I do some of my best thinking while driving. Not city or spirited driving, but long wide highway at night type of driving, where there is sure to be a speed trap. With the cruise control set to fourteen over the limit, my mind starts wandering. Sometimes it’s about life, past and present, people that inspired me, lost loves, missed opportunities, and choices made. Other times it’s about the car I am driving, and sometimes, when the conditions are just right, it’s all of the above.
The latter was the case when I was driving this 2015 Hyundai Genesis. Its smooth and quiet ride was quite conducive to my mind running amok. Deep thoughts commenced – in college, did Kathy know that I was in love with her? Should I continue at my current job or look for more interesting opportunities? Big projects? Government work? Automotive industry? Wow, these seats are really soft – soft yet supportive! How am I going to pay for Gabby’s college? Should she go to a private school? These pretzels are making me thirsty. Why is a V8 even an option on this car? It’s not like it’s short on power.
This continued for a while and eventually developed into a conversation about the car. This review of this 2015 Hyundai Genesis is a transcript of this conversation that I had with myself. In reality, if this was an interview or a podcast with Jeff, it wouldn’t have sounded any different.
So the Hyundai Genesis is a large-ish sedan, not the biggest, but big, what’s it like?
Well, it’s good. It’s damn good, actually. It’s quiet, quick, and very comfortable. It’s loaded with a ton of features and they are all easy to use. This particular vehicle has a V6 engine and all-wheel-drive, but a rear-wheel-drive V8 is also available.
Oh, so it’s slow?
No, the 311-horsepower V6 has plenty of power and since it’s naturally aspirated, it goes strong right off the line. There is no need to wait until it stops being Eco and starts being Boost. If you want to be fancy, the V8 has 420 Tim-The Toolman-Taylor grunting horsepowers.
Impressive. What would you compare it to?
It resembles the Lexus GS 350 in everything it does, from seating position, to features, to how it drives and feels. A blind-folded person would have a hard time telling which of the two cars they are in.
Let’s talk dynamics – many vehicles in this segment attempt to be sporty, like the BMW 5-series. Is the Genesis a sporty sedan?
That’s a trick question because the 5-series hasn’t been sporty since the E39 chassis. The suspension of the Genesis has primarily been tuned for comfort, and it does an amazing job of insulating road imperfections, and by imperfections I mean Boston’s post-apocalyptic-winter roads, which are slightly worse than the roads of Minsk.
Despite this comfort setting, there isn’t much body roll or yaw in spirited street driving. For such a large vehicle, and at over 4200 pounds it’s no lightweight, it’s damn well planted and very smooth, and can be entertaining to drive. Sport mode does its magic with transmission shifting and steering feel, and things are great until the stability control system kills your joys.
Bummer. Is there a way to disable to stability control?
Yea. Probably. I don’t know. I haven’t tried disabling the stability control because I don’t want to become an idiot car reviewer that does something stupid. Again.
Look, no one is going to buy this car to go drifting in it. It’s mostly going to be driven slowly by people over fifty who are on conference calls for most of the day, and that’s how I drove it. Except that one time on the long on-ramp… this thing is quick and smooth, and quiet, goes without drama.
Would you say that this a luxury sedan?
Hmm, Hyundai says it’s a Premium Sedan. I don’t know what that means. It certainly has the looks and the features of a luxury sedan, but there is just one problem with that…
…That it’s a Hyundai?
Yes! I think the Hyundai is going the way of VW Pheaton and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
Which reminds me – nowhere on it does it actually say “Hyundai”, and furthermore, there is just one H badge on the car, on the trunk lid!
That’s amazing! Every manufacturer out there puts huge badges on their cars! Shit, Mercedes even illuminates their over-sized stars, and this has nothing on it?!
Not nothing. It has an eagle-like thingy wings bird symbol that is the emblem of the Genesis, and it says Genesis on it. It’s pretty nondescript and rather generic at the same time.
How did they even come up with that name? Is it biblical? Does it signify a start of something? Is it a spaceship?
I think it was named after a gentleman’s magazine, but I could be wrong.
Moving right along. Let’s talk features, let’s talk infotainment…
Ok. Big screen, a touch-screen, a knob in the middle of the console similar to an Audi or a BMW. There is a dedicated volume and tune knobs on the face of the radio, and there are secondary buttons, but they are not really needed as there are steering wheel controls which can handle many tasks.
The audio sounds really good and entertainment choices are plentiful, from the good old CD player, AM/FM radio, satellite radio, phone streaming, blue teething, and many others. Most importantly, the whole menu is easy to navigate.
That’s good, especially important to busy people over fifty who are always taking conference calls.
But wait! There is more! There is a head-up display, and it’s one of the best ones I’ve seen!
It obviously displays your speed, but blah, GM cars produced in the Cold War era did that. The Genesis head-up display also tells you if there is a vehicle in your blind spot, it tells you what radio station you just switched to, and directions when using the nav system. It’s pretty cool!
