Hyundai's Genesis Upsets the Balance of Luxury Sedan Leaders
Each year, dozens of automakers each produce dozens of models. Many are good. Some are great. But rarely—every decade or two—a true game changer is unveiled, a vehicle that entirely upsets the balance of the industry.
Toyota unveiled one such game changer in 1990, with the first ever Lexus. Hyundai, now the fastest growing automaker on the planet, is now in a position much like Toyota in 1990. And, like Toyota/Lexus, Hyundai introduced a game changing luxury sedan in 2008—the Genesis.
The Hyundai Genesis blew all of our expectations out of the water. It was quieter, smoother and faster than we expected. It was more refined. And it started at just north of $30,000—tens of thousands less than the vehicles it truly competes with.
This year, Hyundai introduces dozens of improvements to the 2012 Genesis. Most importantly, its suspension is even better. So is the "base" engine on the cheapest available model—now priced at $35,000.
The Genesis is intentionally priced far below any competing BMW, Lexus or Audi. It's priced more in line with loaded Ford Taurus's, Chrysler 300's and Nissan Maxima's. And yet, the Genesis is designed to take on the best from BMW, Mercedes, and the like. And in many ways, it belongs more among those top brands than other $30,000 sedans.
What the Genesis offers more than any of its bargain-luxury-priced competitors is a sense of big-dollar luxury. From the outside-in, the Genesis represents a brave new era for Hyundai. High-dollar touches and design are complemented by class-leading technology and breathtaking performance.
Genesis buyers can choose from three awe-inspiring engines, depending on their need for speed and budget. The Genesis's smallest engine, a 3.8 liter V-6, now boasts 333-horsepower. The available 4.8 liter V-8 offers 385 horsepower, and the performance bred R-Spec boasts a 429-horsepower 5.0 liter V-8.
These numbers are not incidentally similar to the horsepower numbers available on pricier Jaguar, Audi and BMW sedan. And yet, despite those powerful engine numbers, the Hyundai's price tag remains stubbornly low—starting at $35,000 for the V-6, at $45,000 for the V-8, and at $47,000 for the performance R-Spec.
For most buyers, the "base" V-6 offers plenty of gusto. It rockets the Genesis from 0-60 in a startling 5.5 seconds. The R-Spec V-8 makes the same sprint in an incredible 4.8 seconds.
In all, the Genesis sedan doesn't unseat any of the true top-tier luxury sedans—Audi, Mercedes, BMW, or the upper Lexuses for that matter. It's a great car, but it lacks the decades of experience that these storied brands all carry.
What the Hyundai Genesis does do is make a whole bunch of mid-level luxury sedans look irrelevant and over-priced. For the price of a loaded Nissan Maxima, you can now have a sedan that looks, feels and performs a lot more like a BMW.
Anyone looking for a nice luxury sedan—and looking to get the most luxury, comfort and performance per penny—would do well to test-drive the 2012 Hyundai Genesis.