2021 Genesis G80 raises the bar, disrupts the competition in luxury sedan segment

2021 Genesis G80. Metro News Service photo
2021 Genesis G80. Metro News Service photo

As someone who’s covered the automotive industry for more than a decade, it’s easy to get stuck “inside” and lose perspective. I share this because my tester this week led someone not in the industry to ask me, is that a new car brand? I’ve never heard of it before.

My tester is the Genesis G80 luxury sedan. When I followed up by saying that it was the luxury brand of Hyundai, that same person said, so it’s just an overpriced Hyundai then? I said, no more than Lexus is an overpriced Toyota or Acura is to Honda. While you can make a case that that is the case sometimes, that does not apply to the G80 or the Genesis brand in general.

ExploreFinding the best fit means getting in, out and behind the wheel

As the Asian luxury brands have sat back and just enjoyed their comfort zone as conservative approach, Genesis jumped into the luxury segment and infused some excitement and raised the bar. Case in point, the 2021 Genesis G80.

This looks nothing like a Hyundai. It has its own distinctive look, and it’s quite classy and refined. The exterior has Bentley-like looks and that’s certainly a strong comparison for a luxury vehicle. The grille is dominating but also elegant. The overall look offers a refined, balanced look. The back end’s tail lights are stunning with straight lines that give the G80 and overall high-end distinctive look.

The G80 has actually been around for a couple years and is already getting a complete facelift including a new engine. That shows just how important this flagship sedan is to the Genesis brand.

The previous V6 engine has been replaced with a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Turbocharging smaller engines is pretty standard nowadays and it doesn’t mean there’s less power or performance. The 2.5-liter engine makes ample power with 300 horsepower. The G80 isn’t a speed demon and while it’s quick off the line, with no noticeable turbo lag, the overall performance is more refined than exhilarating. So if it’s a sporty, zooming luxury vehicle you’re looking for the G80 might miss the mark in that regard.

ExploreA hybrid coupe like no other

Inside, the G80 silences any idea that this was a glorified, overpriced Hyundai. The G80 oozes with luxury and refinement. The ride quality is comfortable and most-importantly, quiet. The rear seats boast extraordinary legroom and headroom. The rear seating is ample enough for three adults and even has heated seats available in the back. Shoulder room would be a little cramped for three adults, but otherwise, two adults would be at ease and comfortable for long trips.

The touchpoints are outstanding with soft materials throughout. The high-gloss look of the accent features inside add a certain elegance. Some luxury cars overdo it with faux wood, which I do like, but the high-gloss look really compliments the overall feel and vibe of the G80.

The technology and infotainment is good and the system is relatively intuitive. It’s not the best infotainment system in the luxury segment, but it’s head and shoulders above the worst.

The 13.1 cubic foot trunk is above average for the segment. The rear seats do not fold flat, so that is something that works against the G80 and limits its overall cargo volume significantly.

The Genesis G80 2.5T is available in either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) and three trim offerings. My tester was the AWD Prestige trim which had a base price of $59,150. With a special paint color and destination charge, my tester’s final MSRP was $60,575. The standard trim for the G80 starts at $47,700.

The AWD 2.5-liter G80 with the 8-speed automatic transmission has an EPA rating of 22 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway. The RWD version gets slightly better fuel economy. As such, I averaged nearly 26 mpg in mixed suburban driving.

ExploreThe most affordable new SUVs for 2021

In the end, Hyundai’s luxury brand has really been a disruptive force in the luxury segment. It needed an injection of refinement and quality and the Genesis G80 does just that.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Genesis G80 2.5T AWD Prestige

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $59,150/$60,575
  • Mileage.......................................... 22 mpg/city; 30 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 300 hp/311 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Ulsan, South Korea