By on September 13, 2011

Has any car company ever improved its products at the rate Hyundai has over the past decade? Ten years ago their idea of a flagship was the fusty, faux-wood-and-chrome-encrusted XG350 fitted with a then-new 3.5-liter V6 good for 194 horsepower and EPA ratings of 16 city / 24 highway. The 2006 Azera was a much more credible competitor…for the Toyota Avalon. Even with a new 263-horsepower V6, Hyundai still didn’t pretend to have a luxury sedan fit for driving enthusiasts. For 2012, they do, with the new Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. But, as far as they’ve come, are they there yet?

The Hyundai Genesis has been available with a 4.6-liter V8 since it was introduced as a 2009 model. Reviewers found faults with the car, but I don’t recall the engine’s mere 385 horsepower being among them. Nevertheless, for 2012 Hyundai has a new 429-horsepower (at 6,400 rpm), 376 pound-feet of torque (at 5,000) 5.0-liter V8. In addition to its larger displacement, the 5.0 benefits from direct injection, which permits a bump in the compression ratio from 10.4 to 11.5:1. These specs are impressive. The Hyundai mill outputs more horses than the Porsche Panamera’s 4.8-liter V8, the 5.0-liter V8s in the Lexus IS-F and Mustang GT (unless you pony up for the BOSS), the 5.5-liter V8 being retired from various Mercedes, and the M56’s 5.6-liter V8. The 6.2-liter V8 in the Corvette kicks out a single additional horsepower.

Of course, specs are one thing, subjective impressions another. The Corvette’s LS3 powerplant lacks the refinement needed for luxury sedan duty. The Hyundai engine, in contrast, purrs with the world’s best. Though the idle’s a touch rough when first started, that’s the full extent of the eight’s lapses. Whether loafing about town or revving past 6,000 rpm, this is a very smooth engine. It’s not quiet when exercised, but the tune played by the mechanical bits and exhaust are music to any enthusiast’s ears, yet shouldn’t disturb those who simply want to relax. (In a rare attempt to hear more from the engine I drove the car with the engine cover off, but this made little difference.) When cruising, the engine is virtually silent, even at highway speeds.

For 2012, all three Genesis engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic developed by Hyundai, the first offered by a non-premium brand. The transmission performs well in that it rarely calls attention to itself. I occasionally noticed a less-than-slick downshift when slowing to a stop, a characteristic shared with the ZF eight-speed automatic. Through TrueDelta’s car reliability survey I’ve received a few complaints about such bumps in BMWs, but most drivers will neither notice nor mind. More bothersome: manually downshifting to second for a turn requires a tedious number of taps when you start out in eighth. These manual shifts could also be quicker, but given how the car likes to be driven they aren’t of much use regardless.

It wasn’t long ago that many doubted the benefits of having more than four speeds in an automatic transmission. So what’s the point of going from six to eight? First gear isn’t significantly shorter in the new transmission, but second is much more closely spaced. A shift at the 6,400 rpm power peak (the transmission isn’t always willing to go all the way to the 6,750 rpm redline) that would have dropped the engine to 3,600 rpm with the old six-speed now lands at 4,200. So full-throttle acceleration improves. Seventh is about the same as the old sixth, and the new transmission’s eighth gear is nine percent taller, for better fuel efficiency on the highway. At 80, the engine is only turning 2,000 rpm. Around town it’s often half that, with no sensation of lugging.

The EPA ratings: 16 city, 25 highway—a bit better than the far less capable XG350 of a decade ago. The trip computer reported low twenties in suburban driving and high twenties on the highway. But is it trustworthy? There’s an “eco” mode, but I noticed no difference in efficiency or powertrain behavior with it on.

Of course, luxury sedans aren’t often driven near their full potential. In more typical driving, the Genesis R-Spec impresses with the effortless ease at which it attains any speed. Such effortlessness used to justify the extra tens of thousands of dollars for a V12 over a V8.

The not-so-good not-so-news? The rest of the car. The exterior of the Genesis is easy on the eyes, and people remarked on the quality of the paint. But unlike that of other recent Hyundais, it isn’t in any way distinctive or remotely avant-garde. At NAIAS a couple of years ago I wondered why they had an Infiniti G37 among the NACOTY finalists, only to belatedly realize that the greenhouse (the lower body wasn’t visible) belonged to the Hyundai. Does the overall look draw most from Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus? Hard to say, they’re all in there. The interior is similarly conventional to a fault, and a little dated. The silver-painted buttons of the center stack are easy to understand and operate, but don’t suggest bleeding-edge tech the way the Germans’ much more complex, more highly stylized controls do. The infotainment system’s display washes out easily and often. But the 528-watt 17-speaker Lexicon audio system is the best I’ve experienced aside from the hyper-expensive B&O in the larger Audis. Most puzzling: the R-Spec’s high-mounted seats are unchanged from those in the regular Genesis. So they’re comfortable, but offer little in the way of lateral support. An older mystery: three years on Hyundai still hasn’t figured out how to fit cooling bits to the front passenger seat.


