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Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2018 Genesis G80

Eric Peters on

If something works once, odds are decent it will work a second time -- or so Hyundai hopes.

The Korean automaker wants to repeat history -- Lexus history, specifically. It has launched a new luxury line, the Genesis, that it hopes will do what Lexus did almost 30 years ago: undercut the established luxury car brands on price while offering cars just as appealing, and maybe even more so. The new G80 is among the first of these.

What It Is

The G80 is a rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive luxury sedan that competes with similarly laid-out medium-large luxury sedans like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, as well as Japanese luxury-brand rivals like the Lexus LS.

The base price is $41,750 with rear-wheel drive and a 3.8-liter V-6 engine. All-wheel drive bumps the price to $44,250.

A turbocharged V-6 and a V-8 are also offered.

Starting price for the turbo-equipped G80 3.3T with 365 horsepower and rear-wheel drive is $55,250. The same car with AWD costs $57,750.

The 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 420 horsepower and rear-wheel drive is $57,000. The same car with AWD costs $59,500.

What's New

The G80 gets a new midrange engine -- the twin turbo V-6 -- that's bundled with a Continuous Damping Control adaptive suspension, a 19-inch wheel/tire package, dark-chrome exterior trim and suede/carbon fiber interior trim.

If you order AWD with the base 3.8-liter engine, you'll also get heated rear seats and a wireless cellphone charging pad.

What's Good

It has luxury car engines for a much lower price than some luxury brands charge for economy car engines.

It has much better warranty coverage than most economy car brands.

It's not over-gadgeted and easy to just get in and drive.

What's Not So Good

The G80's bigger engines are thirstier than rivals' smaller ones.

The car is heavier than rivals, which eats away at its horsepower advantage.

The back seat is tighter than the BMW 5 Series and Benz's E-Class.

It'll take some time for the Genesis brand to acquire the cachet that BMW and Mercedes-Benz still have.

Under the Hood

The G80 leaves the starting gate with a big horsepower and displacement advantage over its rivals: a standard 3.8-liter V-6 with 311 horsepower. The 2018 BMW 5 Series comes standard with the 248 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 241 horsepower comes standard in the Mercedes E300 sedan.

Next up is the twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 with 365 horsepower. At the apex is a 5.0-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower. Both are also available with AWD.

All three of the engines are paired with eight-speed automatic transmissions. Not surprisingly, the turbo V-6 and V-8 want premium fuel; surprisingly, the base 3.8-liter V-6 takes regular fuel. This saves you 20 to 30 cents per gallon at the pump.

On the Road

There is a conventional gearshift lever right there on the center console.

The standard V-6 is free of turbo lag -- because there is no turbo. This is no small thing, and not just in terms of how the car drives. Turbos add a layer of complexity to the car, and that often means more expenses as the car ages.

The new 3.3-liter V-6 has turbos, of course, and it comes with a reassuring warranty that the German turbo'd cars do not.

For the best of both worlds -- earth-moving torque without the turbos -- buy the V-8. It is arguably the ideal powerplant for a big luxury car such as this.

At the Curb

Inside you'll find that electro-sliding the seat forward is the first order of business because there is too much legroom -- 45.7 inches. You will not need at least several inches unless you are a lot taller and have longer legs than an NBA forward. The downside is that there is only 35 inches of legroom in the second row.

But it's less of a problem than it seems to be because unless the driver is taller than an NBA forward, all that's necessary to give those in the back seat some more space is to scooch the front seat forward a few.

At 15.3 cubic feet, the G80 also has a larger trunk -- a full-size car's worth. The Benz E300 has 13.1 cubic feet, and the BMW splits the difference with 14.5 cubic feet.

The Rest

When Toyota launched Lexus, it had to go over-the-top with both the ownership and dealership experience.

The Genesis will enjoy similar white glove treatment, including three years of complimentary valet service when the car needs maintenance -- and that maintenance will be free for the first three years/36,000 miles. Also free is a three-year subscription to SiriusXM and enhanced roadside assistance.

The Bottom Line

It will be interesting to see whether history repeats.

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Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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