By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/9/2011
Defying the critics, Hyundai has successfully created a line of high-end performance luxury sedans that are gaining traction with the public. A prime example is the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan, a powerful, well-equipped, midsize luxury 4-door sedan. On paper it is every bit the equal (and, in some cases, the better) of similar models from Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Acura and BMW. However, the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is priced more in line with vehicles such as the Chrysler 300, Nissan Maxima and Volkswagen CC. Many owners consider the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan more upscale than these near-luxury makes. A look at the standard and available content might convince you they're right. With power supplied by a choice of frugal V6 or two potent V8s, including a new 5.0-liter model with 429 horsepower, the rear-wheel drive Hyundai Genesis sedan is set to drive Hyundai to places the brand has never been, and consumers to savings they've rarely known before.
If you don't care about brand image, but you do care about getting lots of cool stuff in a potent sedan costing thousands less than the competition, you'll love the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan.
Some people wear their cars like they wear Prada or Gucci. If this applies to you, having a Hyundai logo on your new luxury car's grille probably won't excite you. However, a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Lexus or Acura badge commands a high premium.
The big news for the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is the introduction of the 429-horsepower 5.0 R-Spec sport sedan. The Genesis R-Spec features a sport suspension, transmission and steering calibrations, as well as unique 19-inch alloy wheels and dark chrome headlamp inserts. Also new is an 8-speed automatic transmission, which is standard on all trims. All Genesis sedans receive a mild exterior freshening. The 3.8-liter V6 engine gains direct fuel injection, which helps give it 333 horsepower, up from last year's 290.
While there is visually little to distinguish the 2012 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 from the 4.6 model, save for the wheels and rear badging, there is a definite difference felt from behind the steering wheel. Where the 3.8's 333-horsepower V6 is more than enough to move the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan with sufficient gusto, it's the 385-horsepower afforded by the 4.6's V8 that we think is the real value deal. The 4.6's suspension and springs seem stiffer to us, allowing it less lean in the corners and a firmer ride. The V8 cars' electro-hydraulic power steering also feels more responsive. Stopping is swift and sure thanks to large four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with brake assist and electronic brake distribution (EBD). The four-piston fixed-caliper front brakes on the 4.6 models are especially notable. If performance is what you seek first and foremost, then the 429 horses released by the new 5.0-liter V8 in the 5.0 R-Spec is the way to go. Costing only a few thousand more than the 4.6, the R-Spec delivers up the kind of driving dynamics more commonly associated with BMW or Audi sedans.
Lexicon Audio System
The sound from this 7.1 Discrete audio system is not only powerful, it is beautifully nuanced. It's one of the best factory sound systems we've heard in a vehicle of any price. Auxiliary USB and iPod inputs allow drivers to fully control and charge iPods directly from the head unit.
The interior of the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is truly outstanding. Extravagant use of genuine leather and wood plus meticulous fit-and-finish make for an interior worthy of a top luxury brand.
We've driving a lot of premium luxury sedans and to our well-trained eyes the interior of the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is exceptionally well done. With leather covering not only the steering wheel but the dash as well, the quality of materials and execution of design is better than some premium brands we've driven. Leather-covered front seats can be heated or cooled, and the rear seating space is equally as appealing, with abundant room for passengers' legs, hips and heads. Where Hyundai could have gone overboard with the dash design, they instead choose a simple, elegant layout that is easy to view. Unfortunately, Hyundai decided to emulate the BMW and Audi model of using a console-mounted joystick controller to operate the navigation and audio functions. While the placement of the controller is convenient to the driver, its operation is not always intuitive.
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is conservatively styled yet thoroughly appealing. The 2012 Genesis sedan's styling mimics a number of luxury brands. From the front, the Hyundai Genesis' grille and headlamps clearly pay tribute to Mercedes Benz, while the LED daytime running lamps are a nod to Audi. Around back, the Hyundai Genesis' trunk and tail lamps echo of BMW and Lexus. There is no shortage of chrome trim, which adorns the grille, trunk, window surrounds, door handles and bumpers. New for 2012 are power-folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals, new wheel designs and dual asymmetrical exhaust tips. Added all together, the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan looks similar to high-end luxury brands, and it definitely doesn't look like a Hyundai. That may be the one thing that helps it break through to the premium sedan shopper.
In the Hyundai tradition the 2012 Hyundai Genesis four-door sedan provides a rich assortment of standard features. These include the handy proximity key with alarm and entry system, power windows with front auto-up/down with pinch protection and remote fuel door, hood and trunk releases. Other standards include 1-touch power tilt-and-slide sunroof, leather seats, woodgrain accented dash and Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone interface and USB/iPod auxiliary inputs. The wealth of safety items includes electronic stability control (ESC), advanced dual front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags, roof-mounted side-curtain airbags for both front and rear outboard seat occupants. Unlike the other safety features, the 2012 Genesis' electronic active head restraints are not required by government regulations.
For everyday enjoyment, the prime option is the Lexicon-branded audio system featuring LOGIC 7 technology which is optional on the V6 trim and standard on the V8 and R-Spec. Rolls-Royce is the only other automotive brand to offer a Lexicon system, and the surround-sound, 11-channel, 17-speaker extravaganza that produces more than 500 watts is certainly of super-luxury-brand quality. It features both HD and Satellite Radio, and in navigation-equipped models it includes a 40-gigabyte hard drive. Another key option on the V6 is the automatic front lighting system that allows the xenon high intensity discharge headlights to swivel automatically for better visibility when cornering. The 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is available in three trim levels: 3.8, 4.6 and 5.0 R-Spec. The names come from its available engines: the 333-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6; the 385-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8; and the 429-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8.
We have nothing but good things to say about all three engines available in the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan. For most drivers we think the 333-horsepower direct fuel injection 3.8-liter V6 will be more than adequate. It also offers slightly better fuel economy. We can't help preferring the intoxicating power of the 4.6 liter V8, which is ably abetted by its 8-speed automatic transmission. Of course, the ultimate powerhouse is the new 5.0-liter direct fuel injection V8 that pumps out 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. Due to its high 11.5:1 compression ratio, the 5.0-liter V8 requires premium fuel. Happily, the fuel economy penalty is small for the V8s. An all-new 8-speed automatic transmission built in-house by Hyundai is standard on all three trims, with the R-Spec receiving a special sport-tuned version.
333 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
291 lb-ft of torque @ 5,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28
385 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
333 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25
429 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
376 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) that starts around $35,000 for the 3.8. The price moves up to approximately $45,000 for the fully loaded 4.6. The 5.0 R-Spec sells for just over $47,000. The 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is an incredible bargain when matched up feature-for-feature versus luxury-brand sedans of similar size. Against non-luxury brand sedans such as the Chrysler 300 and Volkswagen CC, the bargain is not quite as clear-cut, though we think the Genesis's materials and fit-and-finish outdo those of the domestic-brand vehicles. To see what buyers are currently paying for the 2012 Genesis sedan, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price. Resale value, an important factor in overall cost of ownership, is also open to question on the new Genesis, since the model is blazing a trail for Hyundai in an image-conscious segment. We expect 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan to offer good residual values, bettering its domestic rivals and remaining on par with vehicles like the Volkswagen CC. However, it does not yet match the resale values of the top luxury imports.