A car that makes the Germans sweat

2016 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 RWD Review

The best luxury sedan value money can buy

By: Lindsay Prossnitz

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: March 31st, 2016

Go back a few years, and you'll see that Hyundai was trying hard to make a good flagship. It surely meant well, but the execution was less than excellent. What you got was a hodge-podge styling using aspects from other premium sedans, a boatload of features and a bargain price. But no one serious about image would go near it, frankly. It was a good car that was quick on its feet and well built, but like a knockoff Armani suit, it just didn't generate much excitement. And then they went whole hog on the 2nd generation Genesis. What a difference a generation makes.

This Genesis has been a game-changer for the Hyundai brand, earning it a well-deserved spot in the luxury market, though it still can't hold a candle to sales figures from the big boys BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus. What the Genesis does is strikes the perfect blend of design, luxury and performance, giving buyers a lot of car for the money. The 2015 Genesis garnered international attention as a top pick of the year for many automotive outlets after a thorough redesign upped its game in the luxury market. For 2016, the Genesis carries the torch forward a little further, reminding us that it's not going anywhere, and that's a very good thing.

  • The Driving Experience

    When it comes to driving capability and performance, the Genesis can go toe-to-toe with the Germans. The base engine still remains the 3.8-liter V6, now cranking out an appreciable 311 hp to give you plenty of power behind the wheel. But, it's refined power. It gives you a thrill, while still letting you feel like you're always in control.
    If you wanted a bit more unruly potency, you could opt for the 5.0-liter V8, rated at 420 hp, though the V6 is anything but a land barge. In fact, the 3.8-liter is better balanced, carrying less weight over the front wheels, resulting in better handling and predictability in the turns. Plus, we prefer the RWD setup because it gives you that nice shove in the back when you mash the gas, as opposed to the AWD version. Both displacement engines are paired to the same 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters that are great for when you're unleashing the power on the open road. But, it also maneuvers nicely through traffic on the highway, or cruising through city.

    • Ride Quality: While the V6 has incredible talent, it's refined, delivering a smooth, responsive ride that makes the Genesis feel quick on its feet. While all-wheel drive is available, the rear-wheel drive system is nicely tuned to handle uneven surfaces, so when you hit that pothole you won't get an entire mug of coffee spilled into your lap.
    • Steering: Lotus-tuned steering is precise and crisp, letting you unleash some spirited driving, while remaining confident at the helm.
    • Acceleration: The V6 Genesis is over 400 pounds lighter than its V8 counterpart, so horsepower figures alone don't give you the entire picture. Because of this weight reduction, the V6 is light and agile, with instantaneous throttle response that gives a little roar to remind you of its sporty aptitude.
    • Braking: Braking is strong and progressive, with brake assist applying full force when needed, and available Automatic Emergency Braking with the 3.8 Tech Package.
    • Handling: Thanks to a new five-link independent suspension in the front and rear, the suspension has been stiffened for more confident handling. Body roll is minimal. Intelligent Drive Mode also comes standard on every Genesis giving drivers four modes to choose from - Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow - and altering throttle response, shift points, and steering accordingly. This lets you tackle all types of weather and road conditions. The Genesis strikes a good balance, not leaning too far in the direction of sport or luxury.

  • Technology and Safety

    When it comes to luxury vehicles, buyers can have a bit of sticker shock when they realize how expensive it is to add all the features they already assumed the vehicle would come with. While the Genesis does have some pricey additional packages, it also comes standard with an abundance of tech and safety features. An 8-inch display with navigation is packed in, along with SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth, and standard safety features like a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, and a hands-free smart trunk that opens automatically when you're behind it. Furthermore, the amount of standard features makes the Genesis a standout in the luxury sedan segment for overall value.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: Our optional Ultimate Package had a premium 9.2-inch touchscreen display that is very user-friendly, and easy to navigate through. Images are crisp, and it's responsive to touch so you don't have to jam your finger into the screen several times to make your selection.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Bluetooth pairing with an iPhone was seamless, with no issues making and receiving calls or operating music from my phone.
    • Sound Quality: For its upgraded sound system, Hyundai enlisted the help of Lexicon, who also designs the sound system in the Rolls-Royce Phantom, so it's in good company. The 17-speaker surround sound system provides impeccably crisp audio, whether you're streaming music, listening to the radio, or taking a call.
    • Controls: The Genesis has one of the smartest, most ergonomic interiors I've been in, and this has to do with its smart knob placement. Controls and buttons are used where they need to be and where you'd expect them to be without being excessive. At the same time, they offer extra convenience like the perfectly placed turn knob, nestled in between the shifter and armrest so that it grazes the point where your hand naturally hits so you don't have to reach to the touchscreen when you're driving.
    • Safety: The 3.8 comes standard with features like a rearview camera, traction control system, and tire-pressure monitoring system, but for advanced driver assist programs you'll have to opt for the $3,500 Tech Package which brings Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Haptic steering wheel, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Smart Cruise Control with stop/start.

