In an era when adding "luxury" to a vehicle's attributes easily pushes its price northward of $60,000, the Hyundai Genesis could be an enticing option for buyers less concerned with impressing others than they are with treating themselves to something nice. Hyundai's flagship sedan is no Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW, but for not much more than $50,000, it offers many of the gadgets its well-heeled upscale counterparts do, but for much less money.
It's no longer any secret that Korean automakers have stepped up their game, and the Genesis 3.8 AWD is living proof. Powerful, smooth and attractive, it features cool touches like Genesis logos projected on the ground when passengers exit the vehicle, and a tasteful square-faced clock keeping vigil over the cockpit from the center of the instrument panel.
Inside the Genesis, a cavernous interior presents itself. Its panels are rich and well-fitted, and the perfume of high-end leather fills the car. The best feature on the fully-loaded version we tried out was the panoramic roof glass, but other pleasant add-ons included ventilated front seats and a heated, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel. The seats were comfortable, and to avoid any confusion that could stem from 12 different adjustment settings, several memory slots were available. Perfect comfort was available at the touch of a button.
On the infotainment stack, five easy-to-use knobs asserted their dominance over other, less tactile controls. The audio, navigation and Bluetooth setup systems made sense and didn't do much to distract from the overall driving experience.
The 311-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 was smooth and powerful, and had no problem pulling the car quickly away from a stop – in a straight line, that is. With the wheels turned, it seemed to take the computer a while to determine which wheels were slipping where. The result was a tendency for sluggish takeoffs from a turn. But it's safer to come out of turns slowly anyway, right? The all-wheel drive didn't seem to affect performance, and would be a boon for customers who live in places where snow-covered roads are a frequent problem. (The all-wheel drive system is only available with the 3.8, not the more powerful 5-liter V8 that's also available on the Genesis.)
To the buyer looking for German luxury marque prestige, the big cars offered by Hyundai and Kia will probably never measure up. It handled well and was quiet inside, but sometimes the doors didn't shut all the way unless they were slammed. It's the little things. Plus, decades of prestige brand snobbery are difficult to overcome. But for someone looking for a lot of creature comforts and safety features for the money, there are worse options than the Hyundai Genesis. It's an attractive, stylish car with a lot to offer.
By the numbers: 2016 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD
MSRP: $52,450 (estimated price as tested, includes $950 destination charge)
Power and drive wheels: 3.8-liter, 311-horsepower 6-cylinder; all-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy: 16/25 city/highway mpg
Safety: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/hyundai/genesis-4-door-sedan IIHS Top Safety Pick +; 5-star government crash test rating
In showrooms: Now