First Look: 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

2015 Hyundai Genesis / Photo by Jill Ciminillo

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - It's unusual that I drive a car - even for a couple hours - and I can't find something I don't like. But, after spending a day with the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, I'm hard pressed to say anything negative.

For the next Genesis, Hyundai takes this premium midsize sedan, evolves the fluidic design and packs it full of standard up-level features. What's not to like?

OK, you might bring up the price increase.

Yes, the new Genesis 3.8L starts at $38,000, which is almost $3K more than the previous generation. But, after playing with all the new standard features, I have to say it's worth it. What's included with this new price tag: rearview camera, paddle shifters, navigation, smart trunk, driver's knee airbag, Blue Link telematics, SiriusXM TravelLink, leather seating surfaces and heated front seats.

When you compare it to Hyundai's targeted competitors for the Genesis, you actually have quite the value proposition. Hyundai separates its competitors into primary and secondary groups, and as you can see below, the closest one in terms of pricing is the Lexus ES.{}

  • Lexus GS (primary competitor) - Base price for the GS 350 is $47,700. While this does include leather seats, this price tag lacks standard features such as navigation and heated front seats.
  • Mercedes E-Class (primary competitor) - Base price for the E350 is $51,900. Mercedes is famous for nickel and diming customers on options, and this price level lacks features such as leather seats, heated front seats, rearview camera and navigation. The package including these features costs an additional $3,870.
  • Cadillac CTS (primary competitor) - Base price for the CTS is $45,100. Features not included in this price include: leather seats, heated front seats and rearview camera.
  • Lexus ES (secondary competitor) - Base price for the ES 350 is $36,620. While this does base under the Genesis, understand that the following are not standard features: navigation, rearview camera, heated seats and leather seating surfaces. The way Lexus packaging is set up, in order to get these features, you'll be spending $42,414.
  • BMW 5-Series (secondary competitor) - Base price for the 528i is $49,500. While you'll get standard features like navigation, a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, split fold-down rear seats and keyless go, you'll pay extra for leather seating surfaces, heated seats and a rearview camera.
  • Audi A6 (secondary competitor) - Base price for the A6 is $43,100. You do get a little more included with this price, including leather seats and heated front seats. But navigation and rearview camera are extras. And if you want any color other than black or white, you'll have to pay an additional $500.

The new Genesis is one of those vehicles that doesn't compromise. It gives you the up-level features you want without charging you for every item.{}

One of my favorite standard features on the 2015 Genesis is the new Smart Trunk. Building on proximity key technology, this nifty feature lets you walk up to the trunk with your hands full. The vehicle senses the key in your pocket, and if you stay within 3 feet of the trunk for more than 3 seconds, the trunk will pop open.{} I was obsessed with this feature, and every time we parked the car, I had to try it.

Other nice standard features: 12-way power adjustable driver's seat with 4-way power lumbar support, push-button start and proximity entry, Hyundai Blue Link, HD radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

The entry-level Genesis comes equipped with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine on a rear-wheel drive platform. This engine delivers 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque with regular fuel. For the first time in a sedan, Hyundai offers an optional all-wheel drive powertrain on the 3.8 model, which adds $2,500 to the bottom line. But assuming you'll live in a cold-weather climate if you want AWD, it also adds heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and headlamp washer.{}

The Genesis also is available with a 5.0-liter V-8 that delivers an estimated 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque with premium fuel (407 and 372, respectively with regular fuel). {}The one drawback to the 5.0 model: no AWD availability at this time.

Base price for the Genesis 5.0 model is $51,500, and in addition to more power, it adds standard features such as ultra-premium leather seats, driver seat cushion extender, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and smart cruise control.

During the one-day test, I had the opportunity to try out all the new high-tech features on a series of winding roads. I was most impressed with the Lane Keeping Assist System and the Lane Departure Warning System. Combined, the two systems work together to keep you in your lane and holding a good line.

The lane departure warning sends a vibration to the steering wheel if you are about to leave your lane without using a turn signal, and the lane keeping assist actually gives steering input if you aren't holding a tight line on curves. The latter feature is both cool and creepy. In fact, my driving partner and I found we could take sweeping curves while barely holding the steering wheel.

I had the opportunity to drive both the 3.8 and 5.0 models, and ride and handling is smooth and tight in both. We had some rough patches of road and railroad crossings, and the Genesis held pretty steady over the bumps and grooves.

Overall, this is a pretty comfortable car - both for the passenger and the driver. The seats are very adjustable, and I took full advantage of the power-adjustable lumbar support in the driver's seat. The ride is more luxurious than sporty, but it doesn't float like some other lux brands on the road.

I definitely like the added power in the 5.0 model, but I have to say I didn't think there was a lack of oomph in the 3.8. Both were well-powered and were great in quick merges and highway passes. The 5.0 was just more and better.

You will, however, notice a big difference in fuel economy. With such a short test, I can't speak to real-life testing, but EPA estimates that the 3.8 with RWD will get 18 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, whereas the 5.0 with RWD will get 15/18 mpg.

Another area where the next Genesis wins is in the styling department. With the launch of the 2015 Genesis, Hyundai also launches the evolution of its "fluidic sculpture" design. The exterior lines flow more smoothly, and I'm particularly fond of the side profile. As you look at the slope of the nose and sweeping side lines, you'd be hard pressed to identify this as a Hyundai. Personally, I think it has a lot of BMW up front and a little Infiniti in the back. But all around from the grille to the taillights, the Genesis looks more expensive than it actually is.

The interior is simple and classic, from the analog clock to the well-organized center stack. All the buttons and dials are within easy reach - even for the petite drivers among us. The seats are very comfortable, and with 12-way power adjustments, all sizes of drivers can find their perfect driving position.

While I liked the previous iteration with its Klingon-like grille, I love the new, more sophisticated stance of the next-gen model. With standard luxury features, a smooth ride and dashing good looks, the 2015 Genesis is poised to be a hit.

If you're looking in the premium midsize segment, Genesis is a must test. If you're hung up by the fact that it's made by Hyundai, get over it. It's 2014.


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