Sedans Are Still Attractive, Inside & Out
By Bill Owney
It was blocking her trusty Camry and she was in a hurry, so before I had a chance to even take it around the block, Beautiful Bride snatched the keys to the 2022 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD Sport Prestige and headed to her mama’s place.
I was more than a little concerned. Though adept at a wide array of computer software, when it comes to cars Blonde Bombshell is a technophobe, and Genesis’ midsize luxury sedan is chock full of electronic wizardry: head-up display, rear-wheel steering assist, surround-view monitors, digital key, power door closure, rain-sensing wipers, highway driving assist, parking assist …
The list is long. I expected to be bombarded with questions but upon her return, she had just one.
“Tell me again why we need an SUV?”
Aaaand there it is. English professors, especially the great ones, have this way of disaggregating common sense from common wisdom.
“Because everyone else is doing it?”
“… we might want to spend five days a year camping?”
“Because it’s fun to pay through the nose for gasoline while trying to clean a windshield with a worn-out scrubber and fetid water?”
I stopped racking my brain for the correct response when I realized the question was Socratic.
She’s a looker
By that I mean not only Blonde Bride.
If we don’t agree on anything else this week – and, as 21st-century Americans, we probably won’t – we can agree that Genesis somehow transformed the generic wedge-shaped sedan into a thing of beauty. It seemed like everywhere I went in this car I ran into people who felt a compulsion to inform me that it is gorgeous, lovely, handsome, exquisite, fetching.
I prefer enchanting. Enchanteresse.
Attention To Detail, Emphasis on Luxury
It needs to be. When one endeavors to challenge the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6, one needs to stand out, even in the parking lot of the country club.
The G80 does that. It starts with one of the biggest and boldest grills on the planet accented with twin lighting bevels on each side. Those two lines are repeated with bold character stripes just behind the front wheel well and are echoed with twin taillight bars that wrap around the back edge of the rear quarter panel. A pair of trapezoidal exhaust ports add more distinction to the stern.
The result: No matter the angle, the G80 announces that it is a Genesis, the luxury arm of Hyundai/Kia and that it is dead serious about playing with the big boys.
Detail is also closely attended to in the cabin, which brims with exquisite materials assembled with careful craftsmanship. Genesis’ ability to elicit vicarious pleasure through sight and touch rivals Lexus’.
The seats front and rear are decadently comfortable. Even base models are resplendent with real matte wood, knurled – word of the week, it means textured with a series of edges – knobs and switchgear and elegant flowing lines.
Though it is, alas, a car not an SUV, the driving position is quite good, and visibility is excellent.
The cabin, however, is where we find our only source of displeasure. Excellence in engineering and design does not extend to the UX or user experience. The G80’s controls are confusing and distracting. It starts in the middle with a pair of rotary controllers, one for the transmission, the other a touchpad thingy that theoretically manages everything else.
We found the transmission control to be different but quickly adapted to it. After a few days, we could select the appropriate setting without looking. The other thing we just gave up on. Do you know how hard it is to control a cursor in a moving vehicle with your eyes fixated – properly – somewhere else? Genesis does not.
The G80 comes in eight trim lines ranging from $49,345 to $70,795. A Mercedes E-Class ranges from $54,950 to $1213,500, a BMW 5-Series from $54,200 to $142,000, an A6 from $55,900 to $116,500.
The G80, thus, has nearly as strong an argument for being the class value leader as the Lexus ES which ranges from $40,800 to $51,080 and is unquestionably the reliability champ.
Wait! You didn’t mention the Cadillac CT5.
Yeah, I was being nice.
Each G80 step up adds desirable features and abilities to justify itself. Base models come with a 300-hp, turbocharged, 2.5-L four with rear-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is an option. Upper levels get a refined, twin-turbo 3.5-L V6 that puts out 375 hp and 391 lb.-ft of torque.
According to the EPA and various private testers, the smaller engine delivers around 26 mpg. Our tester had the larger engine and for the week we got 24.6 mpg. Both engines run on premium unleaded fuel, which today runs around $5.64 a gallon.
A comparably priced Lexus ES hybrid will deliver around 43 mpg, a 68% improvement. It doesn’t get to 60 mpg as quickly, but you can make up a lot of time by driving past gas stations. The Mercedes, BMW, and Audi all get much worse fuel economy than the G80.
Which Trim Offers The Best Value?
The base G80 is well equipped, which includes one of the best-working and most comprehensive suite of driver-assist aids, including forward collision avoidance, lane-keep assist, blind-spot assist, smart cruise control, LED headlamps, 12-way power front seats, premium audio, Apple CarPlay™, and Android Auto™, USB ports front and rear.
The best value seems to be the 2.5T Advanced ($53,645) which adds 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, three-zone auto climate control, and a 21-speaker sound system.
Our tester was the top-of-line Sport Prestige. At nearly $71,000, it delivered the comfort and cache’ of a $100,000-plus, German machine.
Though some testers fault the G80’s handling as good, but not as great as the Germans’, the addition of rear torque vectoring makes it much closer than a $30,000 price differential might suggest. Our notes say that this Genesis manages taut handling without sacrificing ride comfort.
The cabin is not quite as quiet as the Germans, but the difference is within a few decibels.
Of course, Genesis is from the same company that gave us Hyundai, Kia, and a string of multi-billion-dollar settlements over a host of scary powertrain issues. None of those involved the engines found in this Genesis, but a word of caution still seems to be in order.
10 Year/100k Mile Powertrain Warranty With A Catch
Genesis offers three years of free maintenance and a five-year, 60,000-mile limited warranty. There is also a 10-year, 100,000 mile-powertrain warranty but, caveat emptor, the latter is not transferrable when the original buyer sells or trades the vehicle.
If the dealership proffers a transferrable extended warranty, I’d sit up and listen. The prices of those are also negotiable, so you might use that as one final “get” before writing the down payment check. The F&I person may say otherwise, but her commission on that and every other charge dealers try to lard into contracts – Document fees? Windshield insurance? Really? – is always on the table.
Yeah, women can be wickedly good “business managers,” who have thee jobs: get the deal closed, get the paperwork properly filed, and wring every last penny out of the buyer. This is one reason people in the E-suites of every auto manufacturer are looking at Tesla’s refusal to have dealers and saying, “hmmmm.”
Is the G80 as trustworthy as a Lexus? Not by a long shot. Is the G80 as good as its German rivals? Not quite, but it’s moved into the neighborhood and one can see the gap rapidly closing.
It certainly passes the eyeball test. Just go to my house and ask the grownup.