2015 Hyundai Genesis Expert Reviews

Expert Reviews

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Laura Burstein
© 2015 NewCarTestDrive.com

If the badge were missing, one might easily mistake the 2015 Hyundai Genesis for a European luxury sedan. All-new for the 2015 model year, the Genesis, already impressive in its previous incarnation, gets even better.

First introduced for the 2008 model year, the Hyundai Genesis sedan received much acclaim in the automotive press. It was refreshed for 2012 and is completely redesigned for 2015.

Size-wise, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan grows in length by only 0.2 inches, but the interior is roomier thanks to a wheelbase that’s been stretched by nearly three inches, allowing for more room in the cabin and shortening overhangs for improved performance. It’s longer and wider than other midsize sedans, and is technically classified by the EPA as a large vehicle. That’s good news when it comes to space, but it also means more bulk.

Unlike most new versions of cars that boast lighter, more aerodynamic designs, the Genesis takes a different tack. It feels solid and substantive, and despite the use of some new lightweight materials, the Genesis manages to gain about 100 pounds. Hyundai argues the gain is, in part, to boost safety ratings, and despite the increase, the 2015 Genesis manages to improve fuel economy by 1 mpg.

Two engines are available on the 2015 Hyundai Genesis and carry over from the previous generation (pre-2015), but have been heavily revised for the 2015 models. The standard 3.8-liter V6 produces 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque and runs on Regular gasoline. It’s available in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants. The 5.0-liter V8 makes 420 hp and 383 lb.-ft of torque with Premium fuel, or 407 hp and 372 lb-ft with Regular gas. Both engines are naturally aspirated.

All models use Hyundai’s 8-speed transmission with paddle shifters (Shiftronic), which uses fuel-saving measures like skip-shift technology help to reduce emissions.

We found the V6 perfectly capable, and the best choice for most drivers. Available all-wheel drive makes the Genesis even more appealing for those in snowy climes. The V8 is silky and satisfying for those looking for even more power.

Fuel economy for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is 18/29 mpg for the 3.8-liter RWD model and 16/25 mpg City/Highway for the 3.8-liter AWD model. With the 5.0-liter V8, fuel economy understandably suffers, with 15/23 mpg City/Highway.

In the cabin, materials are of good quality, and the layout is attractive and intuitive. Standard leather upholstery on the base model is nice, but not buttery-soft like one might find in more expensive luxury cars; we prefer the upgraded leather that comes on the 5.0. Rear passengers have adequate headroom, though rear legroom falls short compared to some. Cargo space is plentiful at 15.3 cubic feet.

Infotainment controls are modeled after those of German cars. A knob on the center console, similar to those found on Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz controls navigation, audio, phone and settings. And unlike those German cars, the standard 9.2-inch LCD display is a touch-screen that allows you to access some features directly by pushing one button, instead of going into an endless series of menus.

Hyundai says it is aiming squarely at German midsize sedans, but although the 2015 Hyundai Genesis offers far more features for the money, those looking for brand cachet still might have a hard time being convinced. We think the Genesis boasts superior driving dynamics to those of the Lexus GS or ES, and the Hyundai comes with more standard features. The new Cadillac CTS offers similar value, but its race-bred powertrain and chassis offer a much more engaging ride, and the available V6 engines are more powerful. Though the Genesis is thousands of dollars less than the BMW 5 Series, the Genesis really can’t touch the BMW in terms of dialed-in performance. As for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Genesis comes close with ride and handling and offers many more standard features, but may never achieve the status afforded by the three-pointed star.

Model Lineup

Genesis RWD 3.8 ($38,000); Genesis AWD 3.8 ($40,500); Genesis RWD 5.0 ($51,500)

Walk Around

Debuting a new design language that Hyundai calls Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis loses some of its previous swoopiness for more solid, assured lines. A tall, imposing trapezoidal single-frame grille sits upright and juts out prominently, replacing the old smaller, slightly raked double-wing design. Strong, wide horizontal silver bars run the width of the its gaping maw.

Newly designed headlights are recessed in the inside corners, nestled against the bulge of the front grille, rising upward and finishing in outward corners that wrap around the front quarter panel, but not obnoxiously so. A new LED accent light design underscores the bezel headlamps and curves up and around the light housing. Genesis 5.0 models get a horizontal row of LED foglamps below.

