The familiar 2014 Hyundai Genesis may no longer be the next big thing in affordable luxury, but Hyundai's doing its best to keep things fresh. Last year's freshening included the removal of an engine that many considered redundant: the 4.6-liter V8. We always thought this sweet-natured motor didn't get enough credit, but once the base 3.8-liter V6 got bumped up to 333 horsepower, the mid-level V8's days were numbered. So now the Genesis buyer has two clearly defined options: strong V6 or sizzling 5.0-liter R-Spec V8.
Changes for 2014 are minimal, however, and with a redesigned Genesis waiting in the wings for 2015, this looks like the end of the road for the first-generation car. So, is it still worth buying? Absolutely. Just look at what Hyundai's charging for it. Starting around $36,000, the Genesis remains one of the best values on the market. For slightly more than the cost of a top-of-the-line Camry or Accord, you can get Hyundai's rear-wheel-drive, full-fledged luxury sedan -- and that's the kind of offer that never gets old.
Overall, we'd say the 2014 Genesis is making the best of a slightly awkward phase. Released before Hyundai's "fluidic sculpture" design language became the company's norm (see Sonata, Elantra, Azera, et al.), the Genesis features relatively conventional styling that betrays its age. But it's still a great car packed with power, poise and perks. We strongly recommend test-driving one before selecting a more conventional luxury sedan.
What's New for 2014?
The Genesis 3.8 gets standard 18-inch alloy wheels and electric power steering, while the 5.0 R-Spec model comes with a standard heated steering wheel.
What We Like
Upscale interior; smooth ride in the V6 model; huge back seat; satisfying optional V8; still a good value
What We Don't
All-wheel drive isn't available; artificial steering feel; V8 only offered in firm-riding R-Spec trim
The rear-wheel-drive Genesis (all-wheel drive is not available) starts with a 3.8-liter V6 engine that generates 333 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque. The R-Spec gets a 5.0-liter V8 that pumps out 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Both engines employ an 8-speed automatic transmission that's notable for being an in-house Hyundai design (many rivals use the same ZF-sourced 8-speed).
Fuel economy for the V6 is 18 miles per gallon city/27 mpg hwy, dropping to 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy for the V8.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Hyundai Genesis comes in two trim levels defined by their engines: 3.8 (the V6) and 5.0 R-Spec (the high-output V8).
The 3.8 ($36,120) is bursting with standard amenities, including 18-in alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic halogen headlamps with LED accents, keyless entry with push-button ignition, electroluminescent gauges, a trip computer, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood-grain interior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated power front seats with driver height and lumbar adjustments, and a 7-speaker audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
There are two significant options packages for the 3.8. The Premium package adds 18-in wheels, a sunroof, driver memory functions, extended leather dash and door trim, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a power rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers, a 14-speaker Lexicon audio system, a DVD-based navigation system with a 7-in display, a rearview camera and power-folding outside mirrors.
The Technology package, which requires the Premium package, adds adaptive xenon headlamps, adaptive cruise control, a cooled driver seat, heated rear seats, parking sensors, upgraded leather upholstery, an electronic parking brake, an exclusive TFT LCD trip-computer display with enhanced Bluetooth functions, a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, a hard-drive-based infotainment system with navigation and an 8-in display, and the Blue Link telematics suite (see Safety, below).
The Genesis 5.0 R-Spec ($48,320) gets most of these optional goodies as standard, including the 17-speaker stereo and the upgraded infotainment system, and adds a sport-tuned suspension, various sporty styling elements, a heated steering wheel and 19-in alloy wheels with available summer performance tires.
The 2014 Hyundai Genesis comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, active front head restraints and eight airbags (front, front-side, rear-side, full-length side curtain).
Standard on the R-Spec and optional on the 3.8 is Hyundai's Blue Link telematics suite, which offers automatic collision notification and assistance, recall notifications, a monthly vehicle health report and online vehicle diagnostics, as well as numerous convenience features. A revised mobile app facilitates remote access to Blue Link capabilities.
The government has not crash-tested the Genesis, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Genesis its highest rating of Good in all categories.
Behind the Wheel
While the Genesis model's front seats vary in their adjustability and other features, one thing remains constant: their flat cushions, which are fine for long hauls but not fine for holding occupants in place during spirited cornering. The gauges could have been taken straight out of a Lexus, as they employ the same minimalist look and electroluminescent illumination. Turning to the central control stack, the buttons look similar and take getting used to. Also, we're not enthused about the silver plastic Hyundai uses for some trim pieces.
Aside from that silver plastic, though, the quality of the materials is outstanding, giving even some executive-class luxury sedans a run for their money. The Genesis model's back seat is another highlight. If there's a roomier, more comfortable back seat under $70,000, we haven't sat in it. Trunk space is an average-plus 15.9 cu ft.
Under the hood, the base V6 is an accomplished engine, delivering robust power and refinement. As for the R-Spec's 5.0-liter V8, it makes great noises and certainly puts plenty of distance between itself and the V6 -- 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque will do that for you -- but you're stuck with the R-Spec's racy styling and firm sport-tuned suspension, so it may come as a mixed blessing.
On the road, the main impression we get from the steering is a detached numbness, regardless of the model. That may be fine by folks who just want a smooth, isolated luxury experience, but it's an area in which Hyundai could certainly improve. Otherwise, though, the Genesis is a treat to drive. The ride is exceptionally quiet, and thanks to some suspension tweaks a few years back, bumps are dispatched with executive-grade disdain. Moreover, the Genesis is actually composed in fast corners. It's just that the steering can't keep up with the chassis. Unfortunately, the R-Spec has needlessly firm suspension tuning that takes a bite out of its luxuriousness.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW 3 Series -- We know the 3 Series sedan isn't nearly as large as the Genesis, but it has an adult-friendly back seat now. And it delivers superior dynamics without sacrificing much in ride quality.
Hyundai Azera -- Hyundai's full-size sedan gets the full fluidic-sculpture look inside and out, which could sway some buyers who find the Genesis old-fashioned. The Azera is front-wheel drive, though, and its 3.3-liter V6 isn't memorably strong.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- You'll have to settle for the Benz's base V6 instead of the Hyundai's V8, but a loaded Genesis R-Spec does command E350 money these days. At that price, some may be tempted to go with the Benz badge and mystique.
We want the 5.0-liter V8 -- badly -- but not the R-Spec suspension that comes with it. So we'd stick with the base 3.8 model and enjoy its remarkable value.