November 2014: Boom Times for Auto Sales Continue

November 2014 auto sales increase by 5 percent.

The good times are continuing for the US auto industry, now nearing the end of its fifth year of recovery from 2009’s depressively low sales numbers. Most automakers claimed healthy increases for November 2014, led by the Chrysler Group’s 20 percent increase over a year earlier. Sales for Toyota, Honda and GM also increased while Nissan and Ford registered slight declines for the month.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
Jeep sales continue to pace the Chrysler Group.

GM, Ford and Chrysler

GM continues to lead the market, enjoying a 6 percent sales increase for November. Buick and GMC paced sales with Chevrolet sales increasing a modest 3 percent. However, Cadillac sales continue to pull back, falling 19 percent for the month. GM credited Black Friday sales with boosting is numbers. Said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations, “The buzz around Black Friday helped drive strong showroom traffic but there was a lot more at work in the market.” McNeil noted that more people have jobs, household wealth is on the rebound and gas prices are falling.

Ford sales fell for the third consecutive month as the automaker retools to produce its all-new 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Ford also said that it is ramping up production for two other models — Mustang and Transit — and expects brand sales to stay depressed for the short term. Even so, Ford managed to sell more than 8,700 Mustangs for the month, including its all-new version. Lincoln sales provided a bright spot for the month, rising by 21 percent as interest in the all-new MKC and the latest generation Navigator paced the brand.

Chrysler sales continue to outpace the industry, increasing an even 20 percent for the month. Sales of Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat brand vehicles rose for the month with the Chrysler 200 sedan enjoying a 155 percent increase over the same month in 2013. Notably, 11 Chrysler Group models set records during the month with the Chrysler 200 recording its best sales month ever.

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota sales climbed by 6 percent in November 2014.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan

Toyota reported sales of 183,346 units, reflecting a three percent increase for the month. Camry, Corolla and RAV4 each topped 20,000 units sold with 4Runner sales up by 53 percent for November. Lexus sales increased by 7.3 percent, helping the luxury brand to keep pace with segment leaders. “Lexus set an all-time November sales record thanks in part to the momentum surrounding the arrival of the newest edition to the lineup, the RC coupes,” said Steve Hearne, vice president for sales and dealer development. “As a result, Lexus outpaced the luxury market with strong growth for both passenger cars and utility vehicles.”

Honda sales increased by 4.6 percent on strong sales of its CR-V crossover, midsize Accord and compact Civic lines. Honda sold a record 32,378 CR-Vs, the best-selling compact crossover utility vehicle in America. Honda’s truck sales, including utility vehicles, came in at 51,735 units, a November record. Sales for Acura, Honda’s premium brand, rose by 2 percent based on strong demand for its TLX and ILX sedans.

Nissan’s bid to catch Honda continues to stall as sales fell by 3.1 percent for the month. Nissan division sales fell by 1.7 percent while Infiniti sales sank by 13.3 percent. However, year-to-date sales are up 11.5 percent and the Nissan brand has already set its all-time US sales record. One particularly bright spot for Nissan was its Rogue crossover as its sales topped 15,000 units, increasing by nearly 44 percent for the month.

Kia K900

Kia sales continue to grow even as cousin Hyundai slips.
the flagship K900 sedan.

Subaru, Hyundai and Kia

With one month remaining in the year, Subaru has already broken its all-time sales record. November sales climbed by 24 percent and are on pace to top 500,000 units before the month is out. Like Chrysler with its 56 consecutive months of month-over-month sales increases, Subaru’s streak is now at 36 months. Two models, Forester and Outback, are leading the charge for Subaru.

Hyundai and Kia continue to go in opposite directions in terms of US auto sales. Hyundai sales fell by 4.2 percent for the month, while Kia sales rose by 6.6 percent. Kia continues to enjoy strong demand for its Optima sedan, its best selling model. Soul sales slipped in November, while Sorento sales declined slightly.

Hyundai sales fell for the month, but are still ahead of last year’s record-setting pace by 3,400 units. Elantra sales topped the 200,000 units sold threshold for the year with the Sonata expected to follow within the next day. Sales of the all-new Genesis sedan were up 57 percent for the month.

Audi Q3

Audi continues to win a larger piece of the luxury segment pie.

