Reviews

2011 Hyundai Genesis sedan Walk Around

On the outside, the Hyundai Genesis looks like a cross between a BMW 5 Series and a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, like someone sat down at a computer and rearranged elements from other cars. Hyundai says the design is athletic, not so aggressive, assertive, but not polarizing. We agree.

Up front, the trapezoidal grille is reminiscent of a Mercedes design, but instead of rounded headlights, it's flanked by more modern eye-slit headlights. Fog lights are standard on the lower fascia, which also features a large lower air intake. Halogen headlights are standard, and the Technology Package includes auto-leveling high-intensity discharge adaptive headlights that point into turns to improve night-time vision on dark corners.

Character lines echoing the shape of the grille flow into the hood and resolve themselves at the front pillars. The rest of the car has more angular shapes like a BMW instead of the softer, rounder shapes of a Mercedes. The greenhouse is practically identical to that of the 5 Series, right down to the dogleg shape of the rear pillars. Ornamentation along the flanks is minimal, with only an upper beltline that flows from the front wheel openings to the taillights and a kickout at the bottom of the doors. Standard 17-inch wheels fill the wheelwells nicely, and the available 18-inchers look even better.

At the rear, the Genesis has the high trunk line that was so controversial for BMW five years ago but has now come into use by several manufacturers. A lower fascia flanked by dual exhausts gives a hint to the Genesis's sporty character.

The Genesis is based on a rear-wheel-drive architecture.

Interior

Inside is a luxurious cabin. From the driver's seat, customers are greeted with tight tolerances, chrome accents, and numerous soft-touch materials, including a leather-wrapped dash, a feature usually reserved for much more expensive vehicles. While the materials are nice, the rounded shape of the dash isn't as appealing or modern as the best from Europe.

The driver is presented with electroluminescent gauges with white numbers on a black background and blue accents. The gauges are easy to see and read. There is a small, rectangular display between the speedometer and tach that shows trip information.

The standard setup includes a small screen at the top of the center stack that shows radio and climate information. Below that are the radio controls and at the bottom of the rounded center stack are 10 buttons devoted to climate control. We would prefer the three easy-to-use knobs that many manufacturers are using these days. The CD slot sits below the center stack and below it is a small cubby to fit CDs and the like.

The center console has an ashtray-type bin below the center stack and behind that is an aluminum plate that houses the shift knob. Two cupholders sit behind the shifter, and the center console bin is big enough to hold an assortment of small items, though a flat, rubberized tray in front of the shifter would help, too. More storage for small items can be found in fold-out pockets on each door.

The navigation option features a central multimedia controller for the radio, navigation system, iPod interface, trip computer, Bluetooth phone, and settings in the Driver Information System. It uses a large rotating knob and six buttons. Compared to BMW's iDrive, the Hyundai system is simpler to use, but it still adds a couple steps to simple tasks like programming a radio station. The iPod interface works well, too, displaying songs, artists or playlists on the dashboard screen. However, returning to a previous menu always starts you over alphabetically. It would be nice if the system returned to the last spot you visited. Nonetheless, other manufacturers would do well to study the simplicity of Hyundai's multimedia interface.

All navigation options include a 40-gigabyte hard drive to hold music files and navigation map information. Songs can be loaded from CDs or through a USB interface.

The front seats are comfortable, but sit up higher than we'd prefer and they don't have all that many adjustments for a car with this level of luxury. Front and rear head and leg room are plentiful. Only tall rear passengers will have a complaint, and probably only with head room. Four occupants should ride with ease in the Genesis. A fifth passenger, however, will have to deal with the driveshaft hump as well as a seat hump in the rear center seat. Getting in and out of the Genesis is easy.

The trunk is deep, with 16.0 cubic feet of cargo room. However, the rear seats do not fold. Hyundai opted against them for structural reasons. A rear pass-through is provided.

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