The first thing shoppers notice about the 2011 Hyundai Genesis is the price tag, $33,000. Why does that sizable figure stand out? Because the Genesis competes well with luxury sedans that will set you back $50,000 minimum. With luxurious features, a silky ride, and excellent engines, the Hyundai is no slouch beside top-dollar models from BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and Audi.
There are two engine options, a 3.8 liter V6 with 290 hp and a 4.6-liter V8 with 385 hp. Buyers who opt for the V8 will be getting a more powerful engine than any other upscale mid-sized car. Given the power, it's fairly fuel efficient, returning 17 mpg city and 25 highway. Go with the V6, which reviewers also like, and you'll be getting 18/27. Both engines have excellent acceleration from a full stop and handling is responsive across the speed range. Both are paired to a six-speed automatic and there's no option for a manual.
Appearance-wise, there's not a lot to make the Genesis stand out from the generic luxury sedan pack. The lines are handsome, but conservative, although the black grill, which is swept back, is rather pleasantly aggressive. The chrome accents are well-placed, and, interestingly, there is no badge identifying the carmaker on either the grille or the hood.
Inside, however, the Genesis shines -- literally -- with beautiful walnut trim and luxurious expanses of butter soft leather (including leather on the dash, which is almost unheard of for the money.) The seats are comfortable, too comfortable, by some reviewers' standards. When you get into a car with this kind of power, a soft seat can detract from the sense of control behind the wheel where a firmer base is often desirable. For most drivers, however, this will be purely a matter of taste.
Cargo space is quite large for the class, measuring 15.9 cubic feet. Unfortunately, however, the back seats don't fold down, which limits hauling versatility. There is a pass-through for long items, but it's an arrangement with limited utility. Critics also complain that leg and foot space in the back seat is limited, especially if someone gets stuck in the middle.
The 2010 performed beautifully in federal crash tests (five stars for front, side impact, and rollover prevention) and scored a top-ranked "good" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for front, side, rear, and roof strength. Standard safety systems include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, and active front head restraints. There are eight airbags standard.
If you want a luxury sedan and a budget price for the class, it's hard to go wrong with the Hyundai Genesis. It has the pricey car look and feel without the pricey car price tag. The cabin is absolutely beautiful, and the option to go with the V8 returns a near sports-car level of performance. Drive this one. You'll be surprised how much you like it.