The 2017 Hyundai Genesis

Brand Builder 

The 2017 Genesis G80 5.0 Ultimate is a strong addition to Hyundai’s luxury division.

By Greg Rubenstein

The Genesis line of luxury vehicles is headed by the G90 flagship, but its G80 stablemate hits a perfect sweet spot, offering an astonishing combination of high-quality interior, spaciousness, safety, at-speed serenity, and glorious power. Factor in affordability over its class competition, and this G has all the makings of a brand builder.

You can be forgiven for not recognizing Genesis as a brand. Until the 2017 model year, vehicles now under the Genesis nameplate were up-market offerings under the Hyundai umbrella: the Genesis sedan (now G80) and Equus (now G90). Like the relationship of Lexus to Toyota, Infiniti/Nissan, Acura/Honda or Cadillac/GM, Genesis is now Hyundai’s luxury division.

Beneficiaries of Genesis’ up-market move are savvy patrons undeterred by the brand’s lack of pedigree. As tested, the rear-wheel-drive G80 in “5.0 Ultimate” trim came in at $55,700, a solid chunk of change to be sure, and squarely positioned to compete against the world’s finest mid-size luxury sedans. Fortunately for Genesis, few of those competitors can match the G80’s superb craftsmanship, gorgeous interior design, or exemplary execution; It is, simply, that good.

Dynamically, this Genesis is equally impressive, delivering an impeccably serene freeway ride–– a feat all the more impressive given its robust 420-horsepower available from the 5.0-liter V8 engine. Offered only with an eight-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy is rated at 15-mpg city, 23-mpg highway and 18-mpg combined, which was 1 mpg higher than the observed economy returned after a week of mixed city/freeway driving punctuated by frequent visits to the deep well of available power.

Although not intended to be a sports sedan, the luxury-oriented G80 still provides a highly engaging, enthusiastically spirited driving experience, highlighted by the vigorous acceleration available both off-the-line or at speed. Capable of a 0-to-60 mph sprint in the mid-five-second range, there’s enough thrust on tap to humble many sports (or even muscle) cars.

The G80 also boasts an impressive array of safety technologies, including automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, smart cruise control, blind spot detection, lane change and lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist (with wrong-way driver detection), a parking assistance system deploying eight ultrasonic sensors, as well as a CO2 sensor control system which monitors interior CO2 levels and automatically brings in fresh air to maximize occupant alertness.

All that safety technology is built into a rigid chassis which is strengthened and reinforced throughout, helping the G80 earn a five-star NHTSA overall safety rating, including five-star front-crash rating for both driver and passenger, five-star rollover rating, five-star rear seat side-crash rating, and four-star front seat side-crash rating.

Power and safety are only two of the G80’s strong suits––it’s also fully equipped with features typical in the luxury segment, including leather upholstered, heated and cooled 12-way power/four-way lumbar power front seats, heated and power-folding side mirrors, 17-speaker audio system, power rear sunshade with rear side window shades, power hands-free auto-opening trunk lid, and a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel with haptic-feedback audio, cruise and phone controls.

In addition to a top-center dashboard-mounted 9.2-inch multifunction infotainment touchscreen with navigation, a full-color head’s up display projects a virtual image on the windshield, providing a selectable option of information including vehicle speed and real-time speed limit, cruise control status, navigation, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and audio system content.

The G80 is a brilliantly executed luxury sedan, which will delight driver and passengers alike. Genesis has even launched a suite of wearable tech devices that directly integrate with its vehicles, providing owners the ability to control their vehicle from the wrist.

Integrated remote functions include engine start or stop with climate control, door lock/unlock, horn and lights, vehicle finder, and status. Auxiliary connection functions include automatic collision notification and assistance/SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, monthly vehicle health report, maintenance alerts, automated diagnostic trouble code notification, on-demand diagnostics, as well as security features, such as stolen vehicle recovery/slowdown/immobilization, geo-fence, valet alert, and speed/curfew alert.

Genesis has thoroughly delivered with the G80, and the only question remaining is how its dealer network will interact with luxury buyers. Following the model created by other Asian manufacturers, Hyundai too has stand-alone storefronts established to sell the new Genesis brand. Drop by and judge for yourself.

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