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The Genesis sedan began Hyundai's move upmarket in 2009. Since then, the Korean automaker has introduced a flagship Equus and a sporty Genesis Coupe, but it's the Genesis that's given the automaker its best chance at conquesting some of the family-car shoppers who might otherwise be looking at Lexuses and Infinitis.
With real five-passenger capacity, a sizable trunk and great safety, the Genesis can be a good choice for those families. That's why we're giving the Genesis a rating of 8 here at FamilyCarGuide, though we'd steer you to the value-laden base version over the pricey, performance-oriented R-Spec edition.
Inside, the Genesis has ample room for five adults, even shoulder to shoulder across the back seat. Front-seat passengers are coddled in leather-trimmed power seats, heated on most models, with ventilation on the driver seat as an option on the entry-level model. The Genesis has great leg and head room in back, too, even when the front seats sit at the back end of their tracks. The seats themselves could be more firmly bolstered, for better support. The trunk's sizable if not quite as vast as the one in a Ford Taurus, and there's concealed storage in the dash, console and the rear armrest. Fit and finish is excellent.
The NHTSA hasn't finished all its crash tests just yet, but the 2012 Genesis gets a five-star rating for rollover resistance. The IIHS has updated its scoring, though, and it calls the Genesis a Top Safety Pick, its highest honor. Eight airbags are standard, including rear-seat side airbags, and so is Bluetooth, which we consider a safety necessity. However, to get the recommended rearview camera and parking sensors, you'll have to purchase an option package if you select the V-6 version.
Our editors think the Genesis 3.8, and its 333-hp six-cylinder engine, are the best of the Genesis' three models. Acceleration isn't just brisk, it's truly fast--60 mph can be reached in about six seconds. A new eight-speed automatic boosts EPA fuel economy ratings to 19/29 mpg, too. The mid-line, 385-horsepower V-8 is even stronger, with just a mile per gallon or two less. Both of these models have a supple, smooth ride and equally relaxed steering, without much sporty pretense. The R-Spec changes all that with a 429-hp V-8, more meaty steering and a stiffer suspension, and we think it's better left to true enthusiasts--though it's not the sport sedan you'd find at BMW, or even Infiniti.
Even in the base Genesis 3.8, you'll find standard leather upholstery, satellite radio, a USB port, and automatic climate control. Option packages on the V-6 car add on a Lexicon audio system, parking sensors, DVD navigation and a rearview camera. The V-8 cars put almost all the available features into the standard column, while the R-Spec leaves only one option on the table: performance summer tires.
Hyundai's bargain base price of about $34,000 includes excellent warranty coverage to go with the Genesis' premium performance and equipment. Even at the R-Spec's $47,000 sticker price, the Genesis is a convincing luxury player that happens to work well for families with a few dollars more in their budget.For more on room and utility, safety, features, performance and styling, see TheCarConnection's full review of the 2012 Hyundai Genesis.