By on February 12, 2018

2018 Genesis G80 AWD 3.8

3.8-liter V6, DOHC (311 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 293 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

18 city / 25 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

20.1 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $45,225 (U.S.)

As Tested: $55,325 (U.S.)

Prices include $975 freight charge.

Numerous proverbs and quotes, variously attributed to Colton, Wilde, Marcus Aurelius, and others, can be distilled into the familiar “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The line has been cited by college plagiarists for ages.

Industry uses a better euphemism – benchmarking. Evaluating the competition to offer an alternative that’s remarkably similar to existing products, but with enough differentiation to compel converts, is the essence of product development, no matter what the widget might be.

It’s only natural that when Hyundai decided to build a midsize luxury sedan for its Genesis luxury sub-brand, it looked closely at the two German models that have consistently led this market. Whether buyers see the 2018 Genesis G80 as a legitimate contender is up for debate, as the biggest divergence from the standard – at least on the surface – is the price.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD profile

Maybe calling this a budget luxury sedan is a stretch – after all, the car I drove retails for over fifty-five grand, which is well beyond the average new car purchase price. But look at those two big players in the midsize luxury sedan market. Both the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class start around $55,000 when fitted with all-wheel drive like this G80 – and at that price, both are powered by turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, rather than Genesis’ V6.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD front

Dimensionally, the Genesis G80 is similar to both the BMW and the Mercedes-Benz in every significant interior dimension save rear-seat legroom, where the G80 is marginally larger than the Germans. The extra power generated by the Genesis 3.8-liter V6 is needed, as the Korean is at least 300 pounds porkier than the others.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD rear

The extra weight and power do negatively affect the Genesis G80 at the fuel pump – the EPA rates the G80 at 20 mpg combined, whereas the E300 4Matic rates a 24 mpg figure, and the 530i X Drive, 27 mpg. In real world use, the German turbos probably won’t quite meet those numbers, but there is a price to pay for V6 power. I saw 20.1 mpg while driving the G80.

The G80 is quite composed in driving, though the weight means it isn’t a tossable handler. The ride is solid and genteel, and impressively quiet at highway speeds. Potholes never upset the ride, only transmitting a muted thud to the cabin.2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD interior

A minor strike (for some) against the G80 is the styling, which is rather generic. I’d doubt that it will be considered an icon of timeless design in a generation or two – but it’s inoffensively handsome. The refrigerator white finish on my test car doesn’t do the G80 any favors – Genesis offers a magnificent Adriatic Blue that makes the car look at once stately and vibrant.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD front seats 2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD rear seats

The interior is incredibly comfortable – the perforated leather covering the heated and cooled seats is soft and supple, and the seats quite supportive. The extending lower bolster on the driver’s seat is appreciated by those of us long of thigh, though the gap revealed when extended can pinch the driver’s nether regions if not careful when retracting. I love the subtle grey piping on the front and rear seats.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD center stack2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD infotainment

The 8.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system will be familiar to anyone who has sat in a newer Hyundai. It’s one of the best, most intuitive systems I’ve used. As good as it is, the console-mounted knob is rather superfluous. While it gives another option to control the audio and navigation beyond the touchscreen, it’s just not quite as user-friendly. Between the touch screen and the steering wheel controls, I didn’t see any need for the third controls.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD gauges

For me, the only things that hold the Genesis G80 back are the other cars in the showroom – especially in the interior. Take a seat in a Sonata, and then in a G80. The family resemblance is quite clear in the switchgear and the infotainment systems. That’s not a knock on the G80; it just shows how good the Sonata is. But buyers expect more for their money, and on those things drivers touch every day, there isn’t a big enough difference.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD dash

In other words, Genesis must overcome buyer perception. The car is competitive. But long-time luxury buyers have a few brands in mind when shopping, and aren’t likely to walk into a Hyundai dealership. When Genesis builds out an independent dealer network, that could be a tipping point for those conquest buyers.

I’m looking forward to what Genesis offers in the future. The G80 is an impressive effort – one that can compete well with the established players in the midsize luxury market.

2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD rear quarter

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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62 Comments on “2018 Genesis G80 AWD Review – Benchmarking the Big Boys, on a Budget...”


