By Tom Crosby
Genesis means beginning and Hyundai's 2015 sedan by that name creates a new plateau of safety and comfort features for an affordable, mid-size sedan that keeps its price competitive while seeking to exceed buyer expectations.
Test driving both the rear-wheel and all-wheel drive on winding mountain roads in South Carolina designed to show off the vehicle's prowess, the Genesis hugged curves tightly with minimal lean and spritely accelerated.
An all-new rear multi-link suspension and stiffer lateral suspension aided handling, along with stronger alloy wheels and 5l.5 percent advance high strength steel in the body, creating responsive and confident handling and ride.
Vehicles were outfitted with cutting-edge safety options totaling $11,000 in packages that also improved comfort and amped up luxury, like the 9.2-inch high-definition dashboard navigation screen and the crystal-clear sound of the 17-speaker Lexicon audio system.
Also included in the options mix were blind spot detection, lane departure and assist warning, cruise control with automatic stop capability, high-beam adjustment for oncoming traffic at night, rear cross-traffic alert when backing up, heads-up display of speed; blind spot alerts; navigational turns, and automatic emergency braking assist.
The rear-wheel five-passenger sedan is the first ever to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top safety rating, which cited the braking system's effectiveness. Competitive luxury models include the Lexus ES and GS, Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS - all thousands of dollars more than an option-loaded Genesis (our rear-wheel-drive main tester was $49,950 as equipped).
Also, Genesis matches or exceeds its competitors in dimensions and passenger volume. Only Mercedes E-Class has a bigger trunk. Genesis's rich look is competitive with a hexagonal semi-gloss chrome front grille, character lines and sleek, upscale sedan design. Google powers Genesis's Blue link -- Hyundai's version of General Motor's Onstar for emergencies and remote start. Blue Link's telematics help find points of interest, share location, set boundary controls for teenage drivers and allow hands-free voice text messaging.
Genesis also integrates with Apple, Wi-Fi and can record SiriusXM radio presets. Available apps are Pandora, Aha Radio and SoundHound. The interior uses real wood accents and aluminum touches with piping on the heated/cooled leather seating surfaces.
Seating room for all occupants is generous, tire and engine noise is well muted, and drivers can choose from four driving modes -- Eco (best for mileage), Normal, Sport and Snow. A hands-free smart trunk flips up if you stand behind the bumper for three seconds. No under-bumper foot sweep required.
BOTTOM LINE: One of the best bargains in the pricey, luxury sedan market
LIKE: Price, comfort, looks, ride, handling
DISLIKE: Must buy safety options
Base price w/destination fee: $38,950
Curb weight: 4,138 lbs.
Wheelbase: 118.5 inches
Length: 196.5 inches
Width: 74.4 inches
Engine specs: 3.8-liter, V6, direct injection
Horsepower: 311-hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 293-lbs.-ft. at 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/Shiftronic
EPA Rating: 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway
Range: 20.3-gallon tank, regular gas
Performance: 0-60 in about 6 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.