The Genesis 5.0 R-Spec’s chassis seems to have shipped at the rough draft stage. The steering is firmer than in the regular Genesis—even surprisingly tight at highway speeds—but provides more kickback than helpfully nuanced feedback. Body roll is modest, but the R-Spec doesn’t feel tied down and precise the way the best competitors do. In aggressive turns the nose wants to head for the curb, but the 245/45YR19 Bridgestone Potenza Pole Position S-04 tires [Update: a $1,400 option over the standard 235/45VR19 all-seasons] just won’t let it. Oversteer can’t be dialed in nearly as progressively or intuitively as in a BMW or GM vehicle with right-wheel-drive. Perhaps for this reason Hyundai (like Infiniti with the similarly-afflicted G37) opted for a crude fix: prod the V8 to kick out the tail and the stability control cuts in early and hard. Sticky treads notwithstanding, the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec is most in its element when traveling through broad sweepers or, better yet, in a straight line.

Which is, of course, how most buyers of such cars drive them. What these owners will fault much more than the handling: the ride. The 5.0 R-Spec wafts along some roads, especially blacktop Interstate, with impressive smoothness, silence, and solidity, feeling every bit a premium sedan. But on other roads it tosses about and even quivers to an annoying degree, refusing to settle down and relax. The Acura TL-S I drove the previous week had a considerably more composed chassis, while the cheaper-by-half Ford Focus SE handled bad roads better than either of them.

Of course, you won’t pay nearly as much for the Genesis as you will for one of the name brand luxury sport sedans. At $47,350, the 5.0 R-Spec is only $2,000 more than the 4.6. The factory mods might not work together seamlessly, but Hyundai is charging surprisingly little extra for them. Even an Infiniti M56, which substantially undercuts the Europeans, costs over $20,000 more when similarly equipped.

[Update: The summer tires add another $1,400, but I'd skip them. Not only do they not suit the character of the car, but you can currently pick up a set of four online for $996 plus shipping and installation. So about $300 and a set of all-season tires less than what Hyundai is charging. A further note: the Hyundai media site lists a Genesis 5.0 without the R-Spec chassis, so one is likely coming.]

The Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec’s 429-horspower engine alone is a tremendous achievement for a company that a decade ago struggled to wring 200 horsepower from a big DOHC V6. Unfortunately, the rest of the car lacks finesse. One must wonder: was the R-Spec a last-minute, low-budget project? Perhaps Hyundai developed the new engine primarily for the Equus, and only realized at the eleventh hour that it might provide the basis for a high-performance Genesis? This would explain the absence of suitable sport buckets and of a well-sorted chassis. Either way, Hyundai has been coming along so quickly that a thoroughly satisfying luxury-performance sedan can’t be far off. For now, we’ve got an outstanding engine in a pretty good car at a price that might well compensate for the current shortcomings. Just test drive extensively before you buy, as your experience will vary depending on the road surface.

Hyundai provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and pricing information..

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103 Comments on “Review: 2012 Genesis 5.0 R-Spec...”


  • avatar
    johnhowington

    holy crap, i love the look of that engine without the cover. beautiful!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I have an XG350 and really like the car. It cost less than half what this car does so naturally the Genesis is a better car all around. Companies don’t start out making flagships, the XG ( called Grandeur in Korea) was a work in progress for nearly 2 decades and could be called the Korea Crown Vic.

    The XG had stainless steel trim and appointments, not faux chrome, and mileage is a lot better than estimates, I get 19/27 from it. While not a high HP engine, the v6 has great torque which belies it’s low HP rating for 3.5 Liters. The same engine was used in other lines and configurations. The car is still quiet and smooth after 7 years and reliable as well. I only paid 22K for it and am quite happy with it, as are other XG owners I talk to. I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t like this car.

    The Genesis is a great car and a better deal than the competition as far as performance, but the interior needs to come up a notch and there is still the stigma of being a Hyundai to overcome.

    Just like the XG, this is a lot of car for the money.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    How’s Hyundai’s depreciation now? I could see myself looking at one of these CPO in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      PoseurPony

      I bought a 1 year old Genesis V-6 under Hyundai’s CPO program and could not be happier. The car is tremendous value NEW, let alone after some depreciation.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    I wish I could afford the R-Spec. However, retirement limits what I can lay out for new cars.

    I have a late 2009 Genesis 4.6. The ride could be improved, but overall, especially for the dollars spent, I rate it as the best car I have ever owned and I have owned Mercedes, Audis, BMWs, supercharged Buicks, etc. over the years. I could only fault the OEM Dunlop tires, now thankfully gone for Michelin Energy Savers.

    I especially like the simplicity of the center stack buttons that are often complained about. They may not be fancy, but they are simple and intuitive.

    In 30 months and 26,000 miles, my only non-scheduled maintenance has been the installation of a TSB affecting the positioning switches on the steering wheel.

    I am told that the ride of the R-Spec is very like my 2009 and the non 2012 non-R-spec ride has improved greatly.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I have a good friend whose family owns one of the largest tri-county dealerships here (cross branded), and he has told me that everything is disintegrating again, and that the sub-$7000 used car business is again being looked at as the life preserver or insurance policy to ensure survivability by all major dealerships.

      To say the economy is bad and getting worse quickly would be understatement.

      The financing end is where the profits are, and with economic conditions deteriorating at a brisk clip, cars that are absolutely needed and at low prices will again rule the day, but that depends on government’s (insane) backing of auto loans (directly or indirectly), too.