The Genesis' weightiness is evident in the car's stance, though not in a bad way. Designers use the word volume to describe the substantial base of the car, with the bulk of vehicle sitting below the high beltline and relatively small daylight opening. The side view reveals an ever-so-slightly arcing character line that runs from the outer corner of the protruding front grille, across the top of the headlamps, through the door handles and into the tail lamps. Below, a strong rocker panel gives the appearance of a wide indentation. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloys. Genesis 5.0 models roll with 19-inch wheels.

The rear is tasteful, with a slightly arcing decklid that's subtly upturned for improved aerodynamics. New LED taillights mimic the double-wing design without being too obvious. Below, wide-set exhaust pipes (dual on the 3.8, quad on the 5.0) underscore the vehicle's width. A new hands-free trunk opening feature works differently than most. Instead of sweeping a foot under the car, one must only stand behind the trunk (while in possession of the key) for three seconds, and the trunk will automatically open. This feature can be turned off in the vehicle settings.

Interior

Additional refinements and space make the 2015 Hyundai Genesis even more appealing than before. Strong horizontal lines are immediately evident in the cabin design. The instrument panel sits very far forward in the cabin, we presume in order to push the engine compartment as far back as possible to achieve those short overhangs. As a result, controls sit closer than an arm's length, and it's a short reach for the gear shifter. An analog clock mimics those found on other luxury cars.

Genesis 3.8 models get a standard 4.3-inch TFT LCD display; optional (and standard on the 5.0) is a larger, 7-inch TFT display that is crisp, clear and easy to read. Also available is a color head-up display that will show the current speed limit and other information, such as when entering a school zone.

Hyundai's BlueLink infotainment controls appear to be modeled after those of German cars. A knob on the center console, similar to those found on Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz controls navigation, audio, phone and settings. And unlike those German cars, the standard display is a touch-screen that allows you to access some features directly by pushing one button, instead of going into an endless series of menus. Also unlike many luxury cars, navigation is standard, though an upgraded system comes with a larger touch screen and more features, like enhanced real-time traffic and weather alerts. For the most part, we found the navigation easy to use.

Genesis can pair with compatible phones via Bluetooth for hands-free phone and audio streaming. It can also integrate with Siri, but it's not plug-and play; one must download Hyundai's app to access the full suite of functions.

Optional on the 3.8 and standard on the 5.0 is a premium sound system by Lexicon, a Grammy-winning company whose sound processors are widely used in the music industry. The Lexicon system is rich, clear and satisfying, and should please audiophiles. Though, we found the standard base audio system just fine.

Standard leather upholstery in all models is a nice touch, and our 3.8 test car had the upgraded leather included in the Tech package (standard on the 5.0). Although, we found the material to be thick and slightly waxy, not buttery soft like that found on some German luxury cars. On the upside, its texture also made it appear quite durable.

Other trim, such as the simulated leather on the wraparound two-tone dash, gives the interior just the right touch of luxe. Standard faux-woof trim does look more plasticy than posh in certain places, but genuine matte wood is available as an option, which we quite liked.

Storage space in the cabin is adequate, though not abundant. Two cupholders on the passenger's side of the center console hold average and larger water bottles. The small compartment beneath the center stack houses 12-volt plugs, an auxiliary jack and a USB port. There's also just enough space to hold a mobile phone, propped up on its side. More storage space can be found in moderately sized door pockets and in the center armrest.

Seats are supportive, and are made for larger adults. Smaller and average-sized people might find the side bolsters too widely spaced to hold them in around corners, but then again, the Genesis is primarily a freeway cruiser. Standard heated seats and optional ventilation make for a comfortable ride in any weather.

Rear seat space is fine for most adults. Headroom measures 38.2 inches, more than the Cadillac CTS, Lexus ES or Lexus GS. However, rear legroom comes in at a modest 35 inches, less than the Cadillac CTS or Lexus GS, and a far cry from the cavernous 40 inches of rear legroom available in the Lexus ES.

Cargo space measure 15.3 cubic feet, about on-par with the Lexus ES, and more than the Cadillac CTS or Lexus GS.

Driving Impressions

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan strikes a good balance between comfortable and responsive. With the 3.8 tuned to the more luxurious side, it's a good highway cruiser without feeling too billowy.

