It wasn't long into the 650-mile trip from New York City to Detroit that it began to snow. Lightly, at first, but then the snow began to steadily fall. It wasn't the kind of snow to force truck drivers to pull over, but neither was it a light flurry. The outside temperature hovered around the freezing mark, and snow began to stick to the road surfaces. No matter how modern a highway, if left unsalted, conditions are iffy for driving.
After a couple of close calls with the stuff earlier in the winter, I was understandably nervous about setting off for the Detroit auto show in the dead of winter. I've done the trip by car nearly a dozen times, but never during inclement weather.
This time, I was in a Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD. Spoiler alert: Treacherous drive be damned, this luxury sedan is almost perfect.
I asked Hyundai to borrow a Genesis sedan with all-wheel drive for the drive to Detroit, after being impressed by the Genesis' level of comfort and execution-whether V-6 or V-8-in an initial drive in Phoenix about a year ago. Every detail seemed to be analyzed and smoothed-over in a way that few car companies attempt to do. Revisiting the Genesis last summer briefly was a reminder of how ably Hyundai has exceeded its own expectations. An unexpectedly long night of travel led to a 2 a.m. return into Newark airport, where the Genesis silently and swiftly guided this glazed-over road warrior back to Brooklyn.
The brown Genesis arrived Friday morning with 1500 miles ahead of it in about five days' time. It had all-wheel drive, but not snow tires. The interior was the same, gorgeous beige and black seen on previous test cars. The Genesis' lines are classically beautiful in the sense of '80s BMW 7-series sedans, and a refreshing change from today's all-too-similar German sedans. The look gives off a mature sense of luxury.
My girlfriend and I set off for the Midwest along the hilly route through Pennsylvania, mostly to avoid traffic holdups on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It was her first time visiting Detroit, and the picturesque snowfall seemed an appropriate backdrop. We were able to hold the speed limit (or a couple of clicks higher) for the first several hours, cocooned in supple, heated seats, before the snow turned too difficult to conquer. We slowed our pace to about 55 mph and prayed that the all-season tires would be good enough. Interstate 80 features just the right amount of curves and elevation changes to keep a driver awake, and more than a few challenges for the uninitiated.
No matter the weather, for eight hours, the Genesis kept on. Most of Pennsylvania was the same, steady flurry. Ohio was a gray blur, turning darker as we tried to beat the clock and make it to Detroit by nightfall. Around 5:30 p.m., after a fill-up and several stops for snacks, we crossed into Michigan. That's when the snow started to fall. It followed us all the way up I-75 into the heart of Motown, where some of the street and highway lights are still turned off to save money. Over 600-something miles, at no point did we ever feel like the large Hyundai was going to falter. Weary, but in no way shaken by the drive, we pulled up in front of the Book Cadillac hotel just before 8 p.m. to find something to eat.
And it didn't put us in harm's way for the subsequent four days driving around Detroit. Night after night, rushing from pre-show events to parties to a hotel located far outside the city center, the Genesis' sure-footed all-wheel drive kept us steady as a rock-even on unplowed highways and unlit streets. We were grateful for but never reliant upon anti-lock brakes. The Genesis dug through snow with prowess, never struggling on the way to a destination, often filled to capacity with passengers and their stuff. In sub-freezing temperatures before dawn, it started up every time.
After several days of covering the auto show, I headed back alone for the return drive to New York. (A drive without a capable co-driver always feels longer.) It's difficult to tire of driving the Genesis. It's not a passion-driven, hyperactive sports car that begs for love and attention, and the experience of driving the Genesis doesn't tire the senses, as it might in some hyper-techy luxury sedans. It attracted attention from valets, truck drivers, and fellow journalists as an exotic sedan that deserved a second look.
At the end of my final stint in the drive to New York, it was hard to part with the Genesis, even as another test car awaited. It was easy to while away hours behind the wheel, thanks to every bit of attention paid to refining its ride, engine noise, and touch points. It may lack a factor of emotional engagement in its road manners, but the Genesis acted the part of the dependable and confident road companion.
Was it love? Almost. I never struggle to recommend the Genesis, and extended road tests like this one are the proof. I never expected the Genesis to be as capable as it was, and I was happily surprised by the result of a week of hard testing. (Bonus learning: It looks phenomenal with a streak of road spray across the side.)
Inspires confidence around every corner, sumptuous cabin appointments, business-class quiet, understatedly stylish, fun to drive.
Still longs for the driver's-car passion.
The ideal setup:
Load it up. The Genesis offers amazing value for money, and that's why you should spring for the Signature ($4000) and Tech ($3500) packages, if not also the Ultimate ($3500) package, too. Feature content at this level simply isn't this affordable in most premium sedans. The standard, rear-wheel-drive Genesis is a fine choice for Sunbelt dwellers, but the all-wheel drive system is what saved our bacon on the unpredictable winter road trip. A 5.0-liter V-8 is available, but trust us: the V-6 is all the engine you need.
By the numbers: 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD
MSRP: $41,450 (includes $950 destination charge)
Power / drive wheels: 3.8-liter, 311-hp V-6 engine / all-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy: 16 city / 25 highway mpg
In showrooms: Now