      So, you’re not alone. People, whether working or retired (retirees are getting a whopping 1/2% to 1% interest on their savings thanks to Ben Bernanke), are hanging on to their cars for longer periods of time, trading down, downsizing and deleveraging (except the top 2%, who are spending again, but their consumption isn’t large enough to come close to saving the Main Street Economy, and the government is still bailing out many of these people who work on Wall Street and for the banking sector).

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Pahaska,

      I’m in the same boat. Retired and trying to conserve my cash due to the uncertainty of the economy and the direction of the country.

      That said, I have been considering spending up to $50K for my “last” ride before I get too old to enjoy it. I personally would have a very hard time buying this Hyundai over an Audi A-6. I realize they are not apples to apples but they are at the same price point.

      Although I have never owned an Audi(my daughter owns an A-4), I absolutely think they are the best looking cars on the road. Their interiors are second to none. And performance, ride and handling are also hard to beat.

  • avatar
    vbofw

    I can’t imagine dropping $50k and having to stare at that unimpressive interior each day.

    • 0 avatar
      derek533

      Completely agree. I was all sold until I reached the first picture of the interior. I realize that less is more anymore, but this is taking it too far. It’s just boring and does not give off the luxury vibe.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Interesting enough, a good no. of TL owners have traded in Acuras for the Genesis.

    They have actually found the ride of the 2012 4.6 more compliant than the TL (with the R-Spec less so) – which is attributable to the diff. suspension setting as well as the diff. tires.

    Actually don’t have a problem with the Genesis’ exterior, it’s rather handsome in a BMW sort of way due to the greenhouse with the Hofmeister kink (the G37 and new GS have a similar greenhouse as well); it’s the design of the dash that I have an issue with – too old-style, esp. considering that the new Azera has a more nicely designed and sleeker dash.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Wonder how many of those FWD Acura owners have also noticed that the Hyundai’s RWD somehow “feels better” even if they couldn’t put their finger on it. IMHO RWD feels better driving than FWD, whether it’s a Miata, a Corvette, an F150, or a Genesis. YMMV.

  • avatar
    Samir

    Interior is a bit ho-hum but there’s really no denying the price/value factor on this baby. At such a low (relatively speaking) price, even if the depreciation is the usual 30-40% it’s much less in absolute terms than what you’d see on an equivalent E-class or 5-series.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      If this car can’t keep up with an M5 on the track, and few sedans can, what’s the point of the extra horsies?

      It isn’t just Hyundai, but many manufacturers who seem rudderless in philosophy when thinking of their target market when bringing these types of sedans to production and marketing.

      I could see the niche market appeal (relative basis) that an M5 or AMG Mercedes (or CTS-V; that car is pretty incredibly, actually) holds for the ‘right’ buyer, but unless the car can keep up in the twisties, what’s the point sacrificing so much ride quality?

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        I think the R-spec would be more of a 550 fighter than an M5 fighter.

        The 4.6 I drove last week felt about as powerful as the turbo inline 6 in a 535i.

        I think Hyundai could’ve done better on the name, because you’re right – it will never beat an M5, a CTS-V, or any other true “R-spec” car around a track.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I saw one of these in the flesh when visiting a Hyundai dealer on the weekend. I have to say the exterior looked good in black but the interior fell short of $50K expectations (even though it was marked up by $2K).

    However, you can’t deny the value part of the equation. But I have to wonder if most of the target demographic would care about the extra power and be more inclined to go for the more comfortable 4.6?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Is the Genesis more reliable and better put together than the Sonata? A long warranty is little compensation for 6 dealer visits in 5 months.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    Even at that price point for the performance, that interior makes me cringe a little. This is going to be fantastic when someone else has paid for the depreciation and you can pick up a 3 year old for less than $30k if the mechanical bits hold out. But new off the lot – yeesh. Who is an aspirational Hyundai buyer who needs 4 doors and comparable performance to the Porsche and IS-F? Its like buying 1200 thread count satin sheets – the quality is obvious, but it’s still a little too chintzy for your finally made it middle manager.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      A 3 year old model should cost closer to the 20k side of the ledger after 3 years, if the 52% (give or take a few %) depreciation of the first 3 years holds roughly true.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “The Hyundai mill outputs more horses than the Porsche Panamera’s 4.8-liter V8, the 5.0-liter V8s in the Lexus IS-F and Mustang GT (unless you pony up for the BOSS), the 5.5-liter V8 being retired from various Mercedes, and the M56’s 5.6-liter V8. The 6.2-liter V8 in the Corvette kicks out a single additional horsepower.
    Of course, specs are one thing, subjective impressions another. The Corvette’s LS3 powerplant lacks the refinement needed for luxury sedan duty. The Hyundai engine, in contrast, purrs with the world’s best.”

    Even as a Hyundai fanboy, that comparison gave me pause. Hyundai should advertise accordingly.

    The exterior is pretty bland. They really need to Sonata-ize it; I couldn’t buy it otherwise.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    It looks like they’re attempting to avoid being lumped in with “the lesser models” by avoiding the Sonata-esque styling.

    It may be boring to some, but I find it tastefully restrained. Then again, I’m not that interested in “in your face” flashy. It gets tiresome to see after awhile.

