- Gutsy acceleration in either model
- Rich, handsome interior
- Smooth, quiet ride
- Big, roomy back seat
- Good gas mileage for size
- Harsh R-Spec ride
- No all-wheel-drive option
- Rearview camera an option on base car
- No paddle shift controls
The millionaire next door just might be driving a Hyundai Genesis; it's a luxury-car bargain, with a well-finished interior, plenty of power and good fuel economy.
The Hyundai Genesis was new in 2009, and it's the car that signaled a transformation for the brand. Once best known for its economy cars, Hyundai set out to change its image with design--and with luxury. The Genesis would be followed by a Genesis Coupe, an Equus sedan, and a range of redesigned mass-market cars that turned the Hyundai nameplate into a sales powerhouse.
Five years later, the Genesis is edging to the end of its life cycle, still a handsome four-door with an amply luxurious interior, swift acceleration, and softer handling. The only major change for the 2013 model year? The departure of its mid-line 4.6-liter V-8 model, a move that clarifies the two-model lineup between a value-rich V-6 version and a performance-minded R-Spec that doesn't quite meet the high handling standards of the class.
From its first model year to today, the Genesis has never veered into the styling drama that's defined the latest Sonata or even the spunky Veloster hatchback. It's a conservative interpretation of luxury, with enough familiar touches to lure in cross-shoppers miffed at ever-rising sticker prices. The look's still fresh, though it's easy to pick out some cues from the luxury handbook--a bit of Mercedes here, a touch of Infiniti there. There's balance and polish here, and there are also hints of the Hyundai styling language that would emerge full-fledged in the cars to come, just enough to ensure the Genesis still looks good when it's on certified used-car programs in 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.
Two powertrains are offered in the Genesis. The base engine's a 3.8-liter V-6, uprated a couple of years ago to 333 horsepower, and coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The high output and direct injection--and all those gears--give it good fuel economy ratings and stout acceleration, with a hint of a snarl and an estimated 0-60 mph time of 6.0 seconds. With so much power, we'd prefer shift paddles to the lever-actuated sport mode. The same is true for the R-Spec, with 429 hp coming from its 5.0-liter V-8; it's capable of 5.0-second runs from 0 to 60 mph. It's much quicker off the line, but given the choice we prefer the base car's plush dynamics; the R-Spec's too-firm ride and steering seem out of character, and not as composed as they intend to be.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. 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. 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, everything is standard--but there's no option for all-wheel drive 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.
2013 Hyundai Genesis
The Hyundai Genesis' smooth roofline and muted details make no waves, but caused quite a fuss when it was brand-new.
One after the other, the march of new Hyundais has embraced a jazzy, sculptured design theme with lots of drama and lots of surfacing. That's true of its mass-market cars; for the large Equus and for the Genesis, Hyundai played its cards much more carefully.
Five years after its debut, the Genesis still looks contemporary, still Lexus-like in the gentle melding of its details and the innocuous flow of its fenders and roofline. There's not much to relate it to the brash Sonata or Elantra--should there be?--but there's plenty to admire in its smartly proportioned grille and the taper of its rear quarters. It's not what you'd call authentic; we see some Mercedes cues and some hints of Lexus in the shape of the headlamps and in the arc of the rear pillars. Still, the Genesis' shape has endured, and though we hear its replacement will go in a more daring direction, it wouldn't have been possible without the ground broken by this car.
2013 Hyundai Genesis
With the mid-line V-8 gone, we'd opt for the base V-6 and its flexible power over the stiff R-Spec almost every day.
For the 2013 model year, the Hyundai Genesis trims back its offerings from three to two. The mid-line 4.6-liter V-8 is history; left behind are a capable V-6 that pits itself directly against the likes of Chrysler's 300, and a heady V-8-powered Genesis R-Spec that's ultimately unsatisfying as a first parry at Germany's super sedans.
The Genesis is considerably more plush than its competition, even than the Lexus ES and Chrysler 300 that it lines up against most directly in price. Plush does not mean slow, however. Last year, Hyundai uprated the 3.8-liter V-6 in the Genesis to333 horsepower, added direct fuel injection, and coupled it to a new eight-speed automatic designed in-house. Acceleration is vivid, and the automatic works well even when it's not in sport-shift mode--though we'd prefer shift paddles with a drivetrain that has this much force. Its 0-60 mph times estimated at 6.0 seconds, the Genesis 3.8 tops oat 130 mph, and makes happy, growling V-6 noises throughout most of its powerband.
The plushness lies underneath the powertrain cradle, where an independent suspension with multiple links made out of aluminum has all the right essentials for light, deft handling. In the base car, it's tuned instead for cushy, almost floaty responses. What's missing is the crisp steering response and the taut ride quality that "rear-wheel drive" brings to mind: you think Mercedes-Benz or BMW or even Cadillac, and instead, the Genesis delivers a compliant, extremely smooth ride and very low levels of cabin noise.
