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Our 2019 Genesis G70 Left Us Wanting for More Power

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 3 days ago Annie White
a close up of a car going down the road: After 40,000 miles with the Genesis G70 2.0T sedan, we would have enjoyed it even more if it had the optional twin-turbo V-6. © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver After 40,000 miles with the Genesis G70 2.0T sedan, we would have enjoyed it even more if it had the optional twin-turbo V-6.

40,000-Mile Wrap-Up

When Hyundai launched the Genesis luxury brand in 2016 with the S-class-wannabe G90, we were impressed but not enthused. Genesis had potential, but its debut vehicle and its follow-up act, the G80 mid-size sedan, stood out mostly for their value. Then came the G70, the first Genesis that wasn't essentially a rebadged Hyundai. It was a real star that catapulted the marque from the outer tier of automotive luxury subbrands into the white-hot center of the premium market. Last year the launch of the sumptuous GV80 crossover cemented Genesis's real-deal status. Or at least that's what should have happened. But we're still not sure most people know what Genesis is.

During the G70's 18-month stay in our stables, the general public's most common reaction to it was"What?" We heard it from friends, neighbors, strangers, parking-lot attendants, and even one particularly chatty highway patrol officer. People were interested in the G70, but when we told them it's a Genesis, most mistook that for the model name rather than the make. That didn't stop us from enjoying the car, though.

a car parked on the side of a road: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

We spec'd our G70 with the base 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and the eight-speed automatic gearbox because that's what most people will buy. Genesis offers a six-speed manual, but the turbo four is much more responsive when paired with the slushbox, so we went with livability over ego. The car's initial 60-mph dash of 5.8 seconds isn't that impressive, but slicing 0.4 second off that time during its exit interview is. The G70 was as smooth, quiet, and competent during high-speed cruising as any other entry-level luxury sedan, and it earned 31 mpg in our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, beating its EPA rating by 1 mpg but falling short of what we achieved with the BMW 330i xDrive (38 mpg) and Audi A4 (33 mpg).

The G70's steering is direct, its chassis tight, and its brake pedal firm. We reveled in its quick turn-in and classic sports-sedan looks, practicality, and fun. And we meas­ured 0.94 g of lateral grip in our skidpad test, which places the G70 on even footing with a rear-drive 330i, the benchmark for performance in this segment.

That was what our head was telling us about the G70. But after the honeymoon ended, our heart began to say something different: While the base engine is fine and we should have been happy with it, we regretted not optioning the 365-hp twin-turbo V-6. We'd already spent 40,000 miles with the six in the mechanically similar Kia Stinger and enjoyed its responsiveness and liveliness.

a view of a car: The G70 © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver The G70

The malaise was more of an emotional issue than an actionable complaint. We had no real problems with our G70, at least none that were its fault. A low-speed encounter with Michigan's state pest, the white-tailed deer, proved costly. The deer ran away seemingly unharmed, but the impact cracked off a piece of the mesh grille and dislodged an adaptive-cruise-control sensor from the front bumper. Disconcertingly, the car took a few days to register the damage and flash a"radar sensor blocked" warning. Even worse, the warning disappeared, allowing one staffer to engage adaptive cruise as if all were well. The car then failed to brake as it barreled toward a slower vehicle ahead, requiring the driver to step in. The $4163 fix was relatively simple, but with the G70 still new enough to be rare, we had to wait a couple of weeks while the necessary parts made their way from South Korea to our dealership.

During our loan, we replaced both driver's-side winter tires as they showed evidence of impact damage and later spent $120 to align the wheels, likely set askew by Michigan's potholes. Also, the rear summer tires were worn out with about 30,000 miles on them, which is to be expected with a sports sedan.

2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

Despite our general enjoyment of the Genesis, during its first year, no one took it farther than Iowa. Normally a logbook with few long-distance trips suggests a staff-wide mutiny, but the G70's lack of travel stories was largely due to summer weekends spent at the dealer and also the pandemic.

After COVID-19 hit, deputy creative director Nathan Schroeder ended up hosting the G70 from March until July. He used it to run errands (including hauling buckets of gravel for a backyard improvement project) as well as to unwind, taking joy rides after weeks stuck at home. He discovered that this sedan's simple mission and sprightly handling were a perfect reminder of the pleasures of driving a good car on an empty road. He also encountered the only person to admit to us out loud that they thought the G70 was a Bentley.

That confusion was probably due to Genesis's winged emblem, which kind of looks like Bentley's, but there's also something to be said for the G70's cushy interior. It's not Bentley nice (though that could change if the 2022 update borrows anything from Genesis's sybarite-friendly SUV)—this G70 didn't even have a heated steering wheel, which some of our staffers consider a major misstep. But you'd be hard-pressed to find this much quilted leather in anything else that costs $45,090, and the G70's various gauges and dials all look and feel expensive.

2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

Eventually the pandemic summer renewed our interest in long road trips, and we racked up our last 20,000 miles in six months, traveling to Georgia, Connecticut, Virginia, Washington State, and all over Michigan. The G70's 11-cubic-foot trunk swallowed an improbable amount of luggage, every passenger was comfortable, and no drivers complained that they should have taken their trip in an SUV.

But as the miles packed on, the tenor of the logbook notes slid from excited praise to moderate discontent. Our drivers couldn't let go of the memory of the larger engine. They ruminated on its extra power as well as the accompanying sportier suspension tune, and some even wondered whether the steering had been more engaging, too. A consensus eventually formed: If we were buying a G70, we'd spend the additional 11 grand for the six-cylinder.

This inverse relationship between the miles on the odometer and the staff's interest in and fondness for the G70 is not a unique phenomenon. The G70 isn't as purely athletic as other sports sedans, but its concessions to comfort make it palatable to a wide audience, and its value is undeniable. The G70 was a great buy when we welcomed it under our roof all those months ago, and it's still a smart choice now. But if you decide to order one, get the big engine.

a car driving on a road: Genesis © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver Genesis

Rants and Raves

The taut ride motions and progressive steering remind me of the brilliant E39-gen 5-series. —Rich Ceppos

The engine is occasionally nonlinear, with a surge or two. It sounds lame, too. —Tony Quiroga

This would be so much better with the V-6. —Mike Sutton

Genesis should change the font for the controls. It's so generic and boring. Comic Sans would be an upgrade. —K.C. Colwell

After weeks of not leaving the house because of the shutdowns, the G70 reminded me how much I like to drive. —Nathan Schroeder

Someone said they liked my Bentley!? —Nathan Schroeder

The four-cylinder more than gets the job done and will save you money on gas and potential tickets. —Michael Aaron

Kudos to Genesis for building a well-rounded sedan in a world gone utility. —David Beard

This is how you do a touchscreen correctly: with lots of large, easy-to-use buttons and knobs. —Eric Tingwall

chart: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

View Specs

30,000-Mile Update

a person riding on the back of a car going down the street: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

When we last checked in on our long-term Genesis G70, it was inching past the 20,000-mile mark with plenty of goodwill from the staff but not very many staffers actually willing to drive it long distances in the middle of a pandemic. Well, times have changed. After four solid months as homebodies, we have started to feel like stretching our legs again. And the G70 has been an excellent getaway car.

For even deeper coverage, view our Buyer's Guide in-depth review of the 2019 Genesis G70.

In the two months since the G70's last update, it has taken us to Connecticut, northern Michigan (twice), and the Pacific Northwest. Trips like those, with long driving days and hours between leg stretches, can expose weaknesses in a car. Seats that felt comfortable begin to feel too soft, a ride that was firm starts to feel harsh. But in the case of the G70, familiarity does not breed contempt.

a close up of a car: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

Social media specialist Michael Aaron said our shining blue G70 turned heads in his hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut, where the locals are usually on a strict German luxury diet. Staff editor Eric Stafford called the G70"upscale,""luxurious," and"classy" after a weekend trip to the Mackinac Bridge, and he compared its interior favorably to that of our long-term M340i. If you'll excuse the break in the fourth wall, I drove the G70 roughly 6000 miles across 12 states and found it a comfortable, quiet highway cruiser. Better yet, it's engaging enough to encourage the kind of spirited driving on twisty mountain roads that could (hypothetically, you understand) cause a person to forget that driving that way would probably make their dog throw up in the back seat.

Our relationship with the G70 is not entirely without problems. Opinions on the infotainment system are split. We all agree that the mix of buttons and touch functions is ergonomically sound, but some drivers are bothered by the Hyundai-ish graphics. And the regret that we didn't spec the more powerful V-6 engine is universal.

a blue car parked in a parking lot: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

Service has been very straightforward, with scheduled visits called for every 6,000 miles. Those have ranged from $66 to $173, with the most expensive one at 24,000 miles that included new cabin and engine air filters, along with the typical oil change and tire rotation. The only other issues that have sent our G70 to the shop have been self-induced.


Gallery: Kia LIght Tactical Cargo Truck And Bare Chassis Concepts (motor1)

The bigger problem may be that we are the only ones who seem to know what a Genesis G70 is. In our time with the G70, everyone from our own family members to the cop who pulled us over for a minor speeding infraction expressed confusion and surprise when we assured them that yes, Genesis is the brand of the car and not the model name, and yes, Genesis is actively selling cars in the United States. We've got 10,000 miles left to spread the word.

