Christopher Little

New & Old: Hyundai Genesis vs. Lexus GS350

As we looked back on 2014, two sport sedans stood out as some of the best. The Lexus GS has made several appearances, both in GS350 AWD and GS450h forms, in the Limited Slip Blog garage. Luxury abounds in this Lexus. And with 306hp on tap, there’s plenty of sport in this sedan as well. The Hyundai is a different story. In the deserts of Arizona, we met the most improved car of the year. We were heartily impressed with the new Genesis. The 3.8L V6 offers everyday practicality with HTRAC all-wheel drive and a chassis tuned with the help of Lotus. But the 5.0L V8 is where things get more interesting. Adding over 100 hp to the mix really livens up the driver’s seat. This got us asking the question. If we pit them head to head, which mid-size sport sedan would we like best?

Hyundai Genesis Lexus GS 5

On paper, this doesn’t look like the most even comparison. The GS350’s F Sport package equips sport-tuned suspension components for more precise handling. To level the playing field, we felt it necessary to step up to the Genesis 5.0, which includes Hyundai’s Continuous Damping Control. The system, which has a Sport setting, is only available with the V8. But that left the Genesis with a fairly substantial power advantage. Other powertrain differences would also have an effect. The Hyundai arrived with rear-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic compared to the Lexus’ 6-speeds and all-wheel drive. As for the $5,600 price difference? We’ll get back to that.

The Cars

Looks are subjective. But if you ask us, the Genesis comes across as more modern with its squarer hood and tasteful bright-work. The GS, with its darker wheels and F Sport body kit, stands more aggressive. Both cars use plenty of LEDs to convey that luxury appearance, but the Hyundai’s large orange DRL’s make it look like a 90s Pontiac during the day. Out of the back of the chase car, they both look svelte on the move. The Hyundai is nearly 6 inches longer than the Lexus. All that extra space is between the wheels, giving the Hyundai a slightly more spacious interior by the numbers. In reality, the GS350 has more rear leg room and the Genesis has a wider rear passenger space. There’s no definitive space advantage between these two, but sitting inside is where you start to notice the differences.

Hyundai Genesis Lexus GS 8

From a usability perspective, the Genesis’ infotainment tech is far superior. Lexus’ antiquated Remote Touch knob controls the clunky Enform system on a massive 12.3″ screen. Despite having a 3″ size advantage over the 9.2″ touchscreen in the Genesis, it never acts as a single display. That makes it appear smaller. But when you feel the touchpoints and interact with the cabin controls, things start to favor the GS again. Lexus’ build quality and attention to detail are the industry benchmark. We’re not implying that the Genesis feels cheap inside, but there are places where the Hyundai’s plastic can’t match the leather-clad Lexus. If you’re in it just for the luxuriousness of the experience, the GS350 gets the nod. Inside, these two sport sedans are split. The Hyundai is better suited for a more tech-savvy driver. The Lexus, on the other hand, is geared towards an owner that enjoys the finer things.

The Drive

We’ve acknowledged the disparity in the numbers already. But when the Genesis arrived a day ahead of the Lexus, we were worried that we might have set up an unfair comparison. 420 horsepower is one thing, but it’s the 383 lb-ft torque at 5,000 RPM that urges the Genesis forward with alacrity. In a straight line, the Hyundai gallops away with a V8 rumple that the GS350 can’t match. The F Sport models receive a unique sound generator in the intake. The extra noise is sporty, if artificial at times. The GS is not slow by any definition. 60 mph arrives in 5.7 seconds. The biggest problem is the AWD GS is saddled with the 6-speed automatic instead of the rear-drive 8-speed. The GS’ engine is punchier at higher RPMs. Output peaks at 306 hp and 277 lb-ft torque. But with only 6 gears, it spends less time where it shines most.

Hyundai Genesis Lexus GS 1

Life in the upper Hudson River Valley is full of wide open spaces and sweeping elevation changes. It’s the perfect topography to test the handling of these two. When the test day finally arrived, we mapped out a winding set of county routes. Both cars cover ground with comfort and grace, but how would they react as we push the dynamic limits? Dialing the Hyundai into “Sport” alters the steering and shift logic and stiffens the electronically-controlled suspension. In the GS350, the same result is enabled with the “Sport+” setting. Both cars tighten up nicely. But the wheel in the Genesis doesn’t have much grip compared to the contoured and very sporty wheel in the GS350. Needless to say, the Hyundai leaves our hands disappointed.