  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I think the best way to determine if the G80 is benchmarking the BMW or MB is how the lease payment stacks up.
    At the end of the day, that is all that matters. BMW gets you a very favorable lease payment with 4 years of maintenance included all due to heavy factory subsidization. Hyundai will have to do the same if they want to move any measure of these.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Seems like Hyundai is attempting something similar to the 1990 LS400 with a staid, conservative design and focus on comfort and features at a fraction of the going rate. Probably not a bad lease if you want cost effective fly-under-the-radar luxury, but if I wanted to buy $55K worth of luxury sedan and take only a moderate rather than total bath on depreciation, I’d find a CPO LS460 and enjoy the V8.

    The transplanted Sonata dashboard design with the severely asymmetrical center vents and bland center stack really aren’t impressive for the price. Even if the materials are class-competitive (are they?), the design looks less premium to me than the 530i or E300.

    The review is well-written but a bit thin on driving impressions, Chris. I’m not sure you’ve made the case that this is competitive against the BMW and Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I recently sold a pristine low-mile LS460, and took quite a bath on it despite having bought it at 7 years of age. Nobody in the luxury market, new or used, wants sedans anymore.

      The upside is that they are a spectacular value today if you can find the right one. Find the right car and you can have a reliable ride that makes you feel like a king for the price of a stripper Civic.

      Having sat in but not driven the second-gen Genesis, I’d say the biggest difference between an older LS460 and the Genesis is the quality of the interior materials. Lexus has a pronounced advantage here, maybe an unfair one as the GS that’s priced directly across from this car new isn’t as nice.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        What’d you replace it with, DAL?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          A lumbering white leviathan, er, 2011 LX570.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            *chris tucker from Friday voice*
            Daaaaamn!

            How many miles, and if you’re willing to divulge, what sort of ballpark are we talking pricewise?

            The LX570 is the only non-grey market way to get the 3UR 5.7L in a 200 series in Russia, they’re seen as more or less top of the heap of all things automotive over there, above the “lesser” 200 series.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            66K miles. People drive these things; it was one of the lowest-mileage units of its age in the country. It turned up at my local dealer on a Friday night and I had the keys in hand by Sunday morning.

            I freely admit overpaying a bit for it, because of the combination of service history, excellent condition, desirable options, local provenance (lifetime Seattle-area car), and the lack of shipping hassles to deal with. The numbers say it’s worth about $36-$37k and I paid a bit over $39k. It was a painful negotiation; the dealer had two other people waiting in the wings for the car and it took a long time and a lot of effort to move them off their initial ridiculous price of $42k.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Norm just informed me that you paid too much for this one as well, dal. His Escalade is actually appreciating as time goes because the spinning of the 22inch wheels creates enough gravitational force to pull all the loose change on the street into vehicular orbit for easy collection. This leaves him headspace to finance both a rippin’ tuned Encore that looks nothing at all like a running shoe, and a smartphone with a spellcheck feature. It also circles the skidpad at higher Gs than your overpriced Lexus.

            All he’s saying is you really messed up buying Lexus again, but it’s OK because he’s secure enough to keep it to himself.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            LOL @ 30-mile…

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Wow that’s a remarkable price. I’ve never bothered to look at the LX570s, every time I look at 08+ Land Cruisers seems that you can’t touch them under $40k without it being a 100k+ mile unit that may or may not have had an accident or excessive wear.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My experience in shopping was that the 200 series Cruisers were significantly more expensive than LX570s for the same age/miles. I expect that’s because the LX has shortcomings as an off-road rig: hydraulic suspension that’s difficult to lift and low running boards that need to be swapped out with Cruiser rocker panels. But that’s fine for my needs; the harshest off-roading this one will see will be rutted Forest Service roads that rarely challenged my old Forester.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I agree, and hence the use of “moderate” bath. A new Genesis is going to be worse though, it is going to bottom out lower and create a bigger delta from the $55K starting point. I’m seeing 2017 G80s with under 10K miles for $35-40K. If I’m going to hemorrhage, I’m going to hemorrhage less and “feel like a king” in the process.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I think the Hyundai badged G80s are incredible values right now. 2-3 year old certified cars with low miles for $23-25k. It’s a lot of car for the money IMO. Nothing that makes me believe they won’t hold up okay with more miles and years under their belt.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Dal, the luxury car nose dive in resale has been going on for years.

