2012 Hyundai Genesis Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 16, 2011

The Genesis' impressive details and execution make it a pragmatic luxury-car choice, especially in the quick, plush V-6 version.

Hyundai began its drive for bigger, more luxurious cars in 2009 with the Genesis sedan. Directly inspired by the likes of the Infiniti M and Lexus GS, the Genesis recast the brand from its economy-car roots in a way its front-drive Azera never could. Since then it's brought out a sporty Genesis Coupe and the flagship Equus sedan, but it's the Genesis that firmly convinced car reviewers and buyers alike, that Hyundai could compete in the luxury arena, without apology.

The Genesis' calling card isn't a single model, or powertrain, or even a feature. It's an overall interpretation of luxury that can be summed up in its styling. A touch of Lexus here, a bit of Infiniti and Mercedes there, the Genesis still looks fresh and has a few details--the grille, the taillamps--that predicted the distinctive themes it's worked so successfully on the Sonata and Elantra sedans since. The interior's particularly rich in feel and texture, especially in versions with the leather-upholstered dash and a knob-controller system that can govern the audio and navigation systems via a big LCD screen.

Of the three powertrains buyers can choose on the rear-drive Genesis, it's the less expensive ones we prefer. The entry-level, 333-horsepower V-6 cranks out the power you'd find in some V-8 luxosedans, with just a slight six-cylinder snarl to call attention to itself. Like the muscular, 385-hp 4.6-liter V-8 in the mid-line Genesis, the six is teamed with a new eight-speed automatic that's the attentive, invisible match of its peers. In the uppermost R-Spec edition, 429 horsepower usher the Genesis to 60 mph in less than five seconds, but the stiff ride and meaty steering feel out of character when compared with the other models' relaxed ride and steering.

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Hyundai hasn't skimped on interior room inside the Genesis. It's a real five-seater, with great head, leg and knee room for front and back-seat passengers. Leather is standard on all models, with a premium grade specified on V-8 cars, and all five passengers get heated seats on V-8 versions, too--with the driver seat adding ventilation. Trunk space is generous, if not cavernous. Build quality is quite good, and truly competitive with Japanese brands, though we'd like more firmness in the Genesis' front seats, especially on the sporty R-Spec version.

Safety features have been updated to include a lane-departure warning system (standard on V-8s, optional on V-6s), and all Genesis sedans have eight airbags, including rear-seat side airbags. The IIHS gives the Genesis its Top Safety Pick award, and though the NHTSA hasn't completed all its tests, the Genesis does earn a five-star rollover resistance score.

Every Genesis comes with Bluetooth, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and satellite radio and a USB port. The V-6 version can be optioned up with premium and technology packages to approach the comprehensive features found on V-8 cars, including the fantastic Lexicon audio system. On the R-Spec, the only option is summer performance tires--but there's no option for all-wheel drive, or for voice controls for audio and navigation, on any Genesis. It's a small price to pay for the Genesis' bargain sticker, which begins in the mid-$30,000 range, or for its excellent warranty coverage.

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2012 Hyundai Genesis

Styling

It's a bit conservative, but the 2012 Hyundai Genesis blends right into the luxury crowd.

Hyundai's embarked on a swoopy, dazzling new styling theme with its smaller, more proletarian Sonata and Elantra sedans. But with its big luxury cars, the Equus and first, the Genesis, it's played a more conservative hand.

The sophistication you'll see in the Genesis simply wasn't there in the last generation of Hyundais. The flowing roofline and wide grille are smartly proportioned like the best Japanese and German sport sedans. Some of the cues might not be completely unique--there's some Lexus, some Mercedes in the shape of the headlights and the upsweep of the rear pillars--but the Genesis has its fair share of distinctive touches. And, we'd add, a distinct lack of Hyundai badging.

The interpretation of luxury inside is just as convincing. The Genesis' dash curves gently, with controls placed high on the dash, which in turn leaves a slimmer center console and more room for passengers. The up-tilted control center houses 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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2012 Hyundai Genesis

Performance

It lacks the nuanced handling that define some of its competition, but the 2012 Hyundai Genesis doles out strong, smooth power and a quiet, refined ride.