The R-Spec edition firms up the Genesis' handling, and attempts to transform it into a serious piece of performance hardware. New for 2012, the R-Spec gets its motivation from an uprated 5.0-liter version of the now-pruned 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 5.0 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 a few thousand dollars--but we think most Genesis buyers will be happier with the V-6 model and its softer setup.
2013 Hyundai Genesis
Comfort & Quality
A fine, upscale interior trimmed in leather puts the Hyundai Genesis on an entirely different plane from the brand's lesser sedans.
As the first take on a luxury sedan, the Hyundai Genesis changed America's perception of the brand, in part due to its rear-drive chassis, but in equal measure due to its luxurious cabin and upscale appointments. The premium finishes inside the Genesis are a clear step up from even today's much finer Azera sedan, and the subdued, spacious Genesis could pass for an Infiniti or a Lexus, were it missing a few very minor details that give away its newbie status.
The Genesis is a long, wide car, and it doesn't lack in leg or head room. Five adults can fit inside, without too much fuss. The front seats aren't as firm as the ones in the German sedans in this price class--or even in cars like the new Ford Fusion--and in truth, they could use more bolstering if Hyundai wants to bolster the Genesis' sporty-sedan credentials. But if it's luxury you're after, they're coddlers, with excellent knee room and plush cushions. On most models you'll find in showrooms, the front seats are heated; all are upholstered in leather; and many of them will come with a ventilated driver seat, though we're puzzled why both front seats don't have that increasingly popular option.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. There's leather, tightly grained plastic, laminated glass to damp noise, and plenty of handsome detailing. The leather-trimmed dash on some cars we've tested has shown an imperfection or two, but it's such a high-end treatment, it's almost forgivable--especially at the under-$40,000 price.
2013 Hyundai Genesis
No 2013 crash-test data has been reported; the Genesis has a good track record, but a rearview camera should be standard.
The Hyundai Genesis has been on the market since 2009, but neither of the agencies that regularly perform crash tests has yet announced results for the new model year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't tested the Genesis since it updated its test criteria in the 2011 model year, but it has given the sedan a five-star rating for rollover resistance, which it derives from a mathematical formula. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Genesis its Top Safety Pick designation in the 2012 model year, but hasn't published its list for 2013 as of yet.
We'll update this page when more data is available.
Until then, we're assigning the Genesis' score based on its past performance and its list of safety equipment. On that list are eight airbags, including rear-seat side airbags; stability control; and active headrests. Bluetooth is also standard equipment. However, in this price class, we think a rearview camera should be standard equipment; on the Genesis, you'll have to order one of the optional navigation systems on the V-6 model to get one.
Parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and a lane-departure warning system are optional on the V-6 car, and standard on the R-Spec model.
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.
2013 Hyundai Genesis
A new navigation system steps up the Genesis' luxury features, with telematics woven into the mix.
The Hyundai Genesis comes with a list of standard features that suits its mission as an entry-level luxury sedan, without going over the top with frivolous technology.
All Genesis sedans come with power windows, locks, and mirrors; automatic climate control; cruise control; a sunroof; leather upholstery; power front seats; heated mirrors and front seats; a seven-speaker, AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with an auxiliary jack and a USB port; and Bluetooth. Options on the standard Genesis include a power telescoping steering wheel; HD Radio; ventilated front seats; adaptive headlights; and a DVD-based navigation system bundled with a rearview camera.
There's also a distinct, new navigation system this year that couples an 8-inch screen with improved mapping, SD card memory, better voice recognition, and Hyundai's Blue Link telematics service, which uses cloud computing to perform local searches for destinations that aren't found on the navigation system's memory, and includes subscription services like remote unlocking and remote start. The navigation system is also capable of storing up to 64GB of maps, music, and images, and comes bundled with a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.
The new system and other functions are operated by voice or by Hyundai's roller-controller knob, which simplifies the actions of systems like BMW's iDrive and has some of the same functional weaknesses of those systems. Finding the random command for iPod tracks isn't intuitive, for example. Along with voice commands, redundant steering-wheel controls are included so you can bypass some of the fiddlier commands, and shortcut keys flank the controller as well.
The Genesis R-Spec offers all those features as standard equipment, topping it off with 19-inch wheels and 45-series tires, a Lexicon audio system, a ventilated driver seat, and premium leather. There are no options listed for the 2013 model year.
2013 Hyundai Genesis
An eight-speed automatic helps both Genesis sedans to fairly good fuel economy numbers.
With its mid-level model gone, the gas-mileage story for the 2013 Hyundai Genesis becomes a little clearer for potential buyers.
The base Genesis and its 3.8-liter V-6 gets good fuel economy, especially considering its considerable power (333 horsepower) and its rear-drive architecture. The EPA rates it at 18 miles per gallon on the city cycle, and 28 miles per gallon on the highway cycle--figures that make it almost as efficient as some front-drive sedans like the 2012 Toyota Avalon. Those numbers also represent a fair improvement over the Genesis' base engine from the 2011 model year, mostly due to the adoption of an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is also paired with the 5.0-liter V-8 in the 429-hp Genesis 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.