That is cool, now you don’t have to take your eyes far off your phone when switching lanes!
Speaking of phones, Hyundai offers an app for your favorite non-Blackberry phone. You can use that app to start, unlock, send destination addresses to your nav system, and locate your car.
Cool, you can really impress your kids’ friends with that.
How is the rest of the interior? Drivers spend most of their time inside their cars, so a good interior on a premium sedan is important.
Indeed. The seats, the seats are nice! Very soft leather, probably one of the softest ones out there, but still supportive. The driver has adjustable thigh support, and adjustable side bolsters for those of us who are bigger than an average NFL lineman, and adjustable lumbar support. The front seats are heated and ventilated and the rear seats are heated. The steering wheel is heated, too.
There is a nifty cell phone holder cubby which has two 12-volt sockets, aux input, and a USB port. There are two cup-holders in the center console, another compartment where you can stash your phone, and a large storage bin. There is a sunglass holder, big glove box, and large map pockets.
That is great; it shows that whoever designed this car actually put some thought into it, that they actually lived with it, whereas some luxury car interiors seemed to penned by a recent design school graduate who’s been chauffeured around in daddy’s Land Rover all his/her life.
Uhmm… I guess.
Anyway, there is a huge panoramic sunroof, front half of which pops up and slides back. When closed, there is a power sun-shade that comes out of the front and rear, and meets in the middle. Rear seat passengers have shades for the side windows, and there is power shade for the back window, which goes down when the car is shifted into reverse. As if the back-up camera and beep-beep sensors were not enough.
Oh! Speaking of beep-beep – the horn isn’t loud enough.
Ah, the horn is a much overlooked feature of any premium vehicle! It should be loud and deep, to let the peons know that a sir is motoring through!
Exactly. Oh, one thing that would further help in slow maneuvering – an around-view camera system, like those seen on Infinitis and BMWs. Heck, it’s even available on the Nissan Versa.
It’s not a big deal, really. While they missed that, Hyundai is really trying hard with this car.
For instance – you know the rear parcel shelf, that shelf behind the rear seat, between the seatback and the rear window where speakers are usually located…?
Ah, yea, where we used to take naps in mom’s FSO 125p…
Yea, that. Don’t tell anyone about that, we don’t need mom getting arrested. Anyway, the underside of that shelf, the part in the trunk that no one can see unless you bend over, stick your head into the trunk, and look up…
I believe that’s a yoga pose…
Yes, Lord of the Car Dork Pose, hands in Namaste, anyway, the underside of that shelf is lined in the same fabric as the rest of the trunk!
Impressive! Most car have just exposed metal there. What other cool features does the Genesis have?
Silly things, such as the mirrors unfolding when approaching the vehicle as if welcoming you, or mud lights in shape of the bird/eagle/genesis symbol on the ground.
The headlights are really good. There is a brake hold feature which allows you to take your foot off the brake pedal when stuck in traffic. All the latest safety features, including automatic braking when a possibly of a collision is detected, and a steering wheel that vibrates when you’re about to do something dumb, like drive onto the shoulder.
So let’s talk price. We have a Lexus GS 350-like vehicle here, but it’s a Hyundai. So if a comparable Lexus is around $57,000, this Hyundai must be, what? Like around $35,000?
No. Not exactly.
Oh, ok, so it’s $45,000, still more than ten grand less than a Lexus. Ten grand buys a lot of stuff…
No? Well, how much is it?
Fifty two thousand, four hundred, and fifty dollars.
[Sits still, speechless, pupils dilating, jaw slowly dropping]
Uhmm. Ah. Ok.
Fifty-two grand for a Hyundai!?
Yes. But it’s a really good car, and does everything the GS does, and it looks good, too. And it starts at $38,000 but at that price it’s missing a lot of the desirable features whereas the Lexus starts around $50,000 and still needs options added onto it.
So you’d buy the Genesis over the Lexus GS 350?
Ok, I’m confused. Why not?
Because I’m a snob. And because I want to impress other snobs.
Because if I am going to blow fifty grand on a car, I want everyone to know that I blew fifty grand on a car, and as you have said yourself, no one would expect this, a Hyundai, to cost fifty grand.
Can you provide a metaphor?
Yes I can! If Casio made a one thousand dollar watch, even if it was amazing, very few people would buy it. However, if an Omega made a one thousand dollar watch, even if it was crap, it would sell out in a day.
We live in the world were a product is judged on its image, brand, and not its function or even quality. The thousand dollar Casio could be identical to the Omega, just as the Hyundai is similar to the Lexus, and most people would still choose Omega/Lexus. Because, in the end, much like Volkswagen, Hyundai is known for small affordable cars and the Genesis is neither.
I think I understand. Want a good car, get the Hyundai. Want to impress snob bros, get the Lexus, or other so-called luxury brand cars.
Yea, something like that.
[Disclaimer: Hyundai Motor Company provided the vehicle for this review]