DETROIT – Man, I need to reacquaint myself with Hyundai. There are so many products and so little time that often brands can fall through the cracks. I recently test drove the 2012 Hyundai Genesis 3.8. And no more than 20 seconds into the drive, I found it an awfully comfortable midsize sedan.
My Genesis had that ambience that comes with a premium vehicle. By that I mean the passenger cabin was quiet, the transmission was slithery smooth, power was understated but apparent when needed, the suspension flattened winter’s ruddy roads here and the car handled with rifle shot accuracy. In other words, I liked the rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis 3.8.
By the numbers, my test car was powered by a new 3.8-liter V6 with new direct fuel injection that boosted its output to 333 horsepower, as if 290 wasn’t enough. Torque increased from 264 pound-feet to 291 pound-feet. The engine had dual variable valve timing and other technology tweaks that produced a reduction in exhaust emissions and increased fuel economy to 19/29 MPG in city and highway driving.
Surprisingly, the engine was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. That many forwards gears, up until now, had been limited to a handful of luxury brands. That Hyundai developed this gear box in house speaks to the technological know-how the Korean automaker is garnering as it moves its product line up stream and solidifies its place in the market.
The other characteristic of this gear box was the efficient manner in which it operated. I mean shifts were just buttery smooth and they were so quick that I had no idea that there were eight gears because I never felt the car shift beyond second gear.
When my test vehicle was delivered it snowed. Thus, I was not concerned with styling. Heck, the Genesis was covered with snow. Besides, those of us who live in Northern climes are concerned with brushing the snow off our vehicles, scraping ice off the windows, starting them, turning on the heat and getting going.
But with the fickle winter that just passed, the temperature was 50 degrees two days later. Snow melted and I could really see my Genesis. The car had the elegance of a European luxury sport sedan. Long hood, comparatively stubby rump and short overhangs stood out. Hyundai said:
“The front grille has been enhanced, a more aggressive front fascia with larger intake openings was developed, and the headlights have been redesigned, adding LED accents and daytime running lights (DRLs). From the side view, the standard 17-inch alloy wheel design has been freshened and the rocker panels have been refined.
“In addition, the mirrors now incorporate power-folding and puddle lamp functions, while the side window surround now receives a decidedly sporty brushed aluminum finish. From the rear view, the taillights have been redesigned and new dual asymmetrical exhaust tips are more cleanly integrated with a new (rear) bumper fascia.”
The rear doors were so wide that getting in and out of the heated back seats was a snap. Once back there, I found ample head room and leg room was surprisingly spacious, it was more like a full size sedan. Theater seating worked well, I didn’t feel like I was climbing into a cave in the Genesis’ back seats. The car in my opinion could carry four adults in real comfort.
My only quibble with the Genesis was its interior color; in all black it looked dull to me. Color is subjective and I think this interior would have looked much better with tones as in two or three meshing colors. But then again, that’s just me.
But don’t get it twisted; I’m not talking about quality. The Genesis had a textured sweeping dash that was soft to touch from top to bottom. It was a horizontal layout with a navigation screen anchoring the center. Climate controls were beneath and the slot for the CD/DVD player was beneath that. The gear shift anchored the center console and a dial control for the audio system, the phone, the navigation system and the satellite radio followed.
With a $34,200 base price, Hyundai’s 2012 Genesis 3.8 was surprisingly affordable. Even chock full of options like my test car that included adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth, lane departure warning, adaptive Xenon headlights, a rearview camera, moonroof, satellite radio, leather seating surfaces and 18-inch wheels my 2012 Hyundai Genesis’ $43,035 sticker still looked pretty good to me.