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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.
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.