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Genesis

2019 Car, Utility and Truck of the Year: A DriveWays Report…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Detroit, Mich.—South Korea’s Hyundai swept the honors Monday (Jan. 14), winning both the North American Car of the Year and Utility of the Year trophies for the Genesis G70 and Hyundai Kona.

The announcement came at the opening of the annual North American International Automobile Show (NAIAS) here.

large-1094-genesisg70The Genesis G70, the newest model from Hyundai’s separate luxury brand, was voted Car of the Year by an independent panel of 54 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.

large-34508-2019konaelectricTaking the prize for North American Utility of the Year was the Hyundai Kona, a subcompact crossover sport utility vehicle that is available with a gasoline engine, as a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid and as a pure electric with 248 miles of range.

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel 12A product of  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Ram 1500 was voted Truck of the Year. It features a new system called eTorque that combines a belt-drive electric motor generator with a 48-volt battery, which provides short boosts of extra power for the gasoline engine. It also enables a sophisticated idle stop-start function for improved fuel economy.

The North American Car of the Year Organization (NACTOY) is composed of  automotive journalists from print, online, television and broadcast organizations who pay annual dues and are required to drive and evaluate nominated new vehicles, culminating in the vote for the winners. They are independent of NAIAS and have no connections or relationships with any of the vehicle manufacturers.

The Genesis G70 fared better than its fraternal cousin, the Kia Stinger, which was a finalist for Car of the Year in 2018 but lost the honor to the Honda Accord.

Hyundai owns about 38% of Kia and the two cars share engines and drivetrains. Both the Stinger and the Genesis G70 are four-doors except that the midsize Stinger is a hatchback and the compact G70 is a conventional four-door sedan with a trunk. Prices range from the low $30,000 range to the low $50,000 range.

Both come with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with turbocharged four-cylinder or V6 engines and eight-speed automatic transmissions. One  advantage for the G70 is that it also is available with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Stinger does not offer a manual transmission.

Hyundai’s Kona is a stylish subcompact crossover with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It comes with a four-cylinder gasoline engine, as a plug-in hybrid and, most recently as a dedicated electric. Prices range from slightly more than $20,000 for the base gasoline model to nearly $40,000 for the electric, which can be reduced to around $30,000 with tax and other incentives.

Kona models offer such modern safety installations as forward collision warning and braking, lane-keeping assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot collision warning and driver attention warning, as well as torque vectoring braking, which selectively applies the inside brakes to ease cornering.

There were three finalists in each category. Besides the Genesis G70, Car of the Year nominees were the compact Honda Insight hybrid and the Volvo S60 sedan and V60 station wagon, both midsize.

The Kona’s competition finalists consisted of the all-new luxury compact crossover, the Acura RDX, and the Jaguar I-Pace, an all-electric midsize luxury crossover. In the truck category, the Ram’s competitors were the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra.

Chris Paukert, NACTOY’s vice-president, commented, “The Genesis G70 doesn’t just go toe-to-toe with segment mainstays like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class—it beats them all in driver engagement while positively slaying them on value for the dollar.” Paukert is executive editor of Roadshow by CNET.

“The Kona Electric is the first mass-market electric car that truly works for the mass market,” said NACTOY juror Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor at U.S. News & World Report Best Cars. “A livable EV range, affordable price and practical cabin combine with lively driving dynamics to make the Kona EV a true pleasure.”

“Ram continues to lead the way in making a big truck double as a big family pleaser with as much attention paid to interior conveniences and ride comfort as to cargo hauling and towing,” said John Davis, executive producer at Maryland public television’s MotorWeek.

NACTOY President Lauren Fix, owner of the online The Car Coach, thanked the vehicle manufacturers for ‘taking the time and effort to work with us throughout the year as our jurors rigorously tested, evaluated and debated the best new vehicles on the market. Now in our 25th year, we are proud that both automakers and consumers recognize the value our awards provide to new car buyers.”

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2019 Genesis G70 AWD 3.3T: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Differences between the suave all-new 2019 Genesis G70 and its cousin the rambunctious Kia Stinger are relatively modest. Either could easily satisfy a dedicated motoring enthusiast or anyone who simply appreciates sophisticated high performance.

