Road Test Review – 2015 Hyundai GENESIS 3.8 AWD Is Impossibly Good

2015 Hyundai GENESIS Review


The 2015 Hyundai Genesis sets a skyhigh bar for luxury sedan excellence. This V6 AWD version is the best-driving and most joyful four-door we’ve driven in years.

Why? The Genesis feels inherently right behind the wheel, diving into and out of corners, and singing up to its redline. There is a terrific analog feel to the Genesis at speed — you instantly trust the car implicitly and fall head over heels. We’d even wager most performance sedan owners would prefer the Genesis to the new 535i or E350. Versus the A6 or Cadillac CTS?! No contest. Advantage: Hyundai.

Inside, fantastic build quality and roominess on par with the Audi A7 and A8 mean the Genesis feels worth every penny of its $51k as-tested price.

Up from a base of just $37,000, this elegant sedan has the design elan of the best BMW 7 series and even performance to match with the optional 5.0-liter V8 engine.

An absolute rockstar of a car — the Genesis 3.8 AWD finally hits the perfect note in its flagship-sized back seat, fabulous woodwork and value for money.

Is it perfect? No, it’s not. Just a few detail elements we’d tweak to make this world-class sedan a world-beater with no reservations.

Let’s dive in with Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing, Colors and Summary section heads.



This review feels pretty gush-y already. How can you trust the hack writing it up to have objectivity?

No way to prove it besides sharing a devastatingly-critical concept-to-reality article on the Genesis versus the HND-14 concept that came before it.

When the new Genesis came out, we could barely hold in our distaste for its bland lines and lack of emotional design.

 The initial auto show photos of the Genesis did it no favors — but we take back much of our initial horror last summer.

Editing these photos just now, however, is like a labor of love.

Let’s start at the front.


The nose of the Genesis wears a solid block of single-frame grille that is pinched near the lower edge of the bumper. Full-width intakes and an integrated body kit extend the wings deep at each side of the car’s face — and the result is fairly stunning. From afar, this is a gorgeous and super-premium machine.

Up closer, the horizontal slats of the beveled grille are chic yet curious. People truly do not know what kind of Audi, BMW, Merc or Jag this is. They squint for a closer look at the Genesis wings badge at the top-side of the hood — unable to believe this is actually a Hyundai.

Gripes up front? We do not love that the Genesis badge only appears on the nose, versus a Hyundai badge on the tail. Consistency would be better liked among luxury buyers.


Secondly, the active safety systems live behind a gloss-black false plate at the top of the grille. This is a far cleaner integration than some cars — ie Volvo or new Murano — and is at S-Class levels of sophistication overall. But like the S-Class, there are some angles when the black element sticks out strangely versus the depth of the intakes for the other elements of the grille.

One last beef, and our most pressing concern: the Genesis 3.8 AWD runs its amber parking lights as DRLs. The V6 Genesis also lacks the LED fogs of the Genesis V8 — with the area they usually occupy just blanked-out bumper elements now. The LED lining of white light accents in the headlamps only lights up properly outside the Auto light function. Silly to ride around with Buick Century-style amber lights making the car look cross-eyed to other road users.

The LEDs themselves up front are fairly high flicker elements as well. Not perceptible in real life, but the camera has trouble catching both LEDs lit the same time.

That list of nose gripes seems pretty severe, but mostly speaks to our unhealthy obsession with well-executed LED DRLs up front. After all, how can a car truly top the luxury heavyweights with shoddy lamps? Regardless, most owners won’t care one bit.



Around the front three-quarter angle and the pure profile, the Genesis comes into its own. A huge hood lengthening changes the dash-to-axle ratio dramatically versus the previous Genesis. Now this Hyundai has that long, loping and elegant look of true limousines. Explicitly rear-drive and obviously expensive, the Genesis really nails its proportions this year.

A concave pinch of sheetmetal in the front quater panels is chic and exceptionally special. This design cue even found its way onto the Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso in a very Genesis-like way. (This look is hard to stamp in mass production – but has also appeared on numerous Ferrari’s like the 612 in a slightly different style.)

Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso

For the Italian design boutiques to replicate Genesis details — likely unintentionally — speaks to the timeless elegance of the 2015 Genesis outside.


Things stay top-flight as the eye comes to the tail of the car, which looks low and impossibly wide. Individual LED light blocks in the tail are fresh and unique, while LED indicators and LED backup lamps convey premium modernity with every lane change.

A pert integrated tail spoiler extends the length of the sedan visually, cementing the cab-backward look of a country club regular.

Boxed tailpipes at each flank are integrated into the bodywork, looking butch and macho — if not as aggressive as the quad pipes in the 5.0-liter V8 model.




