2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

2015 Hyundai Genesis AWD 3.8 Review

The most luxurious car ever made by a non-luxury brand.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: July 8th, 2015

The Genesis is an odd bird. It's a Hyundai that doesn't want to be a Hyundai - it's even got its own slightly Bentley-looking badge on the front. The only sign that this car is a Hyundai is the badly-in-need-of-redesigning rear "H" badge - everywhere else on and in the car, from the steering wheel to the side-view-mirror puddle projectors, features the winged Genesis logo.

Clearly, the Genesis wants to rise above the mass-market appeal of Hyundai (and maybe even surpass Kia) to take on the well-established, old-school European luxury marques.

Hyundai has worked hard to reawaken excitement about the brand in the last decade, and the Genesis is meant to be the crown jewel of the brand.

  • Exterior

    Because Hyundai is a relatively young brand (the automotive division was founded in 1967), and a mass-market brand at that, it has no particular design heritage upon which to draw. The South Korean automakers are frequently accused of stealing design elements from other manufacturers, but they're far from the only ones doing it. So yes, a Bimmer-esque Hofmeister kink appears on the C-pillar, but as we all know, that particular BMW trademark, named for designer Willhelm Hofmeister, was itself stolen from whomever originally designed it for GM - and who knows where they stole it from.

    The Genesis has always been a handsome, if plain, sedan, but Hyundai (and its more upscale sister brand Kia), made big changes for the current, soon-ending, second generation, and with its sharper lines and its more sophisticated head- and tail-lights, the 2015 Genesis is not only more stylish than other cars in its price range, but very nearly as stylish as ones well above it.

  • Interior

    Without a glorious (or in many cases vainglorious), past to give its brand that aura of sophistication that, in the case of every other luxury brand, is really just the vapor trails of an aura left over from a company that stopped being the same company two mergers ago, Hyundai has pulled out all the luxury stops, giving the Genesis a level of high-tech safety, comfort, and style normally reserved for people with three times as much money to spend.

    The interior strikes a nice balance between the overly austere and the embarrassingly opulent. The materials are all soft and supple, but the lines seem straight even when they're curved, and the buttons and switches that control the overabundant options are the most sensibly-placed, if not the most stylishly arranged, of any car I've driven.

    Luxury cars, more than any other cars, need to make you feel so at ease and well-outfitted with distractions that no amount of time in the car seems too long. It's about more than how soft the seats are, how free of turbulence the ride is, how great the audio system sounds, and how easy the car is to drive. It's all of those things at once, along with whatever that quality is that comes about when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    The Genesis, in its highest trim (and really, why wouldn't you?), has literally every modern feature available on any car costing less than $250,000. But it's not just the fact that there's a gigantic infotainment screen with navigation, a head-up display system, a panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled seats, a suite of safety features that gives Volvo a run for its money, and a Genesis-specific app (really just a modified version of BlueLink) that makes the Genesis so good; it's the fact that all of those things are unbelievably easy to operate.

    There's even a windshield-wiper indicator in the instrument cluster, something I've never seen before, and now wonder why I haven't. I'm not talking about a light that comes on when you're low on fluid, I'm talking about a menu that appears between the dials on your dashboard, telling you which wiper settings are available, and which one is currently active. Imagine it - using the least-frequently used control in your car isn't something you have to relearn each time. This is how you make a car feel luxurious.

    The sound-system and infotainment display are equally excellent. Map and menu displays are crisp and easy to read, and there's practically zero learning curve, thanks to how well designed the system is. Sound deadening is also impressive, especially given how huge the sunroof is.

    The interior is roomy enough for every passenger to feel equally spoiled, and of course, the rear seats are heated.

  • Performance

    When first conceived, the Genesis was intended to compete with the BMW 5 series by offering 7-series-level luxury and selling it for a 3-series price. In terms of styling, comfort, and options, Hyundai succeeded brilliantly. In terms of driving dynamics, however, this Hyundai falls well short of BMW.

    Of course, how little or how much that matters to you is extremely important. The Genesis is, first and foremost, a luxury car. Yes, you can get it with a V-8 that will give you 420 horsepower, but even the 3.8 GDI V-6, making 311 hp, has more than enough power to get you where you're going with a little time to spare. The Genesis has three driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco, and Snow, but the differences are subtle. Only Eco mode produces a noticeable change, as all quick accelerations are throttled down-Sport mode gives a tad more power and tightens up the steering a hair, but the Genesis remains too committed to comfort to offer a very sporting ride.

    That's not really a bad thing at all, of course. Eco mode aids with the Genesis' less than stellar fuel economy, but Normal mode gives you a nice balance of comfort and speed. Handling could be tighter, but probably not without sacrificing ride softness. For the normal demands of everyday driving, the Genesis can do it all extremely well.

    Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Genesis is the suite of advanced safety features. It's the same stuff-forward collision alert, adaptive cruise, lane keeping, cross traffic alerts-but again, it's not so much how much the Genesis has, but how well it works.

    At highway speeds, using the adaptive cruise control along with the lane-keeping assist (LKA), the Genesis becomes a remarkably reliable self-driving car. Adaptive cruise will take you from 0-whatever top speed is set with no pedal use required, and the LKA will even steer you around tight curves, assuming the road markers are visible. When the car loses its ability to monitor its position in the lane, you are prompted to re-take control of the wheel.

    The HUD can also display speed limits, navigation prompts, cross-traffic minders, and LKA, making it possible to keep your interface-based distractions to a bare minimum.

  • Conclusion

    The Hyundai Genesis may not siphon off hordes of BMW shoppers, since it lacks the hip cache of the Bavarian brand, but that doesn't mean it can't tempt thousands who can't afford a Bimmer to go with a less renowned brand. And while those who resist brand hypnosis and go with this luxury Hyundai may not get the bragging rights or the heavyweight performance chops, but what they will get is nice enough that they'll soon get over it.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 3.8-liter naturally aspirated V-6

    Transmission: 8-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 310 hp / 293 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 16 city / 25 highway

    Base Price: $40,500

    As Tested: $52,450 (incl. $950 destination)

    Available Features:

    Signature Package: Power tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof, integrated memory system/ventilated front seats, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, HID headlights/auto-dimming outside mirrors, blind-spot detection with rear cross-trafic alert, parking guildelines

    Tech Package: Ultra leather seats/7-inch LCD cluster display, power driver seat cushion extender and side bolster, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assistant,smart cruise control with stop/start, haptic steering wheel and pre-safety seatbelt, auto emergency brake, electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, front and rear parking assistance system

    Ultimate Package: Genuine matte finish wood trim and aluminum trim, head-up display, power trunk lid, 9.2-inch hi-def display with navigation, 17-speaker Lotic 7 audio system, dual-mode vent control with CO2 sensor.

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