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The Hyundai Genesis has led the turnaround for a brand once best known for economy cars, low pricing, and features for the money. And with a focus on things like styling, ambiance, and refinement, the 2014 Genesis remains an interesting alternative to both luxury-badged sedans and high-end mainstream models.
Although the mostly unrelated Genesis Coupe follows a different, more muscled performance tack, the brand has more recently followed up with its Equus sedan—an even more ambitious (and larger) luxury sedan. And those models have in played a more upscale chord that's reverberated throughout the lineup—and turned the brand into a sales powerhouse.
We expect the brand to again step up its game with the all-new 2015 Hyundai Genesis that's on the way. In the meantime, the current Genesis is carrying over for one more model year. To put it simply, the Genesis doesn't part the clouds over affordable luxury in the way it did five years ago; but it does remain a handsome four-door with an amply luxurious interior, swift acceleration, and rather soft handling.
Last year marked the departure of the mid-line 4.6-liter V-8 model, which left two rather disparate models—a value-rich V-6 version that's plush and impressive, provided you're eying comfort, and a performance-minded R-Spec that's more powerful but not this model's strong suit (for ride-and-handling reasons).
Although Hyundai has ventured into some adventurous new styling realms—just look at its Veloster hatchback—the Genesis has avoided styling drama, instead playing a bit of follow-the-leader and borrowing bits and pieces of form and inspiration from luxury rivals. It's a conservative interpretation of luxury, with enough familiar touches to lure in cross-shoppers miffed at ever-rising sticker prices. The Genesis sedan no longer looks fresh, but it adds up to a vehicle that will blend in nicely with other luxury models on the used-car lot for many years to come. Inside, the cabin is even more convincing, with leather trim on the dash on some versions reaching far beyond Hyundai's usual station—and a knob controller connecting its infotainment systems to those in the premium German brands. Some trim levels offer leather-wrapped dash and door panels, and they're quite striking.
The base engine in the 2014 Hyundai Genesis is a 333-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. With high output and direct injection, it gets good fuel economy and offers quick acceleration (0-60 mph time in 6.0 seconds). With so much power, we'd prefer shift paddles to the lever-actuated sport mode. In the R-Spec, there's 429 hp coming from a 5.0-liter V-8; it's capable of 5.0-second runs from 0 to 60 mph. This model is much quicker, although its ride is very firm, and it doesn't seem to have gains in handling prowess and dynamics to justify the loss in ride comfort.
The Genesis is 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. 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 Hyundai Genesis light years ahead of Hyundai appointments even five to ten years ago, and truly competitive with premium Japanese brands.
The Hyundai Genesis has been on the market since 2009, but there isn't all much crash-test information on it. The model has earned top 'good' ratings in for frontal and side impact, as well as seat (rear) impact and roof strength, although it hasn't been tested in the tougher new small overlap category. 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. However, a rearview camera is an option on six-cylinder cars; we think it should be standard on any luxury sedan, for safety's sake.
For 2014, Hyundai has added the Connected Care telematics service, part of BlueLink, as a standard feature for three years; it includes collision notification, emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, vehicle health reports, maintenance alerts, and help with trouble codes and recalls. Every Genesis comes with Bluetooth, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and satellite radio and a USB port, and for 2014 even the Genesis 3.8 includes standard 18-inch alloy wheels. 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, everything is standard--even a heated steering wheel--but there's no option for all-wheel drive on any Genesis.