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2015 Hyundai Genesis First Drive: Redesigned,Grown Up, Classier

by Roy Choi | May 11, 2014May 11, 2014 1:00 pm PST

Hyundai recently invited TechnoBuffalo to test drive the 2015 Hyundai Genesis on the desert highways of Arizona.  While many consumers were surprised to see the South Korean auto manufacturer enter the luxury market half a decade ago, sales of the Genesis have never been stronger (245-percent increase in sales since its first year). Though sales are strong, Hyundai figured the Genesis could use a redesign and upgrades throughout the car.  

So what does Hyundai expect to achieve with the newly designed 2015 Hyundai Genesis? Well, firstly, it wants to compete more directly with the German mid-luxury vehicles.  The focus there of course is better car performance and handling in addition to an available all-wheel drive option.  Secondly, it is developing designs that look sharp and invokes what most consumers envision when seeking a sleek luxury car.  Finally it is adding innovative features that truly appeal to the tech enthusiast, a new type of luxury, as the car industry explains. Which is perfect for us here at TechnoBuffalo.

Is the 2015 Hyundai Genesis significantly improved or just a rehash of the same?

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 Who Buys the Hyundai Genesis?

So who buys the Hyundai Genesis?  The most recent Polk automotive survey shows a 45 percent brand loyalty from existing Hyundai owners, and another 40 percent from non-luxury competitors (Toyota, Honda, and the like), and the remaining 15 percent are luxury “conquest” buyers, those that have previously purchased more “traditional” luxury brand vehicles; like the Lexus ES and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Interestingly, though, when the original Genesis arrived on U.S. shores about 5 years ago, it was merely trying to find its footing in the luxury car market. With the 2015 Genesis, Hyundai is aiming to reach higher into the luxury portfolio.  In fact many laughed at the Korean auto manufacturer for even thinking this foray was even practical, but today’s Genesis sales show it has paid off for Hyundai so far. The U.S. auto sales data shows the Mid Luxury segment to have grown from 230,000 a year to 284,554 (24 percent increase) where as the Genesis has sold from its first year: 13,604 to 19,804 in 2013 (46 percent increase).

This time around Hyundai isn’t merely looking to crack into the space, it is looking to throw the doors widen open and make itself feel at home. So this time it isn’t settling for going after just the Mercedes C-Class or Lexus IS consumer, rather it is targeting the E-Class or the Lexus GS (with C-Class/IS budget in mind).

We’ve been hearing from a lot of auto-manufacturers about the concept of a “post-recession” customer.  These buyers are ones that saw a lot of the negative effects of the economy and felt inclined to be smarter consumers. These consumers will not spend money wastefully, but will make the right, informed decision. Buying purchases are more deliberate after lots of fact checking, review seeking, and making sure they get the most bang for their buck.  More options, more features for less money.

 Features

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is priced a little higher than the 2014 model: $38,000 vs. $35,200 for the base models.  Though with this price increase, the base, 3.8L V6 model receives a whole new list of standard features:

– Next generation 8-inch navigation (optional 9.2-inches)

– Rearview camera

– Paddle shifters

– Hill hold control

– Power folding outside mirrors

– Driver knee airbag

– Front passenger seat power height adjustment

– Telescoping steering wheel

– Front passenger seat power lumbar (4-way)

– HD Radio

– 4.3-inch TFT LCD cluster display (optional 7-inch)

– Blue Link telematics

– SiriusXM Travel Link

– Rear 1-touch up/down power windows

– Rain sensing wipers

I’d say those upgrades are worth the slight bump in price.  Hyundai really wants to see the Genesis compete directly against the Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS, Infiniti Q70, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 while pricing the car $7,000 to $13,000 less.  You may have noticed the mentioned vehicles are the sportier, luxury vehicles in the class, and that is intentional.  Whereas the previous generation Hyundai Genesis was pegged to compete against a more “traditional” luxury design, and not necessarily standing out, the 2015 Genesis certainly looks to squarely target these competitors.

Design

As I briefly mentioned above, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis received a complete redesign.  While some design elements point to the previous generation Genesis, the 2015 model takes a leap forward in terms of design and targets the European car buyer.  If you were to place the older and newer Genesis next to each other you wouldn’t even know them to be the same badge. Mind you I am no design expert, but here are my takes between the two designs.  The front grill became leaner and more menacing looking, it received numerous LED lamps up front that we tend to see on a lot of cars these days. I’m a big fan of cars with longer hoods, there’s just something about the effect that makes the car seem grander.  The refined surfaces/lines along the side of the car add a bit more sportiness to the design.  The standard wheels look much nicer, in design and finish.  Finally the 2015 model appears to have received sharper/sleeker lines, whereas the previous model had more rounded, subtle features.

