Getting into this Hyundai Genesis sedan naturally brought back thoughts of our departed Four Seasons 2009 Hyundai Genesis. I immediately felt at home and comfortable behind the wheel and realized how much I had missed the Genesis being in our regular rotation of vehicles. There's something simple and honest about the controls for everything from the climate control to the navigation and stereo systems. No finicky touch screens, no need for voice commands, and it all seems to work effortlessly when you just want to make a quick adjustment.
The 2012 Genesis upgrades were just announced at the Chicago auto show, and the biggest changes are revised suspension/chassis tuning and the availability of an R-Spec sedan with a 5.0-liter Tau V-8 rated at 429 hp. Non-R-Spec sedans will use an eight-speed automatic, and the V-6 sedans will take advantage of direct injection to produce an amazing 333 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque (up from 290 hp and 264 lb-ft) while increasing highway mileage to 29 mpg.
I've always favored the V-6 Genesis sedan over the eight-cylinder, and wished for a more complacent and comfortable ride over the broken highways that make up my daily commute, so these upgrades are most welcome. During my weekend with the 2011 Genesis sedan, I found the highway ride to be as busy as I had remembered, and it remains my biggest complaint with the Genesis sedan. As soon as we get behind the wheel of a 2012 version, we'll find out if Hyundai has solved the ride equation. Then this might be the perfect luxury sedan for customers who don't need to flaunt a brand name.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
That's excellent news regarding the Genesis's 2012 powertrain improvements. Interestingly, the Chrysler 300 will also get an eight-speed automatic this fall, but only with the standard V-6, not with the Hemi V-8. The 300 and the Genesis are really the only large, affordable, rear-wheel-drive sedans on the market, and even though they are completely different in character, they do beg comparison.
Along with the powertrain improvements, I hope Hyundai will take the opportunity of the mid-cycle update to offer some more attractive wheels for the Genesis. I still stand by the comments I made to Hyundai executives when I first drove the Genesis in May 2008 in Korea, that these wheels look like, ahem, cheap Korean knockoffs, and they don't match the car's otherwise premium look.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor