I despise winter: The icy roads, chilly mornings, and especially, the long dark nights. It all just leaves me California dreaming of cranking the Beach Boys and watching the sun set over the Pacific from a surfboard. When my niece announced she was getting married near San Diego…during December…I was revving my jets to go. Making it even better was a sexy, slinky Genesis G80 5.0 waiting for my family at the airport.
Mission One was using it to make 58 miles disappear between San Diego and “Wedding Central” in San Clemente, right on the Pacific Ocean. My husband set the NAV while I clicked onto Interstate 5, where the 420 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine got busy moving its distance evaporation mojo to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is available, but ours thrust from just the rear haunches. Go easy on the big pedal to see 16/24-MPG city/highway.
The only thing slowing our progress was a stop at an In-N-Out drive-through to quell munchies after our cross-continent flights. Like, yum!
Whether slinging chrome northward to meet relatives, or carting them to and from wedding venues for several days, the G80 made a convincing mini-limo with its wide swaths of matte wood on the dash/doors, aluminum detailing, heated/ventilated Nappa leather front seats, heated rear seats, and heated steering wheel. Given weather that was irrepressibly “seventy and sunny”, we left the dual-pane sunroof open. The Lexicon audio system sounded crisp and was enabled by wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility.
There was plenty of tech to tempt this driver. The head-up display worked with the navigation system to keep us mostly on-course while multi-zone automatic climate control suited all. My daughter couldn’t keep her hands off of the power rear sunshade as she played celebrity. Safety was enhanced by forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, blind zone alert, and rear cross path detection systems. The around-view camera helped ease us in and out of our hotel’s skintight parking garage.
Adding props, the G80 fit in like sun to sea while cruising San Clemente, slinking through traffic alongside herds of Audis, Mercedes, and Teslas. A large silvery grille flanked by LED headlamps gives the car street cred – as do neatly creased bodysides, long hood, fastback roofline, and multi-element taillamp blades. Day or night, it looks expensive. Ours was further set off by smoked alloy 19” wheels and dark Adriatic Blue paint.
The luxury-oriented G80 seemed a little over-dressed for my surf lesson, me in my board shorts and rash guard, but I certainly arrived in style. It registered no complaint when I slapped a towel on the driver’s seat, powered open the trunk, threw in my gear, and headed west until I found waves.
In nearly a week of living with the G80, I only had two real complaints. The navigation system nonchalantly turned itself off when bored, and at one point, instructed us to turn left down a steep flight of stairs leading to the beach. I’m pretty chill, but spewed a stream of expletives that wilted my daughter’s ears. And, since designers chose to put “set it and forget it” climate controls above the radio, I repeatedly turned the volume to hot.
Beyond that, the G80 was subline whether slamming I5, twisting two-lanes, or playing taxi to the in-laws. I’ve always liked how driving a Genesis combines a sense of precision like a Jaguar with the easy effort of a Lexus. This one did not disappoint.
It’s also a pretty good value. A base G80 with the V6 starts at $42,725, but came to $57,995 with the V8 and a full board of luxury and safety gear. All-wheel-drive adds a little more, but I’ll fly home with the delusion it won’t be 20 degrees with a chance of snow tomorrow. Competitors include the Lexus GS, Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Infiniti Q70, and Cadillac CT5.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.