2011 Hyundai Genesis Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 3, 2011

If you can do without a luxury logo, the 2011 Hyundai Genesis provides performance, features, and comfort—including impressive detailing—to match premium-brand sedans costing much more.

Two years ago Hyundai started to make a move upmarket—way upmarket, actually, to take on the likes of the Infiniti M and Lexus GS sedans with the rear-wheel-drive Genesis. Above the front-wheel-drive Azera, but just below the all-new Equus flagship in the lineup, the Genesis takes a slightly more comfort-oriented angle than its rivals, and—with V-8 models totaling less than comparably-equipped V-6 competing models—makes a very strong value argument for anyone who won't dwell on the lack of a luxury badge.

With the Genesis, Hyundai started to take a swoopy, sleek new design direction that's been developed in an even more pronounced way in the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2011 Hyundai Elantra—as well as the luxurious Equus. But the automaker kept it a little more reeled-in and conservative with the Genesis, its first rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan.

The 2011 Genesis offers upscale shoppers a choice of two engines, though both share ride and handling that's considerably softer than those of comparable German sedans. The base engine is a 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6; the 'Tau' V-8 engine is available, and this year it gets a 10-hp boost, to 385 hp if you choose to operate it on optional premium fuel. The Genesis is certainly no slouch with the V-6, which provides swift acceleration, but the V-8 is truly quick—especially considering its price that's only slightly higher than rival V-6 models. Hyundai stated that the V-6 car will run from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, while the stronger new V-8 can make it in 5.3 seconds. The V-6 version can reach 130 mph, while the V-8 tops out at 155 mph.

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The Genesis was Hyundai's first true luxury sedan when it was introduced two years ago, and it's clear in looking throughout the cabin that the automaker put a priority on interior room. Ride comfort and premium cabin appointments are also given top billing to the degree that the uninitiated might think they're in an Infiniti or Lexus. The long wheelbase gives front and rear passengers ample leg- and headroom, so the 2011 Genesis is a true five-seat sedan, too.

Build quality and refinement in the 2011 Hyundai Genesis light years ahead of Hyundai appointments even five to ten years ago, and truly competitive with premium Japanese brands. There's leather, tightly grained plastic, laminated glass to damp noise, and plenty of handsome detailing. The Genesis' fit and finish are excellent, with leather, tightly grained plastic, and plenty of handsome detailing.

This year the standard equipment list for V-8 models grows with a few new items that were previously optional: The 17-speaker Lexicon premium surround-sound system, navigation system with Driver Information System and eight-inch screen, smart cruise control, electronic parking brake, cooled driver seat, adaptive front lighting, HID headlamps, and parking assistance system are all now standard on the 2011 Hyundai Genesis 4.6. And that's on top of other additional equipment that comes on the V-8, such as premium leather on the seats and on the dash, as well as rain-sensing wipers and a rear sunshade.

The Genesis 3.8 maintains its already strong list of standard features, including dual-zone automatic climate control; a sunroof; cruise control; power doors, locks, heated mirrors, and heated seats; leather upholstery; Bluetooth; and a seven-speaker, AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with an auxiliary jack and a USB port.

7

2011 Hyundai Genesis

Styling

The 2011 Hyundai Genesis is a little conservative, but it blends right into the luxury crowd.

With the Genesis, Hyundai started to take a swoopy, sleek new design direction that's been developed in an even more pronounced way in the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2011 Hyundai Elantra. But the automaker kept it a little more reeled-in and conservative with the Genesis, its first rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan.

There's real sophistication in the sedan's flowing roofline and its wide grille that's been missing from the company's cars. It's proportioned as smartly as most European and Japanese sport sedans. Though the Genesis has lots of styling cues seem more familiar than fresh, it also has its share of distinct pieces, like its bright, wide grille. And of note on the Genesis is the lack of "Hyundai" badges.

Inside, there's more experimentation-and it's successful. It's not as derivative, with gentle curves and a dashboard that lifts controls high, to leave a slimmer center console and more interior space. Especially of note is the upward-angled control center, housing climate controls along with a multi-function display screen. Some trim levels offer leather-wrapped dash and door panels, and they're quite striking.

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2011 Hyundai Genesis

Performance

The 2011 Hyundai Genesis will hustle, though it lacks the dancing skills that its specs and layout imply.

The 2011 Genesis offers upscale shoppers a choice of two engines, though both share ride and handling that's considerably softer than those of comparable German sedans.

The base engine is a 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6; the 'Tau' V-8 engine is available, and this year it gets a 10-hp boost, to 385 hp if you choose to operate it on optional premium fuel. The Genesis is certainly no slouch with the V-6, which provides swift acceleration, but the V-8 is truly quick—especially considering its price that's only slightly higher than rival V-6 models. In either model, a six-speed automatic shifts gears almost invisible, snapping off highly isolated, Lexus-like shift even at full throttle.

