Genesis shines in 2018 Cars of the Year honors

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The end of 2018 designates my 15th anniversary as an automotive journalist. It’s an ideal time to be part of an industry. Safety innovations, alternative fuels, ride-sharing platforms, autonomous driving and a rekindled appreciation for vintage vehicles all share in the whirlwind of change.

Not everything is right. More manufacturers are making more alternative fuel vehicles. But the public still hasn’t embraced the idea nearly 20 years after the Toyota Prius launched the segment.

The Genesis G80 and G90 are among TheWeeklyDriver.com's Cars of the Year.
The Genesis G80 and G90 are among TheWeeklyDriver.com’s Cars of the Year.

Carmakers continue to make vehicles safer, but there’s so much technology, innovation arguably causes as much anxiety as peace of mind behind the wheel.

Most industry publications and organizations select vehicles of the year in the preceding calendar year. At the Los Angeles Auto Show last month, the 2019 Genesis G70 received several car-of-the-year awards. Genesis is deserving of praise, but its accolades follows the long-time practice of honoring cars too early.

As such, here’s my top-10 favorite 2018 cars from the selection of about 40 vehicles I drove this year.

Audi A5 ($52,955) — A sleek exterior with handsome, angular lines. It’s a coupe with a sports car personality. Complementing the smooth, confident and comfortable ride, its German engineering personality is apparent in small, important touches.

Genesis G80 ($56,225) — Driving the Sport trim defines the second-year brand. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is 5.0 seconds, swift for a midsize sedan. Highway cruising is done in quiet comfort. Maneuvering through city traffic is less worrisome with the G80’s wealth of warning systems.

Genesis G90 ($71,850) — The top-line sedan further adds to the new manufacturer’s luxury status. It’s a smooth operator, confident on the road with a personality best appreciated on long stress-free, open-road treks. Road imperfections are absorbed. Exterior noise is non-existent.

Honda Accord ($36,690) — The five-passenger sedan offers supportive and the comfortable seating is spacious. Interior materials are soft and top-line. It complements the Accord’s tight cornering, adept steering and overall smooth ride.

Hyundai Ioniq ($31,225) — Unlike the Toyota Prius, the oddly named new machine looks and drives like a traditional hatchback. It has svelte exterior styling with a signature Hyundai trapezoidal front grille. The interior is equally well-crafted with side panel sections meshing well into the door handles and side audio system speakers.

Infiniti QX60 ($60,500) — Like all of its siblings, the XQ60’s attractiveness beams. The interior leather is high quality with plenty of double stitching. There’s are handsome, dark-toned wood and impressive craftsmanship throughout the cabin.

Lexus GS 300 ($56,385) — A smooth ride at all speeds. Handling allows the driver to feel like they’re making a difference. The car grips the road, its brakes perfectly controlled.

Mazda3 ($27,730) — The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf will retain their loyal followers. But the 2018 Mazda 3 is stylish, comfortable and practical — traits required for a successful compact sedan — and a tradition breaker.

Range Rover Velar ($74,895) — Embrace the craftsmanship, and tell your friends and colleagues. The Velar defines the worthy combination of luxury and ruggedness. With its Firenze Red exterior with black lettering and Light Oyster interior, it’s big, bold and confident.

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen ($30,500) — While VW icons like the Beetle and van are etched in lore, the Golf has its own place. It’s unheralded, handsome, comfortable, reliable and fun to drive. It’s the best available wagon for the money.

Finally, an asterisk. In May, I drove the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell round-trip from Sacramento to Long Beach. The 2018 model wasn’t yet available.

Hydrogen vehicles may never sell well. But everything about the Clarity was appealing, even the concept of plotting a map to the expanding network of hydrogen stations. The Clarity isn’t a novelty. It’s the driving future — here now.

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