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis is a harmonious piece, played in three parts. Two models offer up a driving experience that's considerably softer and more plush than the competition, but the third has a stiffly tuned ride that's at odds with the car's character.

The base Genesis sports more power and more gears for the new model year. Its engine is a 333-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6, up from 290 hp last year through the addition of direct fuel injection and other tuning. It's no slouch with this engine, and as it's coupled to Hyundai's new eight-speed automatic, it also comes with a sport-shift mode. The powertrain makes a strong value statement, with the six-cylinder growl the most noticeable difference from other versions. Hyundai pegs its 0-60 mph times at about six seconds, and sets a top speed at 130 mph.

A 4.6-liter V-8 engine is the next step in the Genesis lineup. It plumps up power to 385 horsepower, and with the same eight-speed automatic, it pours out unruffled acceleration, switching gears with great isolation and Lexus-like invisibility. It's truly quick, and only a bit more expensive than some V-6-powered luxury rivals. Its 0-60 mph times check in at about five seconds, and top speed rises to 155 mph.

The Genesis' independent suspension has multiple links and lightweight aluminum construction for nimbler response, but at least in these two versions, the big Hyundais are tuned more for comfort than for outright handling prowess. The Genesis doesn't have the crisp steering responses or the taut ride quality of a Mercedes-Benz or BMW--but it does have a creamy, compliant ride and very low cabin noise.

The R-Spec edition is new for 2012, and it gets its motivation from the uprated 5.0-liter version of the 4.6-liter V-8. With 429 horsepower and the same automatic transmission, the R-Spec has a promised 0-60 mph time of under five seconds. Along with some cosmetic touches, it also comes with stiffer anti-roll bars, bigger 19-inch wheels and tires, and a quicker steering ratio. The tighter feel isn't a net improvement: the Genesis R-Spec feels overdamped, with sharp responses to bumps that get filtered out in the other models. It's also fitted with seats that feel like they've been softened to mute the effects of the R-Spec package. Shoppers who want the exclusivity of the R-Spec package and the new engine won't pay much more for them--only about $2000--but we think most Genesis buyers will be happier with the stock V-8 or even V-6 versions.

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2012 Hyundai Genesis

Comfort & Quality

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis has handsome detailing and a true premium feel in its cabin fit for five.

As Hyundai's first true luxury sedan--outranked but not replaced by the bigger Equus--the Genesis puts premium finishes on clear display in its spacious, subdued cabin. The uninitiated might feel they're in a Lexus or in an Infiniti, thanks to its cushy ride comfort and cabin appointments.

With a long wheelbase and ample width, the Genesis doesn't skimp on head or leg room. It's a true five-seater, with bucket seats in front that could use a bit more bolstering, if they're to bolster Hyundai's growing reputation. They're cozy, though, and knee room is good--and most versions come with heating controls, while the driver also gets seat ventilation.

In back, the Genesis' leg room is outstanding. It's much more spacious than most sport sedans wearing German labels, with enough space for tall passengers to cross leg over knee and have room to spare. The Genesis' trunk is suitably big, at 15.9 cubic feet; small-item storage inside the cockpit can be found in the console, the glove boxes, and the door panels.

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.

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2012 Hyundai Genesis

Safety

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis has earned one top safety score, with federal scores yet to come.

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis benefits from a big dose of standard safety equipment.

On that list are eight airbags, including rear-seat side airbags; stability control; and active headrests. Bluetooth is also standard equipment.

The Genesis comes equipped with a rearview camera when a navigation system is ordered; parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and a lane-departure warning system are optional on the V-6 car, and standard on other models.

In formal crash testing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't yet performed all its tests on the Genesis, though it does award it a five-star rollover resistance rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Genesis its Top Safety Pick award.

Outward visibility is good, and we recommend opting for one of the navigation systems, for its own use as well as for the rearview camera it brings with it.

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2012 Hyundai Genesis

Features

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis impresses our editors with its premium features and its affordable-luxury price.

