2017 GENESIS G80 AWD 3.8 – Road Test Review

The Genesis G80 is a real luxury-car hero around here.

The car’s beating performance heart is evident every time we have the pleasure of snapping Sport mode on and the throttle down.  Here is a long-wheelbase limo that handles!

The AWD upgrade on the G80 3.8-liter V6 makes a fantastic case for itself on the basis of handling alone.  WHat it brings to the table is a precise, grippy nose and unshakeable confidence around fast corners.

The Big G as a standalone brand for 2017 kept this car essentially the same as 2016.  With the car business — and especially luxury cars — in tech hyperdrive, is the car still fresh enough to see off the E-Class, 5 series or Lexus GS?  And how does the 311HP 3.8 V6 feel versus the upcoming 2018 G80 Sport’s 3.3 turbo?

Standard headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance and Price for this road test review of the G80 four-paw — along with the customary 70-photo Nikon lovefest.


Genesis never ceases to surprise you and especially your friends.  People honestly think this is a 100k exotic rolling up.  And why wouldn’t they?

The long, majestic hoodline is legendary.  The bluff vertical face with full-frame grille is imposing and premium.  WInged badges feel vaguely high-lux, perhaps Aston Martin ish.  Ultra bright LED DRLs form a curved snake up around the edge of the bi-xenon projectors.  And on our tester, the LED foglamps are functional — helping every street sign glow at night like neon.

The machine-polished alloys are a five-spoke spider pattern with inner dark-painted elements.  At speed, the wheels become a trendy dark whir — in sharp contrast to the bright silver paint and factory-tinted glass all around.

That black glass roof is a nice touch too — helping the smooth visual flow from wipers to the wide LED CHMSL under the back glass, a la COntinental GT?  Perhaps too generous.

But the full LED taillamps are a delight regardless.  These are hard to capture in photos — but essentially each of those toothy lightblocks is deeply 3D.  So when they illuminate they just form this nice armor-plating look.  Like a knight’s shoulder in a medieval sparring suit.

G80 and Genesis wing badges are new on the tail this year, replacing the previous Hyundai H.  The winged badge has an intricate cross-hatch for its main shield element.  Certainly effective in feeling upscale and aspirational.


Lightup puddle lamps come on automatically (at night) as you walk up to the car — reinforcing the consistent luxury branding.  The entire Hyundai connection is unknown to your guests.  And soon, it will be forgotten entirely in the cabin.

This is a cabin that Genesis is proud beats all is major rivals on passenger volume.  It definitely feels giant inside — in a great way.  The seats are overstuffed, extra-comfy thrones all around.  The giant rear doors preview a giant back seat.  Legroom is spectacular back there, as is overall insulation/refinement and comfort.

All this comes standard on all the G80s – are there any demerits for the AWD system?  There is slight floorwell intrusion up front for the AWD system hardware down below, but nothing too bothersome.  Especially considering G80 AWD does not have to suffer with a high ride height.  Chrysler 300 AWD, alternatively, is almost two inches higher off the ground than the rear-drive original.)

G80 AWD is ridiculously well-equipped as standard.  Eight-inch nav, active cruise, lane-keep, blindspot, auto braking and active headrests all come for no charge.  Along with normal things like leather, mid-cluster screen, CarPlay/Android Auto, heated seats and much more.  Bi-xenons standard too. So much great stuff, so comfy and so spacious!  Curiously, a backup camera is not standard.

G80 in isolation is a revelation inside. It feels 10X better than any car costing under $30k.  But the G80 does need a thicker, plusher leather wrap for its steering wheel.  A nicer door thunk and less-gruff exterior engine note on startup would help too.  Versus E-Class in particular.


G80 has always been really impressive on throttle.

Its four drive modes take the default style from soft/easy to firm/frisky.

The G80 AWD does this even better, thanks to programming that favors the back axle versus a more even split Snow or Normal.  It honestly works – you can drive G80 with a fingertip, or with all hands on deck.

We still love its AWD handling, and how G80 with all this grip really rockets off the line, or rockets back into traffic with no ESP slip.  This is a car that can snap right out of parking lots and onto highways in one single breath.  It lunges joyfully up past 80mph with a determined howl.

The eight-speed auto with paddle shifters is effective if not quite as perceptive, or as smooth, as the ZF unit in Jags and others.

G80 sprints to 60-mph in about 6.5-seconds, which is respectable but about 1.5-seconds behind the G80 5.0 V8 available for not-much more.

Additionally, for speed or sport sedan devotees: the 2018 G80 Sport will add 55 more horsepower thanks to turbo power.  We expect that car to come in about 5.3-seconds to 60.

This standard engine will be just-right for most luxury car shoppers, however.  Being a big V6 has benefits in torque versus the standard turbo fours in 530i and GS200t these days.

Beyond wanting a bit more snappy shift action, the only demerit we can find in Genesis AWD’s performance armor is mileage.  Driven hard, the G80 AWD gets a bit thirstier than its 16/25 official ratings.  And those aren’t exactly super either.

Even so, gas is cheap and G80 has a huge tank.  And a tankful of skills with its highly-rigid platform and (Sport-mode’s) entertaining dynamics.


Our test car is seriously loaded — taking the $44k base price up a full ten grand.  That being said, the amenities are each lovelier than the last.  They are really luxury focused.

Things that help tremendously at making G80 a real rival for the Europeans, versus just the B-team of Q70/CTS etc.  Or the C-team of RLX/Continental/LaCrosse.

The Premium package is $4750 and adds the LED fogs, giant moonroof, 14-speaker audio, backup cam, power sunshades and vented front seats.  Quite a bit of coin but nice to have, certainly.

Next is the $4200 Ultimate package.  This upgrades the leathers to a softer hide, as well as adding open-pore woods and real metal alloys for the cabin detailing.  The big thing we love, as a big human, is the Ultimate seat upgrade.  Adjustable side bolsters and extendable seat base squab really make my day for underleg support.  Next the nav touchscreen becomes a 9.2-inch unit, while mid-cluster gains three inches to become a 7-incher.  Plus 3 on the Ultimate speakers as well — totally a stonking 17 in this spec.

This 9.2-inch screen is the latest in touch responsiveness, but needs better graphics to ever really rival Audi’s Google Earth system.

All in, the G80 AWD tester stickers at $53,800.  Incredible value.  Especially with the new Genesis Experience of three years free Everything.  Including valet pickup when your car needs service!  No dealer visit needed.  By three years from now, the idea is that Genesis will have made a full luxury-showroom rollout.  At this point, the Genesis special area is still under the Hyundai roof.


We clearly love the greatness the G80 brings to the midsize luxury car segment.  It is almost unfathomable that you can buy a car this good for $44k.

Even into the $50s, the G80 AWD is endlessly effective and on-mission.  A luxury sports sedan with a new badge, but zero other compromises.

Now that G80 is a proper brand, you can let your guests be blissfully ignorant.  For them, G80 might as well cost 100 grand for how great it drives, rides and looks.

[Photos shot on location at the Rose Pond, Magnolia Gardens, SC]