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2018 Genesis G80: Lux look without the lux-level tag

2018 Genesis G80 21.JPG
2018 Genesis G80 (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

I saw the man pacing at the top of the stairs, staring at me while I was taking photos of the 2018 Genesis G80. After a couple turns, he started to descend the stairs in a limping gait, one step at a time until he was standing directly behind the vehicle.

“What is that?” he asked, chomping on an unlit cigar.

I told him what it was as I snapped another shot.

“Genesis, you say? Made by Hyundai?” he asked.

He’d never heard of this new brand or seen one of its vehicles on the road. He ambled up and squinted at the paint, then peered into the driver’s side. He then limped back to his late model luxury sedan while repeating aloud, “beautiful car, beautiful car.”


I got that reaction a lot during the test period. From the inside out, the Genesis G80 is artfully crafted and generally looks like something much more expensive than it is.

Design

I can’t say the G80’s design is flashy or innovative. But it is generally handsome and has some nice accents that make it look like a much more expensive vehicle.

Take, for example, the smattering of rose gold trim on the analog interior clock, on the wheel covers and on the LED headlight casing. It reminds me of something you’d find in a Tiffany’s catalog, rather than scattered about a luxury sedan that’s fighting to find its market.

Then there’s the nicely stitched seats and winged emblem on the puddle lamp.

I also particularly like the clean and simple design of the center stack, which is a nice mix of hard-touch buttons and dials and easy-to-read 9.2-inch infotainment display.


It’s the little details, finishing touches and lux-level features that make you look at the G80 and realize: Wait a minute, this starts at just $43K? And if I want the up-level engine and features, it will still cost just $60K?

Huh.

Ride & Handling

The test vehicle was an up-level Sport model with the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine. This is opposed to the base 3.8-liter V-6 and the powerful 5.0-liter V-8.

In full disclosure, I haven’t driven a G80 with the latter two powertrains, but I will say the 3.3T hits the sweet spot of fast meets meager fuel savings. It delivers 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque.

In comparison, the 3.8 has 45 less horsepower, and the 5.0 has 55 more horsepower.

G80 has both rear- and all-wheel-drive powertrains available across the lineup with a $2,500 premium for AWD.


The G80 Sport manages to walk the fine line of luxury and sport with beautiful accouterments and a slightly stiffer sport suspension to create a greater connection to the road.

Though my test period primarily included city street drives, I had plenty of fun taking off from stoplights, and I fully appreciated the “no-fear” factor when needed to turn into traffic. The G80 always had my back.

This is the kind of car that would put a little punch into the daily commute as well as make road trips comfortable.

Fuel economy

Estimated EPA fuel economy for the G80 isn’t great. None of the models top 30 mpg in highway driving, and if you drive the vehicle the way it wants to be driven, you will likely not hit the combined or city EPA numbers either.

I sure didn’t.


The test vehicle was an AWD model, and EPA estimates that it should get 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. My average mileage in mostly city driving was 15.1 mpg.

Fuel economy (city/hwy) for the other trims are as follows:

  • 3.8 RWD: 19/27 mpg
  • 3.8 AWD: 18/25 mpg
  • 3.3T RWD: 17/25 mpg
  • 5.0 RWD: 16/24 mpg
  • 5.0 AWD: 15/23 mpg

Tech & gadgets

One of the things I like about the Genesis brand is that it offers a lot of the cool stuff as standard fare. So, yes, you’re going to spend $43K, but included in that price tag, are features such as push-button start, passive entry, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, driver’s memory seat, rearview camera with park guidelines, Bluetooth phone pairing and 2 front USB ports. You caught the standard part, right?

My favorite tech feature, which appears on most Hyundai, Kia and Genesis vehicles, is the smart trunk. This feature recognizes the key fob on your person and will allow the trunk to open if you simply stand behind the vehicle for 3 seconds. I love this trunk, especially if I’m walking up to it with a case of water.


Other available tech features include a Lexicon 14- or 17-speaker surround sound system, Qi wireless charging, front and rear parking sensors, dynamic headlights, a full-color head-up display and a multi-view camera system.

Trims

The trim levels for G80 are interesting in that there isn’t a crazy range between the base model and top-tier model – especially considering that you go from a V-6 RWD model to a powerful V-8 AWD model. Then again, that base model is really well equipped.

Plus, only the 3.8 models have the choice between base, premium and ultimate. Both the 3.3T and 5.0 are all-in.