Volkswagen and the Rest

Volkswagen’s struggles may not be over, but it is seeing increased sales for the second month in a row. November sales rose by 3.2 percent, paced by Jetta sales up by almost 32 percent. The strongest gain was recorded by the Golf as sales rose by nearly 86 percent for the month. “We are thrilled with the accolades the Golf family of vehicles has received, including the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year. These awards applaud the line up’s versatility, quality and value,” said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America. “Partnered with the refreshed Jetta and upcoming redesigned Touareg, the potential for increased showroom traffic looks promising.”

Among the German luxury makes, Audi continues to shine the brightest. Audi sales rose by 22 percent, BMW sales fell by 2.3 percent and Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 2 percent. With a 20,000 unit lead going into December, Mercedes has sewn up first place for luxury brands this year.

Other manufacturers and brands reporting sales included Mitsubishi, up 7.6 percent; Mazda, up 2.4 percent; Tesla Motors, up 6.5 percent; Volvo, down 14.4 percent; Jaguar Land Rover, down 19 percent and Porsche, up 18.5 percent.

November 2014 Auto Sales

Automotive analysts have pegged November’s SAAR at 17.2 million units based on 1.3 million+ models sold for the month. The five percent increase comes as manufacturers ramp up year-end specials. Keep an eye on special deals that can shave even more money off of sticker prices.

See AlsoRocking October 2014 Auto Sales Lift Industry

Note: November 2014 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. Sales information provided by the manufacturers and Autodata Corporation (Motor Intelligence).

Mini Cooper S: Oh, Yes!

Small car…big fun!

2014 Mini Cooper S

A Mini Cooper S will all the trimmings.

Ah, Mini! You stole my heart and in more than one way. Your iconic, good looks are what caught my eyes and, yes, I managed to put up with the decaling found on the side mirrors, along the doors and on top of the roof just fine. What I liked best about you is that you’re so full of personality as you bring a rare, premium feel to the small car segment.

I don’t usually write love letters to my weekly drivers and my thoughts about a recent Mini Cooper S model shouldn’t be considered such. Rather, Mini served up a model that was just a lot of fun and for the following nine reasons.

1. British at its best. Sure, Mini is now owned by German automaker BMW. Its distinct Britishness may be gone, but what you have left is a very good model. The current Mini is larger than the original, but the styling cues remain the same. Whatever made the original a worthy model in its own right has only been enhanced by BMW’s influence. Yes, it is still assembled in Oxford, England with its engine from Germany and the transmission from Japan courtesy of Aisin.

2014 Mini Cooper S

Unique decaling marked this special edition model.

2. Kissed by BMW. Speaking about BMW, the German make’s influence on the model is undeniable. As tested, the Cooper S is powered by a 2.0-liter twin turbo four-cylinder engine — it is the same engine that powers the BMW 2 Series. In the Mini it is tuned tamer, but the four banger still cranks out 189 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque. With just 2,700 pounds of weight to push around, it lives up to its “S” or sport appellation with distinction.

2014 Mini Cooper S

View manufacturer details and pricing

3. A manual transmission, but not this time. Alas, the test model did not come with a six-speed manual transmission. Instead, a six-speed automatic was served. Nevertheless, much driving fun was realized by putting the transmission in sport mode and using the paddle shifters. My personal preference is nearly always a manual (when one is available), but the fast shifting automatic gets the job done and does so with fun. Take each curve and twist of the road with full confidence with this smart handling Mini.

2014 Mini Cooper S

A dual paneled sunroof with more decaling.

4. Upscale seating for the driver. There is no small car that I’ve driven over the past few years that offers the seating comfort of the Cooper S. Mini outfits the Cooper S with highly supportive and comfortable sport buck seats, covered in cloth and with leather sides. It wasn’t just the support it provided that made the difference: a seat extender aced it for this diminutive people mover. That’s a feature typically found in luxury cars.

5. Not too bad for the front passenger. Uh, forget the back seat. The Mini Cooper seats four, but the back seat is, well, a token addition. Two children in booster seats can fit, but getting a car seat in and out would be a big challenge. Don’t punish adults by sitting in the leg-squishing rear seat even for a short drive. The front passenger seat is quite comfortable and also offers a seat extender. Push the seat all the way to the back and you have copious amounts of legroom. At the expense of anyone in the rear, of course.

2014 Mini Cooper S

The well-rounded Mini Cooper S interior.

