2012 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 3.8L Rental Review, Avis/National

Notable standard features on National’s 2012 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 3.8

  • 3.8L 6-cyl engine (333-hp, 291 ft-lb), 8-speed automatic transmission; 0-60 mph ~ 5.4 seconds
  • 18/28 (city/hwy) mpg fuel economy (**Reflects Hyundai’s & Kia’s recently revised and decreased fuel economy numbers)
  • Regular gas
  • RWD, 52/48 front/rear weight distribution
  • 15.9 cubic feet trunk volume with pass through
  • Power windows, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, locks, keyless entry
  • Leather wrapped tilt (NO TELESCOPING) steering wheel with audio & cruise controls
  • 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, 4-way passenger’s seat, leather, heated
  • Dual zone automatic HVAC
  • 7 speakers with AM/FM/CD/MP3/(3 months free Sirius subscription)
  • Inputs: USB, Aux, iPod, Bluetooth

PROS:

- Refreshed exterior design more cohesive
- Instant acceleration, excellent transmission
- Whisper quiet interior
- Spacious interior volume

CONS:

- Interior design remains the same
- HVAC is weak
- Tiny multimedia screen
- Standard features missing that would be present on other cars, e.g. telescoping steering wheel

CONCLUSION: Great engine, transmission, handling, interior space- cheaper, roomier alternative to an Infiniti G37.

I first rented a 2011 Hyundai Genesis last year and was generally impressed with the 2009 North American Car of the Year, although I thought the exterior design incongruous and powertrain short of its potential.  I’m happy to say that many of my concerns have been addressed with a 2012 refresh, and the 2012 Genesis is now one of my favorite car rentals.

For 2012, Hyundai made significant improvements to the exterior design and powertrain.  The front fascia has been redesigned with a slightly reworked front grille, LED daytime running lights, and graceful, S-shaped white LED accent lighting.  The sides of the car feature new 17-inch alloy wheels, brushed aluminum trim on the windows, more heavily creased rocker panels, dual integrated asymmetric exhaust tips which integrate into the new rear fascia, as well as new tail lamps (which remind me of those on the Mercedes E-class).

Under the hood, the Lambda 3.8-liter V6 has been significantly improved.  The engine now outputs an impressive 333 hp, which is a gain of 43 hp over the old engine with no increase in displacement.  Torque is also increased to 291 ft-lb.  Fuel economy is also up, to 19/29, versus 18/27 for the 2011 Genesis.  Moreover, all 2012 Genesis sedans benefit from larger brake rotors; I believe the V6 versions get 13.6″ ventilated disc brakes, which were used on the previous generation R-spec models.

Hyundai has also added a new 8-speed transmission which was developed in-house and also contributes to the improved fuel economy.  Oddly, the interior remains (unfortunately) the same as the 2009 Genesis.  The rumors suggest a new Genesis sedan in 2014, which might explain why Hyundai chose not to use this refresh to alter the interior.  The Genesis is now a bit of an oddly priced duck; as rented, with no other options, the Genesis sedan stickers for $35,075.  However, the new 2012 FWD Azera stickers for ~ $32K, making the Genesis quite a bargain this year.  Although the Genesis lacks some of the standard features found in the Azera and competitors’ vehicles, the superior engine, transmission, and RWD make the Genesis the significantly better bargain.  I do expect Hyundai to raise prices of the Genesis in the near future, in order to move it up-market and prevent overlap with the Azera.

I think the refreshed 2012 exterior moves the Genesis closer to a sports sedan look.  The white LED accent lighting is a nice touch, as are the integrated asymmetric dual exhausts, more sharply creased rocker panels, and tail-lamps.  The overall Genesis profile is preserved, while adding an evolutionary improvement.  During nighttime driving, quite a few pedestrians turned their heads to ogle and wonder which car was sporting the LED accent lights.  Doubtless they would have been surprised to learn it was a Hyundai.

Interestingly, the Genesis sedan does not feature Hyundai’s “Fluidic Styling” language that is used on its lower lineup, including the Accent, Elantra, Sonata, and Azera.  I think it’s a smart move, because it separates the upper tier luxury models from the more mundane ones.  Perhaps this will change with the 2014 Genesis redesign.

I greatly enjoyed driving the 2012 Genesis; moreover, the particular car I rented had just 2700 miles on the odometer.  Thanks to the improved engine and transmission, there is always plenty of power on tap.  High speed lane changes are effortless.  The 3.8L engine lacks the guttural auditory distinctness of the Infiniti G37′s 3.7L V6, as Hyundai engineers have worked instead to make the engine silent and more hushed.  But make no mistake, the Genesis is a rocket on the road.  Shifts are smooth, and the brakes are strong and linear.  The cabin is exceptionally quiet at all speeds.  My minor complaint about the steering is that it’s a touch on the light side, though you’d be hard pressed to prove a relation to the overboosted steering on the Sonata.

While the exterior and driving dynamics are excellent, the interior leaves much to be desired.  Some plastic material quality is questionable and the overall dashboard design is too similar to that of the Mercedes S-class.  Furthermore, when the 2012 Camry,  Azera, and Lacrosse are offering 6-, 7- and 8-inch touchscreens as standard trim, a two-color small display with clumsy interface isn’t going to cut it these days.

The seats are well-cushioned, and I especially appreciated the heated seats heating my lumbar region too.  The leather quality felt a little cheap, and more like leatherette.  The seats are too wide and flat for a sports sedan, and could benefit from more side bolstering.  Interior passenger room is commodious; rear passengers are treated to an impressive 38.6 inches of legroom, nearly 4 inches more than the comparable Infiniti G37.  Overall driver visibility is excellent, thanks to low beltlines and thin pillars.

Aux/iPod/USB inputs are standard, and the base audio system has good overall clarity and punchy bass.  The electroluminescent driver’s gauges, unchanged, are legible and clear.  The turn stalk feels exceptionally solid when depressed, and the doors sound very sturdy when closed.  The steering wheel unfortunately does not telescope, but I was able to find a comfortable seating position.  Additionally, the front HVAC fans were exceptionally weak, although the rear HVAC fans had no issues.

Again it’s a little odd that Hyundai, which typically packs its cars with boatloads of standard features, did not do the same with the  Genesis sedan.

Despite the interior shortcomings, the Genesis sedan offers some benefits over the more expensive Infiniti G37 (smaller interior space,  premium gas requirement, though the G37 still handles better), and over the domestic 2012 Chrysler 300 (also 8-speed transmission, but larger vehicle bulk and lesser handling).  Oddly, the 2012 Genesis Sedan is only a PCAR (Premium), whereas the 2012 Chrysler 300 is a PXAR (Premium Special).  Arguably, the Genesis might offer the better rental experience.

For more information on the 2012 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 3.8, please visit the manufacturer’s website here:

http://www.hyundaiusa.com/genesis/

 

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