News Column

2015 Hyundai Genesis: Alluring, Titillating

May 30, 2014

James R. Healey, jhealey@usatoday.com, USA TODAY

2015 Hyundai Genesis (Hyundai Motor)
2015 Hyundai Genesis (Hyundai Motor)

Hyundai makes some especially nice vehicles, properly executed, well-equipped, reasonably priced.

The Genesis premium/luxury sedan, redesigned for the 2015 model year, is foremost among those -- well, maybe not so reasonably priced now that Hyundai has raised the window-sticker numbers.

The base V-6 model is up $2,830 to $38,950. The V-8 rises $4,130 to $52,450.

All-wheel drive (AWD) is an option for the first time on the Genesis, but only with the V-6. Eventually with the V-8, too, Hyundai hints, with no timetable.

The $52,450 V-6 AWD test car was smooth, quiet, quick, sure-footed, stylish outside, very classy inside. The $55,700 RWD V-8 was all that and quicker.

Hyundai fluffed up the 2015 Genesis with more features than the standard 2014 had, so you're getting goodies for your additional dough. And in contrast with some rivals, Genesis remains lower-priced. For example, $11,475 less than the BMW base 5-series, a car Hyundai sees as a rival; $7,075 less than the redone Cadillac CTS, also considered a rival.

Here are the flies in the generally delectable ointment that is the new Genesis:

•Electronics. You can make Hyundai's telematics/pairing/control system do about whatever you want, but in our view, it's become too complicated.

Some features lack direct access. You have to find the main menu on the navigation/control screen, then select which feature you want to manipulate -- navi, phone, audio, etc. -- then choose it and work through the choices within that submenu.

It's a reminder that nothing has yet been invented that works better than old-fashioned knobs and switches to control many functions.

Genesis did sync with our too-hip Windows phone very quickly, and that's not always the case.

•Mileage: We're star-crossed when it comes to gas stations and Hyundais, seldom getting as close to the advertised mpg as on some other vehicles. But reasons for the mileage shortfall are easy to see this time.

Genesis is heavy, more than two tons, vs, say, the Cadillac CTS that's a trim 3,600 pounds in its lightest version and 4,000 at its heftiest. An engine uses more fuel when it has to move more mass, all else equal.

Both the standard V-6 and optional V-8 engines are spirited, making it delightful to nail the go pedal -- the antithesis of driving for fuel economy.

But we drive a lot of test cars that way and seem to do comparatively better in them than in Hyundais.

•Haptic warnings: Becoming common on premium cars, they vibrate the driver's seat or steering wheel to alert you to a risky situation -- straying into another lane, for example. No thank-you very much.

We'd put up with those aggravations because Genesis is an automotive sweet spot.

If you're a hard-core sport-sedan driver, you'll find Genesis not as taut in its handling and overall feel as you might prefer. But most other types of drivers and passengers should be more than satisfied with the Genesis' combination of refined ride, lack of road or wind noise, responsive steering and brakes.

Genesis is the best evidence yet that Hyundai has succeeded in its search for the right ride/handling combo.

The interior is sumptuous in look and feel, with just enough gee-whiz to say "upscale" -- contrasting-color piping to accent the leather upholstery, for instance. The handsome matte-finish wood adorning the dashboard is real lumber in models with the Ultimate trim. (Plastic in other versions, though.)

Genesis seats, front and rear, fit well and seem to remain supportive over time. The back seat has more room than implied by the 35 inches of rear legroom in the specifications. And Genesis is a couple of inches wider than rivals, key to the feeling of spaciousness.

The dashboard is an attractive horizontal design, eschewing the industry's sometimes-forced attempts at cockpit layouts.

Genesis has no "Wow!" feature such as the night-vision option on the Mercedes-Benz S-class, but it does offer an effective automatic braking system able to prevent a crash, which this week helped it earn the top score -- Top Safety Pick + -- from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Test Drive worries that such systems are leading us further from full engagement by the driver, but IIHS and others say they prevent crashes and save lives.

We're not in love with the higher prices for 2015, or the mediocre mpg, but the new Genesis is alluring, titillating and, everything considered, the best car, overall, that we have driven in years.

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Original headline: 2015 Hyundai Genesis is home run


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