        Edmund’s 2013 Lexus GS long-term.

        “Resale and Depreciation:
        We accumulated 20,940 miles on our 2013 Lexus GS 350.Edmunds’ TMV® Calculator valued the vehicle at $47,431 based on a private-party sale. The market did not seem to support this price, as CarMax offered us $40,000 and the best we could muster from a private party was $41,000. This made for 30-percent depreciation from our paid price of $58,377. We were disappointed.”

        Sounds like you paid too much orginally. I just sold a 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport that I had for 2.5 years and the depreciation matched my car payments and KBB/NADA. My ATS4 2.0T covered taxes paod and still came in worth morr than I owed.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      The materials are more than class competitive, I think – no hard plastics anywhere, etc. And keep in mind that the materials that the Germans use are not such a high bar to compete with.

      As for driving impressions (I own one) it is not a “sport sedan”. It is a very well controlled luxury sedan. It’s more along what used to be the French rather than German automotive ideal – you can ride on a rough road and not feel it. You can hear the tires going over the bumps but not feel them. Which is not to say that it is floaty – it’s not. But you are aware that you are in a big heavy car. It is steerable rather than tossable. The only thrills it has to offer is in straight line acceleration which is pretty good, so in that sense it is like old American luxury cars which were always well powered for their time. You can take it on a curvy mountain road and it will hold its own but it’s not a lot of fun. It’s a great highway cruiser though. If you don’t watch the speedo you can find yourself doing 90 and it’s not at all straining – it would do 90 all day without breaking the least sweat.

      Back seat room is excellent, better than the Germans. You can really stretch out, again like an older American car. Tall people need not fear. However getting into the front you really have to watch your head in order not to bang it on the roof – the greenhouse is pretty low.

      In short, this car is not a BMW killer but it is the car that Cadillac or Lincoln should be making and aren’t.

      It is also a helluva deal in real world pricing. I got mine as a leftover (the last of the “Hyundai Genesis” rather that “Genesis G80” – it is exactly the same car except for the badging – even the same configuration as reviewed – V6, AWD) and didn’t pay more than I would have for a fully loaded Subaru Legacy. Base model to base model the gap with the Germans doesn’t seem that big but the Germans give you everything ala carte so if you are comparing comparably equipped – V6, AWD, etc. you are talking tenS of thousands less real world price. I don’t know about lease deals because I don’t lease. And the Genesis warranty is class leading – 5 yr/60,000 mi basic, 10 yr/100,000 mi powertrain. Not that I have needed it. Nothing has broken on it. But if the engine blows in 9 years, that’s a big big difference vs. the Germans where you would have been out of warranty for 5 years at that point.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Great input, Jack. Thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        mjrmjr

        Jack, I did almost the same exact thing-I got a leftover 2016 Hyundai Genesis. Top trim level, v6, rear drive. The way that you describe it is exactly how I think of it-it’s the car that Lincoln or Cadillac should be making but isn’t. If you want a big, comfortable car at a very good price and don’t care about brand or badge then it’s a no brainer.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        A number of reviewers (including Alex on Autos) have referred to the G80 as the modern-day LS400.

        The sheetmetal isn’t the most striking, but then again, don’t find the Germans to be as well; the G80 Sport looks a good bit better, adding a more aggressive look to the overall design.

        Biggest issue is with the design of the dash – which is very bland and looks outdated (something like the Cadenza has a more modern looking dash despite having a similar horizontal layout).

        As for quality of interior materials, it’s decent, but not up to the level of something like the E Class (which is to be expected for the price).

        The G70 actually has nicer all around quality of materials (all metal looking trim pieces are metal and not painted plastic as can be the case in the G80), but the pricing will reflect that.

        The next gen G80 (which isn’t too far off – likely next year) should get more dynamic styling (hopefully like the sexy New York concept), more dynamic handling (in part due to losing some weight) and an upgraded interior.

        Apparently will also be getting a turbo-4 option (and likely a hybrid or PHEV variant) putting out around 300 HP.

