight-inc
h screen, adaptive cruise control, rearview camera, heated and cooled driver’s seat and heated rear seats.
Herein lies a concern we have with the Genesis.

Although the base model comes well equipped and may be all that many people want and desire, if you do seek out only a couple of options — upscale audio system, for example — but don’t want other extra features, forget it. You will have to buy the bundle.

This means that just one “bundle” pushed the price of the Genesis 3.8 to around 40 grand.

But even at that price, this car is a bargain. And a luxury car that should not be overlooked when shopping in this segment.

Base price: $35,050; as driven: $43,035
Engine: 3.8 liter direct injection V-6
Horsepower: 333 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 291 foot-pounds @ 5,100 rpm
Drive: rear wheel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 115.6 inches
Length: 196.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,824 pounds
Turning circle: 36 feet
Luggage capacity: 15.9 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19.3 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 29 highway, 19 city
0-60: 5.5 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Lexus GS 350, Infiniti M Class, Mercedes E Class

The Good
• Smooth, comfortable ride
• Energetic and fuel efficient V-6 engine
• Luxurious, quiet cabin
• Sensational optional sound systems

The Bad
• No all-wheel drive option

The Ugly
• Options come bundled in expensive packages