- Excellent powertrains
- All-wheel drive now an option
- Competitive active-safety features
- V-8 doesn't feel as quick as it should be
- Rear seats don't fold
- Still not a cohesive design
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is no longer just a great luxury-car value; it's a legitimate alternative to the heavyweights.
True to its name, the Hyundai Genesis has been the start of something entirely new at Hyundai. And now with the 2015 Hyundai Genesis—the start of a second generation of this model—the automaker looks prepared to dive in with even higher luxury-car ambition.
That said, both its badge and its pricing continue to distance it from most other luxury cars that it rightly rivals.
With the original Genesis launch for 2009, the South Korean automaker attempted a true luxury car, but smartly without the daunting bill of establishing an entirely new brand, or dealership network, around it. While we can't call that first-generation Genesis a sales champ (it did, after all land with unfortunate timing for the U.S.), it's undoubtedly raised the bar for the brand, and established Hyundai as a legitimate luxury player—on an Acura level, of not yet Mercedes.
And this time, with revamped infotainment gear, more refined finishes, and a full suite of active-safety features on offer—and a base price under $40,000—the Hyundai Genesis might just cause those champagne glasses to quake a bit.
The first-generation Genesis had a pleasantly anodyne body, with just a few flares of South Korean style in its grille and secondary controls. The 2015 Genesis goes out of its way to blur even those touches, adopting a new roofline and grille that are striking in combination. The grille's grown up, down, and out in a shape that bears more than a passing resemblance to VW and Audi noses; the winged Genesis badge could be on a Bentley. Down the side, and especially from the rear quarters, the passing references to BMWs are unmistakeable. There may be nothing new under the sun, but at least the interpretation of global design cues works well on the new Genesis, putting some good distance between the new car and the 2009-2014 edition.
Inside, the Genesis is simple and feels more like it has its own identity. The dash has a horizontal, shelf-like orientation, and a great layout that’s attractive yet sensible, with the navigation and infotainment screen up high at the middle, and a visually satisfying combination of extensive wood trim facing the passenger with a gently curved, soft dash top.
Hyundai carries over the powertrains from the prior Genesis for the 2015 model year, with tweaks to improve fuel economy and performance, but has enlisted some high-wattage experts to help tune the sedan's handling. And the resulting redesigned model offers strong performance, with a more nuanced driving demeanor than before. As for whether the 2015 Genesis has what you need in a large luxury sedan, it's a matter of wants and needs. If most of your driving is on straight boulevards and freeways, the Genesis has all the performance you'll need—with an ideal mix of comfort mixed in, without ever feeling wallowy. Only if you regularly need to head over a mountain pass or along a canyon road will you understand (and care) that this definitely isn't a sport sedan.
The base engine remains a 3.8-liter V-6, now rated at 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque; the 5.0-liter V-8 version puts out 420 hp and 383 lb-ft; they're both teamed to the same eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and they integrate a four-mode system (Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow) that tailors shift quality, throttle response, and stability control to the driver's taste. The bigger news is in traction. After rolling through the first five years as a rear-drive sedan, the Genesis adds all-wheel drive for 2015. The new system can vary the split of torque from the rear to the front wheels as traction needs arise, and Hyundai says it adds only about 165 lb to the car's weight. The down side is that it does lower gas mileage, quite significantly.
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis has a nicely tuned rear-wheel-drive architecture, but it's clearly no sport sedan, and that's underscored when the road turns tighter and twistier. The Genesis V-6 feels considerably lighter and more responsive than the V-8 models, however—because it's lighter by more than 400 pounds. For all versions, there's a new five-link independent suspension front and rear; it has more wheel travel and stiffer construction—and some tuning help from Lotus Engineering. Top Genesis 5.0 Ultimate models have an available Continuous Damping Control (CDC) air suspension that can be toggled from Normal to Sport mode—although we're not convinced on the worth of this system. What is a pleasant surprise is the Genesis electric-assist, variable-ratio steering.
Throughout the cabin of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, you'll find impressive materials and top-notch fit and finish. And whether you've owned various vehicles with luxury badges in the past or you're new to luxury cars entirely, you won't likely find anything missing in the comfort or ambiance.
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is first and foremost a comfort-oriented luxury sedan, and this is just as apparent if you're in back as if you're in front. The front seats can be powered in as many as 12 directions, with four-way lumbar adjustment, heating, and ventilation. The rear seats can be heated as well.
The Genesis is built on a rear-wheel-drive platform, and while there might technically be less rear legroom here, but the Genesis feels roomier when it comes down to what matters for adults—getting in and out easily, and not constantly rubbing against the headliner or up with the moonroof housing. Getting in and out is far easier here than in the front-wheel-drive Hyundai Azera—with no need to duck when getting in and out—and the more upright package and more formal roofline adds up to a cabin that feels airier inside. It's also incredibly quiet inside.
Safety ratings, with five stars from the feds and Top Safety Pick+ status from the IIHS, are top-notch all around; but in addition to nine standard airbags (with the addition of a driver's knee bag for 2015), the Genesis includes high-beam assist, a rearview camera system, and front and rear parking assistance. There's also a suite of active-safety features that might help avoid vehicles in your blind spot, and other systems will actually help keep you within lane boundaries—and actually make mild steering corrections to keep you in your lane of travel. For many of these features, you'll also get haptic feedback (a vibration warning you of hazards); the Genesis is the first Hyundai to offer such a feature.
Those who are new to luxury cars and premium brands are often shocked to find that it's easy to add tens of thousands of dollars to the bottom-line sticker price—often just to get some of the features that you might assume to be included in a luxury model. That's not the case with the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, which at $38,950 includes a long list of features like rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera system, and an eight-inch touch-screen system with navigation. All-wheel-drive models slot in at just $2,500 more and include heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and headlamp washers, too. Genesis 5.0 (V-8) models start with all that as standard, and add LED fog lamps, larger 19-inch wheels, quad exhaust tips, illuminated door sill plates, and matte-finish wood and aluminum trim.
On either 3.8 (V-6) or 5.0 (V-8) models, the Ultimate package adds a climate-control CO2 sensor, a power trunklid (with a neat proximity-sensing activation that doesn't require waving your foot), premium navigation with an upgraded display, the head-up display, Lexicon 17-speaker audio, and for the 3.8, the matte-finish wood and aluminum trim.
Hyundai's second-generation Blue Link telematics system has its debut in the 2015 Genesis sedan. New features include integration with Google Glass; Google Destination Search; remote start; and a new system of notifications that reminds drivers to warm their car in warm weather, or gives recommended departure times for a destination entered into the navigation system by smartphone app.