Hyundai launched the Genesis luxury brand for the 2017 model year, and gave it two sedans to sell: the mid-size G80 and the full-size G90. Since then it’s added the smaller G70 sport sedan, but it’s the G80 that hits the sweet spot in size.
Blissfully refined and polished, the 2019 G80 sedan boasts a choice of strong engines and a stellar safety record.
For the 2019 model year, Genesis makes a Sport package available on the base model, reprograms its infotainment system, and makes some other features from the high-end model options on the less expensive versions.
With the 2019 G80, Genesis offers three trim levels: base, Sport, and Ultimate, each with a different powertrain. The base Genesis 3.8 has a 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque. An adaptive suspension is included with the Genesis 3.3T, whose 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 develops 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet. Topping the remarkably broad lineup is a Genesis 5.0, packing a 420-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 that generates 383 pound-feet of torque.
Each G80 gets a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. All sedans are available with either rear- or all-wheel drive, the latter adding $2,500.
Stellar crash-test results and standard collision-avoidance technology give the G80 high marks for safety. Every G80 gets automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors.
The 2019 G80 earned top crash-test ratings from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Every IIHS test earned a “Good” score, and the G80 was declared “Superior” for frontal-crash prevention. The IIHS also named the sedan a Top Safety Pick+, provided it was equipped with LED headlights. Those lights are optional on the base model, but standard with twin-turbo V-6 and V-8 power. Ease of child-seat use was deemed “Marginal.”
In addition to a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA, the G80 earned five stars in both frontal and side-impact crash-tests.
Prices do not include $995 destination charge.
Base 3.8 ($42,050 with rear-drive, $44,550 with all-wheel drive) comes with leather seating surfaces, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, four drive modes, paddle shifters, glossy wood trim, and 18-inch wheels. Active-safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and driver-attention alert. An 8.0-inch touchscreen offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
For $5,700 more, the 3.8 Sport Package adds 19-inch alloy wheels and unique styling features, inside and out. Standard features include sport bumpers and rocker moldings, sport pedals, a surround-view camera system, panoramic sunroof, Lexicon audio, wireless smartphone charging, front/rear parking sensors, and cooled front seats.
Costly at $9,950, the 3.8 Ultimate Package may be a better value, adding Nappa leather, 9.2-inch touchscreen with navigation, a head-up display, a surround-view camera system, LED headlights, matte wood and aluminum trim, and Lexicon 17-speaker audio.
Sport 3.3T ($55,250 with rear-drive, $57,750 with all-wheel drive) substitutes the twin-turbo V-6 engine, adding the Sport package and an adaptive suspension. Included are full LED headlights, front/rear parking sensors, alloy pedals, 9.2-inch touchscreen, head-up display, carbon-fiber trim, panoramic sunroof, and 19-inch wheels.
Ultimate 5.0 ($57,000 with rear-drive, $59,500 with all-wheel drive) upgrades to the 5.0-liter V-8, with matte-finish wood trim, but is otherwise similar in equipment to the Sport model.
Subtle styling is the 2019 G80’s hallmark, along with clean details. Its classic proportions aren’t likely to attract too much attention, but it’s a handsome car nonetheless.
A big, shield-like grille gives the 2019 G80 a notable presence, complemented by a strong shoulder line. Sedans with the Sport package feature different bumpers and copper design elements.
The G80 body might be subtle in theme, but its spacious cabin is emphatically plush. Comfortably high-quality, the interior is highlighted by standard leather upholstery and available wood trim. Inside, each G80 is an exercise in simplicity, without feeling stark or spartan.
Front seats are all-day comfortable. Rear-seat riders have 35 inches of leg room â€“ not exceptional for a mid-size luxury sedan. Taller rear-seat riders might prefer more space. Available 16-way power front seats feature adjustable cushion extenders.
Even the base model coddles passengers with classy trim, though Genesis doesn’t match some rivals with a broad color palette. Most versions offer only tan, black, or gray.
Controls sit high on the well-organized dashboard, grouped around either a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen or, in upper versions, a 9.2-inch display. Navigation is included with the excellent infotainment system.
Trunk volume is relatively small, at 15 cubic feet, but its opening is wide and relatively low.
Well-mannered and high in value, the G80 sedan coddles passengers and skips the usual punishing ride of sporty sedans. For most buyers, that’s the correct balance.
Expect a comfortably soft ride â€“ especially on V-8 models. Twin-turbo versions get a more taut suspension with adaptive dampers. Even if the pavement turns rough, though, the supple suspension largely succeeds in smothering bumps and potholes, taking every surface flaw in stride.
In general, the G80 functions best on the open highway. The base model handles better as a rule, because it has less weight over the front wheels.
Performance from the base V-6 engine is strong, if short on exhilaration. Even when pushed hard, it’s effectively muffled.
The twin-turbo V-6 actually feels stronger in everyday driving than on the Interstate. Though less refined, the twin-turbo can feel quicker than the V-8-powered G80. Although that muscular V-8 produces silken acceleration, it’s not much more powerful than the twin-turbo V-8. Regardless of engine, the luxury-grade automatic transmission adds to the pleasure.
Considerable sound deadening helps isolate the G80 from the road. Sounds emitted by the V-8 are more noticeable and more gratifying.
Fuel economy fails to impress, especially with V-8 power.
The G80 3.8 with rear-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 18/26 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops those figures to 18/24/20 mpg.
The twin-turbo V-6 isn’t much thirstier, EPA-rated at 17/25 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined, with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is estimated at 17/24/20 mpg.
A G80 5.0 with rear-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 16/24 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined. With all-wheel drive, it’s 15/23/18 mpg.
The base engine runs on regular gasoline, but turbo V-6 and V-8 versions are rated for premium fuel.
Each variant of the 2019 Genesis G80 yields a commendable balance between luxury, performance, and value, topped by an impressively supple ride. In addition to a stellar safety record, the base Genesis G80 lacks few luxury features, save for maybe more dealersâ€”though Genesis handles service by white-glove valet pickup and drop-off.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.