by Roger Biermann
Genesis has only been in the industry for a few years as a standalone brand under parent company, Hyundai, but has already made a name for itself creating luxury vehicles at affordable prices. The G80 is its contribution to the midsize luxury sedan segment, among such rivals as the ever-popular BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS. While the G80 matches, and in some cases, even beats rivals feature-for-feature at a more affordable cost, the G80 favors comfort over outright performance. Available with three choices of engine, a base 3.8-liter V6 outputs 311 horsepower, while a mid-spec 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 bangs out 365 hp, and at the top of the line-up, a 5.0-liter V8 delivers 420 hp through a rear-wheel drivetrain by default, with all-wheel drive optional. The combination of excellent onboard tech and driver aids, together with a plush driving experience make the G80 an excellent contender in a tough segment.
The basic exterior design is carried over from the previous year, but the addition of a Sport Package to the 3.8 trim brings with it distinctive nuances and traits. This includes sport rocker molding in the front, unique front and rear bumpers, a dark chrome grille, dual exhaust tips, 19-inch alloys, and ventilated front seats as well as a sport-styled steering wheel. Heated seats in the back and a premium 14-speaker sound system complement the panoramic sunroof to make this model highly desirable. An upgraded eight-inch infotainment screen has also been added to this year's line-up.
3.8-liter V6 Gas
3.3-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
5.0-liter V8 Gas
Both the entry-level 3.8 and 5.0 Ultimate trims are equipped with the signature wide crest grille finished in satin detailing, with body-color side mirrors and LED headlights as standard on all but the entry-level variant (where it is an optional extra). All three models feature daytime running lights, power-folding side-mirrors and approach lights featuring the Genesis logo. All exterior windows are solar control/acoustic laminated and on the 3.3 T Sport trim, painted front brake calipers, sports bodyside moldings, and copper accented headlight trim identify the performance-oriented vehicle in this range. Dual exhaust tips are standard on the entry-level variant, with quad exhaust tips on the upper two trims. Wheels vary between trims, and for the base model 3.8, 18-inch alloys are standard, upgraded to 19 inches on both the upper trims as well as on the 3.8 with the Sport Package.
Occupying the mid-size luxury sedan segment, the G80's overall length of 196.5 inches spread over a wheelbase of 118.5 inches is on the larger side of the segment, measuring slightly longer in both aspects than a BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Standing at 58.3 inches in height and 74.4 inches in width, the G80 has an aggressive stance but a larger footprint than those rivals as well. The aggressive stance is aided by the fitment of all-wheel drive which lowers the ride height from 5.3 inches to 5.1. The G80's curb weight ranges from 4,195 lbs in its lightest incarnation to 4,716 lbs in its heaviest all-wheel-drive V8 derivative.
A total of nine exterior colors are available for the 2019 G80 range, all continued verbatim from the 2018 line-up. While color choices carry no additional cost, they are limited in availability depending on the trim chosen. Himalayan Gray, Casablanca White, and Victoria Black are available across the line-up, but Serengeti Brown, Santiago Silver, and Adriatic Blue are exclusive to the 3.8 and 5.0 derivatives. Siberian Ice, Polar Ice, and Havana Red are Sport-exclusive color options, the latter of which looks particularly striking with the Sport's blacked out detailing.
From entry point to the fully-loaded variant, the G80 has been equipped with any one of three powerful engines, ranging from a 3.8-liter V6 on the base model to the best performing 5.0-liter V8 version. On the top-spec trim, the 5.0 Ultimate, an impressive power output of 420 hp is produced, together with 383 lb-ft of torque. This V8 GDI engine is paired with a Dual-CVVT transmission and can manage the 0-60 mile per hour sprint in just five seconds, marginally quicker than the mid-spec 3.3T Sport; it also attains a top speed of 149 mph. The 3.3T Sport trim is a worthy mention as it blends the performance and efficiency of both the top-end and lower-end engines from this range to produce a hearty 365 hp and 376 lb-ft from a V6 twin-turbo engine. All of the available models are available in the standard rear-wheel-drive but can be configured to all-wheel drive optionally, matching the standards set by the traditional rivals in this segment.
