Review: Second-generation Hyundai Genesis makes up for last model's shortfalls
By Brian Melton
For The Baltimore Sun|
Sep 02, 2014 | 4:00 PM
News flash from the double-take department: That great-looking mid-size sedan that just cruised by you was, indeed, a Hyundai Genesis. Redesigned for 2015, this second-generation Genesis looks, feels and drives like a luxury car should: distinctive, roomy, comfortable, quiet, powerful and loaded with safety and infotainment features. Yet it's priced thousands less than similarly equipped competitors.
The sophisticated exterior design owes much to the brand’s design language, called “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0,” which might not exactly roll off the tongue but sure catches the eye. The giant front grille and high-mounted headlamps are well proportioned, giving the Genesis a handsome face. The long, flowing bodylines are distinguished without being overly swoopy, and the tail tapers nicely. The Genesis just flat-out looks like an expensive car.
It drives like one, too. The base 3.8-liter, 24-valve DOHC V6 cranks out 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque, while the 5-liter V8 generates 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. For most drivers, the V6 is plenty, with lots of highway passing power and peppy performance around town. The 8-speed automatic transmission does its work silently and imperceptibly. Drivers have four modes to choose from: “eco” for conserving fuel, “normal” for comfort, “sport” for dynamic driving and “snow” for low-traction road conditions.
Hyundai enlisted the aid of British-based Lotus Engineering to upgrade handling, one of the sore spots with first-generation Genesis owners. It shows. This new Genesis feels confident and sure-footed even in high-speed cornering, with none of the former’s mushiness.
Inside, the roomy cabin (at 123 cubic feet, the largest in its class) boasts beautifully upholstered, heated leather seats and wood trim. Three option packages are available: Signature ($4,000), Tech ($3,500) and Ultimate ($3,500). Get all three, and you get all the goods — seat massagers, matte wood and aluminum trim, a 9.2 HD navigation screen, a 900-watt,17-speaker audio system, power rear window sunshade, a trunk lid sensor that automatically opens when you (and your key) stand behind it, and a host of other comforts and technologies.
And here’s an industry first — an optional sensor that checks carbon dioxide levels and injects fresh air into the cabin if things are going all greenhouse-y.
The Genesis is also one of the safest cars on the road. It’s earned top-tier scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently awarded it five-star ratings nearly across the board. Optional safety features include auto emergency braking that uses radar and cameras to see ahead), lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, blind-spot detection, smart cruise control and a head-up windshield display.
Get all three packages on your V6, and you’ve also just bumped your price up from $38,000 to $49,000. Add $2,500 for all-wheel drive (V6 only). The V8 starts at $51,500 and, with its Ultimate package ($3,250), you’re getting into some stratospheric territory. But you’re also getting a much larger car than you’d get from Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Lexus.
Well executed, safe, distinctive in looks and performance and reasonably priced, Hyundai’s new Genesis should attract buyers who might not have considered the brand before. The big luxury brands probably aren’t panicking yet, but you can bet they’re looking hard in their rearview mirrors.