As with other vehicles from South Korea’s Hyundai, which owns about 34% of Kia, the G70 shares its engines and transmission with the Stinger, introduced for the 2018 model year. It was the runner-up for the North American Car of the Year award, won by the Honda Accord. This year, the G70 also is a candidate for the award.

1096-GenesisG70Aimed at competing with compact sports sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the G70 is the third vehicle from Genesis, which was spun off from Hyundai as a separate luxury brand. Others are the midsize G80 and full-size luxury G90.

Both the G70 and the Stinger have the same drive trains: Rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 365-hp V6 engine with twin turbochargers.

Both use an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually. Surprisingly, the G70 with the four-cylinder can be equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox while the more sport-oriented Stinger does not offer the stick shift.

1092-GenesisG70The other major difference is that the G70, along with its Genesis garage mates, is a conventional sedan with a trunk while the Stinger is a modern fastback with a hatch. It is six inches longer than the G70 and has 23 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat compared to the 11 cubic feet in the G70’s trunk. Prices are similar and passenger space is identical in both cars at 94 cubic feet. Because of the overall difference, the government classifies the G70 as a compact and the Stinger as midsize.

Base price of the G70 rear-drive turbo four-cylinder is $35,895. Driven for this review was an all-wheel drive version with the 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine and two options packages: Prestige and Elite. The base price, including the destination charge, was $45,750 and the as-tested price came to $50,995.

1252-2019G70That’s not cheap but it’s a lot of car for the money, especially on the performance front. With all four tires clawing at the pavement, the G70 accelerates to 60 mph in less than five seconds with an advertised top speed of 140. To haul it back to something more reasonable, the G70 comes with Brembo high-performance racing brakes.

The handling and ride would not disappoint owners of the better European sports sedans, and the power steering delivers tactile feedback around curves while tracking truly in straight-line freeway driving.

There are five selectable driving modes: Smart, Eco and Comfort enhance efficiency and ease, Custom can be adjusted for driver preferences, and Sport is the setup for maximum performance, holding transmission shifts to higher rpms and tightening up the steering and adaptable suspension system.

1256-2019G70For enthusiasts, the audio system can be set up to pipe engine sounds into the passenger area, or shut off for silent running. Front seats have prominent bolsters that tighten and hug the torso in the Sport mode for aggressive driving on twisting mountain roads.

The G70 Prestige — its official designation — comes with advanced modern safety equipment, including forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic and blind-spot alert, lane-keeping assist, a surround-view camera and parking distance warning.

Other equipment on the test car included a one-touch motorized glass sunroof with an opaque sunshade, power adjustable steering wheel, wireless smart phone charging, automatic climate control, Nappa leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, SXM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and hands-free trunk opening.

1255-2019G70Though access to the back seat takes some ducking and twisting, the outboard rear seat passengers sit low in nicely coved and comfortable seats. However, middle seat passengers suffer on a hard cushion with intrusion of the center console and a high floor hump.

The small trunk is shallow but usable and the C-hinges are isolated from luggage. A temporary spare wheel and tire nestles under the trunk floor.

Likely the only drawback to the current Genesis lineup is the fact that it markets only four-door sedans at a time when crossover SUVs are overwhelming the market. Eventually Genesis will have to join the stampede. The suggestion here is to start with and upgrade the superb 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Call it the Genesis XG70.

1091-GenesisG70Specifications

  • Model: 2019 Genesis G70 AWD 3.3T four-door sedan.
  • Engine: 3.3-liter V6, twin turbochargers; 365 hp, 376 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 4 inches
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 94/11 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,840 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/25/20 mpg. Premium fuel recommended.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $45,750.
  • Price as tested: $50,995.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

1087-GenesisG70Photos (c) Genesis

2018 Genesis G80 AWD 3.3T Sport: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

To be more descriptive, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport could have been named Increment.

When you’re building a new luxury brand, as Hyundai of South Korea is doing, you need to take it incrementally, or in steps.

The G80 AWD 3.3T Sport, the subject here, is the second step in a process that has caused some confusion among buyers but likely will shake out eventually.