Three engine options are available for the G80 range, with a 3.8-liter V6 GDI engine equipped on the entry-level model delivering 311 hp and 293 lb-ft. At the top-end is the powerful 5.0-liter V8 GDI engine with the most impressive horsepower in the range, at 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The 3.3T Sport trim splits the difference with a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 GDI engine that puts out 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque; all available engine variants are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. While the focus of the Q80 isn't on outright performance, there's a fair amount of it available. The base engine is somewhat lackluster, but either of the upper two motors gives a good dollop of torque on throttle application, while the 5.0 V8 has a burly engine note to match. However, the pick of the lot is the mid-range 3.3T Sport's V6 - striking a balance between weight, power, torque, and smoothness of delivery with performance figures comparable to the V8 and gas mileage figures closer to those of the base engine. It's the sweet spot of the range with swift, relatively lag-free responses and a solid dose of torque to make the most out of the eight-speed automatic transmission.
The mid-size sedan offering from Hyundai's luxury brand provides a comfortable and composed ride, an ideal family vehicle that offers the option of an occasional athletic drive. While the Jaguar XF may be more hardcore and driver-centric, the G80 strikes a fine balance of capability and comfort, not ostracising those who enjoy driving, but also catering to those who merely long for comfort.
Ride comfort errs on the firmer side, but the suspension is still supply damped to absorb road jostles with ease, taking corners without being unsettled by mid-corner bumps. When in the default drive mode, the G80 is every inch a luxury sedan, particularly in 5.0 V8 guise, with the weight over the nose costing dynamic ability in favor of an additional sense of settledness on the road. Sport mode somewhat changes its demeanor, giving it a harder edge but one that lacks genuine dynamism.
The 3.3T gets a sportier tune than the rest, being the Sport-badged derivative of the line-up, which pairs well with a lighter engine over the front axle to give sharper turn-in and more athletic responses to steering inputs. The steering lacks feel but is amply weighted, and the response to inputs is impressively sharp. Balance mid-corners tends to sway towards understeer when pressed, though keener drives can push past this to oversteer on rear-wheel-drive models. Even then, however, the G80 is more butcher's blade than scalpel - sharp, but heavy rather than nimble. It's better at eight-tenths than it is at full blast.
Comparing less favorably to main competitors in terms of gas mileage, the G80's 20.3-gallon fuel tank allows for a total range of 426 miles on the entry-level 3.8 model - the most economical in the line-up, with EPA estimates of 18/26/21 mpg for the city/highway/combined cycles on rear-wheel driven models. On the other end of the spectrum, the 5.0-liter trim offers only 385 miles per tank, achieving estimates of 16/24/19 mpg on the rear-wheel drive derivative. The 3.3-liter Sport splits the difference, achieving estimates of 17/25/20 mpg. Further decreases in gas mileage estimates occur when equipping the vehicle with all-wheel drive, dropping mpg figures by a point across the range.
Ergonomically the interior of the G80 is superb, with everything in easy reach and laid out in a logical manner. The cabin is relatively well-spaced and even though the rear may be tight for an adult occupant in the middle seat, it is generally quite comfortable. Heated front seats are widely adjustable (12-way on the entry-level variant, and 16-way power adjustable on the other trims) as is the steering column, and side bolsters and thigh extenders are included on the upper end of the range. LATCH restraints are equipped in the back seat but are not easily accessible, while the rear doors open wide to make maneuvering in and out easy. Material quality is high, and the design is premium, both qualities becoming synonymous with Genesis, but the leather and soft-touch plastics don't feel as opulent as those found in more exclusive rivals.
Due to the wide range of adjustments available on both the driver's seat and the steering column, the driving position can be optimized with ease. Visibility is sufficient for the most part, but the wide front pillars and exterior mirror positioning make for a difficult left-turn movement that is somewhat obstructed. The G80 seats five occupants, with front occupants kept in comfortable accommodation. The rear is a little more cramped, particularly for the fifth occupant, who would have to sit slouched in the center of the rear bench if they're on the taller end of the adult spectrum. The middle rear seat is thus better suited to smaller passengers or children, although outboard passengers have ample head and leg room even for those over six-feet tall. In the driver's seat, thigh extensions, as well as added side bolsters, are available on the Sport and Ultimate trim, ideal for the driver with longer legs. Front seats have lumbar support adjustment, and all passengers have the benefit of heated seats (with ventilation standard only on the top two trim levels).
Interior combinations for the entry-level G80 model are threefold: gray two-tone leather, beige two-tone leather, and uniform black leather. This can be customized through one of two inlay options: Glossy Gray Woodgrain or Glossy Brown Woodgrain, each with aluminum accents and Matte Brown Ash Wood, Matte Paldao Wood, or Matte Sapele Wood trim. On the 3.3T Sport model, exclusive interior combinations can be selected: black or gray leather with copper stitching, trimmed with carbon fiber accents and aluminum highlights. Black and ivory leather upholstery with matte black ash wood and aluminum finishes is a unique combination exclusive to the 5.0 Ultimate.
