2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec review: 2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec

Cabin comfort and technology
I've said it a dozen times before: Hyundai is a master of making cheap cabin materials seem more expensive than they actually are. Most of the points where the driver comes into regular contact have received a bit of extra attention to feel good to the touch and in the hand. Nowhere is this more true than the center-console-mounted rotary controller for the infotainment system. This metallic knob twists around and nudges in four directions to make selections, clunking into its various positions with a nice, heavy feel. Surrounding it are metallic buttons that access the handful of functions available through the standard infotainment system.

This multimedia controller almost makes the rest of the cabin feel cheap by comparison. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Hyundai's Ultimate Navigation infotainment system is standard for 4.6 and 5.0 models and features a large, 8-inch color display that is commanded by the control knob. The system is built around flash-memory-based navigation software that features SiriusXM NavTraffic and weather. This is a fairly simple navigation system (there are no 3D maps or Web connectivity), but the system has aged surprisingly well, for the most part.

Audio is provided by a 528-watt Lexicon 7.1 premium audio system that features 17 speakers. Audio sources include an in-dash six-disc DVD changer, HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and USB and auxiliary audio inputs that can be bridged to form a high-speed iPod input with a $35 cable (the only optional feature that our 5.0 R-Spec model was equipped with). Bluetooth hands-free calling features voice command and address book sync. Users can also voice input addresses via a series of spoken prompts.

The Ultimate Navigation system is simple, yet effective. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

It doesn't do much, but what it does, Hyundai's Ultimate Navigation system does well. However, there are a few features that I would like to see in the next iteration of this aging vehicle. For starters, Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system is not available on this, arguably the automaker's flagship model. Likewise, there's no Bluetooth A2DP audio-streaming option, which is bad news for owners of non-Apple smartphones who want to listen to audio on their devices. These are small omissions, but the tech landscape has changed over the last few years, and Hyundai needs to evolve the Genesis to keep up.

As I said, the cabin of the $46,500 Genesis 5.0 R-Spec is a nice place to sit. It's comfortable and rather quiet. However, look closer and you will notice all sorts of places where Hyundai has cut corners to keep the sticker price below $50k. For example, the buttons on the dashboard are of the same cheap plastic that you'd expect to find in the Elantra. So is the dull, black plastic that make up the hub of the steering wheel. The "ultra-premium leather" that wraps the dashboard, steering-wheel rim, door panels, and seat surfaces is of the thinnest variety; and while both front buckets are heated, only the driver's seat receives cooling ventilation. Avoid looking too closely and you'll likely be pleased with the economy with which Hyundai have chosen to tackle this cabin, but direct comparisons between the latest German and Japanese premium models paint the Genesis as a decidedly "economy car" light.

The Genesis' cabin is nice, but it's easy to see where corners were cut to keep the price low. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

If I can continue to pick nits, the 5.0 R-Spec's steering wheel is the same, rather large tiller that you'll find in any Genesis model (albeit wrapped in leather rather than trimmed with wood). This wheel simply never really felt right in my hands, sitting at an odd angle regardless of how I adjusted it. I would like to see a smaller-diameter, thicker-rimmed wheel with a heavier steering feel for at least the R-Spec model to help it to feel sportier and special. Perforated leather trim and sportier pedals would also help here. While you're in there, Hyundai, a retune of the R-Spec's power steering for a weightier feel and fewer turns to lock would also be nice.

In sum
While the Genesis sedan starts at about $35,000 for the 3.8-liter model, choosing a $46,500 R-Spec model is an all-or-nothing affair. Everything is standard, with the only option being that $35 iPod cable. Add $875 for destination charges and you reach our as-tested price of $47,410.

The Genesis 5.0 R-Spec compares most favorably with the likes of the Ford Taurus SHO or the Chrysler 300 SRT8. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

At that price, the Hyundai Genesis seriously undercuts the cars that Hyundai would like us to believe it competes against. However, put this sedan next to a Mercedes Benz E Class, the BMW 5 Series, or even the Lexus LS, and it becomes obvious that you get what you pay for. Personally, I think Hyundai's comparison expectations are a bit high, and choose to compare the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec to something like the Chrysler 300 SRT8 or Ford Taurus SHO -- both arguably premium large sedans, but still grounded in the Genesis' pricing and quality reality. In this company, the Genesis 5.0 compares more favorably, but it does lose some of its "value alternative" appeal. If performance is why you're looking at the R-Spec model, then the SRT8 is definitely worth a second (and even a third) look -- it's clearly the most badass of the bunch.

Tech specs
Model 2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0
Trim R-Spec
Powertrain 5.0-liter, direct-injected V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission, RWD
EPA fuel economy 16 city, 25 highway, and 19 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy n/a
Navigation Standard, flash-memory-based, SiriusXM NavTraffic
Bluetooth phone support Yes
Disc player Six-disc, in-dash DVD changer
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, optional iPod connection
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio
Audio system Lexicon 17-speaker premium audio standard
Driver aids Lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear camera with proximity sensor, adaptive cruise control
Base price $46,500
Price as tested $47,410

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec

Part Number: 101387210

MSRP: $46,500.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Body style Sedan
  • Available Engine Gas
    5.0-liter V8