Hyundai spiffs up looks and performance for 2012 Genesis 3.8.
By Tom Crosby
Hyundai’s Genesis sedan, which at first appears to be a high-end luxury European import (think Audi, Mercedes, BMW), has improved its looks while adding an eight-speed automatic transmission to its base model, the 3.8.
Good looks, dependability, and decent power are turning heads toward the Genesis sedan. ©Hyundai USA photo
We tested this model and found the front fascia now includes larger intake openings. The sharp-edged grille and lights are rimmed with bright chrome. Rear taillights were redesigned, and chrome-rimmed dual exhaust tips were added on each side below the bumper.
Our rear-wheel drive five-passenger sedan added $8,800 in options with the Technology and Premium packages, which together make the Genesis a true competitor in the luxury sedan market. Additions included upgraded audio, navigation system, leather heated/cooled front seats, lane departure and cruise distance control, 18-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, and power folding outside mirrors. A Driver Information System with Multi-Media Display operates with a center console knob behind the automatic gear notches. The console knob and dashboard buttons are easily reachable and manipulated. Unlike many touch-screen navigation systems, once you acknowledge screen warnings, destinations can be changed while underway. This could be a potential distraction for the driver, but it also is available for a passenger to use.
Premium leather surfaces on the dashboard and doors, plus brushed aluminum accents, provide an upscale ambiance. Seating comfort excels in the front and is more than adequate for two adults in the back. The middle seat has the drive train hump to contend with. Rear seats do not fold flat, but have a small pass-through to an average-size trunk.
Daytime running lights are now standard, as are many luxury features, such as Bluetooth, chip key access, a 90-day free XM radio trial, and a free full tank of gas.
If potential buyers like the more attractive exterior of Genesis, will be impressed by a 43-horsepower increase in the direct-injection Lambda engine and a smoothly integrating new eight-speed transmission that precisely answers acceleration requests. Drivers who want a taste of sporty performance in a family sedan will get a kick out of Genesis’ 0 to 60 pop in under six seconds from the start.
Handling is average, although the suspension has been tweaked to reduce roll in the turns and aids a pleasant ride over rougher surfaces.
While Genesis 3.8 doesn’t have the automotive name cachet, the lesser price increases its appeal. And earlier this year, J.D. Power and Associates named the Genesis sedan as the most dependable midsize premium car. Past safety ratings have exceeded industry averages.
Bottom line: Classy look and performance will keep it a market competitor.
Like: Power, interior comfort, looks, quiet
Dislike: Price, no fold back seats
Tom Crosby is vice president of communications for AAA Carolinas. He is based in Charlotte, N.C.