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    After last year's complete redesign, thee 2016 Genesis largely carries over from 2015, but some design tweaks have been made that continue to elevate the Genesis's place in luxury. The result is the same handsome face we've come to love, but with a hip new haircut.
    The car has a solid presence now, something sorely lacking from the previous model. It's long, taut and lean -- giving a much stronger profile, while avoiding looking like another premium brand. We're guessing it will become even more distinct in the next generation car. This Genesis will still look good in ten years, a nod to good styling.

    • Front: A new hexagonal grille is stretched upward and outward, sitting lower on the face, with a winged badge just above that could pass for Bentley's. We love the fact that the Genesis' fascia avoids looking busy, unlike Lexus.
    • Rear: The rear benefits from a more sculpted appearance, with jeweled, full-LED taillights that taper nicely towards the center of the trunklid, giving the Genesis a wider look from the back.
    • Profile: Fluid, sculpted lines give the Genesis a premium aesthetic, with a sleek C-pillar nodding to its sporty capabilities. A defined crease runs along the entire length of the car, reducing visual height and giving the car an athletic look.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    While the Genesis has sporty proclivities, it's first and foremost a luxury vehicle, and its interior reflects it. The handsome cabin has a smart layout of tech and features, with refined touches to bring sophistication.
    Heated, leather front seats come standard with a 12-way power driver seat with lumbar support and dual automatic temperature control. A longer wheelbase yields more room inside for both driver and passengers to stretch out. Our Ultimate Package added matte-finish wood trim and aluminum accents to the interior.

    • Front Seats: The premium leather seats were supportive and supple, with ample front legroom. Bolstering was sufficient for a car of this nature. Not too little, not too much.
    • Rear Seats: Rear seats are equally comfortable, with the option to be heated, and 35 inches of legroom gives passengers plenty of space to relax.
    • Visibility: The ride height is perfect, offering great visibility out the front and rear.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    The Genesis' trunk is just as roomy and accommodating as its cabin is, offering plenty of space to haul around your luggage, groceries, or whatever else you might need to transport. Hyundai does a solid job of providing good storage options throughout that are conveniently located. Sister brand Kia takes a similar approach -- we're not sure why Toyota can't do this nearly as well.

    • Storage: There's a decent amount of storage and cubby space throughout the Genesis, with medium-sized pockets, cup holders and a fairly sizeable hollowed out armrest to store things in. There's a small cubby in the center stack, underneath the infotainment display that houses the USB port that could be bigger. It really only offers enough room for spare change, and is not a convenient spot to stash your cell phone.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: At 15.3 cubic feet, the Genesis offers a generous amount of trunk space for its class, with easy loading via the smart-trunk feature.

  • Final Impressions: Value Is King

    Unfortunately, cars like the Genesis are few and far between. It's refined and sophisticated offering incredible driving comfort, without an astronomically high price tag, making it a gateway luxury vehicle that is more palatable to the masses. While the 2015 Genesis was heralded throughout the auto world as the "Car of the Year," Hyundai didn't rest on its laurels, and has continued to make strides with its 2016 model, that distinctively sets itself apart from previous iterations.
    It packs an incredible amount of tech and safety features inside, while demonstrating how equally competent it is on the road. The nimble V6 will make you want to drive the Genesis fast, hard, and often, but you'll have the peace of mind knowing it's backed by a five-star overall safety rating from government crash tests. We can't say this of every car, but it's one you won't want to get out of.

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: 3.8-liter direct injection V6

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive

    Power Output: 311 horsepower / 293 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 18 city / 29 highway

    Base Price: $38,750

    As Tested: Monroney not available

    Standard Features: Intelligent Drive Mode, 18-inch premium alloy wheels, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, hands-free smart trunk, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, proximity key entry, dual automatic temperature control, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, paddle shifters, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, glossy wood trim, metalgrain interior accents, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, USB and auxiliary input jacks.

    Options on our test vehicle: $3,900 Signature Package: panoramic sunroof, Blind Spot Detection/Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Lexicon 14-speaker surround sound, LED fog lights, ventilated front seats; $3,500 Tech Package: premium leather seats, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Haptic steering wheel, Front and Rear Parking Sensors; $3,500 Ultimate Package: genuine matte-finish wood trim and aluminum trim, full color heads-up display, 9.2-inch touchscreen with navigation and HD Display, Lexicon 17-speaker surround sound audio.

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