6. Round is in. Very in. If you like personality in your small cars, the Mini Cooper S does not disappoint. The well-rounded interior makes use of a circular theme nearly everywhere. Behind the steering wheel is a circular speedometer with a half moon tachometer on its left side. The center screen, however, is the heart and soul of the car with its own circular design trimmed by glowing mood lighting. Circular knobs, rounded-tip switches, a circular shifter seat and a BMW-like iDrive control dial along with round speakers and near round headrests are also included. Rounded headlamps with circular LED lights are another feature of this model.

7. Limited storage, but then. Small cars have very little storage room, right? Well, Mini tries really hard to provide room, by making space where you might otherwise not find it. The glove box is small, but there is a secondary box above it in the instrument panel. The folding driver’s arm rest has space large enough to hold your smartphone. Two cup holders are up front and one is in the back. Importantly, there is a hidden, sectioned storage compartment underneath the rear storage area. Fold down the rear seats and you’ll get 38 cubic feet of storage space.

8. Enjoy the intersection of fuel economy and performance. Perhaps the best feature of the Mini Cooper S is that it combines excellent performance with superior fuel economy. Instead of the standard turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, you get a twin-turbo four-cylinder engine. You enjoy excellent off the mark acceleration and can pass anything on the highway with certainty. Moreover, this model delivers 27 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway — impressive numbers that won’t have you regretting the extra power.

2014 Mini Cooper S

Small hatchback with a hidden storage compartment.

9. The power to surprise. Sure, it is an option, but having head-up display is a nice feature. Especially when it appears on a small screen that emerges from the dashboard to project the speed limit. Personally, I would have designed a more comprehensive system to show navigational directional arrows and the local speed limit. Still, the optional navigation system was a welcome surprise. Other nice features included the dual panel sun roof — the decals on top of the roof provided a visual statement. Not my taste, but maybe yours?

Maxi Fun

Boil it down and the Mini Cooper S delivers a lot of fun in a small package. But it does come at a premium price: from $23,600. As tested, my model costs an eyebrow raising $36,895, reflecting several upgrades to include: a $4,500 “fully loaded” package with navigation, $1,500 for the automatic transmission, $500 for the automatic dimming mirrors which, by the way, fold in. Other upgrades included: cloth and leatherette seats ($750), special metallic paint ($500), a cold weather package ($600), park assist (($1,000) and the head-up display ($500). That price rivals the BMW 1 Series, a model that BMW no longer sells in the US.

2014 Mini Cooper S

TwinPower Turbo courtesy of BMW powers the Cooper S.

2014 Mini Cooper S

  • Sticker price from $23,600
  • Price as tested: from $36,895
  • Seats 4 occupants
  • 2.0-liter 16-valve four-cylinder gasoline engine
  • 189 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
  • 207 foot-pounds of torque @ 1,250 rpm
  • 3.2 inches bore by 3.27 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 11.0-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 98.2 inches
  • Length: 151.9 inches
  • Width: 59.1 inches
  • Height: 55.7 inches
  • Passenger volume: NR
  • Storage volume: 8.7/38.0 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: N/A
  • EPA: 27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway
  • Premium grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 11.6 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 2,760 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Good for moderate overlap front
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 12 years
  • Vehicle assembly: Oxford, UK

See AlsoDrop Top Fun: 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible

2014 Mini Cooper S photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Rocking October 2014 Auto Sales Lift Industry

October 2014 sales remain in positive territory.

The US auto industry continues to record strong sales even as the overall economy shows only modest gains. Sales this year should top 16.5 million units with analysts forecasting at least 17 million units sold for 2015. And if October 2014 auto sales are a good indicator, the year should finish on a strong note.

Sales for the month were up by 6.1 percent as 1,281,313 light vehicles were sold according to Motor Intelligence by Autodata Corp. Through October 2014, more than 13.7 million units have been sold we are on pace for for the best year since 2007.

2015 Audi A3 -- October 2014

2015 Audi A3

Auto Sales Trends

As sales continue to rise, some might question just how much further they can rise. At least for the short term, sales seem likely to continue moving up.

Mike Rabkin, president of From Car to Finish, a national new vehicle negotiating service, contends that there is still pent up demand for new vehicles yet to be tapped. Specifically, Rabkin cited the average 11-year age of registered vehicles as one important factor supporting increased increased sales.

