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2012 Hyundai Genesis ReviewThe Good
As part of a mid-generation refresh for 2012, the luxury-oriented Hyundai Genesis sedan receives a new V8 powerplant, a new top-level trim, a number of exterior upgrades, a retuned suspension and improved safety features, all designed to help it compete with the best in the class.The Bad
The 2012 Genesis's second-row seat can be a little tight for 3 tall adults, and some owners say they're getting poor gas mileage out of their vehicles.
The CarGurus View
Hyundai remains aggressive in designing stylish, well-equipped vehicles that stand out in a crowd, and that certainly holds true for the rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered Genesis, which gets a number of new updates and a new top-shelf R-Spec trim for 2012. Most reviewers and owners agree that the Genesis matches up well with its competitors, with the added benefit of being a good overall value. While some owners find fault with the Genesis's fuel economy numbers, most say it's an attractive, comfortable and capable vehicle that gets even better for 2012.
At a Glance
Long, sleek and undeniably a luxury sedan, the Hyundai Genesis debuted in 2009 as the automaker's first rear-wheel-drive vehicle and still officially remains in its first generation. However, the Genesis receives fairly extensive updates for 2012 that give it a freshened look, a smoother ride and better performance. Hyundai also pushes the performance envelope with a new Genesis 5.0 R-Spec trim, which comes equipped with a new V8 powerplant, a sport-tuned suspension and unique exterior features.
Hyundai offers the 2012 Genesis in 3.8L, 4.6L and 5.0L trim levels, in addition to the new 5.0L R-Spec trim. The 5.0L and 5.0L R-Spec both get a new 5.0-liter, 429-hp V8, which Hyundai says is its most powerful engine yet, pumping out 85.8 hp per liter. All Genesis trims get a new 8-speed transmission, while the R-Spec also receives 19-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish, as well as a sport-tuned transmission, steering and suspension. In addition, it receives unique headlights with dark chrome inserts, a black leather interior and an all-black leather steering wheel. Hyundai offers the R-Spec in Black Noir, Titanium Gray and Platinum Metallic exterior colors.
Outside, all Genesis trims display a revised front end with a new grille, a larger intake opening, redesigned headlights with LED accents and new daytime running lights. In addition, Hyundai restyled the Genesis's side rocker panels, added power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamp functions and upgraded the side window surrounds with a brushed aluminum finish. In the rear, the Genesis gets a new bumper with integrated dual chrome exhaust tips and redesigned the taillights. The standard 17-inch alloy wheels have been updated as well. The exterior updates give the Genesis a sportier appearance that should help it compete against luxury vehicles like the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Audi A7 and the Infiniti M.
All trims except the 3.8L get HID headlights and an auto-cornering Adaptive Front Lighting system, and all receive front foglights and automatic headlights, as well as dual heated power side mirrors with integrated turn signals. In addition, the automaker adds daytime running lights for 2012, and safety features include a new available Lane Departure Warning System.
Hyundai offers the Genesis with a choice of three engines. The 3.8L receives an updated V6 powerplant, while the 4.6L, 5.0L and new R-Spec all get V8s. The 3.8-liter Lambda V6 driving the 3.8L trim receives direct injection for 2012, giving it a substantial boost in horsepower, to 333 hp, up from 290 the previous year. Peak torque increases as well, to 291 lb-ft from 264, all without increasing the engine's displacement. The V6 links to a new 8-speed automatic transmission with a Shiftronic manual-shift mode, which comes standard across the line. Thanks to such features as dual continuously variable valve timing and direct injection, the V6 posts better fuel economy numbers than the previous year's powerplant, managing 18 mpg city/28 highway.
A 4.6-liter Tau V8 engine, now in the last year of its availability, continues to power the 4.8L trim. The V8 puts out 385 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque with premium fuel, which is recommended, and 378 hp and 324 lb-ft with regular unleaded gas. The engine also links to the 8-speed automatic. Fuel economy numbers check in at 17/26 mpg.
The new Tau 5.0-liter V8 engine powering both the 5.0 and 5.0 R-Spec trims develops a healthy 429 hp and 376 lb-ft at 5,000 rpm, thanks to its high-pressure direct-injection system, which not only pumps up the power but also helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions, according to the automaker. Like the other Genesis engines, it features dual continuously variable valve timing and a tuned variable induction system. The EPA estimates fuel economy numbers of 16/25 mpg for the big V8.
Designed to appeal to driving enthusiasts, the new 5.0L R-Spec leaps out from 0-60 in around 5 seconds (tests range from 4.8 to 5.1 seconds), although some reviewers say the R-Spec doesn't quite match the performance-oriented driving experience offered by such vehicles as the BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicles. Still, most agree that the R-Spec delivers a spirited, finely tuned ride, with smooth acceleration and performance that ranks a step above the standard luxury sports car's. Overall, reviewers give all three engines good marks for their solid performance and smart fuel efficiency.
Ride & Handling
After hearing reports of agility issues with the 2011 Genesis, Hyundai's engineers made refinements to the suspensions of the 3.8L and 4.6L trims for 2012. In an effort to find the optimal mix between responsive handling and ride comfort, the automaker tweaked the damping calibrations for the two lower-end trims and increased the size of the rear stabilizer bar in both trims from 17 to 18mm, in an effort to reduce body roll. The two lower-end trims also receive larger brakes, with the 3.8L getting 13-inch front rotors, up from 12.6 inches the previous year, and the 4.6L receives 13.6-inch front rotors, up from 13 inches. These upgrades provide greater fade resistance when braking, according to the automaker.
The 5.0L and 5.0 R-Spec both get stiffer suspensions, with the R-Spec receiving the most aggressive tuning, thanks to higher springs rates and Sachs ASD performance-oriented shocks. The 5.0 continues with a 25mm stabilizer bar in the front and an 18mm bar in the rear, which increase to 26mm and 19mm, respectively, for the R-Spec. Hyundai also recalibrated the R-Spec's speed-sensitive steering for a sportier feel.
The R-Spec certainly has a tighter, more controlled feel than the other Genesis trims, according to testers, although some find its ride overly harsh for daily commuting. In tight corners and at higher speeds, however, the R-Spec delivers a confident ride with sharp steering, although some say the steering system still lacks appropriate feedback. While the lower-end trims deliver a more comfortable ride, some reviewers say road noise intrudes into the cabin, compared to the R-Spec's quiet performance. Overall, most agree that the performance and suspension updates for 2012 are definite improvements.
The 3.8L and 4.6L trims ride on 17-inch alloy wheels, while the 5.0L gets 18-inch alloy wheels and the R-Spec receives 19-inch alloy wheels. Hyundai offers optional Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer performance tires for the R-Spec, which provide good road grip.
Cabin & Comfort
Comfortable and well-designed, the Genesis's cabin easily matches those of its European luxury-car competitors. Materials and build quality meet class expectations, and a long list of standard features across all trims make the Genesis a standout. Passengers will find the cabin quiet and roomy, with a natural flowing design and plenty of legroom and headroom in the front. However, taller passengers might find headroom in the second-row seat a little tight. The middle passenger in the second row will also have to deal with the floor hump.
The instrument cluster and gauges are well-designed and easy to read, and controls are generally intuitive and simple to operate. Even typically complicated tech controls, such as those for the navigation system, are relatively simple to use, especially when compared to the complicated systems found in some competitive vehicles. The Genesis offers 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, which is average for the class. A small pass-through into the cabin serves in place of fold-down rear seats.
Leather upholstery comes standard in the 3.8L trim, along with heated front seats, an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar and a 4-way power-adjustable passenger seat. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, push-button start, remote keyless entry and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror also come standard. Dual-zone automatic climate control with an outside temperature display keeps passengers comfortable, while an AM/FM audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth, a CD player and a USB input jack provides entertainment.
The 4.8L, 5.0L and R-Spec upgrade to premium leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a leather-wrapped dashboard and a leather-and-woodgrain steering wheel with a power tilt/telescopic column, as well as memory settings for the driver's seat. The three upper-end trims also receive a power tilt/slide sunroof with a power sunshade and an auto-fogging windshield with a humidity sensor. Tech features include a navigation system with XM NavTraffic and a 17-speaker, 528-watt Lexicon Surround Sound audio system with Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio and a 6-CD/DVD in-dash CD changer, all accessed through an 8-inch display and a multimedia controller. Hyundai also includes a rear-view backup camera on the three upper-end trims.
Hyundai offers a number of new technology options packages for the 3.8L trim for 2012. A 3.8 Premium Package adds heated rear seats, a rear-view camera, a DVD navigation system and a 7-inch touchscreen, while a 3.8 Technology Package adds the new Lane Departure Warning System, among other features. Hyundai also offers the Lane Department Warning System as an optional upgrade on the high-end trims.
The 2012 Genesis comes standard with such safety features as 8 airbags, including side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags. Electronic stability control, traction control and 4-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist also come standard across the line. The IIHS named the Genesis a Top Safety Pick for 2012, since it received a top rating of Good for protecting passengers in all types of crashes. The NHTSA gave the Genesis a rating of 5 out of 5 stars for protecting passengers in rollover crashes, but has not tested the Genesis for other types of crashes.
What Owners Think
Owners are generally positive about the Genesis, citing its attractive exterior styling, spirited performance and good overall value as its biggest selling points. Owners say they get their money's worth with the Genesis, especially when compared to pricier options in the luxury-sedan category. The Genesis performs well and delivers a smooth, capable ride, owners say, although some find the ride and the seats a bit stiff for long-distance traveling. Some owners also report that they're getting poor gas mileage out of their vehicles. However, those who have owned a number of competitive vehicles, including luxury-oriented sedans from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, say the Genesis matches up well with, and often exceeds, the best in the class. The Genesis also gets good marks for its reliability, although a few owners have reported minor quality-control problems with their vehicles.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.
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