Hyundai introduced the Genesis full-size luxury sedan in 2009, intent on changing the way American consumers viewed its brand and vehicles, with a more upscale version.
In 2011, Hyundai launched the Equus, a sister luxury sedan for Genesis. For model year 2015, the Genesis underwent a redesign, with minor changes for 2016.
But now, for 2017, Hyundai’s luxury sedan segment has been spun off to create a new brand, called Genesis, with new names for the two models – G80 for the original Genesis, G90 for the previous Equus. Both remain essentially the same vehicle otherwise. This move is similar to Toyota creating its Lexus luxury division, Nissan introducing the Infiniti brand, and Honda giving us the Acura brand.
Previously optional features are now standard on all G80s, such as Blind-Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keeping Assist, and a power-adjustable steering wheel.
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In G80 models with the standard eight-inch touch screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are new, although the upgraded 9.2-inch touch screen in Ultimate models does not support smartphone systems.
Two engines are offered in the G80: a 311-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6, and a 420-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8, both mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.
The transmission has four driving modes — Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow, and rear-wheel drive is standard. But the G80 with the V-6 engine can be fitted with all-wheel drive.
The Genesis G80 3.8 with rear-wheel drive is priced at $41,400 before options. All-Wheel Drive adds $2,500, and brings headlight washers, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The 5.0 V-8 Ultimate model is $54,550, with no options available. and cannot be fitted with all-wheel drive.
Two options packages are available for G80 3.8 models. Premium brings a power rear sunshade and manual side sunshades, cooled front seats, driver memory functions, front and rear parking sensors, dynamic parking guidelines for the rearview camera, power tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof, a Lexicon 14-speaker audio system, and an upgraded 7-inch driver information display.
The Ultimate package adds the Premium contents, plus a power trunk lid, premium leather upholstery, driver’s seat thigh and side bolster adjustments, matte wood and aluminum trim, head-up display, carbon dioxide sensor for the dual automatic climate control, an upgraded 9.2-inch touch screen (minus smartphone functionality), and three additional speakers.
For this review, I drove a bold G80 5.0 Ultimate (which brings all the contents of the Ultimate packages minus the sunshades) in Caspian Black. That’s one of eight available exterior colors, with place names such as Manhattan Brown (very dark), Himalyan Gray (dark), Ibiza Blue (navy), and Patagonia Blue (royal).
My G80 also had 19-inch wheels, quad exhaust tips integrated into the lower rear bumper, and illuminated “Genesis” doorsill plates.
The silver-painted wheels had five sets of three spokes, consisting of two wide and one thin – very attractive and luxurious. The taillights wrapped from the upper rear panel toward the center of the trunk lid, with LED turn signals making an eye-catching statement.
Chrome outlined the windows, trimmed the body-color door handles and the rocker panels, outlined the grille and the LED fog lights, and trimmed the grille fins.
LED daytime running lights underlined the automatic bi-xenon HID headlights with high beam assist. The fog lights and running lights were dramatic, even in the daylight.
The Ivory interior – one of four available, depending on the exterior color chosen – contrasted nicely with the dark wood interior trim on the doors and dash, and the dark upper dash, carpet, window sills, and lower door panels. Black, Gray Two-Tone, and Beige Two-Tone interior colors are also available.
The full-grain leather seats had contrasting piping on the bolsters, an elegant touch. Textured metallic trimmed the center console/center stack, covering the cupholders and storage cubby, which contained two 12-volt outlets, and matte aluminum trimmed the door handles and the air vents, between the dark and light panels on the doors and dash, and the lower spoke of the steering wheel.
Interior materials had a quality look and feel, with painstaking assembly evident in every close-fitting seam, and obvious attention to detail. The center stack and console had a simple, uncluttered feel, with a minimum of buttons and controls. The rotary-dial input for navigation was easy to reach and use, although for entering addresses I prefer the touch screen. Buttons for the home screen, phone, main menu, seat heat/cool, map and navigation folder were conveniently located on each side of the rotary knob.
The Genesis G80 has a longer wheelbase than others in the class, resulting in a roomy cabin with plenty of legroom in the rear – 35.0-inches – and unrivaled legroom in the front – 45.7-inches. Headroom in the rear is 38.2-inches, in the front it’s 39.4-inches.
Front seats were heated and cooled, and greatly adjustable – 16 ways for the driver, including the thigh cushion, and 12 ways for the passenger – and comfortable enough for daily driving. On a longer trip, they weren’t as comfortable. Excellent insulation made for a quiet ride, which was also smooth, even over winter’s uneven surfaces.
With the hands-free power trunk lid, loading the trunk was easy, and a cargo net helped corral groceries and cat supplies. An optional cargo tray ($100) protected the floor from garden supplies. The trunk was large for the segment, with 15.3 cubic feet of space.
Genesis Connected Services, standard on all Genesis models, combines safety, car care, remote functionality, and infotainment into a complete package to simplify the life of Genesis owners and reduce distracted driving.
Three packages include Connected Care, Remote, and Guidance. Connected Care offers services such as Automatic Collision Notification, SOS Emergency Assistance, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Monthly Vehicle Health Reports and Maintenance Alerts.
The Remote package includes remote start with climate control, remote door lock/unlock, remote horn and lights, car finder via mobile app, stolen-vehicle recovery/slow down/immobilization and vehicle safeguard alerts such as Geo-Fence, Speed/Curfew Alert, and Valet Alert.
Guidance includes Destination Search and Destination Send to Car – both powered by Google, with turn-by-turn directions; and Car Finder.
In addition to the many standard safety features mentioned above, Genesis has an Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control, which continues all the way to a stop, then accelerates when vehicles ahead move again – excellent for stop-and-go traffic during rush hour. My highway driving isn’t that close. I did, however, experience that slightly scary function a couple of times.
Automatic Emergency Braking, along with Frontal Collision Warning, is similarly scary, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop in emergency situations, such as a vehicle suddenly entering the lane of travel. Full-length side-curtain air bags and a driver-side knee air bag, in addition to front air bags and front and rear side air bags, protect occupants in case of unavoidable collisions.
Driving my G80 was easy and enjoyable, comfortable and confident. Genesis lives up to the luxury label, and is visually pleasing as well, inside and out. Driving mostly on the highway, I managed 22.1 mpg combined – almost the 23 mpg combined EPA rating.
Mudguards added $115 to the base $54,550 price, along with $100 for the cargo tray and $950 destination charges, for a total delivered price of $55,715.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.