The Truth About Cars » hyundai genesis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:20:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » hyundai genesis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Only In Canada: 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 HTRAC AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/canada-2015-hyundai-genesis-5-0-htrac-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/canada-2015-hyundai-genesis-5-0-htrac-awd/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 23:24:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=911001 The list of Canadian-exclusive vehicles is scant, with a large number of them being small minivans and badge-engineered Acuras – in other words, nothing terribly interesting. What you’re looking at here is something that only Canadians will get – for now. But rather than carrying out a concerted effort to bring Canadians something unique, it […]

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The list of Canadian-exclusive vehicles is scant, with a large number of them being small minivans and badge-engineered Acuras – in other words, nothing terribly interesting. What you’re looking at here is something that only Canadians will get – for now. But rather than carrying out a concerted effort to bring Canadians something unique, it gives an insight into how product planning decisions are made.

American consumers are limited to getting AWD only on the Genesis 3.8 models, which come with Hyundai’s ubiquitous V6 engine. Even then, it’s an option. Canadian consumers, on the other hand, have only AWD models, but they can get four driven wheels on the five-point-oh V8 engine, unlike those south of the 49th parallel.

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A recent trip to the Canadian Rockies saw us behind the wheel of a Genesis 5.0 equipped with the Magna-developed HTRAC AWD system. Since it was an unseasonably warm August week, there was no foul weather to test the system’s mettle, nor did we have the gumption to take the $64,123 (Canadian) press loaner off-road.

The only way the Canadian 5.0 comes equipped is in the loaded Ultimate trim level, which is packed with every passive and active safety feature imaginable (including a CO2 sensor that supposed helps detect driver drowsiness), a 17 speaker Lexicon audio system (brilliant) and a wonderfully simple infotainment system with a 9.2 inch screen.

There’s no tangible similarity between the RWD 5.0 and its AWD sibling. The chassis is surprisingly adept for a 4687 lb luxury sedan, but the added heft versus 4294 lb AWD V6 models is noticeable, and seems to cancel out whatever performance gains may come from the bigger motor, both in terms of acceleration and handling. Fuel economy is frankly atrocious. Hyundai’s Canadian fuel economy ratings for this car sit at 14 mpg city, 22 highway and 16 mpg combined. We struggled to crack 15 mpg in mixed driving, and a full tank of 91 octane, at $5.32 a gallon, was an expense that didn’t seem worth it compared to the slightly less thirsty 3.8L, which can be had in top-spec for $9,000 less.

When Hyundai announced the Canada-only V8 HTRAC, I asked a source of mine at Hyundai Canada why they went through the expense of creating a whole new variant for such a small market. “Because nobody would buy it if it was rear-drive only,” was the reply. Even so, the Genesis 5.0 is likely to be a very small portion of Hyundai Canada’s total sales. It’s great to see auto makers starting to respond (albeit slowly) to the unique needs of the Canadian market. A $64,000 all-wheel drive V8 luxury car isn’t the first thing you’d think of in that context, but it’s a neat oddity in a product portfolio dominated by frugal subcompacts.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Hyundai Genesis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/capsule-review-2015-hyundai-genesis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/capsule-review-2015-hyundai-genesis/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:51:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788538 When it comes to luxury cars, there are two factors, often mutually exclusive, that come into play: actual excellence and perceived prestige. Very often, the latter wins out. If you want to know why, ask anyone who bought a Maserati Quattroporte. Or a BMW 528i. From 1997-2003 the BMW 5-series was the last word in […]

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When it comes to luxury cars, there are two factors, often mutually exclusive, that come into play: actual excellence and perceived prestige. Very often, the latter wins out. If you want to know why, ask anyone who bought a Maserati Quattroporte. Or a BMW 528i.

From 1997-2003 the BMW 5-series was the last word in four-door sedans. If you wanted the perceived prestige, then the big V8 cars were sure to impress bench racers and badge snobs. If you wanted actual excellence, you did not pass go, did not collect 282 horsepower, and you went right for the six cylinder cars.

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When I think of the quintessential 5-Series, I think of the E39 525i or 530i. Neither was particularly fast. The cabin did have sumptuous leather and slabs of wood, but by and large it was still full of old school BMW touches like displays with orange illumination and dot-matrix looking typography, a dearth of cupholders and even *gasp* hard black plastic. And yet, they were all things to all people – comfortable commuter, ersatz school bus, peerless long-distance cruiser and even an engaging backroad scalpel.

In roughly a decade, we’ve regressed. You can now spend over $70,000 on an entry level BMW that has a turbo-four engine, just like your insurance broker’s Fusion or a soccer mom’s Santa Fe. And when you drive it, you realize that the 528i is not The Ultimate Driving Machine anymore, nor is it a positional good like the E60 cars were when the end of their life-cycle coincided with the Great Financial Crisis. The F10 528i is, in many respects, a very expensive, longitudinally oriented Camry.

Not much else in the segment is thrilling, however. The Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS are both saddled with 2.0T engines unbecoming of their relative station in life. The Mercedes-Benz E350 has a proper V6, but is softer than a Buick Lacrosse. The Lexus GS and Infiniti M are non-entities.

Nobody would have ever thought that the 2015 Hyundai Genesis would be upholding the mantle of excellence in the large rear-drive segment, but then again, nobody in 2003 would have expected that Hyundai would introduce this car – badged as a Hyundai, sold through the Hyundai dealer network – either.

As with the previous Genesis, the styling is handsome but derivative. If the old car looks like a reasonable facsimile of a Lexus, the new one looks like a reasonable facsimile of an Audi, styled within the framework of today’s emissions and safety regulations. The lack of aesthetic imagination would be all the more damning if it weren’t for the homogenization of everything else on the road, in both looks and driving experience.

Well, almost everything. The two-point-oh-tee engines infesting nearly every car from the C-segment on up are very helpful with meeting all kinds of regulation: CAFE, European emissions standards, EPA fuel economy tests and world market displacement taxes.

With the Genesis, Hyundai is focusing on three major markets: the United States, Korea, and China. That means no boosted fours. Instead, you have the choice of a 3.8L V6 (311 horsepower, 293 lb-ft of torque) or a 5.0L V8 (420 horsepower, 383 lb-ft of torque). The V6 actually loses 22 horsepower, though it gains 2 lb-ft, while the V8 drops 9 horsepower and picks up 7 lb-ft. Not particularly encouraging stuff, given that curb weight is up by about 150 lbs on rear-drive models.

Any doubts about performance dissipate once you’re behind the wheel. Both cars feel much faster than their predecessors, with the 5.0 V8 providing serious forward thrust and an aggressive bellow at higher rpms that sounds like a muffled version of Chrysler’s Hemi V8. Like the old E39 540i, the V8 Genesis is at its best when cruising rapidly in a straight line, tracking perfectly straight without any hands on the wheel, cruising below 2000 rpm in near silence while eating up miles of blacktop.

If you never got a chance to drive the 3.8L V6, you wouldn’t have any qualms about the 5.0′s dynamics. The V8 car isn’t overly engaging, with relatively numb steering, a rather slow turn-in and a grudgingly competent way of taking turns . The V6 is an entirely different animal, as distinct in character as the I6 E39s were from the 540i.

With two fewer cylinders and the engine sitting a bit farther back, the V6 Genesis responds with far more enthusiasm than the 5.0 While the steering isn’t particularly big on feel, there’s a much greater level of feedback from the front tires. Turn-in is quicker, and the whole car responds to inputs in a more enthusiastic manner. The V6 isn’t as effortlessly powerful as the big 5.0 V8, but it responds with enthusiasm, and its own soundtrack is engaging and even raw at higher revs. Nobody would ever complain about the lack of power from the 3.8L engine either. V6 models will have an optional all-wheel drive system developed with Magna, but seat time in that car will have to wait for a later date.

The weak link in the powertrain is the in-house 8-speed automatic transmission, which is neither as sporting nor as refined as the 8-speed ZF gearbox that is near-ubiquitous in today’s premium car offerings. Kudos to Hyundai for making their own in-house design, but ZF has set a very high bar with what might be the best gearbox on the market. And even 8-speeds can’t help save the Genesis from less than stellar fuel economy ratings (18/29/22 mpg city/highway/combined for the V6, 16/25/19 for the AWD model and 15/23/18 for the V8).

But all of this talk of high performance driving is largely academic. The things that the Genesis needs to excel at – namely, a comfortable ride, minimal NVH and a premium interior – are all tasks at which the Genesis acquits itself. There’s a bit of noise around the wing mirrors when traveling at speed, but road and wind noise is largely isolated. The new car manages to strike the appropriate balance between ride and handling as well. Chassis tuning by Lotus (yes, that Lotus) was a big part of Hyundai’s PR push, but driving on bumpy desert access roads and poorly-maintained streets in outlying towns displayed a compliant, well-sorted ride as the primary characteristic. When pushed, the Genesis responds as well as a two-ton luxury sedan could be expected to – more than its European competition can say for themselves.

In its attempt to ape the leading European and Japanese luxury cars, the Genesis can be optioned up with all kinds of the latest cutting edge technology: a lane-keep assist system (that was overzealous and a bit of a nuisance), radar-guided cruise control, haptic feedback through the steering wheel and even a CO2 sensor (which supposedly helps keep drivers from getting too drowsy).

And you don’t need any of it. The best Genesis is the one we spent the most time with – a basic 3.8 V6, with the smaller 8″ display screen, 18″ wheels and only a couple of rows of neatly organized buttons (no iDrive-esque controller like the fully loaded Ultimate Package cars). At $38,000, it’s closer in price to a Honda Accord V6 Touring than a BMW 528i. Both the Honda and the Hyundai are better examples of actual excellence than the now neutered 5er, but in the real world, few have the courage to put character before image. What a shame.

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2014 NAIAS: The Next Interior Design Fads: Quilted Leather, Textured Woodgrain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2014-naias-the-next-interior-design-fads-quilted-leather-textured-woodgrain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2014-naias-the-next-interior-design-fads-quilted-leather-textured-woodgrain/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 15:57:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=703786 To paraphrase Ian Fleming, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is already a fad. Car designers (or their bosses) are among the most faddish people on the planet, it seems sometimes. Don’t believe me? The new GMC Canyon midsize pickup truck has Altezza tail lights. One of the most widely proliferated fads in […]

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Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

To paraphrase Ian Fleming, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is already a fad. Car designers (or their bosses) are among the most faddish people on the planet, it seems sometimes. Don’t believe me? The new GMC Canyon midsize pickup truck has Altezza tail lights. One of the most widely proliferated fads in interior design has been the use of so-called French stitching, the use of contrasting colored running stitches along seams on leather upholstery. As someone who does machine embroidery on leather for a living, I know why it’s become popular. It looks good. The stitching slightly quilts the leather and gives it a three dimensional texture, a luxury touch. However, is it still a luxury touch when the latest Toyota Corolla has contrasting French “stitching” molded into the dashboard plastic?

I believe that I’ve found the next two interior design fads and like contrasting detail stitching they are starting out at that upper end of the market. The fads are quilted leather upholstery and textured woodgrain.

The first car that I noticed with quilted leather upholstery was an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. Technically it wasn’t at the 2014 NAIAS, rather it was at “The Gallery”, a collection of about 30 six figure cars on display at a local casino for the enjoyment of about 400 invited heavy hitters. Well, I figured, they had to do something more distinctive and exclusive than French stitching.

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On the floor of the NAIAS, one of the Audi convertibles in S Line trim had grey leather upholstery quilted with red stitching. Okay, that’s number two.

As Mr. Fleming indicated, when something happens three times or more, that usually indicates a pattern. In this case that pattern is diamond shaped quilting. Mercedes-Benz used the 2014 NAIAS for the world premier of Daimler’s latest flagship, the S600. While a Maybach trim package will be eventually offered on the S600, now that the Maybach brand of cars has been discontinued, until that ne plus ultra level of trim is offered, the S600 is the most luxurious Benz you can buy. Not only are the seating surfaces covered in quilted leather, so are the front and back consoles.

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Mercedes-Benz S600.

It won’t be long, will it, before quilted leather is offered as an option by most luxury brands? Of course, soon afterwards, you will probably find faux quilted vinyl in more mass market motorcars.

Quilted leather isn’t the only trend that just now is being offered on luxury cars but that later will spread to more plebeian automobiles. I recently reviewed an Audi A7 TDI and one nice touch in the cabin is how the interior designers worked to have a variety of textures pleasing to both eye and hand. Along with leather grain and brushed aluminum, there was plenty of wood, but instead of being covered with a high gloss clear coat giving a mirror smooth finish as might have been done just a few years ago, or even the more recent satin finishes, the Audi’s wood had grain you could feel.