Genesis G80 Sport

The original Genesis was a full-size, rear-drive sedan introduced as the flagship of the Hyundai lineup in 2008. Since then, the company has ramped up its reputation for quality, reliability and a diversity of interesting vehicles. In 2012, it took on the reigning Big Guys — BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc. — with the Equus, a full-size, full-yacht luxury car.

With the Equus and the Genesis, Hyundai had the makings of a separate luxury brand, following in the tire tracks of Acura, which arrived from Honda in 1986, and Toyota and Nissan, which spun off the Lexus and Infiniti brands in1989.

It can be dicey. Lexus has been an unqualified success. Acura and Infiniti, despite a plethora of desirable vehicles, have struggled to have their names spoken in the same breath with Jaguar or Audi. Mazda tried with Amati in 1992 but flopped.

Genesis G80 Sport

Hyundai at least merits a medal for bravery. That could happen regardless of whether the Genesis nameplate succeeds. It’s too early to tell, but there’s little question that Genesis has delivered competitive, quality products, though they are but a blip on the sales charts, selling at an annual rate of fewer than 20,000 together in 2017.

With the arrival of the G80, there now are two Genesis models. The top of the line is the full-size G90, formerly the Hyundai Equus.

GENESIS DEBUTS 2018 G80 SPORT TRIM WITH 3.3-LITER TURBOCHARGED ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE STYLING

For now, the 2018 G80 shares the same power train with the G90. It also is classified as a full-size car by the EPA. It is 16 feet 5 inches long with 106 cubic feet of space for passengers and a trunk of 15 cubic feet. The G90 is six inches longer at 17 feet one inch, 113 cubic feet for passengers and 16 cubic feet of trunk volume.

Both cars use an 8-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually with paddles mounted on the steering wheel. But the personalities of the G80 and G90 are quite different, especially given the enhancements of the tested G80 Sport with all-wheel drive.

Genesis G80 Sport

This is an attractive, satisfying luxury car with few faults and a more than competitive price. At $58,725, the test car likely would be out of reach for many buyers. But against its chosen competitors, it is a bargain.

For example, though BMW owners might sniff at the comparison, the G80 Sport stacks up well — though not in every category — against the BMW 540i xDrive, reviewed recently in this column.

Both have all-wheel drive; twin-turbo V6 engines with similar hp of 365 for the Genesis and 335 for the 540i; eight-speed automatic transmissions with manual shift modes; the Genesis is two inches longer at 16 feet 5 inches, with an interior volume of 121 cubic feet compared to the BMW’s 117; the BMW weighs about 500 lbs less at 4,170 lbs, and the BMW’s combined fuel economy is 23 mpg compared to 20 for the Genesis.

Genesis G80 Sport

The big difference is the price. Fully equipped, the Genesis’s sticker price of $58,725 was less than the BMW’s base price of $59,745. With options, however, the BMW’s bottom line price came to $82,360.

Another comparison, to the Cadillac CT6 Platinum with all-wheel drive: twin-turbo V6, 404 hp, 8-speed automatic transmission, 17-feet long, 122 cubic feet interior volume, weight of 4,370 lbs and combined fuel economy of 21 mpg. The Caddy’s bottom-line sticker: $91,580.

Genesis G80 Sport

You could argue that the 540i delivers better driving dynamics and the Caddy may have more luxurious touches, but the G80 is no slouch, with three driving modes: Eco; Normal; and Sport. Using the last, it will accelerate to 60 mph in the five-second range with a top speed of 135.

It is a handsome car with an imposing grille and sensuous lines; Lexus-like interior silence and comfortable ride; roomy and well-bolstered seating for four (forget the center-rear position); panoramic sunroof with an opaque sunshade of a suede-like material; intuitive touch-screen infotainment functions with backup buttons; and organic safety equipment.

There’s nothing not to like. But the Genesis brand sorely needs a crossover sport utility vehicle.

Genesis G80 Sport

Specifications

  • Model: 2018 Genesis G80 AWD 3.3T Sport four-door sedan.
  • Engine:3-liter V6, twin turbochargers, 365 hp, 375 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 106/15 cubic feet
  • Weight: 4,690 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 17/24/20 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $58,725.
  • Price as tested: $58,725.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Genesis G80 Sport

Photos (c) Genesis.