He went on to note that “late model used car transaction prices are also still near historical highs, which pushes people towards new vehicles since for similar money, they can get the peace of mind of a new vehicle, a full warranty, the newest features and technologies, better mileage, etc.”

2015 Corvette Stingray -- October 2014

2015 Corvette Stingray

GM, Toyota Up; Ford Sales Fall

GM paced the market in October 2014, but barely registered a month-over month gain, enjoying a 0.2 percent increase for the month. The strongest improvements came with the Cadillac CTS (up 49 percent) and the Chevrolet Cruze (up 51 percent). Strong sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra also helped keep GM in the positive column for the month.

Toyota sales rose by 6.9 percent, fueled by strong demand for the best-selling Camry. Camry and RAV4 sales were the difference for Toyota; the automaker also sold more than 20,000 hybrids across its Toyota and Lexus lines. Lexus sales rose by 2.8 percent for the month.

Ford sales fell by 2 percent as retail sales dropped by 13 percent while fleet and government sales rose. Ford is in the process of swapping out its E-Series van for the Transit and is also working diligently to bring its all-new aluminum-body F-Series to the market. Lincoln posted a 24.6 percent gain for the month, based largely on strong demand for the new MKC crossover.

2015 Hyundai Genesis -- October 2014

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Chrysler, Nissan and Honda

Chrysler once again enjoyed record sales, registering its 56th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. Chrysler Group sales rose by 22 percent as every Chrysler, Jeep and Ram Truck brand vehicle experienced increased sales. Jeep sales rose by 52 percent, Chrysler 200 sales were up by 40 percent and Ram pickup truck sales fell just shy of 40,000 units sold.

It may take Nissan another year, but it seems that Japan’s second-largest car manufacturer may finally overtake smaller Honda in the US market. Nissan has never outsold Honda stateside, but this year it is enjoying stellar sales, rising 13 percent year to date to Honda’s 0.6 percent gain. October was another strong performer as Nissan sales rose by 13.3 percent while American Honda recorded a 5.8 percent increase.

2015 Kia K900 -- October 2014

2015 Kia K900

Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Audi

Kia and Hyundai continue to work with capacity constraints, but are seeing sales affected in opposite ways. Kia sales rose by 12.4 percent on the strength of big demand for its Soul multi-purpose vehicle and for renewed interest in its Sedona minivan.

Hyundai sales fell by 6.5 percent as demand for its two top-selling products, the midsize Sonata and compact Elantra lines fell. Sales of the all-new Genesis sedan rose for the month.

Volkswagen sales have been down all year, but in October the German brand enjoyed a healthy 7.8 boost on the strength of demand for its all-new Golf. Golf sales doubled for the month and Jetta sedan sales increased by nearly 25 percent. Sales for the year are still off by 12.2 percent. Audi sales rose by 16.5 percent, recording the 46th consecutive month of month-over-month sales. Its Q5 and Q7 crossovers along with the all-new A3 sedan led the charge for October.

Subaru October 2014 Sales

Like Audi and Chrysler, Subaru continues to enjoy an extended sales streak. For October 2014, Subaru topped 40,000 units sold for the seventh consecutive month and also registered its 35th consecutive month of growth. Legacy midsize sedan sales more than doubled and both the WRX/STI and Outback enjoyed increases of more than 50 percent. Subaru’s sales for the month were up by 24.7 percent and are now up by 20.3 percent for the year.

2015 Infiniti QX70 -- October 2014

2015 Infiniti QX70

Best of the Rest

BMW may not catch Mercedes-Benz for the year, but at least they are trying. BMW brand sales were up by 11 percent, while Mercedes-Benz sales fell by 4.3 percent. Other manufacturers reporting sales included: Mitsubishi (up 30.5 percent), Mazda (down 4.8 percent), Tesla (down 15.4 percent), Volvo (up 1.4 percent), Jaguar Land Rover (down 19.8 percent) and Porsche (up 2.9 percent).

Sales figures culled by the respective automotive manufacturers.

See AlsoSeptember 2014 Auto Sales: Bada Bing, Bada Boom

Killed by Takata; Denied Access by the NHTSA

Two-thirds of the airbag recalls involve Honda vehicles.

Honda Accord.
This seventh generation Honda Accord is currently being recalled.