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Textured grained wood in the new Hyundai Genesis

Now normally I’d follow that rule of Mr. Fleming’s and wait until I found a third example before I declared a fad officially started, but the new Hyundai Genesis has an interior using wood that has a textured grain, one you can actually feel. Hyundai’s product planners seem exquisitely sensitive to signifiers of luxury so I don’t think that I’m going out on a limb to say that by next year’s NAIAS, you’ll be seeing cars that have interiors featuring both quilted leather and textured woodgrain.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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NAIAS 2014: Hyundai Gives Us A Product Planning Peek With Their New Genesis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/naias-2014-hyundai-gives-us-a-product-planning-peek-with-their-new-genesis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/naias-2014-hyundai-gives-us-a-product-planning-peek-with-their-new-genesis/#comments Wed, 15 Jan 2014 17:12:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=700593 Ever wonder how product planning really works? It turns out that product planners aren’t just hired to sit around and tell car companies what to build. Apparently you have to do things like work with data and make Excel pivot tables. Which is why I’m still working here. But the 2015 Hyundai Genesis gives us […]

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Ever wonder how product planning really works? It turns out that product planners aren’t just hired to sit around and tell car companies what to build. Apparently you have to do things like work with data and make Excel pivot tables. Which is why I’m still working here. But the 2015 Hyundai Genesis gives us an interesting example of what drives product planning decisions.

For the American market, Hyundai will offer all-wheel as an option on the Genesis V6. As for the V8, Hyundai is “studying” it as an option at a future date. On the other hand, Canadian market cars will not be offered with rear-wheel drive at all. Even for such a small market, the fact is that a rear-drive sedan would sit collecting dust on dealer lots, and Hyundai Canada’s planners made the choice to forgo RWD. Even BMWs are almost exclusvely xDrive in the Great White North. Canadians will get to enjoy a rare exclusive product – for now at least.

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Los Angeles 2013: Kia K900, Kia Goes Further Upmarket http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-kia-k900-kia-goes-further-upmarket/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-kia-k900-kia-goes-further-upmarket/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 14:46:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=658690 Following stablemate Hyundai’s move upmarket with the Genesis and Equus sedans, Kia is introducing the K900 to North America. Called the K9 elsewhere, the K900 is based on the same platform as the Hyundai luxury sedans  and like them it comes standard with a 311 hp 3.8-liter V6 engine or an optional 420 hp 5.0-liter […]

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Following stablemate Hyundai’s move upmarket with the Genesis and Equus sedans, Kia is introducing the K900 to North America. Called the K9 elsewhere, the K900 is based on the same platform as the Hyundai luxury sedans  and like them it comes standard with a 311 hp 3.8-liter V6 engine or an optional 420 hp 5.0-liter “Tau” V8. An eight speed automatic transmission is standard, though each engine will get gearboxes with specific gear ratios. The K900 is expected to arrive at Kia’s North American dealers in the first quarter of 2014.

Leather upholstery will be standard, with Nappa grade leather an option, and that upholstery gets standard heating and cooling in the front. A VIP package brings hot and cold seats to the back passengers, and buyers can choose between white sycamore and charcoal poplar for the real wood inlays.  Rear seat passengers have their own climate controls.

Kia is promoting safety technology on the K900, including an “Around View” parking monitor to give drivers a bird’s eye view while backing up. Other safety features include land departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring, pre-tensioning seatbelts, collision warnings and pre-pressurized braking before an anticipated collision. V8 models come with Kia’s first cross traffic alert system.

The interior features a 12.3 inch TFT instrument panel, Kia’s largest so far, and it can be configured with a variety of themes. The stereo has 17 drivers situated across the car and they are driven with a 900 watt amp.

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2015 Hyundai Genesis Rendered http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/2015-hyundai-genesis-rendered/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/2015-hyundai-genesis-rendered/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 13:55:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=633298   Just days after the 2015 Hyundai Genesis was spied in the flesh, these renderings were revealed. The car will get its official debut at NAIAS in January, 2014. Unlike the last generation, the new Genesis will have AWD.    