2017 Genesis G80 RWD 5.0 Ultimate: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Genesis, the new luxury brand from Hyundai of South Korea, takes a turn down nostalgia road with its 2017 G80 5.0 Ultimate.

This big four-door cruises serenely with a powerful V8 engine thrumming under the hood, delivers stealthy shifts from its eight-speed automatic transmission and gets the power to the pavement with rear-wheel drive, just like a traditional proper American sedan.

2017 Genesis G80Any senior citizen who was fond of a big Oldsmobile, Buick, Chrysler or Mercury would settle in comfortably and experience familiar feelings in the Genesis G80. He or she also likely would be dazzled by its advanced performance and handling, and its array of modern safety, connectivity and convenience features.

Though it’s a youngster in the marketplace, the Genesis already has stutter-stepped its way to its current status as one of two new luxury sedans from a new luxury nameplate. It started out as the top-of-the line Hyundai, then dropped to second place when the company introduced its flagship Equus in 2009 as a competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS and Audi A8.

2017 Genesis G80Even at the outset, some Genesis buyers were reluctant to label their cars with their Hyundai parentage, which encompasses a variety of models from the economy Accent on up. They removed the Hyundai badges and substituted the Genesis escutcheon.

Then the company decided to establish a separate luxury brand, much as Toyota had done with Lexus, Honda with Acura and Nissan with Infiniti. It chose Genesis as the name and, using the Hyundai Equus as a starting point, introduced the new flagship Genesis G90.

The former Hyundai Genesis then became the Genesis G80, the subject here. It is the second model in the lineup, slotted below the G90, and will be joined in the future by other luxury Genesis models.

2017 Genesis G80One of them is expected to be a coupe. But what is really needed — and no doubt is being developed—is a crossover sport utility vehicle, either as a compact or midsize, because buyers cannot seem to get enough of those types of vehicles. For example, the best-selling Porsche is the Macan, a compact crossover.

Meanwhile, Genesis seeks to win converts with the G90 and the G80, the subject here. There are three versions: two with V6 engines and rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and the tested V8 model, which comes only with rear-wheel drive.

It’s fair to say that the G80 RWD 5.0 Ultimate has little competition. There are other full-size luxury sedans but few that compete directly with the G80. The BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are way more expensive, and others like the Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus have lower prices and come with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

2017 Genesis G80The closest competitor is the Chrysler 300, which is about the same size and priced a bit lower than the G80, though Chrysler offers all-wheel drive as an option.

The G80 starts at about $42,350. For the Ultimate V8 model tested here, the starting price — nearly the same as the bottom line sticker—was $55,500, including the destination charge. That’s because the Ultimate comes lavishly equipped. With a couple of minor options — mud guards and wheel locks—the tested Genesis checked in at $55,670.

Sumptuous describes it, with quality materials, including genuine wood and aluminum trim, perforated leather upholstery with built-in heating and cooling, full safety equipment including lane departure mitigation and automatic emergency braking, and a 9.2-inch touch screen to control navigation, audio and infotainment functions.

2017 Genesis G80A note about the G80’s blind-spot warning. Usually these systems, which flash a warning when a vehicle enters the so-called blind spot, are unnecessary if the driver has the smarts to adjust the outside mirrors properly.

On the G80, an icon of the car in the “blind spot” also shows in the head-up display along with the car’s speed and the speed limit. So even if the mirrors are adjusted correctly, the driver becomes aware of the “blind spot” vehicle without checking the mirrors.

2017 Genesis G80There is much to enjoy about the V8 G80. It is a great long-distance road car with a heavy feel and lavish comfort for four, cruises quietly and delivers reasonable fuel economy along with zero-to-60 mph acceleration of slightly more than five seconds.

The only daunting characteristics are a couple of owner’s manuals in English, Spanish, French and Korean that total 1,060 pages. Probably best to take them out of the car and exile them to a remote location.

2017 Genesis G80Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Genesis G80 RWD 5.0 Ultimate four-door sedan.
  • Engine:0-liter V8, 420 hp, 383 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode; rear-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 108/15 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,451 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 15/23/18 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $55,500.
  • Price as tested: $55,670.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Genesis.

