What makes a midsize luxury sedan a midsize luxury sedan? Is it attractive styling and a premium interior? Is it a choice of powerful engines? Is it the latest technologies, with many of them standard on even the lowest priced model? Is it quality construction that minimizes outside noise and distractions? Is it a manufacturer's name that everyone recognizes?
If everything but the name is important to you, check out the 2017 Genesis G80. It is sold by Hyundai's new luxury brand, which also produces the full-size G90. And there's an added bonus if you're willing to live with a name that isn't as well known — the G80 costs thousands less than comparable American, European and Japanese luxury cars, while still delivering the goods.
The G80 is available with either a 3.8-liter V6 or a 5.0-liter V8 mated to an eight speed automatic transmission. Both are rear-wheel-drive sedans, but the V6 can be ordered with all-wheel-drive. A new G80 Sport coupe comes with a twin turbocharged 3.3-liter V6.
Our test model was a 3.8 V6 version with AWD and the top-of-the-line Ultimate Package that improved upon the generous list of standard features and the additions found in the Premium Package. Nothing was spared, from heated and cooled leather front bucket seats to crash mitigation systems to a 9.2-inch touchscreen and 17-speaker Lexicon sound system.
But even with all that, the price was just $53,800, which is well below what a comparably equipped car from a more established luxury manufacturer would cost. And in a week of mixed driving, we were hard pressed to tell much of difference. Maybe if our daily commute included a stretch of the Autobahn with no speed limits, but it doesn't. For us, it was hard to imagine the G80 being any more comfortable, capable of keeping up with freeway traffic, or stable during the occasional winter downpours we encountered.
The G80 is undoubtedly under the radar screens of a lot of potential buyers, and not just because the Genesis line is new. The exterior styling is restrained, with lines that evoke other midsize luxury cars — especially sleek Jaguars — without standing out in a crowd. Only the new Sport version has the kind of large air dam and trim pieces likely to attract undue attention.
The interior is also conservatively styled, with traditional knobs and buttons for most climate and entertainment controls. That will undoubtedly be appreciated by those buyers put off by the increasingly complex touchscreen-based controls of some manufacturers. The materials in our test model were all top notch, and the fit and finish rivalled that of more expensive manufacturers.
Although the G80 is available with more powerful V8 and twin-turbocharged engines, we found the 3.8 V6 to be very impressive, especially when set in the Sport mode. The availability of AWD with the V6 should also be a selling point of sticking with base engine in the Pacific Northwest.
Hyundai has been sneaking up on people with its new Genesis line. The company first launched the G80 as the midsize Hyundai Genesis in 2009. It then launched the full-size Hyundai Equus luxury sedan a few years later. Now it has upgraded the Genesis sedan to the G80 and the Equus to the G90 and is selling them both under the Genesis brand. Wise consumers will not focus on the name change but will appreciate the bargain the G80 represents.
2017 Genesis G80
Base price: $41,400
Price as tested: $53,800
Type: Midsize luxury sedan
Engines: 3.8-liter V6 (311 hp, 293 lbs-ft); 5.0-liter V8 (420 hp, 383 lbs-ft); turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 (365 hp, 376 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 15/23 to 18/28
Overall length: 196.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,503 pounds
Final assembly: Ulsan, Korea