What's New for 2012
Hyundai adds a 5.0-liter V8-powered model to the lineup, increases horsepower for the base V6 and makes an eight-speed automatic transmission standard across the board. The 3.8 and 4.6 models also gain new low-rolling-resistance tires.
The Hyundai Genesis is aptly named. Although the Korean automaker's luxury sedan isn't creating a new segment from scratch, it has created a category in which performance, power, luxury and comfort exist in balance with incredible value. Simply put, no other car offers so much for so little as the 2012 Hyundai Genesis.
For 2012, an already strong engine lineup is bolstered by a 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 (included with the new R-Spec model), while direct-injection technology now catapults the base V6 well past 300 hp. A new eight-speed automatic transmission also helps the Genesis achieve better fuel economy. Outside, the Genesis receives some styling tucks, with tighter, more sporting looks front and rear.
Inside the silent and spacious cabin, high-quality leather covers the dash, doors, consoles and most other points that you'll come in contact with. Soft, pliant seats will keep driver and passengers alike cradled in comfort for short hops and road trips. And when the hushed and muffled sound of the road becomes too much to bear, the two available Lexicon audio systems will liven the cabin with full, rich surround sound. The 17-speaker version is truly one of the best stereos in any car at any price.
Its price and humble lineage might make the 2012 Hyundai Genesis seem more of a competitor to the likes of the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus or Toyota Avalon. But it's actually more of a bargain-priced rival to premium striders like the Infiniti M or even German midsize sedans.
In this company the Genesis shows only minor deficiencies. It lacks an all-wheel-drive option and its braking distances are a bit long, for example. The new R-Spec model also lacks a degree of ride and handling sophistication you'd find in the European models it's targeting. But these are minor problems compared to what is likely the largest obstacle the Genesis faces in the marketplace: whether or not buyers will embrace the badge on its trunk lid.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis is a full-size, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan available in 3.8, 4.6, 5.0 and 5.0 R-Spec trim levels (the numbers denote engine displacement).
The Genesis 3.8 comes standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (includes power lumbar), a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a tilt steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.
The Premium package adds 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, automatic wipers, power-folding side mirrors, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather dash and door trim, driver memory functions, a power rear sunshade, a rearview camera, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a 7-inch touchscreen interface and a 14-speaker Lexicon surround-sound system with a CD/DVD player.
The Technology package adds or supplements Premium package equipment with adaptive HID headlights, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, an electronic parking brake, upgraded leather upholstery, a ventilated driver seat, heated rear seats, an enhanced Bluetooth system, a rotary-knob based multimedia interface with 8-inch display, and a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system with HD radio and an in-dash six-CD/DVD changer.
The Genesis 4.6 includes Premium and Technology features as standard equipment but substitutes a wood-trimmed steering wheel for a leather-wrapped piece. The Genesis 5.0 is identically appointed, with the exception of the more powerful engine. The Genesis 5.0 R-Spec incorporates all Premium and Technology package features, plus 19-inch wheels and sport-tuned transmission, suspension and steering. High-performance summer tires are optional on the R-Spec.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 gets a 3.8-liter direct-injected V6 that produces 333 hp and 291 pound-feet of torque. Like every Genesis, rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, this engine took the Genesis from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
The Hyundai Genesis 4.6 features a 4.6-liter V8 good for 378 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque with regular gas, and 385 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque with premium. Estimated fuel economy is 16/25/19.
The Hyundai Genesis 5.0 and R-Spec join the lineup with a 5.0-liter direct-injected V8 making 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, the R-Spec hit 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16/25/18.
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis comes standard with antilock brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front and rear side airbags and side curtain airbags. Parking sensors, lane-departure warning and a rearview camera are optional on the 3.8 and standard on the 4.6 and 5.0 R-Spec. In Edmunds brake testing, the Genesis 3.8 came to a stop from 60 mph in 117 feet, while the 4.6 stopped in 124. Both are average distances, but the R-Spec's 112-foot stop with its optional summer tires is excellent.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, meanwhile, awarded the Genesis the best possible score of "Good" in its frontal offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
If not for the sweeping "H" logo on the Genesis' steering wheel, most people would likely think they're driving a Lexus. This is especially true of the fully loaded model, which offers a full complement of modern comforts and conveniences wrapped in interior materials that feel rich and well-built. The Genesis cabin clearly takes aim at the Japanese luxury standard-bearer, as even the crisp, bright electroluminescent gauges have a Lexus-like appearance.
Controls are well laid out throughout the Genesis price and trim range, while the task of commanding the more complicated available electronic systems -- included with navigation -- is accomplished with either a touchscreen or control knob and visual display. We wish there were stereo preset buttons with the latter setup, however, as it can take awhile to click and turn your way to the radio station you want. The multi-speaker Lexicon sound systems are also very impressive, with the 17-speaker version being one of the best systems found in any car at any price.
Befitting a luxury touring car, the front seats of the Genesis provide plenty of comfort for both driver and passenger on longer trips. The same can be said of the rear seats, which offer optional heaters, in addition to the ample head- and legroom afforded backseat passengers. The rear seats don't fold down for additional cargo space, but a pass-through feature accommodates longer items that won't fit in the 15.9-cubic-foot trunk.
The soft ride of most 2012 Hyundai Genesis models is a good indicator of the car's luxury intentions, and thankfully it lacks the disconnected float that characterizes some other sleepy cruisers. When called upon, the Genesis can perform evasive maneuvers predictably and with little drama. Steering doesn't provide much feedback, but it's reasonably precise and suits the car's purpose. Thanks to extensive sound insulation, the Genesis is also a remarkably quiet car.
Engine power also more evenly matches other premium brands, with Genesis V6 and V8 models delivering smooth and linear acceleration. The new 5.0 models are just downright fast, matching the acceleration potential of V8-powered sport sedans that cost thousands more. However, unlike its regular Genesis counterparts, the R-Spec suffers a firm ride over broken pavement that sets it apart in a bad way from those aforementioned sport sedans.