2017 Genesis G80

2017 Genesis G90: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

The late Jack Benny, one of the greatest comedians of all time, would have loved the 2017 Genesis G90 sedan, the flagship of a new automobile brand.

An essential component of Benny’s shtick was that of a wealthy tightwad, a penny pincher without peer. In perhaps his most famous bit, a robber attempts to hold him up, saying “Your money or your life.

Benny doesn’t say a word. He gets a quizzical look on his face and simply stands there, thinking it over. It is one of the great comic moments in history.

The Genesis G90 embodies his persona. It radiates wealth and quality, at a price that would entice Benny or even Ebenezer Scrooge.

Yet it needs to win acceptance from luxury buyers. It is the new designer brand from Hyundai of South Korea, which started out poorly in the mid-1980s.

Genesis G90
Genesis G90

In the last decade, however, it has overcome doubts by delivering, along with its sister company Kia, popular priced cars of unexpected high quality that challenge industry leaders like Toyota and Honda. It even ventured into near-luxury and luxury territory with models like the Genesis sedan and coupe, and the flagship Equus.

Now the company has elevated the Genesis name to an all-new luxury brand that eventually will offer at least a half dozen new models. It is similar to what Toyota did with Lexus, Nissan with Infiniti and Honda with Acura.

Volkswagen did not fare as well with its Phaeton, which retained its VW identity and flopped in the U.S. because of poor sales. Mazda also once considered its own luxury brand but backed away from the Amati.

Genesis G90
Genesis G90

Genesis starts with two models: The G80, a revamped version of the existing Hyundai Genesis sedan. Most important is the Genesis G90, which resembles the previous Equus but is all-new with no shared parts. It competes with top luxury cars like the S-Class Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac CT6, BMW 7-Series, Lincoln Continental, Lexus LS and Audi A8.

Therein lies the rub. Dave Zuchowski, the genial and accessible president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, is a realist who understands that it will take time to pry luxury buyers away from their fealty to the Mercedes three-pointed star and the BMW blue and white propeller.

The luxury car phenomenon is that any newcomer must develop a reputation for great performance and quality to win customers who often are clueless about the product but entranced by the cachet.

Zuchowski says he figures it could take five years of sustained effort to insinuate the new Genesis brand into the consciousness of those buyers. One way will be to appeal to the bargain hunter in all of us. Even rich people sometimes shop at Walmart. Prices were delayed until after the national introduction, but the new 3.3T G90’s all-wheel drive price of $71,550 was thousands of dollars less than some competitors.

Another way is to deliver a superior product. The G90 is a superb road machine with sharp handling, abundant power and five-star comfort.

Genesis G90
Genesis G90

It comes come fully equipped, with no need to pore over lists of expensive options. Standard enhancements include genuine ash and walnut wood trim, soft Nappa leather and enough sound insulation to rival an anechoic chamber. There are two versions, each available with standard rear-wheel drive or full time all-wheel drive.

A hallmark of the new brand is the way it will treat customers. Need service? It’s included at no extra charge. Hate going to the dealership? An associate will drive a loaner car to your home, pick up your new G90 and return it when it’s been serviced, washed and massaged.

Driven at the world introduction in Canada’s British Columbia province was the G90 3.3T Premium with all-wheel drive. It is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers that delivers 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Power gets to the pavement through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Also available will be the Genesis 5.0L with a 420-hp, 5.0-liter V8 that makes 383 lb-ft of torque.

As with other vehicles from Hyundai, the Genesis comes with a full warranty for five years or 60,000 miles, as well as a powertrain warranty for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Sure, there’s no rear seat entertainment system. And so far it doesn’t drive or park itself. But the new G90 is classy, comfortable and composed enough to satisfy extravagant showoffs as well as skinflints.

Genesis G90
Genesis G90

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Genesis G90 AWD 3.3T Premium four-door sedan.
  • Engine:3-liter V6, twin turbochargers, 365 hp, 376 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 17 feet 1 inch.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 113/16 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,784 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 17/24/20 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $71,550.
  • Estimated price as tested: $71.550.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

Photos (c) Genesis

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