2015 Hyundai Genesis: A luxury sedan star is born

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It doesn’t seem like seven years since the Hyundai Genesis debuted in the United States. But with the redesigned 2015 edition, the underdog luxury sedan has finally arrived.

The genesis of the Genesis didn’t start well. From its mid-year unveiling about 6,000 units were sold through the end of 2008. But sales increased to nearly 22,000 in 2009 while the upstart tried to compete in a tough, high-end segment. It features well-respected stalwarts from the BMW 5 Series to the Mercedes E-Class.

As years have advanced, the Genesis has remained a steady alternative to the major players. But with its complete redesign for 2015, Hyundai is seeking to expand its reputation. It no longer wants to be just a less expensive luxury alternative to the elite carmakers’ club. Hyundai wants the Genesis to be in the club.

My weekly driver was the 5.0 Genesis RWD 5.0. It’s the most powerful and most detailed of the car’s three trims. It features a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower and operates with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Those specs, while producing not-so great gas mileage, provided a week’s testing in a surprisingly powerful machine. A luxury sedan that accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds was impressive.

Beyond power, the Genesis drove with authority and its occupants experienced a car whose refinement is comparable to upscale competitors. It was smooth, quiet, maneuvered with authority and overall upheld the definition of luxury.

For 2015, the Genesis features a nearly three-inch wheelbase increase. That translates into more leg room for rear seats that weren’t cramped. Surprisingly, the head room hasn’t improved. For a luxury sedan, it’s tight.

Of course, in the luxury segment interior material quality and design matter. Hyundai does it right. The leather quality is first rate and the design of the cabin is refreshingly simple with wood and aluminum trims.

The Genesis featured all the necessary technology of the ever-advancing connected world. But there’s not the sensory overload factor present in other luxury brands. In short, everything’s there and there’s little learning curve.

Throughout its lineup, Hyundai has a strong list of standard features, with the Genesis’ offerings substantial — safety to technology to comfort and convenience. My test vehicle included the Ultimate Package, a $3,250 addition that featured head’s up display, an upgrade navigation system, 17-speaker audio system and a power trunk lid.

The Genesis also had one small, impressive feature. Unlock the door at night and the Genesis logo is projected on the ground in front of the driver’s door. It’s a classy safety light.

Likes:

Substantial standard features list.

Handsome, well-crafted, quiet cabin.

Superior driving experience.

Large, well-designed, crisp navigation system.

Dislikes:

Gas mileage not the best in the segment.

Lane departure warning and blind spot detection systems super sensitive.

Facts & Figures:  2015 Hyundai Genesis RWD 5.0

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 5.3 seconds.
Airbags: (9)
Fuel economy: 15 mpg (city), 23 mpg (highway), 18 mpg (combined) eight-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 420.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $51,500.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com.
Price As Tested: $55,700.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,00 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles.

 

What Others Say:

“This time around, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis looks like an expensive luxury car, both inside and out. More importantly it feels like a more refined sedan behind the wheel. It’s still not Germanic in the way it handles itself, but that’s a good thing. The Genesis is better off with a mix of comfort and performance that appeals to the average buyer.” — Edmunds.

“There is a strong emphasis on connectivity and infotainment, which should appeal to a younger affluent audience. What may be most impressive about the new Genesis, though, is the amount of standard equipment you get for a notably lower price than its competitors – and even if you check every options box, the car is still a relative bargain.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“While buyers of the first one may have been ‘surprised’ it was a Hyundai, this version feels like more of a competitor in the fierce, $50,000-sedan market . . . The Genesis is becoming more comfortable in its own skin. As a luxury car, it splits the difference between BMW-style sport luxury and Lexus-style pampering.” — Popular Mechanics.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Plenty of car buyers still cringe or make disparaging comments at the mention of a Hyundai as a luxury car. What will the neighbors who are driving Lexus, BMW or Mercedes-Benz think? Well, those neighbors shouldn’t be so quick to condemn. The segment leaders are all well entrenched, for sure. But the Genesis, although still the underdog, deserves to show up in a lot more driveways. And, really, who cares with the neighbors say, anyway?

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