The news this week turned especially gruesome as the New York Times shared the account of a dying Florida woman lying in a hospital bed who appeared to have stab wounds in her neck. On further investigation, it was revealed that an airbag likely deployed, but also spewed forth pieces of metal shrapnel that eventually took her life.

Following the Times’ story the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded its recall to include 7.8 million vehicles from 10 different manufacturers. Two-thirds of those recalls involve Honda models; every affected vehicle contains airbags furnished by Japanese parts supplier Takata.

NHTSA Website Goes Down

After issuing its announcement, the NHTSA’s website denied access to consumers seeking further information, specifically people attempting to verify whether their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matched the latest recall. The search function was not working and was still experiencing problems through early Thursday. The NHTSA apologized for the downtime and also for supplying an earlier list that inaccurately included Nissan models not under recall. That list has since been updated and has been shared here.

Meanwhile, Takata and Honda are both facing a monumental public relations crisis as regulators confirm that the two companies had known about the airbag problem since 2004, what has resulted in two confirmed deaths and dozens of injuries. If confirmed, the Florida woman’s death would raise that toll to three.

2004 Ford Ranger.
The Takata recall also includes 2004 Ford Rangers

The Current Takata List

The NHTSA’s Takata recall list is current as of Oct. 23, 2014. The vehicles under recall are as follows:

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 BMW 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 BMW 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 BMW 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 BMW M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 BMW M3 Convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

NHTSAFord: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ford Ranger
2005 – 2006 Ford GT
2005 – 2007 Ford Mustang

General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL

Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 Mazda MPV
2004 – Mazda B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer
2006 – 2007 Mitsubishi Raider

Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Subaru Baja
2003 – 2005 Subaru Legacy
2003 – 2005 Subaru Outback
2004 – 2005 Subaru Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra

Immediate Service Pushed

The NHTSA is urging consumers to take immediate action and have their cars serviced. However, some manufacturers do not have enough parts on hand — it could take weeks or longer before repairs are made. In the meantime manufacturers, such as Toyota, have said that owners of affected models would be notified by first-class mail this week to return their vehicles to their dealer for repairs.

Under the recall Toyota says that it “will replace the front passenger airbag inflator with a newly manufactured one.” However, if a replacement part is not available, the dealer has been instructed to disable the airbag and install a hang tag on the glove box to serve as a warning that the front passenger seat should not be occupied until the repair has been made.

Toyota Corolla Recall.
Select ninth generation Toyota Corollas are under a recall

Consumers Union Weighs In

Not everyone is satisfied with the NHTSA’s handling of the recall. Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, urged the government to expand the recall to cover vehicles beyond its current geographic area.

In a letter to NHTSA, George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, wrote, “The recalls were originally focused on vehicles registered in areas with ‘high absolute humidity,’ but the dangers could be far broader. We believe it is essential to ensure the widest possible public awareness of this hazard, and for NHTSA, automakers, and suppliers to provide consumers with prompt and effective means to address the hazard.”

Beyond disabling airbags, Consumers Union has asked the NHTSA whether regulators were looking at other options such as providing loaner cars to owners or vouchers for rental cars. CU also pointed out that the recall process for the defective inflators began more than 18 months ago and asked the agency to explain what it was doing to ensure that car manufacturers, Takata and potential other suppliers were manufacturing and supplying “safe replacement parts for all cars that need them.”

Tens of Millions of Recalls

This year will go down as the year of the recall as more than 50 million vehicles have bee recalled to date. GM has recalled about half that many as it battles its own PR crisis. Even so, the automaker reported net income of $1.4 billion for the third quarter.

See AlsoRecall Roundup: October 2014

Attainable Opulence: 2015 Hyundai Genesis

2015 Hyundai Genesis


There are very few cars I test drive that surprise me. I expect that certain vehicles will stand head and shoulders above the pack, including the Porsche Cayman among sports cars and the Toyota FJ Cruiser among 4×4 models. But I must tell you that Hyundai has trotted out the wow factor for me several times in the past year, especially in the Hyundai Genesis sedan, what is all new for 2015.

My previous experience with the Genesis was an all-too-quick test drive at a local Hyundai dealer nearly five years ago. I liked the sedan a lot, but I wasn’t seriously considering buying one. What I did find was a sedan that offered a lot of content for the price, a budget-priced alternative to the BMW 5 Series. That earlier model was a decent BMW competitor, but if you were looking for a high-end dealer experience, you wouldn’t find one in the Genesis.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Luxury Under the Hyundai Banner

The Genesis sedan — along with the Genesis coupe and the top-end Equus — are three models that could just as easily be sold under a separate brand umbrella along the same lines as Toyota does with Lexus and Nissan with Infiniti.