    That is all I will say about styling, since it is probably one of the most subjective parts of a car. Love it or hate it, it is what it is, and sales are all that matters. If enough people hate it, it won’t sell and will be redesigned.

    • 0 avatar
      Wodehouse

      I agree with you about the styling. Outside of the strangely 1980s-esque lower bodyside cladding I think the Genesis is a relief to the eyes compared to most of its overdone newer competition.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    This looks like an impressive value. I figure the real competition for this car is not so much BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus, but rather a loaded up Chrysler 300 which is closer to the same price point.

    Although Hyundai has improved a lot lately, they are hardly a premium brand. Chrysler arguably was a premium brand once, but hasn’t been for at least 40 years. Brand conscious buyers aren’t likely to consider either car, regardless of their merits.

    Interestingly, both the Genesis and the 300 come with an 8AT. Didn’t the LX cars start shipping with an 8AT (at least in some trims) before the Genesis did?

  • avatar
    Birddog

    “Has any car company ever improved its products at the rate Hyundai has over the past decade?”

    I still can’t believe this is the same Hyundai from 25 years ago.. Other manufacturers with issues like Hyundai had at one time retreated from the N.A. market completely.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “Other manufacturers with issues like Hyundai had at one time retreated from the N.A. market completely.”

      Daewoo –> Reincarnated as the Chevy Cruze.

      Fiat, Alfa –> Back again.

      Many others… you’re right about that.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    The Genesis is due for a major model change next year. I look for a bit racier appearance, but more subdued look than the Sonata. The early photos of the new Azera are a clue.

    By the way, I am very pleased with the interior. There could be more shade for the navigation display, but that is the major thing I would change. My second change would be cooling and full adjustments fort the passenger seat. Everything is soft touch and 30 months of use have not caused any visual wear.

    • 0 avatar

      The redesign will be a ’14 model, so at least 15 months away. According to Automotive News, the next Sonata will be more conservative, as domestic market buyers don’t care for the current one. So the two will likely meet in the middle.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        AN is just talking about the more conservative grill on the refreshed Sonata.

        The redesign for the Genesis sedan is slated for 2013 (at least for Korea).

        The next generation Genesis sedan should have a much nicer interior if the K9 from Kia is any indication (Hyundai will not let Kia upstage them for long in that dept.).

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Michael….you know I am an unabashed lover of the ecoboost engine.
    Although I still have not experienced it in any smaller version than the 3.5, the 3.5 is …in my opinion…awesome.
    How does this engine compare?
    To me, again not an expert, the ecoboost seems to offer lots more at lots less.

    Why do they never offer this car in AWD? Most cars at this price range or luxury level understand the American love (or need) of AWD yet Hyundai still doesn’t offer it in the Genesis.
    Why do you think this is?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Here’s my two cents. AWD is one more thing to possibly go wrong during the generous 100,000 mile warranty and perhaps Hyundai’s current AWD set ups can’t handle the torque and hp of the V8.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The lack of AWD always puzzled me on this car – a powerful RWD sedan is basically a no-sale in my neck of the woods (Colorado), and I’d imagine that’s true anywhere that gets an actual winter. That’s probably why you don’t see a lot of them around here.

        Yes, I know…put a set of Blizzaks on it and it’ll be OK, but luxury car buyers don’t want to mess with that.

    • 0 avatar

      The next generation Genesis will be fitted with AWD.

      TT: I’m not as big a fan of the EB V6 as you are. I much prefer the sound and feel of a good, normally-aspirated V8 such as Ford’s latest or this one.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        The problem for me with the normally-aspirited V8 is the initial, or lack up, torque.
        I dunno why…but I simply hate a dull, leady feel at take off. Perhaps it is because I have some mental issues that I am always working through, or perhaps simply because I hate red lights.
        I am VERY impatient!
        This is why the zero to sixty number hardly impress me as much as to 30 mph. I much prefer to test a car and get the feel for it at red/green lights.
        …this as well as the feel in and around parking lots.

        Give me that instant gratification.
        V8 power is great when passing, but getting up and away from all those stops is much more important.

        Um, by the way, Michael…when did you get such a house!!!!
        Moving on up to the east side with the Jeffersons, huh????

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Aside from Audi, it took the other automakers some time before they introduced AWD to their luxury offerings.

      While Hyundai lost a good bit in sales by not offering AWD, AWD adds complications and Hyundai probably wanted to ensure that the 1st gen of the Genesis didn’t have to deal with any reliability issues that AWD may bring.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Koreans just can’t seem to resolve unstable & noisy suspension issues, whether in a moderately priced Kia or a much more expensive Hyundai Genesis. It seems to be their Achilles’ heel.

    What is the reason for this? Korean culture produces some sharp engineers and other professionals, but they just can’t seem to nail the suspension bits and pieces of a modern automobile like the Germans, Japanese or Americans (I drove in a Cadillac DTS about two months ago that had ride comfort over rough roads that was shockingly good. I had never driven in one of those cars before).

    I’ve not driven the Lexus-priced Equus, but it supposedly has a quiet, smooth, composed suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      As Car and Driver likes to say, if the Koreans ever get their suspensions sorted out, the Japanese and Germans makes are dead.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        What scares me, is one day having to justify paying a $30,000 up charge for a German car, solely because they’re the only ones still offering a proper tranny.