  • avatar
    Marathon Mike

    If I was in the market for a luxury mid-size car, I’d really have to consider this offering very seriously. I drove an E class a couple of months back and felt it was rather ‘cozy’, harsh riding on our less than ideal streets, and to top it off, the car had an annoying squeaking sound coming from the dashboard. My friend loves his Genesis coupe. I wonder if depreciation on the Hyundai would be significantly greater than its German peers?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      All “luxury” cars carry brutal depreciation but Genesis has less far to fall. If a $60K car loses 1/2 it’s value you’ve lost $30K but a $40K car only loses $20K. Also after 4 years the Genesis still has another 6 years of powertrain warranty on it but the risk is on the buyer for the Mercedes so that gets reflected in the value of the car.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    If the quality and longevity are there (and that is a big question), the Genesis could be the long-awaited successor to the Toyota Cressida – a quiet, visually unremarkable luxury car that doesn’t wear its qualities on its sleeve. For people who don’t need to be noticed.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      Haha! I owned a 90 Cressida, loved that thing! No performance or style qualities to speak of, but tremendous competence, quality, reliability and…charm! A 25+ year old car in which every single thing worked and worked like it was new, even the power antenna in -30C weather. Had the best sunroof I ‘ve ever seen, no buffeting, almost no wind noise. I miss that car!

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “I‘ve ever seen, no buffeting, almost no wind noise.”

        I think this was one of those old school Toyota engineering things where they used to sweat the hell out of the details. My ’96 4Runner is the same way, all the way to 70+ mph, with the rear window either down or up, but especially smooth with the rear window down that created a very nice smooth airflow in the cabin, like an “easter egg” feature almost. My family’s old Mazda MPV buffeted like crazy at anything over 40mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      A lot of the hardware (engine) is from the Hyundai parts bin and is well proven. Timing chain but the non-hydraulic valves will have to be adjusted for lash at some point (at a point where the cost might be not far from the value of the car – it’s not an easy or cheap job). Chances are you won’t still own the car then.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’ve been seeing a lot of these in my area previously dominated with leased E class, 5ers.I’m not sure I’d pay a premium on a high mile LS, to my eye I’d rather have the newer tech and I’d imagine this car is likely just as quiet and comfortable as a 4-5 yr old LS, and the LS still doesn’t bring in the prestige as much as an S class or XJ for example.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      I’ve been looking at Genesis for a few years, but always conclude I’d rather have a used Lexus. For this kind of cash I can get a 3-4 year old GS350 F-sport, or a 6-7 year old LS, which is a whole other ball-game in comparison. Given that Merc and Jag now lease so many cars in shallow end of the market, I feel no prestige envy for those cars over my Lexus.

      • 0 avatar
        Jaeger

        Comparing new to used is a bit of a dodge. Genesis still presents a compelling value on the used side if you consider how affordable a 2 year old V8 with 420hp and every conceivable feature is. As a 2015 3.8 AWD owner, I second Jack’s assessment above. My second choice was a used Lexus GS. Straight up those cars are very, VERY close competitors.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “3.8 AWD”

    Sad trombone.

  • avatar
    HuskyHawk

    I was doing some advanced shopping last night, and stumbled on the 2015 version of this car, selling, certified, with fairly low mileage, for low 20’s. It struck me that it could be a hell of a car for the money at that price. New? No thanks.

  • avatar
    Opus

    Styling benchmark: https://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/infiniti/m45/2008/oem/2008_infiniti_m45_sedan_base_rq_oem_1_500.jpg

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    My better half bought a new Elantra recently so while we were at the dealer I sat in one of these. I like the rear view but not the front. The interior was pretty nice, but then I’m not a fan of the BMW 5 Series’ interior, so this was an improvement for me. Most of the materials were decent but not really impressive. I think inserts on the doors and seats that are a couple shades lighter would have done a lot for the dark cave like experience. Do they even offer a lighter interior color or something two toned? I also really liked the brushed nickel(?) looking exterior trim.

    Edit: I did see some two toned interior pics on olders models.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    They are not fooling anyone.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Yeah…drive an E300 and look at the 90% S-class interior design, then compare it back to this abomination. I’d rather have a stripper E-class whose dashboard design took more than 2 minutes to finalize, besides the fact that I won’t touch a hunday with my bare hands.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      You’re comparing a turbo 4 to a V6. Interior design-wise, I agree with you, but I haven’t yet driven a blown 4 that felt/sounded better than a V6… ever.

