Marking perhaps the greatest turnaround in automotive history, Hyundai went from producing cars that were the butt of jokes to making high-quality, well-equipped vehicles that have earned kudos from customers the world over. This startling metamorphosis started around the early 2000s and has been advancing ever since.
The reinvention of the company reached new heights with the introduction of the Hyundai Genesis sedan, the manufacturer's first stab at the luxury car market. Quiet on the road and drenched in luxury, it offered genuine opulence at an unbelievably low price and credibly competed with premium sedans from Japan, the U.S. and Europe. The warm reception and success of that sedan prompted Hyundai to spin off a separate luxury brand. Here's where it gets a bit confusing since that upscale brand uses the Genesis moniker. As such, the former Hyundai Genesis sedan became the Genesis G80, which is covered in a separate review. In any event, if you're in the market for a used luxury sedan and want to savor all the bells and whistles without cleaning out your kids' college funds, we suggest you consider the impressive Hyundai Genesis.
Used Hyundai Genesis Models
The second generation of the Hyundai-branded Genesis sedan was produced from 2015 to 2016. Note that it continued as the Genesis G80 (covered in a separate review) when Genesis became the name for the company's luxury brand spin-off. For 2015, the Hyundai Genesis was redesigned and moved further up in terms of luxury and refinement, putting it tire to tire with long-established luxury sedan nameplates. In addition to its neatly tailored styling, this Genesis has a longer wheelbase than the first-generation model, providing even more legroom for those in the rear seats, though, as before, taller passengers may find headroom a bit tight. In contrast to most other luxury sedans that use complicated layouts, the Genesis' dash has a relatively minimalist approach while providing everything you need in a proper premium sedan.
This Genesis was offered in two trims, 3.8 and 5.0, which take their names from their corresponding engines. The 3.8 model is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 good for 311 horsepower; the 5.0 model upgrades to a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 420 hp. Both use rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. Zero to 60 mph times ranged from 5.3 seconds (V8) to 6.6 seconds (V6).
Even in base 3.8 trim, this Genesis is loaded with standard features such as keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rearview camera and a navigation system. The V8-powered Genesis 5.0 further includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning systems.
In reviews, our staff was impressed by this Genesis' overall polished demeanor. Superb build quality and elegant styling provide a strong initial impression, and inside the Genesis furthers its luxury leanings with high-quality materials, spacious accommodations and well-shaped seats. Underway, either engine provides strong and smooth acceleration. Indeed, the V6 is so good we'd question the need to upgrade to the V8 version. In terms of handling, the Genesis makes an attempt at being a sport sedan. Still, it has a quiet confidence around turns that should please most folks who are shopping for a luxury sedan. A serene and very composed ride, whether running over pockmarked city streets or unreeling hundreds of miles of interstate highway, remains one of its chief strengths.
The first generation of the Hyundai Genesis ran from 2009 through 2014. In what would become tradition, that first year it was available in V6 (3.8) and V8 (4.6) versions that made 290- and 368 horsepower, respectively. A six-speed automatic sent the power to the rear wheels. Standard feature highlights of the 3.8 included leather upholstery, heated front seats and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, while the 4.6 added perks such as rain-sensing wipers, upgraded leather upholstery, a power rear sunshade and upgraded audio. Key options included a navigation system and a rearview camera. One feature that wasn't available was a fold-down rear seat.
Changes throughout this generation's run were essentially progressive. For 2010, adaptive cruise control and an electronic parking brake joined the options list. The following year brought a power increase for the 4.6-liter V8 to 385 hp. The changes for 2012 included greater output for the 3.8-liter V6 (to 333 hp) as well as the addition of the 429-hp 5.0 and 5.0 R-Spec models to the Genesis lineup. That year also marked the debut of the eight-speed transmission, up from six speeds. The following year, the lineup was simplified and the 4.6 and standard 5.0 trim levels were dropped, leaving the 3.8 and 5.0 R-Spec to carry on. For 2014, the last year of this generation, Hyundai recalibrated the steering on the Genesis 3.8 and offered a heated steering wheel on the 5.0 R-Spec.
In reviews our editors lauded the first-generation Genesis for its spirited performance in both V6 and V8 guise, plush ride (5.0 R-Spec excluded), respectable handling, and very quiet demeanor around town and at speed on the highway. The few notable demerits, which may or may not affect your decision, included the lack of an all-wheel-drive option, the unavailability of a fold-down rear seat, the lack of brand cachet, disappointing braking performance of the 3.8 model, and a stiff ride in the sport-tuned 5.0 R-Spec. Overall, however, we thought the well-built, well-rounded Genesis fully deserved consideration from savvy luxury sedan intenders.