        East Asian connoisseurs, particularly in Japan but also to some extent in Korea, are the world’s leading proponents of all things retro, handmade and mechanical. So why is it, their home makes are so reluctant to offer manual transmission cars?

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        I’m not sure where you get the impression that Japanese and Koreans are into all things retro.

        Japanese and Koreans are into tradition and obviously, hand-made is well-made all over the world.

        East Asians are into NEW more than they’re into “retro”. At least the way I conceptualize the term. Koreans more so than the Japanese.

        It’s not like manual trannies are real popular in Korea or Japan in the first place. Korea’s completely flipped in the past 15-20 years. In the mid 90s, autos were rare. Today, it’s extremely rare to see manuals. Japan’s less extreme, but almost everyone I used to know who drove a manual’s switched.

        If Japanese and Koreans are really “into” anything, it’s automation. The toilet of my apartment in Seoul is computerized with push button bidet, temperature control, seat warmer, etc. When a Korean sees a manual anything that can easily be automated, he thinks “how quaint and old fashioned.” The Japanese are more balanced, but the Japanese simply don’t have the same love affair with mechanical control the same way that the Germans (and lesser extent, other northern Euros) do.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      There have been no complaints about suspension of the non-R Spec 2012 Genesis models and the complaints about the R-Spec for its overly taut suspension setting is on par with that for the Infiniti M.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Koreans just can’t seem to resolve unstable & noisy suspension issues… What is the reason for this? Korean culture produces some sharp engineers and other professionals, but they just can’t seem to nail the suspension bits and pieces of a modern automobile like the Germans, Japanese or Americans ..

      Hyundai has a design center near Ann Arbor, so this may not be a Korean Design.

      Every engineer is an individual regardless of their nationality or race. Korean engineers aren’t all the same, American engineers aren’t all the same etc. Besides, companies don’t hire engineers exclusively from the countries of their national origin. How would culture effect the ability to execute a particular design anyway? I don’t understand this kind of thinking.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Easy. Every company has a culture largely derived from that of their home locality.

        Things that are important to the home office make it into the products, regardless of where the design is done.

        Simple as that. The race card can go to the back of the deck.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        As a Japanese-Korean mutt who grew up in Germany, did his engineering degree in the states and spent most his professional working career in Africa, I totally understand this kind of thinking.

        Personally, I don’t like working with French engineers.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Great review as usual Mike. I would consider buying a used one, and maybe fitting aftermarket anti-roll bars and Koni FSD shocks to it to fix the ride. What stops me is the interior design and materials. The seats in Edmunds’ Equus are already coming apart, and I have to assume those are better quality than what’s in the Genesis.

    Even if the leather wasn’t so bad, that design is just… horrible. There is *nothing* about it that says $50K, at all. It may have the power of an Audi S6, but the interior design reminds me of cross between the Mazda Millenia and the old Infiniti I35. It’s better than the Saab 9-5.. I guess, but the other bottom of the barrel interiors in this class (Volvo S80, Acura RL, Cadillac STS, Lincoln MKS) are all better.

    The interiors at the top of the class (2012 A6 and F10 5 series) make this look like a car that costs half as much as they do, but it doesn’t. Even the new Lexus which looks like it has a giant black hole in the dash is better.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting that the problem might be with the seat upholstery, as quite a few members of our reliability survey have found that Hyundai often denies warranty coverage for such problems after the first year as “wear and tear.” I hear about this much more with Hyundai and Kia than other makes.

      On the other hand, I’m surprised how often most manufacturers will even replace floormats under warranty for wearing out earlier than the owners expected.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @Davekaybsc: +1

      My main problem with the Genesis is that it’s just too damn generic-looking, and the driving experience is nothing special either. So, it appeals to people who’d drive a Lexus but don’t want to pay for one.

      The best car in this niche (large RWD entry-lux sedans for about $40,000) is DEFINITELY the new Chrysler 300C – now that they’ve sorted out the interior, that’s a GREAT car, and it has loads of personality. Here’s hoping for them that it’s reliable.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    I would wait for this car 3-4 years down the road at my local .com car depot for sale between 23-25K.
    Then, it will be an awesome buy even if only 6 of its original 8 speeds are working right. I could live with that.
    But all this $$,$$$ for a Humday with an outdated interior?

  • avatar
    Joshua Johnson

    After I began logging nearly 500 miles per week on my Jaguar S-Type R (supercharged 4.2L V8), I decided to purchase another vehicle to slow down the rapidly accumulating miles on the Jag. My search criteria was fairly stringent: decent gas mileage, moderately above average power, semi-luxurious interior appointments, no sport seats, and above all else – cheap to fix. As can be imagined, this narrowed the field considerably.

    Eventually I landed on the Buick Park Avenue Ultra (supercharged 3.8L V6) as the best candidate to fit the bill. The car was decently priced (compared to other used cars of similar vintage), has all the fancy gadgets one could expect from GM circa 2001, has the famous 3800 V6, and has seats that don’t kill my back after 2+ hour drives. Aside from having FWD, I couldn’t be happier with it. However, being a car guy, I am already looking for a replacement.