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Besides the engine, which pulled fine for me, the chassis tuning on the Mercedes is fantastic. The way I can best describe it is you are isolated from the bumps in comfort, yet you can still feel the texture of the road through the steering to an observational extent.

      • 0 avatar

        A turbo four belongs in a Golf, not a luxury car.. All those CTS and ATS with a blown four ? All those BMWs with blown fours ? nope

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There is zero chance I’d ever buy a turbo-4 E-class.

      It’s about $3500 to go from an E300 4Matic to the E400 4Matic. That would be the easiest $3.5K I’ve ever spent.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      I’d expect the E to have a better interior—they just launched it.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “…I won’t touch a hunday with my bare hands”

      Why? I suspect your stereotypes from 25 years ago should be put aside.

      FWIW, I won’t touch a mersaydeez with my bare hands.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Yes, as I was crossing the Bosphorus last week in the back of a fleet-spec Renault Symbol, I looked over to the Mercedes next to me and was just green with envy. Yeah, it was a bus that was standing room only, but I bet the fit and finish on the inside were just exquisite.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          TMA you’re doing it all wrong. You need to go down to Bebek and just watch the traffic wave throug. Lambo after Ferrari after R8 after another three Ferraris. Or Bagdat on the other side. But I bet you knew that already :)

  • avatar
    volvo

    Since you are not buying a sports car unless you really need the AWD just get the RWD for $45K and spend the extra $10K on other things.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    My second impression is that this looks like a very nice car.

    But my first impression is “Infiniti Meets Chrysler”.

    Which, to me, suggests that if Hyundai benchmarked Mercedes, they didn’t benchmark it hard enough. Is there some reason to avoid the Lexus formula from almost 30 years ago – blatantly obvious copycat for less money, slowly building its own reputation and achieving brand equity and pricing power?

    Infiniti and Chrysler make some nice cars, but they are not desirable enough to copy.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      I see more Ford Fusion than anything else. The styling is at least inoffensive, which is more than I can say about, say, the current Lexus GS.

      I don’t think current Mercedes styling is worth benchmarking. The 3 pointed stars on the grills keep getting bigger and bigger – they are past dinner plate size and on the way to trash can lid side. Hey look at me, I bought a MER SAY DEES! Well, I didn’t exactly buy it, I have it on on payments and if I miss a couple they’ll tow it away but for now I’m driving one. And another real big one on the steering wheel so you can’t forget when you are inside the car either. You need them because without the big stars the rest of the car looks pretty generic.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s sort of like an Infiniti from 2009. Certainly not a new one.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    ” The extending lower bolster on the driver’s seat is appreciated by those of us long of thigh”

    I’ve owned two cars with these extendable bolsters, and I just don’t see the point. At 6’4 I’ve yet to drive a sedan that was tall enough for me to adjust the seat up to where my thighs weren’t lifted off the seat. If you’re short you don’t need extendable bolsters. Are these for people who are exactly between 6’0″ and 6’1″?

    • 0 avatar

      That’s how tall I am, and I don’t like extendable bolsters.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      I find those bolsters to be necessary for long-distance comfort, and I’m only 5’10”. But I’ve got legs that are disproportionately long.

      This matters enough to me that I’ve basically switched from BMWs to Mercedes – BMW only gives you thigh bolstered-seats with sports suspension packages. Those all ride like crap nowadays. Big reason why I switched.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I see Fusion also, but the Fusion is a handsome enough car as well.

    If I were looking for a stately sedan I would take one of these over BMW or Mercedes. Maybe not Audi.

  • avatar
    Comp1

    Just returned a 2015 Ultimate RWD Hyundai Genesis with 26.1K miles. They loved me! Sold within days. The car was nice, but not BMW or MB nice. But what really killed it for me was the lousy Hyundai experience. I suspect my local dealer will get a dedicated Genesis bldg but if they don’t step up the game it will all be for naught.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “I saw 20.1 mpg while driving the G80.”

    311 bhp @ 6K and 293 ft-tq @ 5K out of a V6 while being smog strangled with OHC, and 20mpg on corn juice?

    Most impressive

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