Hyundai’s fledgling Genesis luxury brand starts its life with a two-sedan lineup, and this is the smaller of the two: the 2017 Genesis G80, which was known as the Hyundai Genesis prior to the 2017 model year. Compare the G80 with the 2016 Genesis here. The name change comes with no major updates to the car, just a $2,650 price increase due to the inclusion of a lot of formerly optional equipment, mostly on the safety side. The Genesis G90 is the other model.

The G80 competes with mid-size luxury sedans like the BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Compare the four models here.

There are three available trims of the 2017 G80: 3.8 rear-wheel drive, 3.8 all-wheel drive and 5.0 Ultimate RWD. Under the hood of 3.8 models is a 3.8-liter V-6, while the 5.0 Ultimate features a 5.0-liter V-8. The G90 comes with more power.

My test vehicle was a 3.8 AWD that came with both the Premium Package ($4,750) and the Ultimate Package ($4,200), giving it a final price tag of $53,800, including a $950 destination charge.

Exterior & Styling

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There are no styling differences between this year’s model and the 2016 Hyundai Genesis apart from the badges. The G80’s styling is sleek and elegant, with the large, winged Genesis logo displayed prominently both front and rear. It’s an attractive sedan that ends up looking larger than it is. Both sedans in the Genesis lineup look similar enough that it’s hard to tell them apart from a distance.

The 5.0 models get 19-inch alloy wheels in place of the 3.8’s 18-inch wheels, plus quad exhaust pipes for some visual differentiation. LED fog lights are standard on the 5.0 and optional on the 3.8.

How It Drives

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The G80, as mentioned earlier, is offered with two powertrains. The base engine, found in 3.8 models, is a 311-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 293 pounds-feet of torque. Those who want more power can move up to the 5.0 Ultimate and its 420-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 383 pounds-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is the only transmission option for either engine.

There is one weird quirk to the G80 lineup: AWD is offered only with the V-6; the V-8 is only available with RWD.

As for power, the V-6 is more than up to the task. It revs freely and has the easy power you want out of a luxury sedan. But there’s something missing when the handling and ride are examined more closely.

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Where the G80 falls behind some of its more established competition is the driving experience. The G80 drives more like the other model in the Genesis lineup, the G90, than it does some of the more agile mid-size sedans out there, like the 5 Series or CTS. It’s very comfortable, with a suspension that absorbs road imperfections, but it lacks sharpness when pushed or when the road gets curvier, and the steering could use more feedback. Bumping the G80 into Sport mode does add weight to the steering, but it doesn’t improve road feel or communication from the front tires, which is key to providing a more dynamic experience.

EPA-estimated fuel economy figures are best for 3.8 RWD models, which are rated 18/28/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Opting for AWD drops those estimates to 16/25/19 mpg. The 5.0 has the worst fuel economy rating, 15/23/18 mpg, and requires premium gas. The 3.8 takes regular gas.

Interior

Riding in the G80 is a pleasant experience; it does a good job with sound isolation from the outside world, and I found the seats to be comfortable both front and back. Hyundai’s earlier luxury cars were a mixed bag, but the new Genesis models suggest it learned its lessons well. Materials are very high-quality, especially in G80 models with the Ultimate Package, which adds premium leather upholstery and real wood and aluminum trim pieces.

Heated seats are standard up front, with heated rear seats and ventilated front seats optional. A powered rear sunshade is also available.

Ergonomics & Electronics

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An 8-inch LCD screen and navigation are standard, but models with the Ultimate Package get a larger, 9.2-inch screen that goes better with the rest of the dash. A multifunction knob behind the shifter controls things and it’s a good size, fitting the hand nicely. Menus are intuitively ordered and the most commonly used operations are no more than a few clicks away, which makes the system feel snappy.

One interesting note: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available only with the standard multimedia system and the 8-inch screen. That means that if you want either of those technologies, you’ll have to stay away from the larger screen, which means no Ultimate Package.

Cargo & Storage

The G80’s trunk offers 15.3 cubic feet of cargo space, putting it ahead of each of the competitors mentioned earlier. Its backseat, however, does not fold down, so if you need to fit longer items you might be out of luck. Each of the competitors we mentioned offers a split, folding rear seat, and the BMW and Mercedes-Benz have it standard.

It’s also equipped with a standard smart trunk, which opens automatically when you stand behind the G80 with the key fob on you. If you get close enough, it will flash the turn signals and beep three times before opening. I prefer this approach to the one used by other automakers, which requires you to wave your foot under the rear bumper and do a one-footed jig, which can be difficult when your hands are full.

Safety

The added cost for the G80 over the 2016 Hyundai Genesis is mostly due to the addition of safety technology as standard equipment rather than in option packages: forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with full stop/start capability, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and automatic high beams.

Also available are front and rear parking sensors and parking guidelines for the backup camera (both part of the Premium Package).

I tested most of these features on the road (save the automatic emergency braking, for obvious reasons) and came away impressed. The adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist are less abrupt than systems I’ve tested in the past. They fit the rest of the car well.

The G80 earned top scores of good in all the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crashworthiness tests, and it got the highest score, superior, for crash avoidance and mitigation. It is among the best-rated models in the Institute’s large luxury cars class.

Value in Its Class

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Value against the rest of its class is where the G80 really makes its mark. Even with the added cost for 2017, you get more stuff for your money with the Genesis than with any of its competitors. In some cases, the gap is exceptionally broad.

Just getting the same level of safety equipment in a competitor requires adding expensive packages or opting for a higher trim level. The G80 already starts at a lower price than each of the competitors we’ve compared it with — by a good margin. Even my test vehicle, which had every option you could add to it alongside the V-6 engine, was $53,800. That’s nearly $2,000 cheaper than the base version of an E-Class with AWD.

As a value proposition, the G80 can't be matched by the more traditional luxury brands. But for buyers in this class, brand appeal, performance and personalization might be more important.

Beyond what comes with the car, Genesis offers a slew of services designed to enhance the ownership experience. That includes three years or 36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance with complimentary valet services to and from maintenance appointments. Genesis also keeps Hyundai’s robust 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and offers free navigation map updates and three years of satellite radio.

As a value proposition, the G80 (much like the Hyundai Genesis it replaces) can’t be matched by the more traditional luxury brands. However, I don’t think that’s the greatest priority for buyers up in this price category, for whom brand appeal, performance and personalization are also important. That’s where Genesis must catch up, as it has with the new G90.

I’m looking forward to what Genesis brand does with the G80 when it gets the full redesign it needs to be truly competitive.