Auto review: 2020 Genesis G80 strong on style, technology, value


Seems like the 2020 Genesis G80 just arrived and already they’re trying to sweep it off the lots. Why? To make room for the early arrival of the 2021 model, due out sometime in the second half of this year, and that means great deals on the 2020.

Genesis, you’ll recall, is the Korean brand that lacks the decades-long reputation of its German and Japanese counterparts but offers everything they do — technology, luxury, performance — for thousands less.

And then there’s the warranty: 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; 10-year, 100-mile powertrain (twice that of many carmakers); plus five years of roadside assistance and three years of scheduled service. A valet will even pick up and deliver (no more leafing through old magazines in the waiting room).

Situated between the sportier G70 and full-size G90, this one hits the sweet spot when it comes to style and performance. Turbo-powered G-forces will press driver and passenger against the two-tone premium leather seats before there’s a chance to appreciate the carbon fiber accents on the dash and doors.

The G80 this year gets upgraded technology, too, with a 9.2-inch touchscreen and more capable blind-spot warning system that now brakes the vehicle if it’s not clear to merge. Don’t want anything messing up the thick mesh grille with copper accents up front or wraparound tail lights and dual exhausts with quad chrome tips in the rear.

While most G80s get a naturally aspirated V-6, the G80 3.3T Sport is powered by a 3.3-liter (surprise!) twin-turbo V-6, good for 54 more horses at 365 hp and 376 pound feet of torque. For the truly power hungry, a 5.0-liter V-8 capable of 420 hp and 383 pound-feet is available in the G80 5.0 Ultimate. All engines deliver power via a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission.

Acceleration in the 3.3T is strong for a 4,600-pounder, with 0-60 mph coming in 5.2 seconds. The quarter-mile is clocked at 13.8 seconds.

Equally nice is the open-road comfort and quiet, plus the ride quality afforded by a sport-tuned adaptive suspension system that tightens on corners and adjusts for varying road conditions. The ride is on the firm side but, hey, that’s why they call it the Sport.

There are four drive modes — Normal, Eco, Sport and Snow — so tapping the button to Sport will give G80 more aggressive performance by changing engine parameters and holding gears longer. Paddle shifters are present but a bit sluggish.

Completing the Sport package are 19-inch alloy wheels with cool carbon fiber center caps, upgraded brakes, a heated 3-spoke sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals and black suede-like headliner.

Eco mode boosts the mpg figures slightly. The 3.3T lags behind most foes with just 17 mpg city, 25 highway (24 with AWD) for a combined 20 mpg.

Unlock the G80 and be greeted by an illuminated Genesis logo on the asphalt. Seats are made of soft Nappa leather with accent stitching, are ultra comfortable, heated and ventilated. Seats also have 16-way power adjustments but, surprisingly, a massage function is not available.

New technology starts with Genesis’ larger touchscreen. The system has better voice recognition and greater flexibility for tailoring your own home screen. It is quick to respond and includes compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen may be a long reach for some, but fortunately there are redundant controls via a center console dial.

A reconfigurable digital display has the tachometer/speedometer and pertinent vehicle data, plus a head-up display. And an available 17-speaker Lexicon audio system offers surround-sound quality.

In the rear, seats are heated and legroom is adequate but headroom gets a little tight. Rear passengers are able to keep out the sun’s heat with a power rear sunshade, while manual shades cover the side windows. When the sun is welcome, a panoramic sunroof can warm and brighten the cabin.

The trunk has a wide opening and power trunk lid; trunk space is about average for the segment, with 15.3 cubic feet of space. Rear seats don’t fold down, though, and even the pass-through for snow skis and such is narrow.

Beyond the more sophisticated blind-spot monitor, active safety features include standard forward collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, driver attention monitor, and adaptive headlights to spot that tricycle lurking in the dark driveway. Buyers also get a 3-year subscription to Genesis Connected Service, which offers emergency and stolen vehicle assist, and automatic crash notification.

If you can stand the wait, the next-generation 2021 G80, a fastback sedan, is due out “in the second half” of this year, Genesis has said. Meanwhile, the current G80 is a solid contender in the midsize luxury market — and a clever way to score a Genesis for even less.

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