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Just days after the 2015 Hyundai Genesis was spied in the flesh, these renderings were revealed. The car will get its official debut at NAIAS in January, 2014. Unlike the last generation, the new Genesis will have AWD.

 

 

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Is This The New Hyundai Genesis? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/is-this-the-new-hyundai-genesis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/is-this-the-new-hyundai-genesis/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 16:52:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=627130 It sure would seem so. Despite the best efforts of our IT crew, the TTAC Staff Robot is unable to read Korean,but we can read the word “Genesis” on this car’s front plate. If the new car was rather Mercedes-esque in its choice of borrowed styling cues, the new car is a curious mix of […]

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It sure would seem so. Despite the best efforts of our IT crew, the TTAC Staff Robot is unable to read Korean,but we can read the word “Genesis” on this car’s front plate.

If the new car was rather Mercedes-esque in its choice of borrowed styling cues, the new car is a curious mix of elements from both Japan and Germany. There is a vague Audi A7 resemblence, while the Hoffmeister kink is distinctly BMW. But the car could easily be some kind of new Infiniti derivative, especially the front, which looks like the model formerly known as the Infiniti M. No word on powertrains, but this one will have AWD for the first time.

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224,000 Google Results Later, Hyundai CEO Closes The Door On Luxury Brand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/224000-google-results-later-hyundai-ceo-closes-the-door-on-luxury-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/224000-google-results-later-hyundai-ceo-closes-the-door-on-luxury-brand/#comments Tue, 17 Jul 2012 18:23:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453132 If it weren’t for auto bloggers, the question of a separate Hyundai luxury brand would have been dead and buried long ago. But auto bloggers, with a desperate need to generate news out of thin air, won’t let the story die. 224,000 Google results later, and we finally have a definitive answer. An interview with […]

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If it weren’t for auto bloggers, the question of a separate Hyundai luxury brand would have been dead and buried long ago. But auto bloggers, with a desperate need to generate news out of thin air, won’t let the story die. 224,000 Google results later, and we finally have a definitive answer.

An interview with Automobile Magazine quotes Hyundai CEO John Krafcik as stating

“We actually thought about launching the Genesis that way, and putting them in their own showrooms, but we’re not going to do standalone premium franchises because costs are so high. If you multiply 200 dealerships by a cost of $10-20 million per dealer to make a new space, it comes out to something like $5000 or $6000 that would have to be added to the price of the car.”

A look at the Google results shows a series of back-and-forth headlines to the effect of “Hyundai mulls establishing premium luxury brand” and then a refutation shortly after with a headline stating something like “Hyundai denies luxury brand, separate Genesis showrooms”.

The sad thing is, there’s no confusion. All along, the idea has been an unequivocal non-starter. But the gods of pageviews dictate that even the flimsiest rumor has the potential for a story, and thus the rumor, like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, refuses to die. Hopefully now we can put it all to rest.

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Review: 2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-2012-dodge-charger-sxt-plus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-2012-dodge-charger-sxt-plus/#comments Sun, 01 Apr 2012 18:25:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437430 A month ago, I reviewed the 470-horsepower, 470-pound-feet Chrysler 300C SRT8. Today, we have a much milder 2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus with the 292-horsepower, 260-pound-feet V6 and Rallye Appearance Group. I enjoyed driving the weaker car more. This is where you note the date of publication. But I’m not foolin. Chrysler’s new corporate V6 […]

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A month ago, I reviewed the 470-horsepower, 470-pound-feet Chrysler 300C SRT8. Today, we have a much milder 2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus with the 292-horsepower, 260-pound-feet V6 and Rallye Appearance Group. I enjoyed driving the weaker car more. This is where you note the date of publication. But I’m not foolin.

Chrysler’s new corporate V6 is “best in class” in some segments, but “worst in class” among V6-powered rear-wheel-drive sedans, where Hyundai’s revised 3.8 leads the pack. Blame the lack of direct injection. Better yet, forget the numbers. The V6 might give up 31 foot-pounds of torque to the Genesis and over 200 to the SRT mill, but it still feels plenty torquey in typical driving. No, it can’t break the rear tires loose at 35 miles-per-hour, but it can and will shove you into the seat when called upon to do so. In this application, the new corporate engine also sounds more like a good ol’ American V8 than any DOHC six has a right to, fitting the character of this 21st-century muscle car. Throttle-induced oversteer remains a very real possibility, and with fewer pound-feet in play it’s easier to modulate. In default mode the stability control, though better than most, kills the joy. Hit a button on the center console to raise its threshold to a more appropriate level.