Hyundai has done quite a bit of research and development on the steel process.  While most of us won’t care all that much about this process it is important because it makes the car safer, handles better, and makes for a quieter driving experience.

2015-hyundai-genesis-64 2015-hyundai-genesis-62

Interior

The interior is what you should expect from any luxury vehicle. Though instead of faux wood interior or cheaper plastic paneling you’d find on some cars on the market, you’re left with real fine materials. The new Genesis sports open pore aluminum accents and handles, real wood grain, and comfortable leather interior.  You’ll find it to be comparable to most other vehicles in the mid-luxury class, in fact I prefer it over a handful of other competitor’s designs. Taking a quick look around the dash it is hard to say that Hyundai has left anything out of the car.  Though the back seat could have been a bit roomier.  We noticed if you were to pull the front seats all the way back there are just a few inches for the rear passengers. Though you’d probably need to be a giant (or around 6’8″) to take up the entire available legroom in the front seats. Then again, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis technically is the largest vehicle in the mid-luxury class.  The seats come standard with heating, with optional ventilation and the seat extenders (I really enjoyed the seat extender, it makes for a more comfortable ride).

The Hyundai Genesis sports the Grammy award winning Lexicon audio system that replicates studio quality audio.  I’m no audiophile, but any listener can pick up subtleties from those that tend to over process or are unbalanced audio outputs.  Lexicon’s Logic 7 surround sound processing plays back music the way it was intended as if you were right there in-studio with your favorite musician. Music isn’t always about the most bass or loudest effect. Despite what that annoying guy with windows down driving and thumping the loudest most obnoxious noise would have you believe.

Bluelink, Hyundai’s infotainment/navigation system, becomes a bit smarter in this version and includes Google’s destination search technology and a bunch of new apps to go along with it. Bluelink acts more like GM’s OnStar than Kia’s Uvo system. Meaning there is a dedicated data line, and not running requiring all processing to go through your phone’s data.  One of the benefits of doing this is having remote access to your vehicle.  Say you’ve locked your keys in your car, or you want start/cool/heat your car remotely.  You can also alert emergency services instantly, receive car status updates, maintenance alerts, schedule service appointments and even recover stolen cars.  On the latter, Hyundai reports a 100 percent success rate in recovering stolen cars.

The leather interior is nice, though most cars in this category have nice leather interior, it certainly was comfortable and roomy.  In fact the 2015 Genesis is a tad longer and has a wider wheelbase than its previous model and Hyundai is proud that the Genesis is larger than both the 5-Series and E-Class.  It boasts the most passenger volume, interior volume, and comes second in cargo volume (behind the E-class).  Ironically, being so large pushes the Hyundai Genesis into the “Large” category according to EPA standards, even though it competes in the mid-size luxury category.

2015-hyundai-genesis-49 2015-hyundai-genesis-48 2015-hyundai-genesis-45 2015-hyundai-genesis-46 2015-hyundai-genesis-39 2015-hyundai-genesis-38 2015-hyundai-genesis-37

Drive Experience

We drove two variations of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis: the 5.0L V8 and 3.6L V6 all wheel drive (HTrac) models.  Hyundai states the new  Genesis line-up will offer 10 configurations for the car.  Starting at $36,000 and ranging up to $56,000.  The all wheel drive option will be a welcomed addition to those that need the added traction, notably those living in more inclement weather areas.  Though the V6 engine is more than sufficient for every day use, it goes without saying the V8 engine, with the additional torque, is a tad more fun to drive.

That being said, a V8 engine isn’t always the most environmentally or economically friendly option.  Especially with how much gas costs these days.

Lambda 3.8 GDI V6

Horsepower: 311 HP

Torque: 293 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: RWD 18/29/22 (city/hwy/combined)  AWD 16/25/19 (city/hwy/combined)

Tao 5.0 GDI V8

Horsepower: 420 HP

Torque: 383 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 15/23/18 (city/hwy/combined)

On the new Genesis, you’ll have the option of smart cruise control, which uses sonar sensors to track and regulate the distance between you and the car in front of you. The same technology will also initiate automatic emergency braking to stop or slow the car down in the event you do not slow down yourself. Pair that with the option of a lane keep assist system and Hyundai can broadcast cool commercials like the one below.

O.K. so that stunt driver is too trusting.