Hyundai Genesis Lexus GS 2

It becomes clear during spirited driving that the Lexus has an advantage through the corners. The added stiffness of the F Sport suspension keeps the big body flatter and more composed in corners. There’s no lack of grip in the Hyundai, either, so we won’t credit the AWD system of the GS350. Both cars ride performance all-season tires over the cold pavement. But the body roll of the Genesis introduces uncertainty. In our follow-the-leader style drive, the Hyundai was forced to slow down and carry less speed through the corner. We don’t want to make it sound like the Hyundai is dynamically poor. We’ve said great things about the Genesis all year and our findings here don’t negate that. It’s very good. But as Scott summed it up, “In the presence of the Lexus, the Hyundai just isn’t as good.”

Hyundai Genesis Lexus GS 24

Verdict

What Hyundai has done with the new Genesis is build a new generation of luxury car. A 5 Series or E Class owner won’t be turning their keys in for a Hyundai anytime soon. The “old” luxury still has that extra little something. There’s a level of brand recognition and status and expectation in the “old” luxury offerings. If we’re honest, there’s still an edge on material quality as well. The kind of owner that appreciates that couldn’t fathom spending $55k on a Hyundai. But the Genesis arrives without any preconceived notions. There isn’t any status or image associated with it; the Hyundai badge doesn’t carry any baggage. For the “younger” luxury buyer, that fact alone is very much an advantage.

Hyundai Genesis Lexus GS 4

So which one was our favorite? We want to drive the Lexus GS350 F Sport. It might have lost the technical and power battles, but it made ground up in every corner. With confident brakes and a demeanor that makes you smile just a little bit more, it won us over. The Hyundai Genesis is 9/10ths the car dynamically. It was difficult not to give it the nod. More intuitive interfaces, a 5-liter V8, and the as-tested price advantage all benefit the Genesis. And while this is a win for the GS, it almost feels like a victory for Hyundai. In a little over 6 years, Hyundai has very nearly matched the quality and characteristics that Lexus have been perfecting for over 20. So while we might be out driving the GS, Lexus better be checking their rear-view mirror.

-Christopher Little

Read the individual reviews:
Identity Crisis: 2013 Lexus GS350 AWD
Complete Package: 2014 Lexus GS450h
First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Genesis
Enhanced: 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.6 HTRAC

2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0
$51,500
Ultimate Package $3,250
Destination Charge $950
As Tested MSRP $55,700
2014 Lexus GS350 AWD
$49,950
F Sport Package w/ Cold Weather Package $5,695
Blind Spot Monitor $700
Navigation w/ Lexus Enform $1,735
Intuitive Park Assist $500
Trunk Mat, Cargo Net, Wheel Locks $328
All Weather Floor Mats $120
Glass Breakage Sensors $329
Remove Engine Start $499
Door Edge Guards $139
Paint Protection Film $429
Destination Charge $910
As Tested MSRP $61,334

6 replies »

  1. Don’t forget 5 years or 60K miles bumper to bumper warranty on the Genesis. Have had two 5 series BMW’s, finally did the test drive and yes, I bought a Hyundai. The Genesis has more room, more power and I am not nickel and dimed all through the purchase process. Also I have over 400 horsepower and can use regular gas.
    BMW, pleather seats were standard, turbo 4 cyl (yes on the 5 series), upgrade to higher end stereo, $500 for heated seats and on and on. The Genesis comes loaded, everything, and cost me $25.00 for an oil change versus $135.00. The Koreans have caught up, not only with the models from Japan, but also Germany. This is from someone that has driven them for years, not a few days or week.

