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Hyundai Genesis Sedan

When it debuted as a 2009 model, the Hyundai Genesis represented the brand's first entry into the luxury segment. While arriving in throws of economic downturn, the Genesis performed well and perhaps burnished the brand's image a bit. The rear-drive sedan, complete with either a V-6 or V-8 engine, offers affordable luxury: premium equipment at a reasonable price. For a more detailed look at the...

When it debuted as a 2009 model, the Hyundai Genesis represented the brand's first entry into the luxury segment. While arriving in throws of economic downturn, the Genesis performed well and perhaps burnished the brand's image a bit. The rear-drive sedan, complete with either a V-6 or V-8 engine, offers affordable luxury: premium equipment at a reasonable price.

That was the formula that worked almost 25 years ago for Lexus, and while it didn't start a new brand, Hyundai obviously took good notes. It's worth pointing out, by the way, that the Genesis isn't even the priciest Hyundai--that would now be the full-size and far more opulent Equus sedan. But the Genesis offers a slightly different approach than the Teutonic trio of traditional luxury four-door sedans it wants to emulate: more softly sprung, although with similar cabin size and in some cases, more standard features.

Still, it will take time for buyers of the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, and Mercedes-Benz E Class to be willing to check out a Hyundai. We think it may compete more directly against a different set of large, rear-wheel drive four-doors in the "near-luxury" segment: the Chrysler 300 four-door, Infiniti M, and Lexus GS.

The shape of Hyundai's Genesis is sophisticated and its understated lines would fit in at even the poshest country club. Hyundai has adopted lines that would work well as a Lexus or Infiniti, although the grille is quite Korean in its influences. It was the subject of last-minute tweaks before the launch of the car, in fact, and it was updated for 2012, along with new headlamps and taillights.

The Genesis' interior is very roomy, though the seating could use more support, particularly in the R-Spec model. Leather trim on the dash is available as an option, and in general it's quite handsome--with only a touch or two that seem less than top-notch. Safety is exceptional: in its first year, the Genesis won a Top Safety Pick honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

As in the German cars, Genesis buyers can select from several engine choices. The two main engines are a 3.8-liter V-6 with direct injection producing 333 horsepower, or a 385-hp 4.6-liter V-8. Both come with a new eight-speed automatic transmission that lifts fuel economy and performs quite well. The V-8 edition is capable of 0-60 mph sprints of less than 6 seconds, putting it on par with cars like the Audi A6 V-8 and the Mercedes-Benz E550. There's also the choice of a new 5.0-liter V-8 in the R-Spec sport edition.

Handling is soft compared to the German competition, but Lexus owners won't find anything objectionable. The new R-Spec edition is distinctive for its styling touches, but more for its 429-hp V-8. The handling can feel a bit stiff for the luxurious Genesis, but acceleration improves even more, and fuel economy still is rated at 16/25 mpg.

With a base price of about $33,000 for V-6 versions and $38,000 for the V-8 edition, running up to almost $50,000 or more on the R-Spec, the Genesis offers quite a bargain to luxury-car shoppers with German sedans on the brain.

The Genesis sedan is one of several Hyundai vehicles whose fuel-economy figures had to be restated in late 2012. For a number of 2011 through 2013 Hyundai models, the EPA has calculated that overstated gas-mileage ratings did not hold up to confirmation testing performed by the agency. Owners will receive reimbursements for extra fuel used, and can initiate payment through Hyundai's site,

Sharing the Genesis name is a two-door Genesis Coupe that launched in 2010, a year after the four-door sedan. While it's loosely based on the same underpinnings, its engines are a turbocharged four-cylinder along with the V-6, and there's no V-8 option. As is the Equus--the largest, most luxurious car Hyundai's ever sold in the States--the Genesis Coupe is covered separately.

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