    Looking far and wide, I was uninterested in the current crop of commuter autos until the unveiling of this particular Hyundai. This, to me at least, appears to be the closest replacement for the Park Avenue. Not only does it have the requisite above average power, decent mileage, gadgets and semi-luxurious appointments, it also lacks sport seats (believe me, I love the sport seats in the Jag, but my back hurts after long periods, and I am only 25). Most importantly, though, it is RWD.

    There are only two caveats I see to potentially purchasing this car: how expensive parts become (truthfully, though I do as much of my own wrenching as I can, I am completely unaware of Hyundai labor rates), and how reliable the car is in the long run (DI is still too new to fully know). If, in four to five years, I am looking for a replacement commuter car, this will likely by first on my list.

    Oh, and Michael, thank you for another excellent review.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Well, if the Lucerne CXS rides anything like the Cadillac DTS with the magna-whatever shocks I drove in, I would venture an admittedly SWAG that it rides way better than this Genesis on broken/bad pavement.

      Edit – I just saw you are prioritizing RWD, in which case, is a CTS too small?

      • 0 avatar

        My father got rid of his 2008 CTS with the mid-level FE2 suspension because he wasn’t willing to put up with excessive head-toss any longer. His RX-8 rides with much more composure on the same roads. Oddly, so does the CTS-V. Too much roll bar, too little damping with the FE1 and FE2. Or something like that.

        Best-riding cars I’ve had in recent memory:

        Dodge Grand Caravan

        Ford Focus SE (go figure)

        These don’t have pillow-soft rides, but when the pavement is uneven or in very bad shape they slip across it with a minimum of pitch or head-toss.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Now you know why I’ve tried and failed to replace my RX-8 for nearly two years now, despite many, many test drives of other cars.

        Swapping summer rubber for snow shoes twice a year no longer seems like such an arduous task.

        I am surprised your father went with an RX-8 after owning a CTS, but maybe that’s just because of what I presume are the target markets of those two vehicles.

      • 0 avatar

        My father has two cars. He replaced the CTS with the Lexus LS. As recounted on this site he totaled his first RX-8 last October, but recently got another one.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      If your “long run” is 100,000 miles or 10 years, then Hyundai’s warranty should cover any problems with the Direct Injection.

      DI itself has been around a very long time. It’s only recently become mainstream on gasoline engines.

    • 0 avatar
      Joshua Johnson

      DW: I’ve heard good things about the Lucerne, but yea, I prefer to be pushed along rather than pulled. In re the CTS, I would likely consider it were it not for the Cadillac mark-up on parts/labor. Although there are times where I sometimes toy with the ideal of replacing the Jag with a CTS-V, albeit very briefly as I favor the Jaguar marque more than Cadillac.

      GS: Very good point; been in diesel since inception. I am mostly curious to see the reliability of Hyunadai’s DI past 100k miles.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The 4.6L version of the Genesis is keeping MPFI. It doesn’t make a lot of power over the reworked DI 3.8L, but the added torque is very welcomed.

        The pre-2012 Genesis 3.8L also lacked DI. I don’t know if the V6′s power delivery will be to your liking though.

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    We just bought a G37X for my wife and while the exterior looks can be debated that interior doesn’t look like it holds a candle to the much cheaper Infiniti’s interior especially with the wood trim. Is it just how it comes across in the pictures or is that reality?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that I was woefully unimpressed at the rough ride, and seemingly completely unnecessarily so, of a FWD Acura TL I test drove about two years ago (the last pretty one, before the new beak traumatized me) after I had heard Honda…I mean Acura…had fixed the transmission issues so many had complained of.

    I saw a Top Gear episode recently where James May (after criticizing a new Aston Martin Virage) was hammering upon how so many automakers are becoming obsessed with handling, and in cars that many owners won’t ever track, let alone push to unreasonable limits, that ride quality has been sacrificed on the altar of Nürburgring times.

    He seemed to have a fair point, if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar

      You can have both if you do it right. The Grand Caravan and Focus mentioned in an earlier comment manage to both ride and handle better than most competitors.

      In a three-week span I had a Focus, Acura TL SH-AWD, and Genesis R-Spec. My professional rear seat ride quality evaluator (my 9YO son who was riding in the car daily) ranked them in that order, with the Focus MUCH better than the other two despite costing less than half as much.

      To be fair to the Genesis, on some roads the ride feels exceptionally smooth and quiet. I took a Mercedes salesperson for a spin, and he remarked on the smoothness of the ride. Also noted: experienced Mercedes and BMW salespeople take this car much more seriously than many people here. None of those who sat in the car criticized any aspect of it. When I pointed out the silver trim and such, they quickly responded that the Hyundai also costs much less than the cars they sell.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Michael (by the way, I respond to your inquiries from True Delta religiously, but I digress):

        Those are fair points, but isn’t the what I will call ‘half baked’ suspension issue of the Genesis lineup over rough pavement pretty remarkable in any car that’s not an econobox or hard core ringer (like a GT-R, Z06 or such)?

        Also, a Mercedes E Class or BMW 5 Series may not be quite as large as the Genesis (though they may be, actually), but they handle rough sections of road with much more dignity.

        I do realize that a 5 series or E Class with as much power as this R-Spec Genesis is going to cost significantly more, but for those as concerned with ride quality as anything else, the type of suspension sinning evident in the Genesis is just going to produce a sour ownership experience, that gets more sour with time, for many.

