2017 Genesis G80 5.0Posted on October 14th, 2016
New luxury brand launches with full-size sedan
By Nina Russin
Recently Hyundai launched a new luxury brand called Genesis. The automaker follows a tradition of upscale marques evolving from the mainstream that began three decades back with Acura, Lexus and Infiniti.
The G80 is one of two new Genesis vehicles, this one aimed at the heart of the luxury market. Competing against the Lexus GS, Cadillac CTS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series, the G80 offers buyers a powerful, more affordably priced alternative with high levels of standard safety and convenience features.
Genesis sells the G80, priced from $54,550 (excluding destination) fully loaded, so customers don’t have to wade through a laundry list of expensive option packages. The only options on the test car include a first aid kit, cargo tray and wheel locks, all of which add less than $200 to the final $55,700 MSRP.
Peter Schreyer, who oversees design for both Hyundai and sister company, Kia, created an exterior befitting the sedan’s mission: elegant and subdued, but purposeful, with long sweeping hood and snub decklid. Nineteen-inch alloy rims with low profile tires give the sedan a fat footprint for surefooted high-speed performance.
Inside, leather upholstery and wood trim interact to create a pleasing cabin with seating for five passengers. Among the sedan’s numerous convenience features are LED daytime running lamps, power retracting side mirrors, keyless entry and start, heated and ventilated front seats, LCD information display, heads-up display, premium audio system with satellite radio and Bluetooth interface.
Test drive in Phoenix
Over the past week, I had the opportunity to put the G80 through its paces in Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley. The drive route included highways and surface streets as well as some two-lane thoroughfares southeast of town.
Power for the test car comes from a five-liter gasoline V-8 engine rated at 420-horsepower: the larger of two available powerplants. While it isn’t especially fuel efficient with an EPA rating of 18 MPG, it’s a good choice for this vehicle. The G80 is a heavy car. Curb weight for the rear-wheel drive V-8 model is over 4,500 pounds. Buyers in this segment don’t particularly like waiting in line on highway entrance ramps and with the V-8 engine, they don’t have to worry about it.
An eight-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, linear performance with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions.
The sedan’s four-wheel independent suspension consists of five-link setups front and rear. An electric power steering system delivers plenty of assist a low speeds making the G80 surprisingly maneuverable. A 36.2-foot turning circle is quite good for a vehicle with a 118.5-inch wheelbase. Steering feel at higher speeds is pleasantly heavy, albeit with the soft on-center response typical of EPAS systems.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I like to adjust the driver’s seat high for the clearest forward view and this one doesn’t adjust quite as much as I would like, but most drivers shouldn’t find it a big problem. A standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the car when the driver shifts into reverse. Lines superimposed over the image reflect steering input and distance from obstacles.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior, enabling passengers in both rows to converse or enjoy the premium audio system on the highway.
Active safety features
Standard LED daytime running lamps brighten the sedan’s front end and enhance its visibility in low-light. The heads-up display shows the driver vehicle speed and indicates cars within range of the blind spot monitoring system, reducing driver distraction. The blind spot information system also illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots, and sounds an audible chime if the driver signals to change lanes.
Engineers were generous in determining the perimeter boundaries for the system; perhaps too much so. If a vehicle is within a football field of the sedan, the system will chime and buzz when the driver signals. In busy traffic, there is rarely enough room to change lanes without setting the system off.
Adaptive cruise control enables the driver to maintain a preset distance from vehicles in front, for use in urban areas where traditional cruise control won’t work. This particular system works down to a full stop whereas some competitors do not.
Lane keep assist warns the driver if he inadvertently drifts to the edge of the lane.
The G80’s spacious interior delivers what buyers in this segment expect, with premium materials and excellent fit and finish. A 16-way power driver’s seat and 12-way adjustable front passenger seat enable occupants to adjust height, seatbacks and lower lumbar support to their liking, with memory settings to make sharing the car easier. Dual-zone temperature controls keep front-row occupants comfortable in extreme temperatures.
Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to see in a variety of lighting conditions, including bright sunlight. The heads-up display is easy to read without being distracting.
I found the audio system intuitive to operate, with controls that are easy to reach from either front seating position.
Second-row seats give adult passengers plenty of hip and legroom for longer road trips. The sedan’s spacious trunk can accommodate multiple pieces of luggage, golf bags, groceries and smaller camping equipment.
The Genesis G80 comes with nine airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, autonomous emergency braking, daytime running lamps, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and tire pressure monitoring.
The G80 received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Genesis builds the G80 at its Ulsan, Korea assembly plant.
Like: A midsize luxury sedan packed with value, thanks to its large roster of standard active safety and convenience features plus appealing performance from its powerful V-8 engine.
Dislike: Blind spot monitoring alert system covers a perimeter that is too large for use in dense traffic.
Base price: $54,550
As tested: $55,700
Horsepower: 420 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 383 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Available as stand-alone option
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 15/23 mpg city/highway
Comment: The manufacturer recommends premium fuel for optimum performance.