$10,417 - $12,750

2012 Hyundai Genesis Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Hyundai Genesis was new.


Performance: 8.5

The biggest changes Hyundai made to the 2012 Genesis are its upgraded V6 engine, new 5.0-liter V8 engine and new eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2012 Genesis is available with three engines: a standard 3.8-liter V6, or optional 4.6-liter and 5.0-liter V8s. The 2012 Hyundai Genesis is rear-wheel drive only, which is a negative for buyers who drive in the snow, but a positive for driving enthusiasts. One reviewer says the R-Spec trim is not worthy of being called a performance vehicle, while others say they’re impressed with the Genesis R-Spec’s acceleration, power and transmission. The Genesis R-Spec receives positive comments for the smoothness of its transitions between gears and how fast it accelerates from a complete stop.

  • "For 2012, the Hyundai Genesis receives … a big increase in the Genesis 3.8's output -- its V6 now makes an impressive 333 hp. … The latter (R-Spec) features a thumping 429-hp V8 along with transmission, steering and suspension calibrations geared toward driving enthusiasts. Between the two sits the Genesis 4.6 with its 385-hp V8. Not only smooth and potent, these powerhouses are also quite fuel-efficient given their output and the car's size." -- Edmunds
  • "This is not a hot-rodded luxury sedan; it's an engine upgrade that adds a mere $2,000 to the bottom line of the 4.6 V-8's sticker, and, excepting a 1-mpg city and highway fuel-efficiency loss, it's worth it." -- Motor Trend (on the R-Spec)
  • "Naturally, we'd prefer they hold off on the performance badging until they built a proper performance car." -- Jalopnik (on the R-Spec)
  • "The power comes on in a silky-smooth delivery, no doubt enhanced by the new eight-speed automatic transmission. There is no severe revving to launch you from the line." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

Hyundai offers three engine choices for the 2012 Genesis. The most powerful is its new Tau V8 engine, which is available on the 2012 Genesis 5.0 R-Spec model. The Tau V8 produces 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque using recommended premium fuel. The EPA reports that the Genesis gets 16/25 mpg city/highway with this engine. The mid-level engine choice is a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 385 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque with recommended premium fuel, or 378 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque with regular gas. Genesis models with this engine return 17/25 mpg city/highway fuel economy. Hyundai revamped its base 3.8-liter V6, increasing output 15 percent from 290 to 333 horsepower. Torque is also boosted to 291 pound-feet from 264. The EPA estimates fuel economy ratings of 18/28 mpg city/highway for this engine with regular fuel.

Hyundai’s new in-house eight-speed automatic transmission comes with all three engines on the 2012 Genesis. Hyundai says the new transmission helps the Genesis accelerate more quickly, with smoother shifts and better fuel economy.

  • "The popular 3.8-liter V-6 model gets a zinger of an upgrade with the addition of direct injection, which helps pump up power from last year’s respectable 290 hp to an impressive 333." -- Car and Driver
  • "Traveling at 70 mph and higher on the highway was still a pleasant affair. Unless you crave power, the V-6 has enough - more than most cars in this segment, in fact." -- Cars.com
  • “The engine is plenty responsive even if it doesn't have a whole lot of personality." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The first launch tells you there's more grunt from the Tau V8 than before, and acceleration is emphatic. Even more impressive is the passing power brought to bear when you swing out and punch it." -- AutoWeek (on the R-Spec)
  • "Hyundai claims the R-Spec can click off a 60 mph run from a dead stop in 5.1 seconds, which should tell you all you need to know about how the vehicle accelerates. The strange thing is that the big sedan doesn't feel that fast. You know you're gaining speed because the speedometer scoots skyward with only the slightest provocation, but there's no throaty exhaust note to announce your intention. With 429 horsepower on tap, we want the sound of a chorus of aching angels to mourn our wayward ways every time our right foot finds the carpet." -- Autoblog (on the R-Spec)
  • "Then, when it is being driven more sedately, the eight-speed transmission slips from one gear to the next with quick, smooth actions barely noticeable from the cabin." -- AutoWeek

Handling and Braking

Hyundai says it refined the Genesis’ chassis to improve handling and comfort. The automaker most likely wanted to improve handling on the 2012 Genesis because the 2011 model received negative marks for its lack of agility. The Genesis is more than competent to meet the day-to-day needs of most drivers, but unless the upgrades for 2012 pay off, drivers looking for a nimble sedan may be disappointed.

  • "The Genesis 5.0-liter R-Spec feels more confident than its 4.6-liter and 3.8-liter counterparts, but only in situations that most Hyundai buyers will never find themselves in. Otherwise, the suspension merely comes across as needlessly harsh." -- Autoblog (on the R-Spec)
  • "Whereas the R-Spec was deathly silent, the V-6's smaller wheels and tires led to much more noise and vibration. If I had taken the V-6 out first, it probably wouldn't have distracted me much, but the difference was stark." -- Cars.com
  • "The R-Spec is certainly much stiffer in the corners and on road imperfections compared with the non-R, though it's not harsh. Its suspension tuning provides good body control for this big sedan, and could prove to be its ultimate fix." -- Motor Trend

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