  2. The issue is you can not read quality in new cars. Every car is at its best new. There is no test of time. How many cars seem great new but in just a yr of driving things start to loosen. you get squeaks and rattles. First lets look at track records of the owners and then value of cars after say 20-30k miles. Lets look at how many owners feel the need for bumper to bumper extended warranties.
    Take a look at those now that we are a few yrs past this reveiw. You can pu used Genesis even the Ultimate package for half the cost of new. That is with extremely low miles such as under 20K for a 2015/16 yr. EVERY and I do mean EVERY owner of a Genesis on their forums states infactically you must get there Platnium Hyundai Extended B2B Warranty or you will be sorry. 10K for the entertainment head unit. 8K for a trans. Thousands upon thousands for the various tech parts that seem so cool. The Para roof seems to make noise and need replacing in many of these.
    There are also numerous reports of poor service from the Hyundai dealers as they are a budget setup. Now with Genesis dealers this is no longer an issue but you are also now paying 5K more for the same 2015/16 in the G80 for what should have been proper service treatment in the beginning.
    What it comes down to is nothing is free. If a company is offering more for less something has to give. In Europe vs Korea or Asian in general its labor and material cost. But between Japan vs Korea its quality of components and QC in the manf practice. Hyundai had nowhere to go but up in terms of reliability and quality so its always a improvement for them. Lexus on the other hand is what Genesis brand and dealers are now trying to be. You look at the dif in Toyota vs Lexus and you see the same difference in treatment. But I think its a larger dif between Hyundai and Genesis.
    Point being in 2015 you got more quality and way more reliability in terms of the car itself. You got more bells and whistles of unproven and low QC tech in the Genesis. Most that have a Lexus do not see the inside of the dealer mech bay other than schedules maintenance. I would say the numbers are flipped for the Genesis in 15/16.
    So yes on the face it seems you get more STUFF in the Genesis but with GS350 you get very high QC and you get reliability that even the big boy arrogant European Manf can not seem or choose not to match. We no longer have the Benz of teh 80s and prior in terms of reliability. BMW really is a service queen. Its always in and out for fixing this or that and do not even talk about cost of maintenance its stupid crazy for all of the Western manf. I am speaking of their premium lines not he budget lines.
    Hyundai has done one of the worlds best turnarounds of any auto manf I have seen in terms of going from what were disposable throw away cars good maybe for 100K with no features to ultra luxury builds. They still have a ways to go but are getting their super fast. Fact is toyota is just decades ahead in this area. Lexus spin off allowed them to focus on this. Its going to take Genesis some time but in 10 yrs there maybe no difference; we will see.
    I have gone back and forth on 2016 Genesis AWD Ultimate with 20-30K miles around 25-26K vs 2015 GS350 AWD loaded with 30-40K for 23-25K. I keep cars to they fall apart usually past 200K+ sometimes 300K+. One of my current cars is a Sonata 2011 with 220K and its been thru a trans and has one blown cylinder using 1 qt oil per week but still has not failed me to start and get me were I need to go. But I have old trucks and Excursion that have 200K and have nothing wrong with them and still running great. Had numerous Toyota’s well past 200K. Fact is @ 100K a hyundai inlcuding the Genesis is basically worthless where a lexus toy will still have considerably value. That right there speaks to quality and where the money difference is. Parts are stronger better made and last longer. Things do not rust out as quickly. How is it my Toyota minivan thats driven thru all the winter salt etc still has the original exhaust with 250K miles but the Sonata with 120K had the entire exhaust from rear of the cat actually fall off while driving it rusted out so badly. AGain its quality and that costs $$.
    All one has to do is look at the amount of repairs etc each of the dealers has to have done and that tells the tale. Lexus its very minor Genesis theres a backlog. Further consider the engine parts. Lexus uses Toyota engines for the most part that are used thru many different models etc. Parts are everywhere. Genesis you very well have to have the parts sent from Korea as they are so limited. That is a week wait min and the cost is astronomical. If in doubt just hope on the Genesis owners forum and check out some of the $$ amounts for parts if they had not had the warranty. There is a reason Hyundai had to offer that 10/100. It was because no one would buy for fear of breakage and no parts or costs etc. Hyundai builds for a duty cycle of the entire car of 100-120K. Lexus/Toyota have a long history of proof they build 300K vehicles on average.
    This is an area it seems reviewers NEVER want to discuss like its taboo. Fact are facts. A extended B2B warranty from Hyundai Corp almost doubles in price extended it from 10/100 to 10/120. Think what that tells you!?! The level of repairs they expect in the size time period but just adding say 3500 miles per yr more usage. They have to offer these longer warranties for a reason or they would never have made it to where they are today. Do not get me wrong I really really like the Genesis and what Hyundai offers in general. But people and reviews can not trun a blind eye to the cost of that discounted pricing. Everyone has to pay employees so cost has to come out of somewhere. No free lunch.

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