Months in Fleet: 15 months Current Mileage: 33,628 miles

Average Fuel Economy: 26 mpg

Fuel Tank Size: 15.8 gal Observed Fuel Range: 410 miles

Service: $468 Repair: $0

Damage and Destruction: $4417

20,000-Mile Update

a blue car on a city street: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

Well, folks, a lot has happened in the last seven months, but not much of that stuff happened to our long-term G70. It took five months to stack 6,000 miles on its odometer. It took a month after Michigan entered a strict COVID-19 lockdown for the G70 to get its first socially distant fill-up. Then six more weeks went by before its next trip to the gas station. Between March 17 and July 1, the G70 had only two drivers. (In the"before" times, a long-term car could easily have five drivers each week.)

All of this is to say that we don't have a lot to say. In the month and a half between our last update and the beginning of the pandemic, the G70 had its front left tire replaced in the Car and Driver garage. A month later, we replaced the left rear tire, which had a bubble in the sidewall. A few weeks and an oil change later, we noticed it pulling away from center and sent the G70 in for a four-wheel alignment.

a clock sitting on top of a car: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

Design director Nathan Schroeder is responsible for accumulating most of the miles on the G70 during Michigan's coronavirus-related lockdown, which began March 23. After weeks at home, Schroeder started taking the G70 out for joy rides, something you probably won't be hearing from the drivers who spent lockdown in one of the large SUVs in our long-term fleet. Once restrictions eased, Schroeder put his idle hands to use with a home improvement project and packed the G70's trunk with six five-gallon buckets of sand and gravel—further proof that sedans are more versatile than we give them credit for.

Even when pressed, Schroeder refused to list a single complaint about the G70. We've previously found plenty to nitpick in the G70 family and even in this particular car. (Our failure to spec the available V-6 engine usually tops the list.) But it's a good sign for the Genesis that familiarity bred affection in Schroeder. Its good looks, comfortable interior, and joyful driving dynamics made it a lovable quarantine companion. And no matter how harmonious your household lockdown crew may be, you'll know that we don't take one of those for granted.

Months in Fleet: 13 months Current Mileage: 20,645 miles

Average Fuel Economy: 25 mpg

Fuel Tank Size: 15.8 gal Observed Fuel Range: 390 miles

Service: $348 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Damage and Destruction: $4417

10,000-Mile Update

a blue car parked in front of a building: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

When we last left our Genesis G70, it had just been involved in a minor incident with a deer that dislodged a radar sensor that's part of its dynamic cruise-control system and collision-warning equipment. The damage didn't look too bad, and, accustomed as we Michiganders are to catastrophic encounters with the state mammal, we counted ourselves lucky and figured the fix would be quick and painless. We were wrong.

One of the downsides of buying a car from a fledgling brand such as Genesis is that some parts may not be in the pipeline yet. A local Hyundai dealer quickly replaced the grille, radar sensor cover, and cruise control assembly, but the G70 is new enough and this problem uncommon enough that certain sensor parts had to be ordered from Korea. In the end, the total came to $4163 and nearly a month of waiting for parts before the G70 was made whole again.

a close up of a blue wall: This is what $4163 of damage looks like these days. © Dave VanderWerp - Car and Driver This is what $4163 of damage looks like these days.

Once back in our hands, the G70 settled into commuter duty, and we returned to wishing we had ordered the twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 engine instead of the competent but uninspired four-cylinder, which senior editor Mike Sutton declared to be"kind of a dog at wide-open throttle." Our dissatisfaction with the G70's turbo four is enhanced by the knowledge that BMW and Mercedes both offer smoother, stronger engines in their small luxury sedans. A fix is reportedly on its way. Hyundai recently revealed a 290-plus-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four for the Sonata N-Line, and that engine will also go into the G70, replacing the current 2.0-liter turbo.

Perhaps we're getting used to the quilted leather seats and the easy-to-use touchscreen interface, but some staffers are bored by the Genesis's design. The exterior design is also drawing some criticism for being too staid. The G70 has some fans, though. Copy chief Carolyn Pavia-Rauchman complimented the G70's comfy seats, which have her dreaming of summer road trips. The logbook also had praise for the small switches mounted on the side of the passenger seat that allow the driver or rear passengers to move that seat fore and aft. Uber drivers, take note.

a view of a car: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

Despite its virtues as a gobbler of miles, the G70 has left Michigan only three times in the past 10,000 miles, for trips to Chicago, Iowa, and Ohio. With the holiday season now behind us and spring still a distant hope, it could be a while before the G70 stretches its legs and ventures beyond the Midwest. In the meantime, we're just hoping not to run into any more deer.

Months in Fleet: 6 months Current Mileage: 14,013 miles

Average Fuel Economy: 25 mpg

Fuel Tank Size: 15.8 gal Observed Fuel Range: 390 miles

Service: $162 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Damage and Destruction: $4163

Initial Test Results

a blue car driving on a road: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

During our 2019 Genesis G70's 600-mile break-in period, logbook comments praised its poise on the road and easy, accurate responses to steering inputs. While it has not proved to be the most desired or requested of our long-termers—a hard honor to earn with a Honda Civic Type R also in our fleet—we are generally pleased with the G70's comfort, capability, and demeanor."Generally pleased" isn't much of an expert opinion, though, so we hustled the Genesis off to the test track as soon as we could.

The G70 performed well at the track, but not outstandingly so, and by most metrics falls slightly behind the German competitors it seeks to match. Our example, which features the standard 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo four paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, made it from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, or notably behind the 5.1-second time we recorded for an Audi A4, as well as the 5.3 seconds returned by the BMW 330i. The G70's 7.7-second rolling-start time, from 5 to 60 mph, suggests that the eight-speed isn't fully masking the engine's turbo lag; the Audi and BMW both were a second or more quicker in that measurement.

a bicycle parked on the side of the road: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

The Genesis, on its 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires, returned a decent 0.92 g of grip on the skidpad, putting it right in line with its German rivals. The same can be said for the Genesis's 160-foot stop from 70 mph. That it did better on the handling portion of the test than in straight-line acceleration is no surprise. The G70's well-tuned chassis and steering result in it being a respectable driver's car, but the optional 365-hp twin-turbo V-6, which in our testing propelled the G70 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, makes for a far more exciting package.

Shortly after its trip to the track, we were distracted from our musings on the merits of the 2.0-liter engine when a (thankfully) low-speed deer strike dislodged one of the radar sensors in the Genesis' grille. The hobbled sensor did not, at first, appear damaged or trigger any warning lights, which led two drivers to engage the G70's adaptive cruise-control system without realizing there was a problem—only to be startled when the car sped toward slower traffic without applying the brakes. Both drivers were alert and reacted quickly, so further trouble was averted. But we've since had the dealership inspect the car and order the necessary parts to fix the sensor array. Stay tuned to find out how much our run-in with Bambi will ultimately cost us.

Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 4848

Average Fuel Economy: 25 mpg

Fuel Tank Size: 15.8 gal Observed Fuel Range: 390 miles

Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Damage and Destruction: $0

Introduction

a blue car parked in front of a building: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T © Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T

The Genesis G70 is far from the first BMW 3-series contender to cross our paths. It's not even the first one from the Hyundai Motor Group or the first time we've welcomed a Korean 3-series wannabe into our long-term fleet. But with our 2018 Kia Stinger GT leaving us feeling lukewarm, we're hoping for a little more from the G70, which is, after all, wearing the laurel of a 10Best winner.

Our 2019 G70 2.0T Dynamic model is painted a lovely Mallorca Blue hue and carries the entry-level 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. Before you ask, yes, we are aware that the G70 is available with a manual transmission, and, no, we have not forgotten about Saving the Manuals. We'd also like to save the rainforest, but we wouldn't handcuff ourselves to a tree that already had root rot. The G70's manual is unsatisfying and uninspiring to operate, yet the automatic is quite good. So here we are.

a car parked in a parking lot: Motor vehicle, Automotive mirror, Steering part, Mode of transport, Automotive design, Steering wheel, Vehicle, Vehicle audio, Center console, Technology, © Michael Simari - Car and Driver Motor vehicle, Automotive mirror, Steering part, Mode of transport, Automotive design, Steering wheel, Vehicle, Vehicle audio, Center console, Technology,

Inside, the G70 has a budget-friendly cushiness that's characteristic of Genesis, thanks in part to the three option packages we spec'd at a total of $9000. Key features from the $5000 Elite package include full LED headlights, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and a 15-speaker sound system. The $3000 Prestige package added quilted nappa leather seats (the Elite package brings only regular old leather), heated outboard rear seats, and a surround-view camera system, among other things. The last grand, arguably the most important one, was spent on the Dynamic package, which adds 19-inch wheels (18s are standard) fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires and a limited-slip differential.

Spending that much money on options can spell the death of a budget for most luxury shoppers. But the G70's original asking price was so reasonable that our model only commands an as-tested $45,090. And it's positively swanky compared to a similarly priced 3-series. Our newly minted G70 hasn't been to the test track yet, but when it does, we'll have a better idea of whether its performance, and not just its packaging, can stand up to the best of its rivals.

Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 551

Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg

Fuel Tank Size: 15.8 gal Observed Fuel Range: 370 miles

Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Damage and Destruction: $0

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