Genesis G80 — New and impressive

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By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

A decade ago Hyundai began building its luxury Genesis brand — with considerable success. The car that started it all is now called the G80, a mid-sized sedan, which has been fully redesigned for the 2021 model year building on the previous two iterations, offering sleek head-turning styling and with more technology, safety features and diving aids than ever before. The G80 package carries the "Wow!" factor.

We were duly impressed with the top trim 3.5T Prestige with its overall level of comfort and its outstanding driving demeanor. Does it do things better than its chief competitors — including the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series and Lexus ES? Probably not. But we think it's the equal to the competition in nearly all aspects, and at a smaller price, with a superior warranty, and perhaps the most appealing styling in the segment.

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Hyundai/Kia design has become the gold standard under the direction of noted German automotive designer Peter Schreyer who was replaced in 2018 by former Bentley Motors designer Luci Donckerwolke. The reason we mention these men is because the Hyundai-Genesis-Kia styling exercise is the best in the industry in our estimation. In the case of the new G80, its flowing lines start with a large Genesis shield-shaped grille flanked by a unique quad-amp headlight setup, and a signature body line connects the headlights to the taillights. The gently sloping rear glass transitions into a tapered decklid that denotes a hatchback, but the G80 comes with a standard trunk.

While its 118.5-inch wheelbase is unchanged from the prevision iteration, the G80 rides on a new rear-wheel-drive platform and is a bit longer, lower, and wider than before. It remains slightly larger than its noted competitors.  Genesis says the new G80 is 243 pounds lighter thanks to a greater use of aluminum in the body.

There are two engine choices, a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, and a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 making 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive optional.

Our top-line test car with the bigger V-6 with 0-60 performance measured at about 5 seconds rewards the driver with ample power for all driving situations especially in Sport mode which amps up throttle and transmission responsive for a more aggressive feel. And we found the G80 adept and entertaining on our usual winding road "test track," especially when dialed into the Sport setting. Genesis isn't claiming the G80 is a sport sedan, but it's close enough.

We also drove the four-cylinder, and we think it will be very adequate for most drivers with 0-to-60 time breaking 6 seconds, which translates into rewarding luxury-like performance. And it pays off with gas mileage measured at 23 mpg city, 32 highway and 26 combined in rear-drive. Premium gas is recommended.

The interior is pleasingly conservative with graceful flowing, well-done wood-grain accents, soft-touch surfaces, and rich-looking materials.  The design is highlighted by a huge, impressive 14.5-inch touchscreen at the top of the dashboard that offers a vivid display for infotainment and climate controls. A 12.3-inch 3D digital gauge cluster is also impressive.

The touchscreen can be accessed via a circular controller on the center console that we found a bit hard to use at the outset. Buttons on the steering wheel and voice commands can also accomplish many tasks. Roller wheels are substituted for volume and tuning knobs, and we found them very easy to use without taking eyes off the road. An odd design that actually worked for us.
All G80s come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard as well as an excellent-sounding 21-speaker Lexicon audio system.

Passenger space is plentiful with good space up front, and a wide range of seat adjustability. Rear passengers will be impressed with the ample legroom. A nice touch is the knee indentations in the back of the front seats to accommodate taller passengers. The sloping roof limits rear headspace, however. Unfortunately, the rear seatbacks do not fold down, which would increase usable storage space, which is limited by a modest 13.1 cubic feet of trunk space.

Genesis has endowed the G80 with the usual safety equipment found on luxury vehicles as well as some new features. One first used on the Hyundai Sonata is Remote Smart Parking Assistant, which lets a driver parallel or perpendicular park from outside the car.

The G80 comes in five trims — 2.5T, 2.5T Advanced, 2.5T Prestige, 3.5T, and 3.5T Prestige starting at $48,725. The best value may be the 2.5T Advanced, which comes standard with 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, three-zone climate control, and the 21-speaker Lexicon sound system for $53,325. Our 3.5T Prestige test vehicle was loaded with most of the good stuff offered by Genesis and carried a bottom line of $66,125.

While shopping for a mid-sized luxury sedan, don't forget to factor in the G80's incredible warranties that include 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage, and the 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty.

2021 Genesis G80


Base price: $48,725; as driven, $66,125
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6
Horsepower: 375 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 391 foot-pounds @ 1,300 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Wheelbase: 118.5 inches
Length: 196.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,143 pounds
Turning circle: 38 feet
Luggage capacity: 13.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19.3 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 18 city, 26 highway, 21 combined
0-60: 5.0 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus ES 350

The Good
• Cutting edge styling
• Luxurious, comfortable cabin
• Excellent performance
• Above average reliability

 The Bad
• Infotainment controls can be tedious

The Ugly
• Small trunk