        This is why I have learned that suspension quality is one of the most, if not the most, important characteristics to focus upon when buying all of my cars; and yes, I learned this the hard way.

      • 0 avatar

        Many owners of the 2009 Genesis were very dissatisfied with the ride quality, and some sold the car very early as a result. As noted in the review and comments, it depends a lot on the specifics of the road. Owners who live in areas with good roads might never nothing anything wrong.

        There are actually plenty of cars with poorly sorted suspensions. A G37 with the sport suspension can get downright harsh, and as mentioned above the Cadillac CTS and Acura TL have their own ride quality shortcomings.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    I gotta throw my chit in on the underwhelming interior side as well. Reading this review, the interior shot immediately jumped out at me as being very much not premium.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Perhaps the photos are deceiving, but yes, the interior photos also leaped out at me, and not in a good way.

    A $47,000 car with the interior of a $17,000 car does not promise to be a winner. It’s surely not a way to convince the would-be German or Japanese luxury car buyer that Hyundai is ready to be taken seriously in this class.

    • 0 avatar

      The interior is nicer than people seem to be seeing in these photos, so maybe the photos are partly to blame.

      For the interior of a $17,000 car peek inside an Elantra…

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Uhh, have you seen the interior of a $47K 3 Series? (This is a fully loaded Genesis; saying it’s a $47K vehicle is like criticizing the M3 b/c it doesn’t have the interior befitting of a $67K vehicle).

      And let’s not even mention the interior of the 1st gen BMW X3.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    My final thought on this (and most other cars at all price points):

    ALL silver painted plastic trim pieces in ALL car interiors must die, ASAP.

    The sooner, the better.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Michael…

    To bring this discussion around to an area we have talked about recently…how is the quality of the body/paint?
    The reason I ask is this is becoming a MAJOR deal with me.
    Just today, out of nowhere another F%$king dent appeared on the trunk of my Mazda6.
    OK…enough already!
    The friggin cars was parked over night!
    Are squirrels doing this!
    Acorns?
    Material flying in from outer space????

    Is the quality of THIS lux better than say, the Sonata?
    Does Hyundai thicken the metal and paint coating on a more expensive model?

    I swear, Michael…this is driving me nuts. I had polish with KLASSE 3 times a year…EACH car.
    So when a manufacturer cheats me and makes all my work for nothing, I get pissed.

    When you examine a new car, can you tell us what quality, or thickness, the coating is?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure how I’d test this. The manufacturers might not like it if I took each car to a parking lot and ran carts into it!

      I don’t know if anyone else currently uses metal as thin as Mazda does.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        I thought there were small hand held devices that took quick measurements of paint thickness.
        Also, do not manufacturers give any such info when allowing for their cars to be reviewed? Is this available anywhere?
        Is there no reference to look up that gives a painting/protecting sealer procedure a automaker uses?
        I see Ford had been advertising their paint quality a few months back.
        Don’t know if true or bull, but they must be doing something special more recently.

        Look…this is a very expensive price range. So far they have avoided AWD and I simply want to know if they provide more quality in their Genesis than they do the Sonata.

        This kind of information has got to become part of auto reviews. All we hear about is plastics painted chrome on interior knobs…but then the entire body gets a pass.

    • 0 avatar
      samm

      I commiserate with you. I seem to find new scratches and miniature dings every week. Curiously enough, they are localized on the lower front two corners, and ALL about the rear – corners AND lower middle.
      Wife, micrometeorites or a pissed-off squirrel that thinks I took his parking spot?!

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    I much prefer the leather dash and door sills in my Genesis to the overdone, shiny wood or plood in most every car in that range. Every time I get in my son-in-law’s Lincoln, I cringe at the terrible looking wood.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      I’m a big fan of subdued and restrained classic design and I agree with you re: overwrought interiors. It’s just the dash and center stack in the pictures look old fashioned in a literal sense.

  • avatar
    cmc540

    Hyundai has definitely come a long way. Our 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe has been one of the most troublefree of the 25+ cars I’ve ever owned. I was looking at an R-Spec in the showroom while having the oil changed last week and I would definitely consider this as a future replacement for my aging 2001 540 with sport package.

    Yes, the R-Spec doesn’t have the ride/handling balance of my BMW, but to replace my 540 with a new 550 with sport package at the BMW store costs $69,650, substantially more than the $42,500 discount price the R-Spec was offered at by my local dealer. The interior doesn’t look THAT bad in person and I do like the dash finish better than the fake wood in most cars.

    The R-Spec is only a set of bolstered sports seats and a bit more aggressive exhaust from being a replacement I think I could live with. And yes, Hyundai can make those sport seats with cooling. As proof, I offer my friends Kia Optima SX.

    Michael, thanks for another great review and for Truedelta. My Santa Fe is registered!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Um…I just can’t get my arms around Hyundai – the rental Kia Forte we had in Florida back in May impressed me, but like the Sonata we rented last November, I wouldn’t buy either one. Why? Probably because i don’t have to. After my Impala goes belly-up, what then? Who knows? The B&B will know what I do wind up buying, though, you can be rest-assured of that!

