Even with the addition of a new Sport version this year and changes across the lineup that include new front and rear fascias, a profusion of powertrain tricks, and an eight-speed automatic transmission, the 2018 Genesis G80 continues its mission of a plush, safe, well-equipped, mid-size luxury sedan. But it's also held back by a pair of relatively inefficient engines, limited cargo space, and ponderous handling.

Best Value

Pricing for the 2018 G80 starts at $42,745 for a base 3.8 trim with rear-wheel drive, and climbs to over $60,000 for the all-wheel-drive 5.0 Ultimate. Although offered with a twin-turbocharged V6 in Sport models and V8 in the top trim, if you're looking for the best value, you'll want to stick with the G80 3.8. Both the turbo V6 and V8 are more powerful, but the nod goes to the smaller V6 as the G80's raison d'etre isn't performance. A bonus for 2018: all three are mated to a smooth, new eight-speed automatic.

Like the rest of the lineup, Genesis takes the opposite tack of its German competitors by fitting out the G80 with an abundance of standard luxury features – with no options offered for 3.3 or 5.0 trims, and only two option packages for the 3.8. The only other extra is the $2,500 all-wheel drive system, a box we'd check owing to our location in the southeast corner of Michigan's mitten.

Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model: 2018 Genesis G80 3.8 AWD
  • Engine: 3.8-liter V6
  • Output:311 hp / 376 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 18 City / 25 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $45,245 (including a $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $45,245

Performance

Genesis G80

For 2018, Genesis completes the lineup of G80 engines with three offerings. Two carryovers include the 3.8-liter normally-aspirated V6, along with a 5.0-liter V8 generating 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. This year's addition rounds out the lineup: a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque.

Under most circumstances, the engine of choice would come down to a dual between V8 power, and the lighter twin-turbo with its wider, flatter torque curve. The G80's chapter in the book of Genesis, however, is that of a relaxed cruiser with a luxurious, isolating ride – even with the Sport's standard continuous damping control. It's the 3.8-liter V6 the offers the best handling characteristics owing to its lighter curb weight.

Regardless of what's under the hood, the ride is relaxed and serene with excellent merging and passing response, capable of eating up mile after highway mile. Even though the adaptive suspension offers three driving modes – Comfort, Comfort Plus, and Sport – the last setting is still pillowy soft compared to competitors from Germany and Detroit.

But all is not perfect. In addition to its penchant to lean in hard cornering, even the base model – the lightest of the three – feels a little nose-heavy, while the brakes aren't as firm as we'd like, and, although quicker in a straight line, the G80's underpinnings aren't tuned to make use of the twin-turbo's additional power, while the V8's extra weight gives it an acceleration sensation that's largely the same as that of the base V6.

Likewise, all three engines are on the thirsty side with the base 3.8-liter returning an EPA-estimated 19 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 22 combined, which drops to 18/25/20 mpg (city/highway/combined) with all-wheel drive. The 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, for its part, scores an EPA-estimated 17/25/20 mpg, with all-wheel-drive costing one mpg highway, while the 5.0-liter V8 is predictably the worst with an EPA-estimated 16/24/19 mpg, with AWD costing one mpg in each category. Both the twin-turbo V6 and the V8 require premium fuel.

Style

A minor refresh to the G80 this year brings with it new front and rear designs along with modified headlights to this classically styled, luxury sedan. While changes to base and V8 models are relatively minor, Sport models receive a more deeply sculpted front fascia, along with a dark chrome grille with copper grille surround, and copper-colored headlight and wheel accent trim. In back, the differences are more subtle, with changes limited to the lower rear valance and the placement of reflectors.

HID headlights are standard on the base 3.8, with LED headlights optional, although LED's are standard on all other models. Additionally, all models receive auto-dimming outside mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, and LED taillights.

The handsome exterior is wrapped around a serene interior packed with plush leather and real wood, where front seat occupants have it best with substantial, comfortable, widely-adjustable seats, with heating standard and ventilation and adjustable lumbar and bolsters optional. Even base models have nearly everything, including a full suite of advanced safety features including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a haptic steering wheel, and driver attention alert.

In addition, keyless push-button start, dual automatic climate control, memory for the driver seat, outside mirrors, and steering column, as well as electroluminescent gauges, Bluetooth, navigation, satellite radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay are also standard.

But perfection is eluded as the rear seat doesn't fold, a feature that's standard even on the lowly Hyundai Accent, which limits the G80's versatility – especially considering the mediocre 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space. In addition, 37 inches of rear leg room is sufficient for taller passengers, but trails rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, while cabin switchgear brings a Hyundai – rather than German rivals – to mind.

The Best and Worst Things

Aside from the handsome interior and exterior as well as a segment-topping warranty that includes valet service, the best things about the G80 are the staggering number of standard features at a reasonably low price.

The biggest downsides to the G80 include its ponderous handling, inefficient engines, limited cargo space and versatility, and comparatively small back seat.

Right For? Wrong For?

Genesis G80

Mirroring the rest of the lineup, the Genesis G80 is the perfect mid-size luxury car for someone who wants a plush ride with all the amenities, but could care less about standing out or the overall driving experience.

Likewise, the G80 isn't for those who enjoy driving. It's just not fun to drive in any trim, as comfort has been given the priority. If you want a mid-size sedan that fills that need, you'll want to look across the Atlantic to the Germans – although buyers should be prepared to pay the price of admission.

The Bottom Line

Bringing the old-school luxury ride back in vogue, the 2018 Genesis G80 is a smart choice for those who just want a luxurious experience with a great set of standard features, and a supremely quiet, comfortable ride, at a modest price. But it accomplishes much of that that by sacrificing performance, versatility, and fuel economy.