While the new Genesis is not an autonomous vehicle, it certainly has built-in technology that will keep you from drifting side to side or hitting the car in front of you.  These added safety features aren’t anything new, though you’d have to shell out  $65,000+ for one.  I’ve used this technology on a few cars now and this version worked fairly well.  I will say, however, it isn’t the most natural feeling letting the car essentially drive it self.  I did find it to work seamlessly even if my natural instincts kept trying to correct what the car was doing.

The new Genesis also receives improved front and rear suspension, making the car more maneuverable, stable and just more pleasant (and fun) to drive.  The drive itself was fairly smooth with the added option of switching up drive modes  (Eco, Normal, and Sport).  There is a noticeable difference switching from these three modes, though I found myself choosing to drive in sport for a good portion of the route. Hyundai noted there was a huge emphasis on placing better balance on the Genesis this time around, one of a few sour points on the last model. You certainly feel more in control behind the wheel in the new Genesis. 

The 2015 Genesis includes a bunch of new safety features including blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, lane departure warning system for added safety and also Lane Keep assist, which detects and keeps the car in the lane. The car’s steering will auto correct if you were to begin drifting into the lane next to you. While crash test results haven’t been issued by appropriate regulatory parties, Hyundai has crammed this car with just about every bit of safety and crash prevention technology available on the market with the anticipation of earning 5-star scores.

This and That

This section will be longer than most other cars we’ve driven, only because Hyundai decided to add so many features into the car.  Some attributes, like the Genesis log0 puddle light (I affectionately call the Genesis Bat Signal) are just for looks and novelty, others are more useful and help the driver focus more on the road.

C02 Sensor

2015-hyundai-genesis-33

One of Hyundai’s engineers came up with a new way to reduce dozing off while driving for long distances. He found that when there are multiple people in a car, the CO2 levels spike pretty drastically, and if you are using the air conditioner’s circulating air mode, the CO2 is trapped in the car, making the driver (and passenger) sleepier.  This sensor will measure and trigger the car’s air conditioning unit to bring in fresh air as necessary.

Smart Trunk

2015-hyundai-genesis-17

Opening trunks is an annoying factor, sure, it’s not the most inconvenient chore in the world and there are far worse things that you never want to do.  There are many options available on the market, push button on the bottom of the car, waving your foot underneath the car, the tried and true method of using a manual key or key fob.  However, Hyundai feels it has a more natural way of opening trunks, just standing in the vicinity of the trunk.  You simply stand behind the trunk (with your key fob in your pocket, in your purse/bag) and in a couple of seconds it beeps and the lights blink as the trunk opens. I found it to work well and I know if I was carrying a large box or groceries I would find it convenient.  Like I said, it isn’t the end of the world to have to put down what’s in my hands/arms to pop open a trunk, but if you have kids, strollers, fragile items, it all adds up.  Plus this is a luxury car; what’s more luxurious than a car that opens trunks on its own? Probably only if you had a driver do that for, I suppose.

Heads-Up Display

2015-hyundai-genesis-13

I was particularly impressed with the heads-up display in Kia K900, and I expected more of the same from the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, though I was actually more impressed with the Genesis’ display.  The heads-up display showed more information and in a way that wasn’t distracting.  You’ll find you’ll look less on the TFT and displays on the dash, but straight head on the road. One issue I will say though about most heads-up displays is that they seem to not work when wearing polarized glasses. I suppose I can get a pair without polarized lenses. 

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Conclusion

After my short time with the car I thought it would be a great car that even my wife would be excited about. I say this because she is by no means a car person and she dozes off when I begin talking about cars. For example, when we bought her most recent car, she just asked that it be blue and have a sunroof. That being said she’d find all the features (heads-up display, smart trunk, smart cruise control, auto-stop) to be convenient and fairly exciting.

Overall I felt the 2015 Hyundai Genesis was a great car, fun to drive, luxurious but not pretentious.  It has many features that I have only begun to scratch the surface here.  It sports a ton of great safety features and looks great.

The new Genesis is every bit a more refined, grown-up version of its predecessor.  It sports all the right features (many of them now standard). All while keeping prices relatively low, making luxury attainable to many owners.  The drive experience is much improved, and now with an all wheel drive variant, many more drivers can considering making the purchase.  There is so much to like about the new Genesis with very little being left out of the car.  It has a really sharp facelift and shows Hyundai is not afraid to change a vehicle’s look or DNA.

2015-hyundai-genesis-1


Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Southern California native. He has been infatuated with technology reviews ever since he bought his first crummy laptop in the summer...

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