2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec

Review: 2012 Hyundai Genesis

We take a spin in Hyundai's Lexus fighter.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: December 23rd, 2011

Hyundai is trying to beat Lexus at its own game.

First the Genesis sedan, now the Equus—the Korean company is taking shots at its Japanese and German rivals with luxury cars that offer the same features for less money. While the jury is still out on the success of that strategy, Hyundai hasn’t waited around for the answer, adding more power and fresh styling for 2012, along with a new top-line performance model, the 5.0 R-Spec.

  • Features & Prices

    Three engines are offered—a 3.8-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter V-8, and a 5.0-liter V-8 (R-Spec only), and those who opt for V-6 power (our tester was so equipped) will get 333 horsepower, up from last year’s 290. All engines now pair with an eight-speed automatic, rather than a six-speed unit.

    With its mission being affordable luxury, the Genesis coddles with heated front seats, leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and starting, heated power outside mirrors, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB port, an auxiliary port, carpeted floor mats, fog lamps, and a HomeLink system. Stability Control, ABS, and traction control are also standard, along with 17-inch wheels. All for a price of $34,200.

    Our tester had two major—and majorly expensive—option packages. The first was the $4,000 Technology Package (17-speaker uplevel audio system, navigation system, HD radio, 6-disc DVD changer, a driver information system and controller, a lane-departure warning system, smart cruise control, xenon lights, electronic parking brake, cooled driver’s seat, heated rear seats, front and rear parking assist system, and more). In addition, a Premium Package added a sunroof, a leather-wrapped dashboard, leather door-trim inserts, a power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, an integrated memory system, a power rear sunshade, power-folding outside mirrors, 18-inch wheels (replacing the 17s), rain-sensing wipers, an auto defogger, and a rearview camera. All for the price of $4,800. An iPod cable tacked on another $35, bringing the total to $43,035.

    That’s a lot of stuff for not a lot of dough, at least not compared to a 5-Series BMW or a Lexus GS. But there’s more to the equation than just value—execution matters.

  • Performance

    Depending on your perspective, Hyundai has either succeeded greatly or come up short. For the enthusiast, the latter is the case—the Genesis is not a soul-stirrer. But for the suburban commuter who needs to cruise in style, this ride may satisfy.

    That’s not to say the Genesis isn’t fun to drive at all—the V-6 has plenty of chops for passing or attacking an on-ramp, and the car does feel planted at speed, even if some body roll creeps in when cornering. The 3.8 revs smoothly and sounds pleasantly fierce as the RPMs build, making interstate passing a satisfying exercise.

    The biggest let down here is the rubbery steering. While a cynic might note that at least this car—unlike other Hyundais—offers some feel, bad feel isn’t necessarily better than no feel at all. Hyundai need look no further than corporate sibling Kia on how to improve steering feel.

    Of course, buyers in this class may not care. They care about the coddling—which the Genesis does in spades. The interior is comfy and classy, with little to complain about. Only the center-console mounted controller knob drew our ire, mainly because it’s too easy for drivers to carelessly elbow, thus leading to unplanned radio-station changes. Also, one must be in the proper screen to change certain controls—no using the knob to tune the radio while the navigation map is being displayed. This adds needless extra steps, but with some practice, one gets used to it.

    The ride is what one expects of an interstate cruiser—it’s on the softer side, although it never quite journeys too far towards pillowy. At worst, there’s some float and wallow, but not enough to drop the Genesis off the shopping list.

    Out back, the spacious trunk nearly swallowed a Christmas tree whole, and aspiring mobsters might want to take note of the acreage. Headroom and legroom were plentiful upfront for our tall senior writer, and the eight-speed gearbox was neither felt nor heard.

  • Fuel Economy

    Hyundai promises fuel economy of 19 city and 29 highway, and we averaged 21.2 mpg.

  • Conclusion

    For value-minded luxury buyers (is that an oxymoron?), the Genesis sedan provides an interesting choice. Enthusiasts may be a little let down, but executives on a budget may just have found their next ride.

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• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2012 Hyundai Genesis, click here: 2012 Hyundai Genesis.