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A Road Well Traveled
Reviewing 2017 Genesis G80 AWD Ultimate

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Jan 18, 2017

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

By Glenn Oyoung In the early 1990’s if you were between 12 and 18 and predisposed to video games, you may remember a game that defined a generation and kept donut shops busy at all hours with quarter-toting kids. The game of course, was Streetfighter II and one of the bonus rounds featured the new Lexus LS400 (Toyota Celsior in the JDM market). That was my first exposure to a Japanese luxury car, and it stuck. The virtual LS400 could take a beating/fireball and then some – not unlike its physical counterpart that set a high bar for quality & refinement. Despite launching around the same time and featuring over the years some really exciting products (the Integra, NSX, G, and FX come to mind), Acura and Infiniti never quite achieved the same sales volume or luxury street cred that Lexus has. Perhaps it’s why every non-German, non-American (read: Asian) OEM that chooses to throw their hat in the hyper-competitive luxury space is subjected to the Lexus comparison. The latest to do so is Hyundai with their newly spun-off Genesis brand. Can they succeed where others have struggled in establishing a new luxury/near-luxury brand that has legs? If the 2017 G80 is any sign, they have a fighting chance.
Photo courtesy of Genesis

Photo courtesy of Genesis

There have been, of course, Genesis sedan models since 2008 and Genesis coupe models since 2009. Over the intervening years Hyundai and Kia have continued to improve their product quality and most notably their design. The proof is in the pudding: right after taking delivery of the Empire Slate Gray 2017 G80, my friends immediately started peppering me with questions about whether the Genesis lived up to the hype. Exterior: No Denying Good Looks We’re all living in a “Balling on a budget” economy, as evidenced by the measures like TJ Maxx’s stock price. We are inundated with new brands claiming to be luxury brands on a daily basis, on Facebook, Instagram, you name it.

A face everyone can love

To break through the clutter you have to have a design that is genuinely arresting, and in my book Genesis’ latest, um, Genesis does so in spades. The “face” of the G80 exudes luxury to me – clean, modern lines, a front fascia that is aggressive but still keeps it professional. Think of your friendly neighborhood investment banker – he’s friendly enough to outsiders but there’s plenty of testosterone on tap if it’s time to scrap. There’s enough chrome on the car to say “Hey, I maxed out my 401(k) this year without resorting to eating ramen” but without making you sigh “Ah, the nouveau riche” in your best Downtown Abbey impersonation.

Genesis meet Fusion. Fusion meet Genesis.

The G80 looks good from all angles, particularly the front and the sides. The only bone I have to pick is not with Genesis, but with the state of car design in general as a look at competitors like the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu, to name a few, will make you scratch your head wondering if there is a kind of checklist the designers are forced to submit to (Chrome on front grill surround? Check! Chrome on mirrors? Check! Pseudo-Hofmeister Kink? Ya vol!). This actually happened to me when I randomly parked right next to a metallic grey Ford Fusion Titanium, and my jaw dropped as I observed the overall similarities. (It drops easily…I have to get that checked). Genesis will need to eventually come up with its own distinctive look. While this is easier said than done, the good news is the current G80 exudes class, albeit of the somewhat generic kind. Interior & Comfort: This Will Do, Thank You Jeeves Genesis provided a fully loaded G80 Ultimate for this test that included everything but the kitchen sink. Adding about $9k to a $44k “base” car is a significant upgrade. But you get what you pay for and I think most buyers will spring for the Premium package at the minimum.

Holy illuminated entry, Batman!

Walk up to the G80 at night and you are greeted with your very own Batsignal-esque winged Genesis logo, projected from the rearview mirrors. The comfort and tech features back-up this first act with all the nice touches you’d expect from a luxury brand: heated & ventilated 12-way power front seats, heated steering wheel (I guess it gets chilly counting all the cold hard cash you saved by not buying a Teutonic competitor), real wood, and metallic trim accent pieces.

Photo courtesy of Genesis

One of the other bright spots in the G80 is the ample infotainment tech that Genesis saw fit to include. The G80 stays competitive with the ever-growing size of NAV displays, offering an 9.2” touchscreen display with rearview camera and a 7” LCD color MID. The G80’s entertainment system is compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, so any accompanying urchins will not stage a coup lest their playlists be stuck in the cloud and they are forced to listen to Pachelbel’s Canon in D - or more likely Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” - one time too many. Regardless of music genres, the Lexicon® 17-speaker system definitely added a nice soundtrack to long drives. On the weeklong test, the control knob was glitchy to the point of non-functional at times. I’m not sure why but the handler mentioned to me that auto journalists do spill coffee at times (btw we call that drifting). Performance & Safety: Take the Wheel Speaking of driving, the G80’s 3.8 V6’s 311 horsepower and 293 ft-lbs. of torque were enough to keep me moving, especially when I left it in Sport Mode. At times there seemed to be a bit of a mild lag from stepping on it to getting to all systems go, but once I adjusted my pedal input that seemed to take care of itself. Maybe it’s geared for cigar-chomping CEO’s with no time to wait who jump on the gas way too hard.

Photo courtesy of Genesis

On day two of channeling my inner Gordon Gecko, I was cruising down the 605 South at speed and a curious thing happened. I felt as if the car was fighting me, and I wondered whether it was a particularly windy day. Then it hit me – the green steering wheel on the HUD display was timed with these “gusts.” Turns out I was the unknowing benefactor of the G80’s advanced safety features. The usual suspects are all there on the G80 – vehicle stability management, electronic stability management, blind spot monitoring. What’s really more on the advanced side is the G80’s Lane Keep Assist (LKA), which helps you stay in lane if you happen to start drifting off. The tricky thing for all OE’s in years to come will be how far along the autonomous driving spectrum they want to go. As you know luxury makes & models are usually the first to get the advanced tech, so it makes sense that Genesis included this in its flagship model. It took some getting used to but after a while it became a background feature, like any of the other safety features, it was great to know it was there but I didn’t want to push it and see their limitations. So does the G80 stack up? Depends on what your bar is. If you’re looking for a 5-Series/7-Series, E-Class/S-Class, or GS/LS killer, this is not that per se. But for about $54k you can get into a stylish, if unassuming, well-appointed car with a load of advanced safety and entertainment features.

Photo courtesy of Genesis

The road to luxury brand status is littered with good intentions. If Genesis can continue to evolve across four fronts – product design, quality, dealership experience, and branding – it may make it to the other side. The last two have been tough for others to break through due to the immense investment that must be made to project a luxury status and carry it out on the showroom floor and service bays. With that being said, with the 2017 G80 and G90 in the stable Genesis seems poised to make a dent in this white-gloved space. Specifications 2017 Genesis G80 AWD Ultimate Price as Tested: $53,800 (Base Price: $43,900) EPA fuel economy rating: 19 city/25 highway/17 combined miles per gallon Engine: 3.8-liter V6 engine Horsepower: 311 hp @ 6,000 Torque: 293 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm EPA Passenger Volume: 107.7 cu.ft. EPA Size Classification: Large Car Curb Weight: 4453 lbs. Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here. For more information about Genesis products, go to genesis.com.

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