Not to rile anyone up, but in some ways, an Android phone is like the lower cost version of an Apple iPhone. Feel free to argue with me if you want, but it’s a benefit, not a detriment. If you know where to shop, Android phones can even cost about half as much. Yet, they still have a sharp screen, plenty of apps, and even some extra benefits like customizing the keyboard.
The 2016 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 is like the Android of cars. It might sound like a ding, but it’s a smart buy for those who like to comparison shop and save a few bucks.
Everything about the Genesis 3.8 screams “luxury car” without the luxury price. For the size, which is roomy enough for five adults, the comparable cars include a Cadillac CTS for around $45,000 or even an Audi A6 which costs $46,000. Other than the Hyundai Equus, it’s the largest sedan from Hyundai and has some high-end features you might find only in a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW. Yet, the Genesis 3.8 runs $38,000—a good deal as a new car.
There are some fun tech surprises. The model I drove uses the Hyundai Blue Link app to help you mark the car by GPS so you can find it in a parking lot. You can create a geo-fence that warns you, using a notification on your phone and a pop-up on the touchscreen, that the car has either left a designated area or entered an area you marked on a map. You can also get alerts if someone drives too fast, drives past a certain time, or your teenage son listens to death metal too loud (I made that last one up, not the first two).
What impressed me the most, though, were the little things. Ford already offers car monitoring features for teen drivers and goes one step further—in some models, not only do you get a notice is someone drives too fast, you can have the car throttle back, Geo-fencing is not new and neither are the curfew alerts, but there are some subtle tech features. If you leave a window open, the car will alert you when you turn it off. If you are parked at the mall at your steering wheel is turned sharply, the Genesis will advise you to straighten out the wheels.
A Hyundai rep told me those features are “from your friends at Hyundai”—although when I asked if those friends could come and wash my car and rotate the tires they just looked at me and stared. I’ve tested hundreds of cars and have never seen those prompts.
The Genesis 3.8 is also sporty enough for any morning commute. It has a 311 horsepower-engine that provided enough push for me to merge easily into traffic, not so much that the car feels jerky or over-powered for everyday drives. I was also impressed by the fuel economy of 29 MPG on the highway considering this is a larger family vehicle. My kids said they would stretch out easily in the backseat. They were the same kids who complained about how you can monitor the car using an app, by the way. I told them it’s the way of the world.
What will you miss? If you choose an Audi for about $7,000 more you won’t benefit from a turbocharged engine, that extra push from a stop-sign that provides a quick thrill. You do have to decide if that push is worth it, because many of the other features like adaptive cruise control (your car adjusts its speed for the car in front of you) and lane warnings (the car beeps if you move out of a lane without signaling, a common cause for fender benders).
In fact, until autonomous cars become common, many of these “luxury car” features have filtered down to cars like the Chrysler 200 and the Ford Fusion, so they are not as differentiating as they once were. In the Genesis, you can’t really brag too much about the adaptive cruise and people might not be that impressed with the warning about a window, but overall the Genesis is a solid, well-built car with about the right amount of acceleration for most drives.
If you pay more for an Audi, it will likely be due to some deep-seated desire to race off into the sunset. In a Hyundai, the sunset looks exactly the same, just $7,000 less.