Drive: Spacious and refinement define the Genesis G80

The Genesis G80, a midsize luxury sedan, follows the template used with great success by South Korean automakers ever since their arrival in the U.S. market in the mid-1990s. But there's one important difference. Hyundai, parent company of the Genesis brand, never applied its dual strategy —maximum standard equipment with minimum sticker price — to a full-blown luxury car, priced accordingly.

Genesis has been around for 12 years, having burst onto the scene under the Hyundai badge in 2009. It was spun off from Hyundai after the 2015 model year. Since its inception, it has targeted the best luxury offerings from Europe, Japan and the United States — up to and including the likes of BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac.

We've now driven every Genesis except for its sport-utility models, and expect to see at least one of them in a few weeks. The sedans are truly impressive cars in terms of style, technology, luxury accommodations and performance.

Our latest Genesis, a 2021 G80 with the Advanced package, was priced at $52,800 before destination charge. Comparably equipped, the G80 costs several thousand dollars less than the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF, Audi A6, Lexus ES, Cadillac CT6 and Volvo S90. The G80's base price is $47,700.

Genesis builds three sedan models — the compact G70, midsize G80 and full-sized G90. The G80 hits the sweet spot in this lineup by virtue of its affordability, trunk space and passenger room in the back seat. The G90 is bigger and roomier all around, but its base price is a full $25,000 above that of the base G80. We found the G70, base-priced at $36,000, too cramped in the back seat, and felt its trunk was too small, to fulfill most people's expectations for a luxury sedan.

We were able to get three sets of golf clubs into the G80's trunk, something we couldn't have pulled off with the G70. The G80's 13.1-cubic-foot trunk is on the shallow side but quite spacious, fore and aft and side to side.

Our G80 had just about everything anyone could expect in a luxury car, beginning with its 300-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It rode serenely and handled competently enough, though its road feel and cornering capabilities fell short of the standards attained by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar.

Genesis also offers a high-powered version of the G80 with a 375-horsepower V-6 engine. All-wheel drive is available in all trim levels.

2021 Genesis G80

Price: $52,800

Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged inline Four, 300 horsepower, 311 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: rear-wheel

Suspension: multi-link front and rear

Curb weight: 4,156 lb.

Wheels: 19-in. alloy

Tires: P275/40R19 all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 13.1 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 17.2 gal.

Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 32 highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline

The G80's refinement extended to the interior, which featured heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a full suite of safety-tech features, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control and power rear sunshades. European sedans typically include less standard equipment than the Genesis has.

Speaking of safety, the G80 has been rated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

With the 4-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive, the G80 is rated at 23 mpg city, 32 highway. It matched these numbers fairly closely in our real-world driving experience.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.