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Many current import buyers think the same about Japanese cars at one time. They never thought they’d ever buy anything but Ford, Chevy or Chrysler. Until they finally notice how much happier their friends are driving their imports with much better quality and reliability, compared to how shitty their domestics are, made the switch, and become a fanboy. What I’m saying is that today’s ‘vaunted’ Japanese nameplates once was considered inferior as well, and now it’s the domestic’s nameplates that is in that same boat. Many today would rank Hyundai more trustworthy than any domestic brands.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        That was many many moons ago. Today the playing field is pretty level. People with new Hyundai models such as the current Sonata have experienced a much higher level of owner complaints than owners of new Malibus and Fusions. Even CR agrees giving the Fusion a high score for reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Are you kidding me? Hyundai more trusted? Only by stupid people that don’t do proper research. Forget reliability stats, I’m talking about overall build quality.

        When I test drive I like to drive both a brand new and a used model of the same car. Just did recently with a 2012 Sonata and a 2010 Sonata with 20,000 miles. The used Sonata was a rattle trap that I literally thought the bumper might fall off. I couldn’t believe it so I test drove another used one they had. Same thing. The Sonata is still rental car quality IMO (which I said to the dealer), but a loaded up one costs $27,000+?!?! That’s Accord territory.

        So…Same day I went down to the Honda dealership. Did the same with a new Accord and a 2008 Accord just off lease with about 30k miles. The Accord had held up night and day better than the Sonata, over a longer period of time. That my friends is proof enough to me that the Koreans aren’t quite there.

        Do gotta say, Hyundai has their marketing down because that dealer was hopping while Honda was pretty slow. The Accord is pretty bland and not on my short list.

        Also drove the Fusion that same day. By far the most fun to drive of the three. Didn’t get to ride in a used one yet. Stay tuned for my “how solid is this car” analysis there. Pricing was also much nicer for a better equipped model than Hyundai.

  • avatar

    GREAT REVIEW MIKE

    I saw one of these on the road the other day. Hyundai has definitely come a long way, but there is nothing here that could pull me away from Chrysler’s SRT vehicles.

    How could Hyundai offer such a powerful engine but, not bother to give you better seats or a more interesting dashboard/center stack?

    This car screams “boring” and “poser” so loud it’s ridiculous.

    It’s nice that the engine is quiet, but, I want my engine to get LOUD when I’m burning my super premium unleaded.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Hyundai should never have labeled this the R-Spec, it’s NOT a peformance line, but a Genesis with a “sport” suspension (supposedly, a 5.0 w/o the sportier suspension setting will eventually be available).

      Hyundai basically did nothing for the interior (unlike for the coupe which gets a much more substantial refresh inside and out), but that’s likely b/c (1) the sedan is selling well despite the interior and (2) no need to go thru the expense of a major overhaul of the interior when the next gen model is around the corner.

    • 0 avatar

      The engine isn’t as loud as an SRT, but (as noted in the review) it’s far from quiet when you get on it.

  • avatar

    At $47,300, I’d rather have an Infiniti M, a 2012 300c SRT8 a Mercedes E350 or a BMW 528. Of course, the way stuff depreciates nowadays – I’d just put down $7000 and lease.

  • avatar
    TheHammer

    $47,000 for a mediocre Hyundai? Pass…

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    My Platinum 4.6 finish looks as good today as when I bought it. No special care. I use touchless washes and I have hand waced twice in 30 months. The dealer washes the car and details the interior free when I get an oil change.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    This is one of those cars that I really try to like but always come away disappointed. That interior looks like something that would be better off in a 20K Sonata. Lack of interior color or two tone options is not helping the cause. The exterior is equally bland and disjointed. The front is trying so hard to be a Mercedes. The sides and Bangles like butt are BMW of course and the upper portion could be an Infinity. Truly nothing special about the exterior unlike the much more modern looking Sonata and upcoming Azera. The front bumpers have a nice chrome strip in the middle that wraps around to the wheel well and then abruptly stops goes to two plain slab sided doors, drops to the bottoms of the doors in a useless location, then swings back up to another chrome strip in the back bumper. Why? Another oddity- the air conditioned front driver only seat- why not the passenger as in the Kia Optima for nearly half the price?
    It would seem the best parts of this car are the new V8, right wheel drive(lack of AWD is not good though) and driving dynamics. A refresh is needed for this car.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    I’m disappointed to read about the same problems with the new Rspec Genesis, as exist with our 2009 model. The suspension on the 2009′s were underdamped. The suspension can get quite excited over some road surfaces and even start porpoising on wavy highways. Hyundai made a 2009 running change and another change in 2010 that improved the situation.

    The other problem, and Hyundai isn’t the only company that screws this up, is the overactive stability control. Turning it off, helps a lot (but doesn’t turn it off completely.) Some owners go as far as to pull the fuse. It is a little disconcerting when you apply throttle only to have the engine die because the stability control senses the slightest slip. It is REALLY disconcerting when this happens when you pull out in front of someone and you are a sitting duck…waiting for the engine to wake back up again.

    Having said that, we really the car, exterior and interior. The interior is refined, not pretentious…similar to a Scandinavian design (think Volvo.) The exterior still draws stares and thumbs up. A few times a year we get questioned at a gas station on what it is, and astonishment that it is a Hyundai (rebadged with Korean Genesis logos.)

    In 2 years and 20K miles we’ve not had a single service issue.


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