2021 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD Review
Genesis continues to impress, even if few car buyers yet know what it is.
Hyundai is still on an uphill climb. The South Korean automaker launched the Genesis luxury brand five years ago, much as Toyota launched Lexus, Honda launched Acura, and Nissan launched Infiniti, in the 1990s. These Japanese brands established a strong foothold in the U.S. market with their low-cost, high-reliability models, then moved upscale, where the profits are.
Hyundai is doing the same thing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
In fact, the tested Uyuni White G80 that I just tested is already the second iteration of its mid-level full-size luxury sedan. That’s how much effort Genesis is putting into getting its own foothold.
This G80 is another winner, and more affordable than most entry-level luxury cars. My tester was the G80 2.5T RWD model, the base — if one can use that word — model with a starting price of $48,725, including delivery. The sparkling white paint job cost $400 extra so this G80 ended up at $49,125. That undercuts the German luxury market by quite a bit, and the Japanese market by a bit too.
In short the G80 is beautiful, whisper quiet inside, features good power, handles effortlessly and touts a luxury ride that in olden days we called a boulevard ride, but without the floating feel of yesteryear.
How so? G80 rides on a lengthy 118.8-inch wheelbase to spread the bumps and its multi-link front and rear suspensions, with a self-leveling feature in back, creates that luxury ride. I can’t recall a sedan I’ve driven in the past year or so that rides any better. Maybe the G90, but that was five years ago.
Like most cars, and all luxury models, Genesis includes multiple drive modes engaged via a button on the console. So one can tool along in Eco to save fuel, Comfort for daily driving or Sport to up the kick you get when accelerating and to stiffen steering effort. Even then the steering wheel isn’t tiresomely heavy, but there’s certainly more low-end power.
That actually helps this 2.5T model because it has the entry-level 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 that makes 300 horsepower via 311 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s substantial, but not monster power. It’s quick and sounds horsey though. This G80 reportedly will do 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and darned near 100 on a highway entry ramp. Top speed is about 130 mph, if you need that for cruising your neighborhood.
Don’t worry though, there’s more power available in the 3.5T. That model packs a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 creating 375 horsepower and a torque rating of 391. Both models also are available with all-wheel-drive, which adds $3,150 to the price and may be a wise addition in Wisconsin. While on price, the base 3.5T starts at $60,145.
Handling is moderately light, easy and effortless, but the car corners well at speed. That Sport mode of course firms steering feel. Braking is impressive too, with 13.6-inch vented front discs and 12.8-inch rear discs doing the job.
Shifts are handled via a mostly smooth 8-speed automatic that includes paddle shifters behind the wheel. Unless you’re a fanatic for such things you’ll likely never use those. I did notice there is some hesitation coming off a stop, but that’s less noticeable in Sport mode. Also, the Stop/Start feature aimed at saving gas is a little less refined here than in many luxury makes.
Outside, the G80 is gorgeous from its wide pentagonal grille to the dual thin-line headlights on either side. The layout seems to reflect the winged Genesis logo on the nose, which I’ll say, again, looks a lot like Bentley’s.
Those thin twin headlights are reflected in similar taillight styling giving the car incredible stylistic balance. That’s aided by silky smooth shoulder lines that blend well nose to tail and a somewhat fastback roofline. Think Audi A7. Finally G80 uses a couple strakes for styling behind the front wheel wells. Those strakes include lights in the lower portions of each to give the sedan a unique nighttime appearance.
A chrome rocker panel trim line gracefully sweeps up through the rear wheel well to the car’s rear, making the car look as if it’s in motion while standing still. On the practical side, the A pillars have been thinned too. All combined, that’s a perfect 10 on my styling scorecard!
Inside, you’ll immediately know you’re in an upscale make as the styling is simple and elegant. Seats are tan leather and the dash and doors feature brown leather tops and creamy tan leather lower panels. Likewise the wheel is dark leather with a tan hub with satin chrome controls.
I like the slim, streamlined dash layout too and the black gloss on the center stack and console with satin chrome controls looks classy. However, the sun reflects off the console frequently and I was surprised there was no wireless phone charger here. Likewise the rotary gear shift lever is not the most intuitive design, but seems to be the way carmakers are going.
The clean design means it’s easy to figure out the buttons and controls and the 12.3-inch infotainment screen is eye-friendly and simple to use. There is a ring on the console that controls many of the functions, but unlike many such units it’s intuitive. Turn the outer ring and it easily scrolls through your radio’s favorite channels. Move your finger on the center portion of the disc and it allows selection of various functions on screen.
Seats feature a relatively flat bottom cushion that made my tailbone ache a bit after about an hour’s drive. Seat backs are well formed and comfortable and the leather is sufficiently soft for the price. Rear seats are roomy with a large fold-down armrest and trunk space is reasonable too.
G80 includes a power lumbar support for the driver and two seat memory settings on the door. Front seats also are heated, but not those in back. Plus there are no cooled seats or heated wheel here either.
You’ll need to move up to the Advance model for cooled seats, a panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate controls, a power trunk, 19-inch wheels and a 21-speaker Lexicon stereo. The 2.5T Advance model lists at $53,325 and an even more luxurious Prestige model at $57,625.
The base tested model does come already equipped with a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, adjustable interior ambient lighting, puddle lights in the side mirrors that also power flat to the car when the ignition is off. Plus there are the usual safety electros, such as smart cruise, lane-departure and assist, blind-spot warning, and automatic braking. Nice too that the lane-departure warning system can be turned off with the push of a button to allow for easier city driving during construction season when a driver is often dodging cones and errant pavement lane markers.
Still not sure Genesis is luxurious enough for you, or has the cache of a European make. Well, on the practical side there’s an excellent warranty so your long-term investment may be much less too. First, there’s a limited 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty and 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Genesis also provides free three-year or 36,000-mile maintenance, including oil changes.
Gas mileage is good on this 2.5T too. I got 24.9 mpg in a mix of city and highway and the EPA rates the G80 at 23 mpg city and 32 highway.
Any sedan that looks this gorgeous, yet is underpriced for its market, deserves a strong look and test drive if you’re a luxury car intender.
Overview: 2021 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD
Hits: Beautiful exterior styling grille to tail, good power, effortless handling, luxury ride and AWD available. Clean stylish dash, 12.3-inch info screen, heated seats, multiple drive mode, solid safety systems, good stereo, ring on console selects radio stations, power tilt/telescope wheel. Impressive pricing.
Misses: No wireless charger, gloss and metal console trim too reflective, rotary shifter, no sunroof or cooled seats or heated steering wheel.
Made In: Ulsan, So. Korea
Engine: 2.5-liter turbo I4, 300 hp
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Weight: 4,143 lbs.
Wheelbase: 118.5 in.
Length: 196.7 in.
Cargo: 13.1 cu.ft.
MPG: 23/32, 24.9 (tested)
Base Price: $48,725 (includes delivery)
Major Options: Uyuni White paint, $400
Test Vehicle: $49,125
Editor's Note: Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.