Genesis G80 — Inexpensive luxury

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Hyundai has been getting positive reviews from critics and customers alike for its upscale Genesis sedan, especially since the inception of the much-improved second-generation car in 2015. Perhaps that helped the South Korean company decide to create Genesis as a new, stand alone upscale brand dropping the Hyundai nameplate. It's not a new idea coming decades after Nissan/Infiniti, Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura.

The current Genesis is, indeed, a great starting point. To that end it has been rebadged the G80. But one car does not make a brand, so Hyundai has paired the G80 with a flagship G90, the large luxury sedan that lived for years as the Hyundai Equus. We are assured that more vehicles are in the long-term Genesis pipeline including a crossover SUV.

The 2017 G80 comes with more standard features and with revised package content. For instance, several items from last year's Signature and Tech packages are now standard equipment including a power adjustable steering wheel, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring, while other options are bundled in a new Premium package. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are new for this year and come standard across the trim levels.

Today’s Genesis was the first production model to receive Hyundai’s new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language set off by a large, bold hexagonal grille with a chrome surround and horizontal slats. It features a creased body line starting at the top edge of the grille, and bisecting the front and rear door handles before running into the LED taillights. A lower chrome molding adds emphasis. The new look is a definite advancement giving the new sedan a distinct luxury presence.

Because of a three-inch increase in the wheelbase over the original Genesis that reached market in 2009, rear-seat legroom is abundant, although headroom remains on the tight side for tall passengers because of the sloping roof design. The seats have been redesigned for more comfort and support and feature double stitching for a more luxurious touch. An available panoramic moonroof enhances outward visibility.

The Genesis comes with two available engines including a 3.8-liter V-6 making 311 horsepower and a 5.0-liter V-8 producing 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. While the $55,000 V-8 offers neck-snapping performance, it is considerably more expensive and less fuel efficient than the V-6 that uses regular gas and starts at $42,350.

The G80 V-6, unlike the 5-Series BMW, is not built for ultimate six-cylinder performance. This is not to say that it can't get out of its own way. For comparison purposes 0-to-60 can be achieved in about 6.5 seconds and a quarter mile in 15 seconds at 96 mph. If you prefer more inspiring performance, the V-8 answers with 0-to-60 times under 5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.7 seconds @ 103 mph.

Behind the wheel, the V-6 engine seems more than adequate revving willingly to 6,500 rpm while delivering its maximum horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Passing and merging are effortless. And the Genesis does get some help in the sporty department by an optional drive-adjustable Sport mode that alters transmission, steering and suspension settings for more responsive and aggressive driving.

Standard features are many, and a vast array of optional equipment is available in two packages. One neat feature that trumps other brands is a trunk-opening system that automatically pops the lid if the driver simply stands next to the trunk for three seconds. Some competitors  have a similar system, but it entails kicking a foot under the back of the vehicle to open the trunk or hatch.

The roomy cabin offers good rear-seat legroom, comfortable seating both front and aft, quality materials, and a center stack that is not overdone with buttons and controls. Things you most use like the audio and climate systems feature good-old fashioned knobs such as volume and tuning, and cabin temperature. All of the climate controls can be accessed without going into the center display screen. The Genesis also offers acceptable trunk space of 15.3 cubic feet.

The Genesis V-6 is one of the most affordable sedans in its segment starting at the aforementioned $42,350 including destination charge. For that outlay there is a myriad of standard equipment including 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a seven-speaker audio system.

There are two packages — Premium and Ultimate. Our test car included both packages bringing such desirable features as a Lexicon 17-speaker audio system, panoramic sunroof, matte-wood and aluminum trim, a 9.2-inch touchscreen, power rear sunshade, and a carbon-dioxide sensor for the climate control system. Our test car also came with all-wheel drive and a bottom line of $53,800.

Base price: $42,350; as driven, $53,800
Engine: 3.8-liter V6
Horsepower: 311 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 293 foot-pounds @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 118.5 inches
Length: 196.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,453 pounds
Turning circle: 36.2 feet
Luggage capacity: 15.3 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 20.3 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 16 city, 25 highway, 19 combined
0-60: 6.6 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, Audi A6

The Good
• High-quality interior
• Generous standard equipment
• All-wheel drive available

The bad
• Tight head room in rear

The Ugly
• Option packages can be pricey