Last year, the Hyundai Genesis added more standard and luxury features, and it's the same for the 2012 model year with the arrival of the R-Spec.

That performance edition brings its unique powertrain to the party, while other models get LED lighting, power folding rearview mirrors, and new colors, inside and out. Aside from those changes, the basics remain unchanged for the Genesis, with all models sporting standard dual-zone automatic climate control; a sunroof; cruise control; power doors, locks, and windows; cruise control; power front seats; heated mirrors and front seats; leather upholstery; Bluetooth; and a seven-speaker, AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with an auxiliary jack and a USB port.

On six-cylinder cars, a Premium Package adds on a touchscreen DVD navigation system with a rearview camera, a power-telescoping steering wheel, and real-time traffic. Separately, a Technology Package adds on a different, non-touchscreen, DVD-based navigation; HD Radio; adaptive headlights; and ventilated front seats--features you'll find on the Genesis 4.6 as standard equipment.

That V-8 model also gets a standard Lexicon audio system; a ventilated driver seat; premium leather upholstery; and parking sensors.

The new R-Spec model offers all those features as standard equipment, topping it off with 19-inch wheels. Summer performance tires are the sole option.

A note about Hyundai's audio and navigation systems: the Driver Information System, as it's known, is the same kind of wheel-driven system as BMW's iDrive. Here it's a bit simpler than in the German luxury sedans, since it controls fewer features, though some of its logic structure still underlines the weaknesses of these systems. Finding the random command for iPod tracks isn't intuitive, for example. Redundant steering-wheel controls are included so you can bypass some of the fiddlier commands.

The Genesis doesn't offer paddle shifters for its automatic transmission, or voice controls for the audio and navigation, or all-wheel drive.

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2012 Hyundai Genesis

Fuel Economy

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis isn't particularly green, but its V-6 edition earns good highway fuel economy numbers.

Though it's a large luxury sedan, the 2012 Hyundai Genesis has surprisingly good fuel-economy figures with its base engine. However, it also comes in more powerful V-8 editions, and those models aren't quite as efficient.

The base Genesis 3.8 is outfitted with a 333-horsepower V-6. It's rated by the EPA at 18/28 mpg, as good as some large front-drive sedans. It's an improvement over the 2011 version by as much as 2 mpg on the highway cycle.

The 385-horsepower Genesis 4.6 earns an EPA rating of 16/25 mpg, up slightly from last year. It also benefits from the Genesis' new eight-speed automatic transmission, as does the 429-hp R-Spec sedan, which is rated at 16/25 mpg.

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

NOTE: The Genesis sedan is among those Hyundai vehicles included in a restatement of fuel-economy figures. From the 2011 to the 2013 model year, the EPA has calculated that many Hyundai vehicles had overstated gas-mileage ratings that did not hold up to confirmation testing performed by the agency. Owners will receive reimbursements for extra fuel used, and can initiate payment through Hyundai's site, www.hyundaimpginfo.com.

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April 18, 2016
2012 Hyundai Genesis 4-Door Sedan V6 3.8L

great Korean auto.They have come a long way!!!

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Well made V6 has abundant power. great mpg. very comfortable.
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October 11, 2015
2012 Hyundai Genesis 4-Door Sedan V8 4.6L

I would buy it again

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Not a good snow car but otherwise a great buy for the money. Nice fit & Finnish.
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September 27, 2015
2012 Hyundai Genesis 4-Door Sedan V6 3.8L

Great car a mid size sports car for the price all the toys , only thing missing is a toilet and a sink.

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This is by far the best mid size luxury sports car on the market,it has all the toys, fast very comfortable smooth ride great gas mileage. Beat car for the price. will buy another in 2016.
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April 16, 2015
For 2012 Hyundai Genesis

The Best may be out there, but it will be tough to be this Genesis.

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One of the best vehicles I've owned. Smooth ride, good performance, great MPG, and comfortable on a trip. I can't ask for more. No problems and honestly don't expect any. You can't beat the warranty. Have had... + More »
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