With 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space available, the G80 features slightly more room for cargo than rivals in this class, although not by much. Sufficient for two medium-sized bags with some space to spare, the trunk hinges are well positioned within a wide opening to provide maximum space. Liftover height is also relatively low which aids loading. The rear seats do not fold down to expand the available space, however, which many in this segment do offer, giving the G80 a compromised storage capacity for those requiring extra from time to time.
Internal storage comprises a console in the front of the cabin that provides access to a USB port, AUX input, and wireless charger system, while a center armrest holds a deep storage bin. Door pockets are not particularly large but are rubber-lined for silent storage of smaller items such as cell phones and keys which may rattle around loudly otherwise.
The feature list on the G80 range is more extensive than most rivals as standard, with proximity key entry and push-button start as well as dual front automatic temperature control (and cabin air filter). A full-color head-up display is optional on the base trim, but standard on the other two models. Across the range, smart cruise control with stop and go feature is included, as well as an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A power tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof is available on all three models, although at extra cost on point of entry into the range. All trim levels feature heated seats, whereas front seat ventilation and heating on the rear seats are only standard on the top two trims. A comprehensive list of driver aids, including driver attention warning, a rearview camera with parking guidelines, and blind-spot collision warning are equipped on all models, and only parking distance warning has to be included as optional on the 3.8 variant.
At the entry level, the base model is equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen which can be upgraded to a 9.2-inch screen which is standard on both the Sport and Ultimate trim levels through the additional purchase of the Ultimate package. Although all trims have navigation services as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, the cheapest variant has only a basic seven-speaker audio system featuring HD Radio, Sirius XM and MP3 connectivity, while an optional 14-speaker upgrade is available. The two top-end models, the 3.3T Sport and 5.0 Ultimate, boast a Lexicon Quantum Logic surround sound system with 17 speakers and music restoration technology as well as driver information system. A wireless charging pad is included for both the Sport and Ultimate and can be optioned on the entry-level trim.
Genesis has a reputation for offering the most comprehensive warranties on its vehicles, and the G80 is no different, borrowing from parent company Hyundai. In addition to complimentary scheduled maintenance over the course of three years, there is also a limited warranty for five years/100,000 miles, as well as an additional ten year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. There have been two recalls in 2018, however, one for incorrectly bonded windscreen glass and one for an airbag that may deploy when a child seat is in place. Despite this, buyers seem generally happy with very few reported problems.
As with the previous year model, the 2019 G80 was once again awarded the title of Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS. Scoring best available marks of Good in all crashworthiness tests, as well as Superior in front crash prevention. The G80 also scored a five-star overall safety rating by the NHTSA.
A total of nine airbags are present on all trim levels, including a driver's side knee airbag. Forward collision-avoidance assist featuring pedestrian detection, driver attention warning, and blind spot collision warning are all basic features across the range. All models also have rear cross-traffic collision warning and a rearview camera. Driver aids designed to enhance safety that are also equipped include vehicle stability management, ABS, and Hill Start Assist. All models boast high levels of standard safety, with only park distance warning being an optional extra, and only on the base trim.
The luxury sedan, under Hyundai's Genesis brand, ticks all the boxes for safety, reliability, and affordability, while also being comprehensively-equipped with a smart design. Although not quite as refined or as luxurious as some of the rivals, most notably the Lexus GS and BMW 5 Series, and less involving than a Jaguar XF, the lower pricing and higher levels of onboard tech more than make up for the less focused appeal of the G80.
The Genesis certainly holds its own against competitors in terms of convenience and safety features, and with powerful engines available, it fulfills the needs of a family sedan with athletic capabilities at an affordable price. The extensive warranties, high levels of standard technology, incredible safety, and great levels of comfort of the G80 give an effective answer to the question, is the G80 a good car? The answer is a resounding yes, and the G80 is a non-Japanese alternative to the established German trio of sedans that won't leave you feeling you missed out by buying something a little more alternative. Although some upgrades can be made to infotainment technology and more attention to detail can be added to the interior, any of the available models would make a good investment.
At the entry level, the cheapest G80 model available is the 3.8L in rear-wheel drive configuration, with an MSRP of $42,050 including licensing, tax, registration, and a destination charge of $995. The mid-range 3.3T Sport variant has a starting price of $55,250 with rear-wheel drive equipped while at the top-end of the range is the 5.0 Ultimate, which is only slightly more costly than the Sport variant, and costs $57,000. To upgrade any of the variants with all-wheel drive, a further $2,500 can be added to the total cost.
