The Genesis is a Hyundai that continues to acknowledge its maker’s nameplate, even as it emphasizes its own special identity. The only Hyundai ID that’s readily visible is the slanted “H” that adorns the trunk lid.
Hyundai has declined to spin off Genesis as its own brand, though it’s three-quarters of the way there already. In front, above the grille, is a discreet winged badge with “Genesis” inscribed in the middle. The Genesis badge also appears in the cabin. A superficial scan reveals this midsize luxury sedan is a Genesis first, and a Hyundai incidentally.
Whatever the labeling strategy might be, it’s working. While Hyundai’s midsize family car, the Sonata, and the compact Elantra have been seeing leisurely sales this year, the Genesis is picking up steam. For April, Genesis sedan sales were up 9% compared with April 2015, with 12,019 units sold in the first four months of 2016.
This fact tells much about the acceptance Genesis has gained in the U.S. market. Hyundai has made its name by selling low-priced cars, loading them up with standard features that cost extra in competing models, and providing best-in-class warranties. Yes, the Genesis is loaded with standard features and comes with the customary 100,000-mile power-train warranty, but low-priced it’s not. The base Genesis with rear-wheel drive and V-6 engine is priced at $38,750 – about the cost of a Sonata plus an Elantra. Our test car, a Genesis 3.8 with all-wheel drive and all three major option packages, sported a sticker price of $53,100.
The Genesis is a legitimate luxury sedan in every respect – ride, power, refinement, handling, interior creature comforts, room, styling. It gives up little, other than the big name, to comparable models from Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Lexus and BMW.
Most Genesis models come with a 311-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine is uncannily smooth and quiet; it feels like a V-8. Hyundai does offer a 429-horsepower, 5-liter V-8 in the Genesis, and it’s standard in the automaker’s full-sized luxury flagship model, the Equus.
Standard features include leather upholstery, 12-way power front seats with power lumbar adjustment, tilt/telescopic and heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, Hyundai Blue Link Telematics, satellite radio, rear-view camera, and navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen display. Among the desirable optional features on our test car were panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, power rear sunshade with rear side sunshades, smart cruise control and automatic emergency braking. The three option packages – Signature, Tech and Ultimate – added nearly $11,000 to the bottom line.
The all-wheel-drive Genesis’ fuel-economy ratings are 16 mpg city, 25 highway – below average for its class, but unlike some of its competitors, it uses regular unleaded gasoline.
The Genesis has received five-star ratings in government crash tests, and has been designated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.
2016 Hyundai Genesis AWD 3.8
Engine: 3.8-liter V-6, 311 horsepower, 293 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 4,295 lb.
Suspension: multi-link front and rear
Wheels: 18×8-in. alloy
Tires: P245/45R18 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 15.3 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 20.3 gallons
Fuel economy: 16 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline