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Copyright © 2015 Larry Mason

Welcome to the lap of luxury: the 2015 Hyundai Genesis! What?!? “Luxury” and “Hyundai” in the same sentence? I heard that a lot during my time with the new Hyundai Genesis sedan. People found it hard to believe that one would spend over $55k for a Hyundai. After driving one for a week, it’s not that hard to believe at all. No, it’s not a Mercedes, yet it has similar features as an S-Class. During the LA Auto Show in November I asked one of the guys working the Hyundai show floor why anyone would spend that kind of dough on a Hyundai instead of a luxury brand. His answer was simple and to the point. Not everyone wants to flaunt their “money” in front of everyone, nor do they want to pay extra for fancy leather chairs in a fancy service lounge. They want value – plain and simple. This car gives them all of the luxury features they want without having to pay extra for the privilege of driving a “name” brand.

The exterior is tastefully done and received numerous compliments from passersby. Everyone who saw this car wanted a closer look. If you do take a closer look on the inside you’ll be pleased with the detailed refinement that went into this car. For starters, how about dual-pane door glass to deaden external sound. Back seat passengers have loads of legroom and headroom as well as door sunshades that complement the power rear sunshade. A fold down center armrest with cup holders helps keep the rear seat folk comfortable along with the climate control vents that exit the rear of the center console.

Up front, the first thing I noticed was the crystal clear heads-up display that was helpful day or night no matter what kind of glare arose. I’m torn between that being my favorite feature versus the 420 hp rear-drive powertrain – but more about that later. This heads-up display is fantastic. It gives you your current speed, the current posted speed limit, navigation instructions (via arrows and distance to your next turn), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) icons, along with radio stations chosen as you scroll up. I love it because it really helps you keep your eyes on the road where they should be. If you do need to look at the regular display screens, you have two to choose from. One between the analog speedo and tach which you can scroll through via steering wheel mounted controls to get info such as tire pressures, trip computer, and a whole host of other info.

The main display in the center stack is a 9.2-inch high-definition touch screen that opens the car’s world to you. As in an S-Class, there is a carousel of choices to choose from via the touch screen or the controller located in the middle of the center stack to personalize vehicle settings, displays, and features along with owner’s manual information and more.

Driver ergonomics are enhanced by the 12-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, and heated/ventilated seats that keep you comfortable no matter what the weather is like.

Two minor annoyances for me were the large A-pillars especially on the driver’s side that blocked quite a bit of view from my seating position when looking out at that angle and the audio/climate control knobs. It seemed like I naturally always chose the wrong knob to turn.

Multiple functions are controlled by the buttons on the steering wheel including the ASCC which in conjunction with the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB sensors) allows you to drive without having to touch the brake or gas pedal (check owner’s manual for restrictions). Combine that with the LKAS system, and the Genesis is a self-driving car – for a short amount of time.

If you don’t wiggle the steering wheel every now and then after a short time, the system will beep and give you a visual warning that it will turn off. The 17-speaker Lexicon sound system combined with three years of SiriusXM satellite radio will keep you entertained for the length of your lease, and if that’s not enough music and entertainment for you, the Bluetooth streaming capabilities will round out your options.

Besides the upscale genuine wood and aluminum accents being highlighted from the sun through the panoramic sunroof, the Genesis is also there to protect you while you drive via nine-airbags and a nifty feature called a Smart vent. This feature will automatically circulate fresh air into the cabin when too much CO2 or humidity is present.

Other smart features include Blind Spot Detection including rear cross traffic alert. Additionally, the Smart High Beam Function allows you to keep the high beams on all the time and the car will automatically dim them when there’s oncoming traffic.

The Genesis also comes standard with Hyundai Blue Link and Connected Care. This is an entire suite of safety and convenience features that allow you to lock/unlock your car remotely along with engine start (which is great for hot and cold weather), set speed and geo-fencing alerts and much more. Yes, there’s an app for that to add to the convenience factor.

There are more bells and whistles with this car than you can shake a stick at, but one of the best features comes alive when you bury your right foot into the throttle and unleash 420 horses and 383 pound-feet of torque from this five-liter V8. Coupled with an eight-speed automatic, this car launches off the line in a big hurry and, at least up until legal speeds, never wants to slow down.

Busy intersections and two-lane highways are the least of your worries when it comes time to make your move as the power is intoxicating. For a big sedan (4,541 pounds) it really hauls the mail.

One other thing it does well is cruise effortlessly down the freeway without being bothered by the wind. Climbing the hill leaving Palm Springs into a strong headwind was a piece of cake and it did it quietly too. One reason is the slippery 0.26 coefficient of drag. This also contributed to a very nice 25 mpg average I recorded which is 2 mpg higher than listed on the EPA estimate.

Dynamically there are only two things that had me second-guessing the Genesis. One is probably due to the nature of who has been driving this car (lead-footed journalists) and it’s the overly sensitive shift pattern. It wants to hammer up through the gears hard as opposed to refined acceleration and gear changes when you lay into the gas pedal at more than half-throttle.

The other seemed to be somewhat of a weird twitch the car would make when going over bumps, like really bad freeway expansion joints. Perhaps this was due to an alignment issue. Most people wouldn’t notice the latter but I tend to be a wee bit more sensitive to things like that.

Overall, the Genesis is a beautiful automobile that lets you live life in the lap of luxury. You’re also reminded of that at night when the puddle lights project the Genesis logo and name on the ground next to the front doors. It’s like a Hollywood welcome party and you’re invited!

Is it worth it? It’s hard to say. I think it depends on how brand conscious you are. However keep in mind that a similarly equipped E-Class will run you close to $80k to have that tri-pointed star sitting in your driveway. If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to take one for a test drive. I firmly believe you’ll be impressed.

Photos courtesy of Hyundai