This test Genesis AWD’s interior is so loaded with useful tech, we can hardly find a good place to start. Three option packages are offered for the Genesis V6: the Tech Package, Signature Package and the Ultimate Pack — which includes both of the above $4k option groups.

As equipped to its $52k tested price in Ultimate trim, the Genesis leaves no gaps to be bested by BMW and Mercedes. Equipment and tech features all make the Genesis a class-best. Long lists of features included are worth a look in the configurator — but we’d vote on the Tech package if you can choose only one. This brings power-extendable seat base and side bolster for the super-premium leathers. Cooled seats, moonroof and HID lamps are also included.

Active safety tech is comprehensive and all easy-to-operate without diving into the manual for an afternoon. Lane keep, automatic highbeams, adaptive cruise, city braking…. you name it. This Genesis has it.

Absolutely stellar front seats are heated and cooled with some options, while the Ultimate pack includes open-pore matte wood and genuine aluminum trims all around the cabin. The giant slab of dashboard wood is particularly touchable and elegant.


So, all this sound sublime. The snicky switchgear is perfectly Porsche-like all around, yet without the German crytophraphic labels for each function. It just makes sense.

While all these elements are highly modern and extremely impressive, the Genesis cockpit lacks that last bit of sex appeal that BMW and Mercedes do so well. Offered in two color choices (tan or grey), the Genesis cabin is a long-term love affair. First-time riders will not be as impressed as they might riding in a Jaguar XF, however. Perhaps too conventional, then, for some people inside the Genesis.

Additionally, while the cabin is perfectly useful and actually very posh — this color scheme does it no favors. Even with a subtle seat piping in contrast leathers, french stitching for all leather seams, and soft-touch plastics…. something about the Genesis cabin lacks oomph. This is epitomized best in the steering wheel design. While great to grip and full of feature controls on the spokes, the wheel is just not quite as ‘designer’ as it could be. Nor as swish as the Infiniti Q50, among others, in terms of touchscreen control beauty. Just a bit humdrum, even with the Ultimate and Signature packs’ 9.2-inch TFT display panel.

A bit more touchability in the leather might also be nice to fend of those fancy English.

Comfortably excellent by all objective measures, however. We especially love the temp and fan-speed controls for back-seat riders. They also have power rear shade controls and three levels of seat heat via console buttons.




311 horsepower have never felt so strong!

A standard eight-speed automatic for all 2015 Genesis models. The $2500 AWD option is a V6 exclusive, with the sprint pace in the low 6’s to 60-mph. This powertrain feels more rapid than those number would suggest, however. Sport, Normal and Eco modes dramatically change the dynamics on throttle, with the Sport mode a slightshot-like delight — always chasing the horizon like a charging thoroughbred.

A one-gallon bump in the size of the 2015 Genesis gas tank versus the 2014 model is a nice enhancement, especially welcome on the AWD model. Despite (the rear-drive Genesis V6) matching the BMW 535i, Cadillac CTS V6 RWD and E350 at 29-mpg highway — the V6 AWD in our hands was extremely thirsty.

Perhaps driver error or enthusiasm is partly to blame. Even so, the 19-mpg combined rating of the Genesis 3.8 AWD is fairly surprising. In the semi-real world of performance testing, however, the AWD Genesis was running just above 15-mpg. That is pretty poor, and makes one wonder how the rear-drive V6 or V8 would perform in the same scenarios.


2015 Hyundai Genesis Fuel Economy

City/Highway/Combined (Rear Wheel Drive) 18 / 29 / 22 15 / 23 / 18
City/Highway/Combined (All Wheel Drive) 16 / 25 / 19
Fuel-tank capacity (gal.) 20.3 20.3









Full Genesis colors guide from all angles over at the below link. This test car is finished in Montecito Blue — which is a nice slate grey with flashes of metallic hue in direct sunlight. Three other silvers and greys are very now — but we recommend the white or black for max visual impact.


The most-elegant Hyundai of all time!

But is that enough to sway you? It shouldn’t be. There are dozens of other absolutely magnificent traits in this vehicle that make it not just a cut-price premium alternative. This is a premium equivalent — but with added value of cheaper options, more features and a much more generous warranty than the lux-badge gang.

Some slightly unfinished details in the V6 nose design, lighting integration and interior glamour are demerits, sure. As is the big thirst of the AWD powertrain and slower sprint pace than the 535i.

But on the road, these issues fall away like mile-markers.

The Genesis is a top achiever in our book for its brilliant handling, smile-inducing power delivery and stunning feature lists.

Classic luxury limo proportions and deeply chic proportions are new to the Genesis. The combined excellence of these elements makes the Genesis a must-drive. You’ll become a convert the moment the Genesis AWD leaps off the line or rockets around corners. All in, the Genesis 3.8 AWD Ultimate is an undeniable A-grade achievement.



Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.

He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.

Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)