3.8 RWD ($42,725): This base model comes really, really well-equipped with a lot of the up-level features you’d expect to see on a high-end luxury vehicle, such as push-button start, passive entry, leather seats, heated front seats, dual automatic climate control, navigation and adaptive cruise control – among other things. If you’re OK with the base V-6 and rear-wheel drive, this is a nice way to get a ton of high-tech features and luxury amenities for an affordable price.

3.8 Premium RWD ($47,725): The Premium Package adds LED fog lights, a 7-inch multi-information display, panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, wireless Qi charging, a Lexicon 14-speaker surround sound system, front and rear parking sensors, heated rear seats and a power rear sun shade.

3.8 Ultimate RWD ($52,825): The Ultimate Package adds full LED headlights with dynamic bending light, premium leather seats, power driver seat cushion extender, full-color head- up display, a multi-view camera system, a Lexicon 17-speaker surround sound system, a 9-2-inch infotainment display system and a power trunk lid.

3.8 AWD ($45,225): This trim echoes the base RWD model, but adds in a couple up-level features -- namely heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. It’s almost like if you want AWD, you probably live a cooler climate or something.


3.8 Premium AWD ($50,225): This is the as the Premium RWD model, simply with the addition of all-wheel drive.

3.8 Ultimate AWD ($55,325): This is the as the Ultimate RWD model, simply with the addition of all-wheel drive.

3.3T Sport RWD ($56,225): This trim upgrades to the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 and includes the Ultimate Package. Other additions at this level include a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, quad-tip chrome exhaust, illuminated door sill plates, alloy sport pedals, Sport trim accents, black microfiber suede headliner and carbon fiber interior trim. Because of the more aggressive front design, the Sport trim also deletes the LED fog lights.

3.3T Sport AWD ($58,725): This is equipped exactly the same as the RWD model, simply adding an all-wheel-drive powertrain.

5.0 RWD ($57,975): This trim also includes the Ultimate Package and is similarly equipped to the 3.8 Ultimate RWD model. It just adds the 5.0-liter V-8 and 109 horsepower.

5.0 AWD ($60,475): This is equipped exactly the same as the RWD model, simply adding an all-wheel-drive powertrain.


Safety

One of the best things about the G80 is that it doesn’t scrimp on safety features. Yes, it has nine air bags, rearview camera, vehicle stability control, tire pressure monitoring, anti-lock brakes, and traction control as standard.

But it also includes driver attention alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking as standard.

Really, the only available safety features are the dynamic headlights and multiple view camera system – and those roll in at the “Ultimate Package” level.

The 2018 Genesis G80 gets top marks from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, achieving both Top Safety Pick + and a 5-Star safety ratings, respectively.

Not sure what the safety ratings mean? We break it down for you here.


New for 2018

The 3.3T Sport trim is all-new for the 2018 model year. Additionally, the suite of safety features I’ve been gushing about has been standardized for this model year.

A few of my favorite things

I love that Genesis is a luxury brand for regular people. The G80 will vie for the attention of a BMW 5-Series or Audi A6 buyer, and yet the price tag is significantly less when comparably equipped.

The BMW doesn’t make something as basic as Apple CarPlay standard (it’s a $300 option) or even offer red exterior paint. The BMW 540i xDrive Sedan comparably equipped to the 3.3T test vehicle will cost $70,870.

The Audi is a little more evenly priced, but still subscribes to the “everything’s an option” philosophy – including rear side air bags. Comparably equipped, the A6 will cost $61,400.

With all that in mind, I love that the safety suite is standard for 2018, and I really appreciate the easy all-in pricing. In fact, there really aren’t options on the Genesis G80. You can add things like wheel locks or first aid kits, but all the big stuff is standard per trim level.


What I can leave

While I can appreciate the fact that the trims including the Ultimate package have standard heated rear seats, it makes me wonder why there aren’t additional USB charge ports for the rear. The heated seats assume that that there will be rear passengers, and in 2018 those passengers will have one or more mobile device that are constantly brushing up against low power mode.

The bottom line

The Genesis brand is just getting started, but wow, it started with a bang!

First the large and lovely G90, now this smaller, sexier G80. Both are packed with power, luxury and comfort. Both provide immeasurable value for the dollar.

That is, if you don’t get hung up on the name brand thing. Genesis is the luxury brand of Hyundai. It’s pretty awesome. Deal with it.

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