2015 Hyundai Genesis Delivers All-Wheel-Drive

GOES IN SNOW: The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is ready for New England drivers, with a V6 engine that boasts AWD and a luxury look that uses the latest technology.
GOES IN SNOW: The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is ready for New England drivers, with a V6 engine that boasts AWD and a luxury look that uses the latest technology.
PHOTO: GEORGE KENNEDY

Kudos to Hyundai for finally realizing the Northeast likes luxury sedans with all-wheel-drive. That makes the 2015 Hyundai Genesis an instant competitor in this market after years of being passed over for more expensive competitors.

“The Genesis is being built to attract customers we’ve never seen before,” explains Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai\MotorAmerica, at the Arizona media introduction of the new Genesis.

All-wheel-drive is now a $2,500 option on the 2015 Hyundai Genesis with the 311-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 that starts at $38,000. It’s not available yet on the 420-horsepower V8 version, which is only available in rear-wheel-drive, and has an MSRP of $51,500. For that extra cash, buyers receive, in addition to the HTRAC AWD system, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and headlamp washer. Think of it as a cold-weather package for all-wheel-drive buyers. All Genesis versions come with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The HTRAC AWD multi-mode system provides an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. It can deliver up to 100 percent of power to the needed axle and has been tuned, Hyundai says, to variable conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill-starts.

Hyundai developed an all new platform for the 2015 Genesis to accommodate all-wheel-drive, which means it’s still a possibility that it could be added to the V8 model. At the media introduction, company officials hinted it could become available during a future model update if consumer demand exists.

Those considering the Genesis need to think long and hard before making the move from the V6 to V8 for a couple reasons. The most obvious would be the lack of all-wheel-drive. Another would be that the V6 in no way lacks power. Is the V8 quicker? Of course, but the V6 might be only tenths-of-a-second slower in passing.

You’re better off taking the $11,000 price difference between the V6 and V8 and investing in the Signature ($4,000) and Technology ($3,500) packages. The former includes blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, HID headlights, ventilated front seats, and power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel. The Technology package, which is coupled with the Signature package and does not stand alone, comes with leather seats, a power driver seat cushion extender, side bolsters, and a 7-inch LCD cluster display.

More important, it includes lane keep assist, smart cruise control (with full stop/start capability) and a haptic (touch-messaging) steering wheel. Those three elements combine to create a fairly autonomous vehicle for about $48,000. The Genesis is not going to back you out of your driveway and make right turns to take you to the dry cleaner, but on the open highway it’s capable of doing 98 percent of the driving for you. It took over the longer segments of driving during testing on highways outside of Phoenix and even handled sweeping curves.

The 3.8-liter V6 rear-wheel-drive delivers the best fuel economy of the three models at 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway for a combined 22 mpg. The 3.8-liter sees a big drop in fuel economy when all-wheel-drive is added, down to 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for a combined 19 mpg. The rear-wheel-drive V8 is rated at 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. It’s the only model that requires premium fuel.

The new Genesis comes with a first for Hyundai: automatic emergency braking. In conjunction with the lane departure warning system’s forward camera and the smart cruise control system, it will employ automatic braking if it feels another vehicle is coming up at an unsafe rate. From 50 to 112 mph, the system provides partial braking and collision warning. From 5 to 50 mph, the automatic emergency braking provides full braking and collision mitigation. Other safety elements include electronic stability control (ESC), nine airbags, and anti-whiplash front head restraints.

The ultimate safety feature might be the world’s first automotive CO2 sensor control system. It was inspired by a Hyundai engineer who got drowsy driving home one night. Basically, the system knows occupants get sleepy when CO2 levels exceed 2,000 parts per million. When that number is hit, the passenger cabin is pumped full of fresh air from the outside.

The new Genesis has become even quieter with Hyundai placing an emphasis on noise, vibration, and harshness reduction. You can still hear the engine under spirited acceleration but otherwise the added foam insulation in the passenger cabin and engine compartment does a great job keeping the engine noise suppressed.

The Hyundai Genesis features a piece of technology you could go your whole life without missing but will love it once you have it. Called smart trunk, it allows the driver to stand by the trunk with the key fob tucked in a pocket and the trunk will pop open. It spares you the weird foot wave Ford makes drivers do to open the trunk. It’s a nice use of technology you’ll appreciate it when your hands are full or you just don’t feel like digging through a purse to find your keys.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

THE BASICS

Price, base (with destination): $38,950. Fuel economy: 18 mpg city/29 mpg highway for the V6 RWD; 16 mpg city/25-mpg highway for the V6 AWD; 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the V8 RWD. Drivetrain: 3.8-liter V6/5.0-liter V8. Body: Four-door midsize sedan.

THE SPECIFICS

Horsepower: 311 hp (3.8-liter V6), 420 hp (5.0-liter V8). Torque: 311 hp (3.8-liter V6), 420 hp (5.0-liter V8). Overall length: 196.5 in. Wheelbase: 118.5 in. Height: 58.3 in. Width: 74.4 in. Curb weight: 4,138 lbs. for the V6 RWD; 4,295 lbs. for the V6 AWD; 4,541 lbs. for the V8 RWD.

THE GOOD

Hyundai has created a distinctive looking near-luxury sedan packed with advance technology at a value price.

THE BAD

Fuel economy for the all-wheel-drive version takes a big hit, the rear cross-traffic alert needs to be integrated into the backup camera, and the technology package should be able to stand alone.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan has come into its own as a near-luxury vehicle that competes with its German counterparts.

Hyundai Genesis Drive Notes

Auto reviewer George Kennedy was also at the launch and added these thoughts on the Genesis:

• While the previous Genesis was a generally handsome car, it was also visually anonymous. The second gen Genesis will not have that problem. The demonstrative grille makes a bold statement and will call attention to the car, even among more rarified luxury sedans.

• The car is far more tuned-in. Steering is responsive, and there is little body roll in high-speed turns.

• Seats are extremely comfortable and the available upgraded HD touchscreen is vivid and functional.

• In short, the new Genesis makes a much stronger case as a legit luxury sedan, and drowns out that, “…but it’s a Hyundai” retort.