2012 Hyundai Genesis

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Review: 2009 Hyundai Genesis

This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2014.
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.5

Bottom Line:

Hyundai moves successfully upmarket with Genesis, the company’s best car yet. Highlighted by a sporting character, lots of amenities, willing power and a smooth ride, the Genesis hits a sweet spot between more expensive European and less refined American sedans.
Pros:
  • Lots of features for the dollar
  • Powerful V6 and V8 engines
  • Luxurious interior
Cons:
  • No split-folding rear seat
  • Lack of steering wheel paddles
  • More seat adjustments, please

In the beginning, Hyundai created econoboxes. Then, in the early 2000s, the fledgling South Korean automaker began a move upmarket, with larger, more luxurious vehicles. For 2009, Hyundai is taking its biggest leap yet with Genesis. This large rear-wheel-drive sport sedan has aspirations to take on the likes of the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but is priced closer to that of the Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8. We’ve driven the Genesis, and saw that it is good.

Model Lineup
Value for the dollar is one of Hyundai’s greatest strengths, and the Genesis is no different. It is offered as two well-equipped versions with trim names tied to engine size, the 3.8 and the 4.6. The base 3.8 trim has such amenities as leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-speaker AM/FM/CD audio, an iPod interface, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth cell phone link, and P225/55R17 tires. The 4.6 trim adds a sunroof, a Lexicon 15-speaker audio system, a six-disc CD changer, a power rear sunshade, and P235/50R18 tires, among other items.

The 3.8 is available with much of the 4.6’s equipment, and both versions can be ordered with a Technology Package that includes front- and rear obstacle detection, heated and cooled front seats, a 17-speaker, 7.1-channel Lexicon surround sound audio system, an HD radio, XM NavTraffic, a rearview camera, adaptive xenon headlights, a navigation system, and a 40-gigabyte hard drive for music files and navigation map information. A fully loaded 4.6 tops out at $42,000, including destination charges.

Under the Hood
The Genesis is offered in two flavors, both with substantial power. The V6 version is motivated by Hyundai’s Lambda 3.8-liter DOHC V6, which produces 290 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 264 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shift capability. The V6 is EPA-rated at 18/27 mpg (city/hwy).

The V8 version offers Hyundai’s new Tau 4.6-liter DOHC V8. Hyundai has outfitted this engine with the latest technology, including continuously variable timing for both the intake and exhaust valves and a Variable Intake System designed to allow the engine to breathe more efficiently at both low and high speeds. The result is 375 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 333 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm with premium fuel. Opt for regular fuel and those numbers drop slightly to 368 horsepower and 324 lb-ft of torque. Like the V6, the V8 comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic, and is rated at 17/25 mpg.

Inner Space
The interior of the Genesis is thoughtfully detailed, with an abundance of chrome accents and soft-touch materials, including a leather-wrapped dash — a feature usually reserved for much more expensive vehicles. However, to our eyes, the look isn’t terribly attractive, since the dash design reminds us of an older Buick.

With the optional navigation system, the Genesis has a central multimedia control to operate the radio, navigation system, iPod interface, trip computer, and Bluetooth phone, among other settings. It uses a large rotating knob and six buttons to select the various functions. Compared to similar systems from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, the Hyundai system is simpler to use, but it still adds a couple steps to simple tasks such as programming a radio station. The navigation system can be programmed on the fly and can also be controlled by voice commands.

Front- and rear-seat legroom is quite good, though tall rear-seat passengers might want more headroom. The seats are comfortable, but sit up higher than some might prefer and don’t have all that many adjustments given the Genesis’s overall level of luxury. Small item storage is decent, but the Genesis could use a couple more cubbies for cell phones, keys and the like. The trunk is deep, with 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room. It has a standard rear pass-through, but we’d much prefer folding rear seats, which Hyundai opted against for structural reasons.

On the Road
Hyundai mentions such competitors as the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class as benchmark vehicles for ride and handling. With advanced five-link front and rear suspensions and a rigid rear-drive unibody structure, the Genesis has the hardware to play with the big boys. On a twisty road, the car is comparable to the luxury-oriented E-Class, but it lacks the balance, agility, and direct steering of BMW’s 5-Series.

We had the opportunity to drive the Genesis on both twisty two-lane roads and on a small California road course. The Genesis proved to be a capable handler, and a viable match for the Mercedes. By comparison, the Genesis feels a bit number and doesn’t have as much steering feel as the E-Class, but it stays flatter through turns. The V6 version has a better weight balance than the V8, making it easier to direct through high-speed corners.

On the road, the Genesis provides a smooth, quiet ride, even with the 4.6’s 18-inch wheels. The ride offered no float or wallow, though it was prone to bounding motions over humps and ruts at highway speeds. The V6 has plenty of zip for most every need. The car gets underway with gusto and highway passing is worry free. Hyundai claims a 6.2-second 0-60 mph time for the V6, but our seat-of-the-pants feel and an unofficial run told us it feels more like 7.5 seconds, which is still fairly quick.

Hyundai boasts that the Tau V8 puts out more horsepower per liter than any vehicle in its class. A turn behind the wheel seemed to bear that out. The V8 has lots of power from a stop, responsive midrange punch, and plenty of reserve when that extra bit is needed to get around traffic on the highway. The V8’s extra power comes with little fuel economy penalty, and we believe Hyundai’s quoted 5.7-second 0-60 mph time.

Each engine is mated to a different 6-speed automatic transmission and both shift smoothly, with quick downshifts for passing. Given the Genesis’s sporty aspirations, however, Hyundai might consider adding steering wheel paddles to enhance the fun when canyon carving.

Right for You?
With prices ranging from $33,000 to $42,000, the Genesis fits between the BMW, Infiniti and Mercedes sport sedans it aims for and the less expensive Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8. The best Hyundai yet, the Genesis offers lots of features for the dollar, a dynamic ride and handling, willing power and plenty of interior room. It’ll make a fine family car, though the lack of a folding rear seat limits cargo capacity.

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.

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BB03 - 7/30/2014 4:15:02 AM