Susan Frissell

A midsize near-luxury sedan, the Hyundai Genesis is designed to entice would-be Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz buyers into the Hyundai showroom. It isn’t as polished or prestigious as those rivals, but the Genesis does reward those willing to go outside the luxury ‘mainstream’ with a cozy cabin, numerous high-end features and excellent value.

I had a chuckle the other night while watching an old TV series filmed around 2006 when an heiress was suddenly cutoff from her family’s money to fend on her own. She was going to have to consider selling her daily driver-Mercedes-Benz 500 sedan-for “one of those inexpensive foreign brands”-in this case a “Hyundai.” The two women featured in the set couldn’t even pronounce the word!! I remember the days when I would be stopped on the street when driving a Hyundai. No one knew what the ‘new’ Hyundai looked like.

The 2015 Genesis has been completely redesigned, carrying over only powertrains from its predecessor. Of note for those in northern climates, all-wheel-drive is now offered as an option. For this the second-generation Genesis, Hyundai has elected to stick to the formula that established the original model as a genuine alternative to traditional luxury choices: Start with a clean, quietly competent rear-wheel-drive package, fill it with comfort and technology features, and sell it for less than the tier-one competition. However, the level of overall refinement has gone up a notch with the redesign and styling has become more sophisticated, as well.

We are in the 2015 Lexus ES 350 this week; a point of comparison. The Genesis is more generously equipped, but then its price is a tad higher also. Not that consumers couldn’t equip the Lexus ES 350 the same, they would be paying probably more or about the same as the Genesis. When closing the doors on the ES one notices a tinny sound; not so with the Genesis. Outside, the Genesis has an air of discreet elegance due to a handsome six-slat floating grille, with trapezoidal headlights, and is streamlined with six windows. This is a large sedan, and appears so on the outside. The dash and IP although simple, are attractive, don’t distract and have intuitive controls. Materials are high-end and the matte wood trim takes one back to the cars of the 1960s! General Motors, anyone?

Rear seating is more than plentiful. This is a sedan you will want to carry you across the country on a long road trip. We recently acquired the sound track from the movie Imitation Game. Blasting it in the Genesis Lexicon 7 surround sound system was world class.genesis3

Technology abounds with Hyundai’s latest Blue Link telematics service. One can personalize voice text messaging, point-of-interest web searches and download, as well as automatically notifying a command center of a collision. Traffic, weather and restaurant and gasoline locations are also available.

The first in the industry is Hyundai’s system that measures human-produced C02, as it increases air flow when C02 levels are high enough to make the driver drowsy. A hands-free trunk release is also standard. Just by carrying the key in your pocket, the system is activated, opening the trunk within a few feet of the rear bumper. Amazing!
And we thought automobiles were ‘sophisticated’ in years past. They just keep getting better and better; or should we say smarter and smarter.

The Genesis comes standard with Apple’s Siri Eyes Free system providing hands-free access to the Siri function and works with any iPhone (iOS 6). You link up and voice commands are at your fingertips so that you can make calls, plays your iTune songs, as well as listening to and composing your own text messages.
Consumers can opt for the V6 3.8-liter engine or the more costly and gas guzzling 5.0-liter V8 engine. Our test vehicle came equipped with Hyundai’s 3.8-liter V6 which seemed to have plenty of power. We enjoyed punching it when entering the highway. It kept up just fine. Both engines team with Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel-drive is standard faire. The 3.8-liter V6 can be ordered with all-wheel-drive.
It’s hard to find much fault with Hyundai’s near-luxury Genesis. However, we found it to wander a little on the open road, didn’t feel as heavy as it looks. Would we opt for the Hyundai over say, the Lexus ES 350. Having tested the Lexus ES the following week, we’d have to say ‘yes.’

As expected with most vehicles today, and certainly near-luxury sedans, the latest in safety technology is standard equipment. The Genesis is equipped with dual front, front side and rear side and full-length side curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag and traction and stability traction control systems. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force are also standard.

Our test Genesis came equipped with three expensive options: Signature Package (power tilt/slide panoramic sunroof, integrated memory system/ventilated front seats, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, HID headlights/auto dimming outside mirrors, blind sport detection with rear cross traffic alert parking guidelines, power rear sunshade and manual rear side sunshades, $4,000); Tech Package (Ultra leather seals/7” TFI LCD cluster display, power driver seat cushion extender and side bolster, Lane departure warning and lane keep assist, Smart Cruise Contact w/stop-start capability, Haptic steering wheel and pre-safety seatbelt, Auto emergency braking (AEB), high beam assist, front/rear parking assistance system, $3,500); and Ultimate Package (Genuine matte finish wood trim and aluminum trim, heads-up display w/power trunk lid, Premium navigation with 9.2-inch high def screen, Lexicon 17-speaker discrete logic 7 audio system, dual-mode vent control with C02 sensor, $3,500).

Key competitors to the Genesis include now only Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Merceddes-Benz E-Class but also the less costly Acura TL, Lexus ES and Lincoln MKZ. One can also shop the Volvo S80, and Cadillac CTS

MSRP: $38,000; total vehicle price $49,950; destination $950.
Engine: 3.8-liter V6, DOHC 311 horsepower, 293 lb.-ft torque, CVVT, aluminum
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC and paddle shifters
Wheelbase: 118.5 in.
Length: 196.3 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 58. 1 in.
Tires: P245/45R18
Wheels: 18-inch alloy
EPA fuel economy: 18/29 mpg., 22 mpg. Avg.
Warranty: 5 yr/60,000-mile new vehicle; 10-yr./100,000-mile powertrain; 7 yr./unlimited mile anti-perforation; 5 yr/unlimited-mile Roadside Assistance