• Mar 28, 2011
Still Delivering Value Luxury, Three Years Later

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan - Click above for high-res image gallery

Automakers have been carving the luxury segment into finer and finer slices for generations. Territory that once belonged solely to the likes of Mercury, Buick and Oldsmobile is now the fertile hunting grounds of brands from Acura to Infiniti. Thanks to these relative newcomers, buyers without the cash to jump into Bavarian marks like BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi can still plant their derrières on supple leather thrones without having to sell the family farm in the process.

Three years ago, Hyundai leapt into the low-buck luxury fray with the company's Genesis Sedan – a vehicle that was intended to prove the Korean automaker could strut its stuff up market without the burden of launching a separate dedicated luxury brand just for the occasion. We were impressed with the big Hyundai when it touched down three years ago as a 2009 model, but domestic automakers like Buick and Chrysler have since sharpened their game in a big way. We jumped behind the wheel of the 2011 Genesis Sedan to find out how the vehicle's first generation has held up before the updated second one arrives as a 2012 model.

Continued reading Review: 2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan...

Photos copyright ©2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

Hyundai decided to wade into luxury waters just as the automotive market's well began to run dry, and in 2009, the company managed to move around 20,000 Genesis Sedan and Coupe units combined – about half its initial sales projections at the time. As industry-wide numbers have begun to clamber back to their pre-fall heights, Genesis sales have increased accordingly, though we have a feeling the figures still haven't managed to snag that magical 40,000-50,000 unit mark originally imagined by the Hyundai hive-mind.

That's likely no fault of the vehicle's styling, though. There's no denying that the 2011 Genesis Sedan still carries the same high-brow presence of its forebearers thanks largely to one massive, stylized rib-cage grille. Hyundai still hasn't set about slapping a big H on the hood, and from the front, uninitiated onlookers may have a hard time discerning the vehicle from the Lexus GS bloodline. From the side, the vehicle borrows cues from BMW's styling department with wrapped headlights and taillights as well as a shark-fin antenna. Large ovular exhaust exits dominate the lower rear fascia and a single Hyundai badge on the rear trunk deck is the only indication that this beast comes from anywhere other than Japan.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan side view2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan front view2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan rear view

When the Genesis Sedan debuted, it came packing an interior that was several light years ahead of what Hyundai had turned out in the past. Dominated by plenty of excellent stitching, perforated leather and attractive wood accents, the cabin made it clear that the Korean sedan wasn't playing around. Since then, the cockpit has received few updates, and while still a nice enough place to spend time, interiors from both Buick and Chrysler have finally gotten a chance to play catch-up.

Both of those automakers have suddenly taken this whole auto manufacturing thing seriously, and as a result, vehicles like the 2011 Buick Lacrosse and Chrysler 300 are now available with cabins that can easily eclipse the Genesis in terms of design and quality, at least for a price. And that's one point that the Genesis Sedan still has on the lower-luxury domestic marks. The Korean four-door comes standard with heated and cooled leather seats up front, slightly raised seating out back with plenty of legroom and wood grain trim throughout as well as tech treats like adaptive cruise control and dual-zone automatic temperature control for a mere $33,000 plus an $850 destination charge.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan interior2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan front seats2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan gauges2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan dash trim

If you want those goodies in either the Lacrosse or the 300, expect to pay similar money. Opting for the leather-clad nicety of the TriShield will see you staring at an MSRP of $33,765 plus destination for the Lacrosse CXS, while the 2011 Chrysler 300 Limited comes to the dance wearing a price tag of $31,995 including destination. Don't expect to find heated or cooled seats or dual-zone climate control from the 300, though.

The only place that the Genesis sedan really shows its age is in its dated interior lighting and flimsy switches, most notably for the heated and cooled seats and window mechanisms. Whereas both Buick and Chrysler have made sure to incorporate solid-feeling interfaces, the Hyundai simply doesn't pack the same feel of quality.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan instrument panel2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 6 DVD changer2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan shifter2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan multimedia system controls

Our tester came with the company's lively 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission that shuffles power to the rear wheels. With 290 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque on hand, the six-cylinder has no problem moving the vehicle's 3,748-pound curb weight along, especially given the EPA's fuel economy rating of 18 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway. During our time behind the wheel we saw around 23 mpg combined.

Those numbers put the Genesis Sedan 10 horsepower ahead of the 3.6-liter V6 found in the Lacrosse CXS and just two horsepower behind the same displacement V6 in the Chrysler 300. Interestingly enough, fuel economy for all three vehicles is nearly identical at 22-22.5 mpg combined.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan engine

With that in mind, it's easy to get the impression that all three of these vehicles are neck-and-neck contenders, but that reality fades from view after a little time behind the wheel. Hyundai still has an excellent driver in the Genesis thanks largely to the vehicle's front-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration. Plop your foot on the accelerator and the big four door moves forward without any of the scrambling drama of the front-wheel-drive Lacrosse.

But make no mistake, this isn't a sports sedan by any stretch of the imagination, although acceleration is more than ample and handling is predictable without being twitchy. Jump onto the interstate and the Genesis delivers a quiet cabin free of engine, tire or wind noise, and the six-speed automatic transmission has no problem landing on the correct gear for hard-throttle passes.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan rear 3/4 view

Hyundai curiously provides flappy paddles for making your way through the six cogs in the gearbox should you get bored letting the vehicle's ECU do all the work. The transmission delivers fairly rapid shifts, though the trickery doesn't do much to lend the sedan any of the sporting tones of its two-door twin. We're guessing that the paddles are significantly more at home with the optional 385-horsepower V8 engine and ZF six-speed transmission.