The V6’s low-rpm grunt came as a surprise, as the same engine feels soft at low rpm in the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Credit two substantial differences. First, the Charger, at 3,996 pounds, checks in nearly a half-ton below the all-wheel-drive SUVs.

Second, the Charger is the first corporate application of a new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Compared to the old five-speed automatic (which remains standard in the base Charger), the new one’s ratios start lower (12.48 vs. 10.99 overall) and top out higher (1.78 vs. 2.54), enabling both better performance and better fuel economy. Anyone who’s been thinking that five or six ratios is plenty—this transmission will change your mind. BMW uses a related transmission in its cars, but the Dodge variant actually shifts more smoothly. Compared to the old five-speed, the new transmission is much smoother, much more responsive, and smarter. It’s quick to upshift, but also quick to downshift when summoned by your right foot.

Want to select and hold a specific gear? We’ve debated whether, with a manumatic, it makes more sense to push forward or pull backward for a downshift. Chrysler, the first automaker to offer a manually-shiftable automatic in a mainstream car, went the road less traveled: side-to-side. With the new transmission, they’ve eliminated the ability to shift via the shifter altogether. Instead, the Rallye Appearance Group includes well-designed die-cast magnesium paddle shifters. Jaguars should (but don’t) come with paddles as nice as these.

A monostatic shifter (which, like a computer joystick, returns to center each time after being pushed or pulled) attends the new transmission. You’ll find these in nearly all current two-pedal BMWs, but the Chrysler/Dodge implementation is different. The Pentastar bunch (like the Audi A8 team) must have decided that BMW’s system–pushing a button to engage Park and pushing forward for Reverse—strays too far from long-established convention. So P-R-N-D remain in their usual order. The downside of this arrangement: the system must intuit from the distance of your pull whether you’re seeking Reverse or Drive, and the detents are nearly imperceptible. Too often the system, uncertain of your request, decides that the best action is no action at all. It sometimes took me three or four attempts to engage Drive—usually when I was most in a hurry to do so. Calmly and firmly pull back on the T-handle WHILE depressing the button on top of it, and you’ll get Drive (nearly) every time. Chrysler has done such a good job with the touch and voice controls of the car’s uconnect infotainment system, how could they botch something as simple as a shifter?

Pulling back on the Charger’s shifter once in D engages Sport mode. Pull back on the shifter again to revert to D. I didn’t notice a large difference in transmission behavior between the two—the transmission’s shifts become a little quicker and its shifting strategy becomes a little more aggressive. The biggest difference between the modes: if you use the paddles in S, the transmission won’t override your gear selection. I actually preferred D. The car takes corners well in second, which is six paddle pulls down from top gear in S-manual mode. But manually shift the car in D, then prod the accelerator, and you get second or third right away. The transmission will then hold until you approach the redline or request an upshift. (To exit manual mode hold down on the upshift paddle for a few seconds or toggle between S and D.)

Fuel economy? The new transmission bumps the Charger’s EPA ratings from 18 city, 27 highway to 19/31. The trip computer reported averages between 19 and 25 in typical suburban driving, dependent on the number of red lights and the aggressiveness of my right foot, with the average usually in the low 20s. On a 78-mph light-footed cruise to the airport it reported 31.5.

In any iteration the Dodge Charger and the closely related Chrysler 300 feel like the big, heavy cars they are. But the V6-powered car feels significantly lighter and better balanced than the SRT. Perhaps because it is. Three-quarters of the SRT8’s 369 additional pounds sit over the front wheels. Even 100 extra pounds in the nose can affect a car’s handling. Nearly three times this amount can be counted on to substantially change the character of a car. Where the SRT’s responses to steering inputs are deliberate, the V6 car feels almost chuckable. If the lighter car still isn’t rotating quickly enough for you, dip into the throttle to nudge the rear end around. Not looking to drive a big sedan like you stole it? Even in casual driving the lighter car simply feels better. The V6’s electro-hydraulic steering is at least as direct and communicative as the (not exactly chatty) belt-driven system in the SRT8. The weak link lies elsewhere: the 245/45VR20 Firestone Firehawk GTV tires lack grip despite their large contact patches and squeal loudly the moment they start to slip.

With the Rallye Appearance Group’s “performance suspension” (similar in tuning to the V8-powered R/T), the Charger sometimes rides a little lumpy and thumpy. Some will prefer the more relaxed tuning of the standard suspension. But the car glides down most roads smoothly and quietly. Add in the large, comfortable sport bucket seats, and the Charger proves exceedingly pleasant both around town and on the highway.

Luxury cues are mixed. The warmly hued Nappa leather upholstery looks and feels upscale, but the coarse texture of the black instrument panel and upper doors successfully disguises their soft-touch composition. Not that the Charger’s “modern day muscle car” exterior promises any luxury within. For those seeking more upscale styling (but the same texture to the black interior bits) Chrysler offers the 300.

The tested car (with most but not all options—no nav or adaptive cruise present) listed for $35,510. But the new powertrain can be had for much less if you’re willing to do without leather, sunroof, dubs, and such. A Charger SE with the optional ($1,000 well spent) 8-speed automatic lists for $27,420. A strongly recommended deletion even for those who like their cars loaded: do without the rear spoiler and save $225. Dropping the red tri-coat paint can save another $500, bringing the price to $34,785.

A Chrysler 300S equipped like the tested car lists for $41,460. It does include nearly $2,000 in additional content (based on TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool), most notably a larger sunroof and adaptive cruise control (also available on the Dodge), but this still leaves a gap of about $4,750. Suddenly I find myself warming to the Dodge’s styling. Only Hyundai (yes, Hyundai) offers another large rear-wheel-drive sedan in this price range, and that only if “this price range” extends all the way to $43,850. A nearly $2,500 feature adjustment in the Korean cruiser’s favor still leaves the Dodge with a roughly $6,600 price advantage. In this context, the tested car’s mid-thirties price seems a bargain.

With gas prices once again hovering around $4, and perhaps headed even higher, you’d think that a two-ton, 200-inch rear-wheel-drive sedan would make about as much sense as seat heaters in Miami. But, thanks to a new engine and transmission, the big Dodge’s EPA numbers are competitive with those of the much smaller, much lighter Accord and Camry V6s. Yet you don’t have to sacrifice performance. The powertrain provides plenty of thrust and its relatively low weight actually enables better handling than is possible with a massive HEMI pushing down on the front treads. Even more than the SRT8, the V6 car simply feels right. Add in a relatively low price, oversteer-on-demand, big comfy seats, and the ability to effortlessly devour miles by the hundreds, and (with assists from a German transmission, Canadian factory workers, and Italian overlords), the Charger successfully sustains the tradition of the big American sedan.

Dodge provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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Kia KH Heralds The Start Of The “Monkfish Age” In Automotive Design http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/kia-kh-heralds-the-start-of-the-monkfish-age-in-automotive-design/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/kia-kh-heralds-the-start-of-the-monkfish-age-in-automotive-design/#comments Tue, 28 Feb 2012 16:36:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433169 When the Chrysler Concorde and Chevrolet Camaro underwent redesigns in the late-1990s, automotive critics lamented the start of the “catfish” era in car design. The Kia KH is moving forward with the aquatic-creature theme, sporting a snout that resembles a monkfish, an even uglier sea-being. Kia will debut their new luxury sedan at the Geneva […]

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When the Chrysler Concorde and Chevrolet Camaro underwent redesigns in the late-1990s, automotive critics lamented the start of the “catfish” era in car design. The Kia KH is moving forward with the aquatic-creature theme, sporting a snout that resembles a monkfish, an even uglier sea-being.

Kia will debut their new luxury sedan at the Geneva Auto Show in March, but apparently won’t sell the car in Europe. It’s unclear whether the car will be sized closer to the Hyundai Genesis or Equus. The KH will not be the name of the car either – Kia is apparently crowdsourcing the name of the car via Facebook. Troll away.

kiakh3 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Kia KH Concept. Photo courtesy Kia kiakh kiakh2

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