Two engines are available on the 2015 Hyundai Genesis and carry over from the last generation, but have been heavily revised. A 3.8-liter V6 produces 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque and runs on regular fuel. It's available in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants. The 5.0-liter V8 makes 420 hp and 383 lb.-ft of torque with premium fuel, or 407 hp and 372 lb-ft with regular fuel. Both engines are naturally aspirated.

All models use Hyundai's 8-speed transmission with paddle shifters (Shiftronic), which uses fuel-saving measures like skip-shift technology help to reduce emissions. The 8-speed transmission does an admirable job staying efficient while offering up adequate power.

Acceleration in the 3.8 is smooth and satisfying, but it won't leave you breathless. We found the V6 perfectly capable, and the best choice for most drivers. Cruising is pleasurable, and there's plenty of oomph for merging or passing without making passengers nervous. Available all-wheel-drive makes the Genesis 3.8 even more appealing for those in snowy climes.

Moving from the 3.8 to the 5.0 is a little like checking out of the Hilton and into the Mandarin Oriental. The V8 is silky and satisfying. We merged and passed in seconds, finding ourselves accidentally speeding without feeling a thing. While this is definitely the most impressive incarnation of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, we also think the big V8 is overkill for everyday driving.

Hyundai worked with Lotus Engineering (the same company that makes those exotic sports cars) on the all-new Genesis chassis and tuning. Suspension is revised with a front and rear multilink design and aluminum shock absorber housing that's lighter and more rigid than the old steel design. The result is a stable and solid road feel, without much body roll, especially considering the hefty 4,138 curb weight of our 3.8 test car (4,541 pounds for the Genesis 5.0). Weight distribution has also been slightly improved from 52/48 to 51/49, which equates to a more balanced ride.

Also new on the 2015 Genesis is a rack-mounted, motor-driven electric steering system, replacing the old hydraulic steering. The variable-ratio setup is more relaxed in straight lines for stable freeway cruising, and tighter for low-speed maneuvering such as in parking lots. We found the steering responsive in normal driving but tuned more to the comfortable side, even in sport mode, requiring just a tad more effort around high-speed sweepers than one would need in a BMW 5 Series. Though, the Genesis' handling has the edge over the Lexus GS and Lexus ES, both of which can feel somewhat boaty.

Four-wheel-disc brakes are responsive, yet at higher speeds we found we had to get our foot into it a couple of times to really stop quickly. Really mashing into the pedal will kick in Brake Assist, which will help to stop the car even faster in an emergency braking situation. Optional on the 3.8 and standard on the 5.0 is full-speed adaptive cruise control, which can automatically bring the car to a full stop and start up again, as well as automatic emergency braking to mitigate a collision. Drivers can choose to set a desired speed, or set a following distance.

Optional safety features, some standard on the 5.0, include blind spot detection, cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist and lane keeping assist. Also optional on the 3.8 and standard on the 5.0 is a haptic steering wheel, which will vibrate to alert the driver when he or she veers out of the lane, or has a fast-approaching vehicle in the blind spot. An audible chime will also sound when any of these safety systems are activated. We didn't like the vibrating steering wheel and found the default blind-spot and lane-keeping assist systems to be overly aggressive, but opinions of these systems often vary according to personal preference. The Genesis also offers an in-between solution, with a less aggressive threshold that can be changed in the vehicle settings. The systems can also be turned off with the touch of a button.

With the previous (pre-2015) Genesis, the cabin was quiet, but rough roads did produce a moderate amount of noise and vibration. Now, additional sound dampening is everywhere. Even the engine compartment is sealed, much like a door with weather stripping. That keeps the ride blissfully quiet under most circumstances. Though, at highway speeds through the very windy desert, we did notice some wind noise coming from around the A-pillar.

Fuel economy for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is 18/29 mpg for the 3.8-liter RWD model and 16/25 mpg City/Highway for the 3.8-liter AWD model. With the 5.0-liter V8, fuel economy understandably suffers, with 15/23 mpg City/Highway. After a nearly 200-mile drive of our 3.8-liter RWD test car, we averaged 21.4 mpg mixed city and highway roads, including some driving in sport mode. That's about on-par with its EPA ratings of 18/29 mpg City/Highway and 22 mpg combined.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan is a handsome, affordable alternative to a more expensive luxury car and comes packed with standard features. The 3.8 offers fine performance and optional all-wheel drive, while the 5.0 offers an abundance of silky-smooth power. We thought the Genesis 3.8 offered the best value and had plenty of power.

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