The G80 range is composed of three basic models: 3.8L, 3.3T Sport, and 5.0 Ultimate, each of which can be equipped as either rear-wheel drive (which is the standard configuration) or all-wheel drive.
The entry-level trim boasts a 3.8-liter V6 with 311 hp while featuring 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, hands-free access, 12-way power adjustable heated front seats, dual-zone climate control,and a default eight-inch infotainment system with navigation and AppleCarPlay/Android Auto functionality. Advanced safety features include forward collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, and lane keeping assist.
The 3.3T Sport variant boasts a 365-hp twin-turbo V6 but also gets sportier styling cues, 18-inch alloy wheels, firmer suspension, bigger brakes, LED headlights, and quad exhaust tips. Features are increased to include a power trunk lid, 16-way adjustable sports seats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and an upgraded 9.2-inch infotainment system. This model uniquely features sports seats and a steering wheel with contrast detailing in copper.
The top-end 5.0 Ultimate model has the more powerful 420-hp V8 engine and model-specific 19-inch alloy wheels. It receives much of the base model's styling attributes, but with quad exhausts instead of dual. In addition to the base and 3.3 Sport's features, the 5.0 Ultimate gets higher quality finishes, a power sunroof, surround view monitor, 17-speaker audio system, and standard park distance control.
There are two additional packages available for the base model only, as the 3.3T Sport and 5.0 Ultimate include and build on the features incorporated from the 3.8 trim.
The Sport Package can be added to the 3.8 trim to upgrade from 18-inch wheels to 19-inch sport alloys while adding a sport front and rear bumper and rocker molding. A darkened grille surround and window trim are included in this package, as are driver aids such as surround view monitor and front and rear parking sensors. A tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof, as well as more impressive 14-speaker Lexicon sound system, will be equipped in this package, and heated rear seats with ventilation for front seats also feature. This package adds an extra $5,700 to the base price.
The second add-on bundle is the Ultimate package, priced at an additional $9,950. Incorporating some of the features in the Sport package, this adds additional benefits such as shift-by-wire feature, full LED headlights with dynamic bending light functionality, Nappa leather seating with driver's seat extension and bolster, head-up display and the bigger 9.2-inch infotainment screen. With this package comes the superior 17-speaker sound system, power trunk lid and heated steering wheel.
Stocked to the brim with most, if not more, of the features paid for as extra on rivals, even the base model G80 is a worthy buy. However, the mid-level trim - the 3.3T Sport - features all of the tech and driver assistance, together with cheekier styling and better handling, thanks to the inclusion of the continuous damping control suspension. The 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 offers performance comparable to the V8 with better handling and gas mileage, while the additional torque over its non-turbocharged V6 counterparts aid both practical overtaking and spirited driving. Boasting a power sunroof, sports seats, the larger infotainment system, park distance sensors, and ventilated front seats, it's a better-specified model, too, giving huge value for money in a segment in which that phrase is not often synonymous.
The Lexus GS offers a premium interior boasting more refined finishes and high-quality materials than those in the G80. The G80 has a much easier-to-use infotainment system than what the Lexus has to offer with greater functionality, too, and whilst being very similar in price, the G80 offers more cabin and cargo space on the whole. The Lexus achieves better gas mileage ratios - the G80 is one of the weakest in this segment - but the G80 has a better lineup of available engines, particularly in 3.3T and 5.0 guises with characterful, sporty powertrains. The G80 is sportier too, offering more for the enthusiastic driver, while the GS is lounge-like in its levels of comfort. Where the G80 fares strongest is in its warranty and safety scores, far surpassing those of the Lexus. On value for money, too, the G80 is stronger, loaded with features with little available optionally. Despite the more premium feel attached to the Lexus because of its name, the G80 holds its own as a worthy (if not better) competitor in this segment.
As one of the leaders in this segment, the 5 Series builds on solid history and a long-standing legacy, whereas the Genesis brand is relatively new to the luxury vehicle segment. Despite this, the G80 offers all of the features you'd find in a 5 Series as standard including those that are expensive optional items on the BMW. The BMW offers better gas mileage, however, with a broad range of characterful yet frugal engines that have more to offer than those in the Genesis - displacement isn't everything - while the BMW also has better composure at the outer limits of its handling range. The 5 Series is more expensive, though, but counters this with higher quality interior materials and a familiar design that's easy to understand from the moment you climb in. As a true performance vehicle, the BMW may overpower the G80 based on reputation and popularity alone, and it backs it up with substance, too, but this doesn't detract from the brilliance of the Genesis, and at a more affordable price. Both are brilliant vehicles, and buyers brave enough to go for the left of field choice won't be disappointed.