Hyundai's mainstream premium sedan offers lots equipment - but does it deliver more than just value? We find out.

It's all about keeping up appearances. With the economic recovery still in teetering mode, the Hyundai Genesis makes a point that those used to the finer things don't need to scrimp while their S&P 500 portfolio resuscitates itself from recent near-death experiences.

Talk about having their cake and eating it, too.

Loading luxe-value accoutrements into a high-line sedan is one reason why the South Korean automaker continues with such rapid growth. To live the budget-friendly high life, we hit the road in a 2013 Hyundai Genesis.

What is it?

The Genesis is a five-passenger, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan that, in standard configuration seen here, is powered by the firm's 3.8-liter gasoline direct-injection V6. Producing 333 horsepower and 291 lb-ft. of torque, it is priced as entry-level luxury that is anything but entry-level.

The previously available 4.6-liter V8 has been eliminated in favor of a simplified lineup consisting of a 429 horsepower 5.0-liter V8, which comes standard as the Genesis R-Spec sedan.

Power to motivate the 3,971 lbs. Genesis gets to the pavement through an electronic eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. It is the only gearbox offered, regardless of whether you order the 6- or 8-pot engine.

The Genesis sedan is not available with all-wheel-drive, a detriment in snowy markets. The suspension is an independent setup, front and rear with gas-charged shocks and coil springs.

Hyundai's ordering schemes for the Genesis line have become much more streamlined than before. Our tester was equipped with the available Technology Package ($4,300), which included such highlights as a lane-departure warning system, Lexicon 17-speaker audio setup, navigation with eight-inch display, and Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system that alerts authorities in the case of a crash and also sends you messages reminding you of upcoming service intervals.

Further, our tester included the Premium Package, which for $4,800 tossed a moonroof, leather wrapped dash, rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers, a rear-view camera and 18-inch alloys wheels.

All told, it offered few surprises - until we looked at the modest as-tested price of under $45,000.

What's it up against?

Hyundai has always practiced "class-above" configurations in their lineups. Priced like an Audi A4 or BMW 3-Series, the Genesis is sized and equipped more like an Audi A6 2.0T, a Lexus GS 350 or a BMW 528i.

We think it probably squares off best against the Lexus ES 350, Buick LaCrosse, Lincoln MKZ and Volvo S80 - even though those send power to the front (or all four) wheels.

How does it look?

The skin of the Genesis is largely carryover from the 2012 model year, where it underwent a slight refresh. Included on the 2013 model are LED running lights, dual exhausts tucked into the lower rear fascia, and LED lamps at the rear.

Interestingly, the brand logo does not appear on or near the grille of our tester, only making an appearance at the center of the trunk lid, as well as on the 18-inch wheel centers.

That anonymity is backed up by the Genesis' rather bland styling. It's not offensive, but it's the kind of car you'd walk right past in a parking lot without stopping to stare.

And on the inside?

In this department, the Genesis sedan truly gives all the competitors in the mid-size luxury segment a run for their money.

Using Lexus as a luxury benchmark, we think the Genesis is every bit as clean and well put together as its Japanese rival. No need to start adding needless tiny little buttons and dials, it offers a clean elegant simplicity to the layout from the leather covered dashboard face, to its eight-inch display with console mounted rotary control dial.

A between the gauge display changes from compass to fuel economy to audio and odometer settings with the push of a steering wheel-mounted button, while leather seats offered all day support for long road trips. While all seating areas are heated, we are curious as to why the driver's seat is the only one to get a ventilation option. We think that future Genesises should receive a higher grade of leather than that found in the 2013 model, although that's our only really complaint in the material department.

We were impressed by the stellar Lexicon audio system, but not the radio presets that were buried deep in the menus. Sometimes old school buttons really do trump all others.

Trunk cargo space is about average at 15.9 cubic feet, which is not helped any by the fact that the rear seat backs do not fold forward for larger items.

But does it go?

The 3.8-liter sedan manages to surprise on so many levels. Owing to its double laminated windshield and front side windows, this South Korean luxo-bomb is an absolutely quiet car - par, we think, with some six-figure rides.

We found the acceleration from the V6 quite good, managing a rapid start with good grunt from the twin exhaust finishers out back. The Hyundai-developed eight-speed transmission performed smooth, sure shifts during normal driving situations. Switching the gear lever over to the manual-style gate allowed for slap shifting should you possess some sporting pretensions, but despite eight cogs, the performance feeling was subtle at best. We think the Genesis should have paddle shifter levels and although not sold as a sporty car, it does like to be playful.

Although the Genesis felt fun, zero to 60 mph comes on in about 6.5-seconds, which is somewhat less than average among its more established rivals.

While the EPA says the Genesis V6 is capable of 18/28 mpg, we managed an average of 19.6 miles per gallon.

The Genesis' engine-rpm-sensing power-assisted rack and pinion steering came off as a bit boosted at extremely slow speeds but did firm up while underway.

On the highway, we felt it taking on a decidedly Lexus-like feel, which firmed up nicely. The rear-drive configuration, while not Teutonic in nature, gave us confidence to push harder into the corners than we normally could have.

For point A to point B driving, the Genesis delivers all we could ask of it.

Leftlane's bottom line

A value leader in the luxury segment, regardless of which way you cut it, Hyundai Genesis sedan maintains the brand's class-up mentality by offering a mid-size cruiser for the price of a smaller priced vehicle.

Moreover, it shows that the Genesis coupe is not the only vehicle with that name that likes to have fun.

2013 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 base price, $34,200. As tested, $44,210.

Technology Package, $4,300; Premium Package, $4,800; iPod cable, $35; Destination, $875.

Words and photos by Mark Elias.