Despite showing a few gray hairs here and there, the 2011 Genesis Sedan is still more than capable of holding its own in the budget luxury market. While its heaps of standard equipment and nicely appointed interior are all strong points on its résumé, the Genesis still holds one massive trump card over its competition – a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty. While we can't wait to drive next year's Genesis R-Spec with its 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, the current model is a no-worry ace.

Photos copyright ©2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Writer did not mention that the ride quality is not the equal of the competition.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hey Hondoford, Motor Trend just did comparo and Mopar crushed your nasty looking Genesis Bolexmobile.
        Raffaele Bruno
        • 3 Years Ago
        They compared a 2012 300m to the 2011. Wait till the r-spec comes out, that hemi will cry
      • 3 Years Ago
      These "highline" Hyundais are the fake Rolexs of cars, I've seen them go through auctions and they do terrible. The closer one stands to them the cheaper they look, when you stand right beside them, they look very Altimalike. That goofy grille looks like it was made in some Beijing vo-tech metal shop.

      If there was an automotive equivalent of an "emperor wearing no clothes", this is it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      nice car but no thanks

      i wouldn't mind my neighbor drive one though

      • 3 Years Ago
      sorry but buick and the newer chrysler does laps around hyundai. the wood in this pos hyundai looks just as tacky as the wood in my ten year old impala... and serioiusly hyundai will never get any respect at least from me, til the day they can actually design something that is not a complete copy! and the rest of that interior looks striaght out of a honda accord. with the rest of their line up looking like it came straight out of GM, great for GM that everyone is copying thier interior, which is very annoying. copying is for losers! and hyundai/kia are nothing more than pathetic
        • 3 Years Ago
        Uhhh, wow. Your ignorance is at a level that is rarely seen on this site.

        Interior straight out of a Honda Accord? Hyundai copying GM?

        Listen, I've got a great suggestion. Make an appointment with your eye doctor ASAP, then take that prescription to your nearest LensCrafters.
        • 3 Years Ago
        hyundai copying HONDA?? really!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Genesis is a good car nut honestly I dont see any people cross shopping this with a Benz or BMW. Because really no matter how good it is just doesnt have the cachet of those German brands. I would see it more cross shopped against the Lacrosse, 300, MKS, Avalon, or Taurus
      • 3 Years Ago
      They tried to take the S Class route by simplifying the centre console, but made the interior really, really generic in the process.

      Much rather have a Taurus on an Avalon.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Genesis isn't really all that amazing either-the suspension was very aggressively tuned at launch in order to make it seem really sporty at the price of decent ride quality in the rear (see any Genesis forum). The Avalon isn't in the least bit sporty but that's just it, it's not pretending to be something it isn't and for people who want a cushy and luxurious ride it's actually quite a serious contender. I mean people who think of luxury as the cushiness you get in a Town Car. It's different strokes for different folks, but a lot of folks looking at these larger cars are older people who really aren't out looking for a sporty ride so much as a really comfortable ride.
        Even given it's cushy ride though you're obviously just blindly criticizing it because it's an Avalon-the Avalon actually handles more nimbly than a lot of other cars in it's size class because it's the lightest car in it's class. It's a full 400 pounds lighter than the Taurus! The weight difference is so significant that the Avalon has the same power/weight ratio as the SHO. I've looked at both the Genesis and the Avalon and while I really don't want to buy either if I was forced to pick I'd choose the Avalon Limited over the Genesis Limited. Maybe the refresh would change my mind but as it is the Genesis isn't really sporty enough for it to make sense giving up the Avalon's edge in daily usability.
        • 3 Years Ago
        You'd rather have a Taurus or an Avalon(!!!)? The Avalon isn't a vehicle for anyone who even remotely enjoys driving

        I wouldn't rather have either, especially with the R-Spec on the horizon. ~430HP, RWD, >$45,000? That has win written all over it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      @NightFlight... if you seriously do not see Benz, Lexus and some Infiniti in the Genesis sedan (and blatant Infiniti in the coupe), then there is no point in discussing this further.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Of course I see it, but how is the vehicle itself a ripoff???
      • 3 Years Ago
      What's your source for this supposed claim that the sedan sells the bulk of the 30k combined? Hyundai has never broken down the sales and far as I know there is no official data that would let you make the claim that the sedan sells better. It's usually speculated that the coupe does better since it's cheaper, not the other way around so this is very surprising to read. Would love to know your source.
      Either way, I don't know why you're trying to talk up it's sales when Hyundai set pretty conservative numbers for the first year of sales-they were hoping to grow the numbers in the years to come so even if it hits the original 20k that's very disappointing.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That steering wheel isn't cute.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The new 300, Charger and Regal kill this psuedo-German car with a Chinese grille.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This car does not and never has had paddle shifters, did this writer even drive the car? Too funny.
        • 3 Years Ago
        OMG seriously? I just looked it up. As I have never driven a Genesis I wouldn't know. I did see that they have "Shiftronic" manumatic. I assume that is actuated at the shifter like in a LaCrosse? If there are no paddles, this writer made up the whole review!
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