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2015 Hyundai Genesis: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION
2014 Hyundai Genesis

author photo by Brian Moody April 2014

People who have an obvious talent or are noticeably attractive might seem to have it easy, but they might have a tougher time than you think. Sure, they're good-looking and get free drinks, but they must constantly live up to expectations.

High expectations are exactly what we have for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, and that could work for, or against, the newest Hyundai sedan.

High Standards

Our elevated expectations are justified. Look how far Hyundai has come, from the home-market look of the XG530 to the slick Genesis sedan in just a few years.

Now we have an all-new Genesis sedan, and Hyundai has met our expectations. However, like the guy you're always asking to "say something funny," Hyundai may be feeling the pressure.

The truth is, we're not shocked by the quality of the 2015 Genesis because it is as good as we expected. It has great looks, lots of options and nice leather, all for an affordable price.

Out With the Old

Still, this isn't the same old Genesis with a few upgrades; it's an all-new car. While the overall length of the car is about the same as the previous Genesis sedan, there's now more distance between the front and rear wheels. That gives the car a better ride.

The first generation of the Genesis sedan is a very good car, but there's an underlying busyness to the ride that we feel undermines the car's otherwise luxurious look inside and out.

That slightly busy ride is gone, replaced with a feel that almost totally isolates the driver from the road. Even on rough roads, the Genesis remains as smooth as a Mercedes-Benz. Road noise is well-controlled, too. During our drive, we pulled up on a group of bikers all riding Harleys on State Route 188 just outside of Scottsdale, Ariz. Even at highway speed, we couldn't hear the distinct open-pipe exhaust of the motorcycles until we were basically right next to them.

Ride quality and a quiet interior are two areas where the Genesis actually exceeds our expectations, plus the seats are both comfortable and supportive.

This time around, the Genesis feels better around corners, too. The car has a tighter, light-on-its-feet feel, although Hyundai tuned the suspension more for comfort than outright performance. This only became obvious in one specific situation. As we rounded a big sweeping turn, the kind where you barely let off the gas, we hit a large dip in the road. The combination of speed (about 65 miles per hour), the car's weight being pushed to one side and the dip somewhat upset the car's suspension for just a second.

If we were in a BMW or Infiniti, the motion of the car would have been better controlled, especially the side-to-side motion. But then, BMW and Infiniti don't isolate the driver from rough roads or noise quite the same way that the Genesis sedan does. All things being equal, we'd pick the comfort-focused ride of the Genesis over cars with firmer suspension.

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Strong Engines

Like before, there are two engine choices for the Genesis sedan: a 3.8-liter V6 and a 5.0-liter V8. We'd love to say how much you need the V8, but you really don't. The V6 makes 311 horsepower, which is plenty, but it's also because Hyundai put an 8-speed automatic transmission in the Genesis. It helps make the most of whatever power is available.

The V6-powered Genesis sedan is quick, quiet and delivers its power in a refined manner. Most shoppers will likely drive the V6 Genesis sedan and say, "That's exactly what I expected," then sign the forms and drive home. Before you do that, though, you should know that the V8 adds more than 100 hp. At 420 hp, it feels noticeably stronger and pulls harder from a stop, but it's more about the substantial feel and deeper sounds that the car's engine makes when opting for the V8. The V6 never feels underpowered, however, and its $38,000 base price makes more sense than the V8's $51,500 price tag.

V6 models can also be had with all-wheel drive. Initially, V8 models do not get the all-wheel-drive option, at least not right away. Hyundai officials said that they see all-wheel drive with the V8 as more of a performance option. We read that as code for: "We're not finished working on the R-Spec version."

The 3.8-liter V6 gets an Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for a combined estimate of 22 mpg. The V8 drinks a little more fuel at 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy for a combined estimate of 18 mpg.

What Is Blue Link?

Most Hyundai vehicles are so good at just being cars that it's easy to miss just how good the in-car tech is. After years of high-dollar ads, most average new-car shoppers know about features such as OnStar or Ford's SYNC system. If you're into that sort of thing, you need to know about Hyundai's Blue Link.

Blue Link is an in-car communications system that offers the ease of use and flexibility of OnStar but with the modern look and functionality of a smartphone.

Blue Link has been around for awhile; we've enjoyed using its smartphone integration for sending nav directions right to the car, along with its remote-start functionality on cold mornings and being able to receive regular diagnostic reports.

The Blue Link that's in the Genesis is sort of like Blue Link 2.0. Here are just a few of the things it can do: destination search powered by Google, Apple's Siri-powered Eyes Free integration, Pandora and Aha Radio integration from a smartphone, voice recognition, SiriusXM Radio with record, pause and rewind functions and remote vehicle start. There's also a host of safety-related features, such as automatic-collision notification, emergency assistance at the push of a button, enhanced roadside assistance, monthly vehicle-health reports and maintenance reminders.

Add to that a brilliant Lexicon audio system, and the Genesis slowly has us rethinking our prior expectations. The truth is that the in-car tech is an area where Hyundai has been quietly kicking tail and not even bothering to take names. It's a huge selling point for sure, but we think Hyundai should make a bigger deal about it.

The overall quality of Hyundai cars and SUVs has risen to the point where we now just expect them to be good. The days of "Oh, this is a Hyundai; I'm surprised" are gone. They're good cars, we get it; no one should be surprised when we recommend a Sonata over a Camry. The trouble is that Hyundai now has to live up to the high standards that they've created for themselves. As far as the 2015 Hyundai Genesis goes, they've met our expectations and then some. The car just gets it right in so many ways.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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2015 Hyundai Genesis: First Drive Review - Autotrader