I researched the 30-35k sedan landscape, ending up right where I thought I would, with a base 2012 Genesis 3.8 sedan. The Genesis joins our trouble-free 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe and replaces a V6 Honda Accord. Prior to the CPO Accord, acquired as a “quick need”, destined to be replaced in 12-18 months, I drove a Volvo S60 2.5 AWD and 2 Toyota Avalons, each for 3 years. Two Oldsmobile Auroras preceded those. Those around you are not likely to be impressed by the “H” on the trunk lid, so this is a car you drive solely for yourself and your passengers. When doing so, you will be rewarded with a strong sense of having chosen well.
Excepting the 2nd gen Aurora, each of the previously noted vehicles had strengths and none were regrettable. None, however, were as refined, complete and well finished as this latest Genesis. The first-gen Aurora came close and the Avalons were impressive (especially when it came to large car gas mileage) but the Genesis is a superior drive. Quiet, quick (enough), great brake feel, roomy and planed (for a big car).
The telescoping steering column is included in the premium package as you are probably aware.
I bought a 2012 Genesis in July/11 and got the premium package plus the Genesis badging for the rear H and the wheels (installed) for a total of $34,015.
I think the premium package is worth the extra cost and the car is still in the $30-35,000 range.
BTW, love the car -- best I have ever owned!!!