Hyundai stated that the V-6 car will run from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, while the stronger new V-8 can make it in 5.3 seconds. The V-6 version can reach 130 mph, while the V-8 tops out at 155 mph.

The Genesis' independent suspension has multiple links and lightweight aluminum construction for nimbler response, but these big sedans are tuned more toward the comfort zone. Steering remains a disappointment; the 2011 Genesis doesn't have the crisp response or the taut ride quality of a Benz or BMW.

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2011 Hyundai Genesis

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 Hyundai Genesis provides a spacious, plush environment for five adults—plus handsome detailing and a true premium feel.

The Genesis was Hyundai's first true luxury sedan when it was introduced two years ago, and it's clear in looking throughout the cabin that the automaker put a priority on interior room. Ride comfort and premium cabin appointments are also given top billing to the degree that the uninitiated might think they're in an Infiniti or Lexus.

The long wheelbase gives front and rear passengers ample leg- and headroom, so the 2011 Genesis is a true five-seat sedan. In front, bucket seats are padded and formed well, not thickly bolstered as sports sedans might be, but cozy, with good knee room. The backseat's legroom is outstanding-much more spacious than most sport sedans. Trunk space is considerable, at 15.9 cubic feet, and interior storage in the console, glove boxes, and door panels is good.

Build quality and refinement in the 2011 Hyundai Genesis light years ahead of Hyundai appointments even five to ten years ago, and truly competitive with premium Japanese brands. There's leather, tightly grained plastic, laminated glass to damp noise, and plenty of handsome detailing.

The Genesis' fit and finish are excellent, with leather, tightly grained plastic, and plenty of handsome detailing. Wood trim, two-tone leather, and visible stitching also lend a premium look and feel.

9

2011 Hyundai Genesis

Safety

The 2011 Hyundai Genesis is likely one of the safest luxury sedans.

The Hyundai Genesis has extensive safety equipment and has received top safety scores in testing from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

Top 'good' results in all categories—frontal, side, and rear impact, along with roof strength—apply from the IIHS, and the 2011 Genesis has been named one of 66 IIHS Top Safety Picks. And while the federal government awarded the 2010 Genesis top five-star scores in frontal and side impact, this model hasn't yet been tested according to stricter tests and ratings that are being phased in for 2011.

The 2011 Hyundai Genesis comes with eight airbags in all—dual front, side curtain, and front and rear-seat side bags—along with stability control and anti-lock brakes.

Outward visibility is good, and the Genesis now offers adaptive cruise control to go with its available rear camera and front and rear parking sensors.

8

2011 Hyundai Genesis

Features

The 2011 Hyundai Genesis sedans continue to wow with a premium feature set, without the premium-brand price.

The Hyundai Genesis already had a very impressive array of standard luxury and entertainment features, and for 2011 it gets even better.

This year the standard equipment list for V-8 models grows with a few new items that were previously optional: The 17-speaker Lexicon premium surround-sound system, navigation system with Driver Information System and eight-inch screen, smart cruise control, electronic parking brake, cooled driver seat, adaptive front lighting, HID headlamps, and parking assistance system are all now standard on the 2011 Hyundai Genesis 4.6. And that's on top of other additional equipment that comes on the V-8, such as premium leather on the seats and on the dash, as well as rain-sensing wipers and a rear sunshade.

The Genesis 3.8 maintains its already strong list of standard features, including dual-zone automatic climate control; a sunroof; cruise control; power doors, locks, heated mirrors, and heated seats; leather upholstery; Bluetooth; and a seven-speaker, AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with an auxiliary jack and a USB port.

A Technology Package is still available on V-6 models and most of those Genesis 4.6 extras, including premium sound, HD Radio, adaptive headlights, and ventilated front seats.

The centralized, screen-driven control system, similar to BMW's iDrive, is called the Driver Information System, and overall we like the simplicity of the interface, which has a number of redundant controls on the steering wheel. Full iPod control is allowed via the screen, which is positioned high in the driver's field of vision.

There are however a few features you won't find on the 2011 Hyundai Genesis, including paddle shifters, voice controls for the audio and navigation, and all-wheel drive.

6

2011 Hyundai Genesis

Fuel Economy

Among V-8 luxury cars, the Genesis doesn't have bad EPA ratings, though it's not particularly green.

The 2011 Hyundai Genesis is a large luxury sedan, and its mileage figures are pretty much on par with other rivals. It comes in V-6 and V-8 variants, and while the V-6 is right in with other V-6 rivals, at 18 mpg city, 27 highway, the V-8 model is a bit better than you might expect, at 17/25.

Unlike most other luxury vehicles, the Genesis doesn't require premium gasoline; it's optional and yields a few more horsepower but likely won't affect fuel economy.

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