Hyundai’s strategy, however is different: the Korean automaker is satisfied with delivering premium models under one brand name. That effort hasn’t hurt sales although in the eyes of discriminating buyers — status seekers who want the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star or the stylish Lexus emblem — Hyundai may not go far enough.

But there are tens of thousands of buyers who want the Genesis and its upscale stablemates, with 55 percent of Genesis customers representing conquest sales, including former Lexus and Mercedes-Benz owners reports Automotive News. Hyundai is fully aware that its strategy is unique to an industry that prizes brand delineation, but the good here (sales) is certainly outweighing the bad (prestige). At least for right now.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

2015 Hyundai Genesis

The first generation Hyundai Genesis was sold from 2009 to 2014. It was the initial premium Hyundai model sold in North America and was followed in succeeding years by the Genesis coupe and the Equus. You should know that the Genesis sedan and coupe share a name, but are nothing alike.

The big changes for 2015 Genesis are inside and out, although the same engines found in the first generation model return as does the eight-speed automatic transmission.

As tested, a 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 edition was provided, with a base price of $38,000. The 3.8 represents the engine size, a 311-horsepower V-6. Also available is a 5.0 edition, retailing from $51,500. It has a 5.0-liter V-8 engine making 420 horsepower.

Rear-wheel drive is standard with this model; all-wheel drive is available ($2,500 upgrade) for the first time and can be had with the V-6 edition only. An all-wheel drive V-8 version should arrive in the next year or two, perhaps sporting the previously used R-Spec mantle.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Fluidic Sculpture 2.0

Hyundai’s design language, dubbed fluidic sculpture, has been applied across the model line since the previous generation Sonata sedan rolled out five years ago. That language has since been updated and now carries a 2.0 designation. In the Hyundai Genesis the latest design provides a more polished and modern look marked by a strong, but elegant grille flanked by automatic headlamps and LED daytime running lights.

The Genesis’ stance is strong, refined and limousine like, marked by tasteful profile sculpting near the top of the doors and across the rocker panels. To the rear are beautifully designed wrap around tails lamps and integrated dual exhaust ports. This sedan sits on 18-inch alloy wheels.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Longer Wheelbase, More Interior Room

The second generation Genesis is three inches longer between the wheels although its overall dimensions are about the same. That extra room benefits passengers who have almost as much interior room as found in the Equus. Measuring just seven inches shorter than Hyundai’s flagship model, the current Genesis makes the Equus seem old.

Inside, the delights continue. Only you may swear that you’re in a Lexus or a Mercedes-Benz when slipping behind the wheel of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis.

But before you get inside, the Genesis senses your approach when your key fob is in hand. The side mirrors, what automatically pull in when you lock your car, move into position, flash and beep as you make your approach. If your approach is made directly to the rear of the car, the rear lights will flash and you’ll hear several beeps as the trunk opens. No swishing the leg under the rear bumper ala Ford to get the trunk to open.

The interior is large, limousine-like and very comfortable. Genuine leather seating, real wood trim with matte finish and thick aluminum accents are just for starters. You also get rear side window sunshades, a power rear sunshade, heated and vented front seats, heated side mirrors, BlueLink infotainment and a navigation system.

Pricing and Package Upgrades

This model also features keyless entry, push button start, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel column, front power seats with lumbar support, an automatic dimming rear view mirror and a seven-speaker audio system. Three package upgrades brought the test model’s final price to $49,950, what added in many of the amenities found standard in the 5.0 edition.

An Ultimate package ($3,500) brought in the wood trim, a larger 9.2-inch center display screen, a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, the power trunk lid and a head-up display. For another $3,500 you get a technology package, what includes premium leather seats, a number of safety features — including lane departure warning and lane keep assist, high-beam assist, an electronic parking brake and smart cruise control. You can also choose the signature package, what brings in the sunroof, blind spot detection, the sunshades and ventilated seats among other amenities. You can only choose the tech or signature packages if you opt for the Ultimate package first.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

As beautiful as the Genesis’ interior is, Hyundai kept things simple by opting for a clean, but modern design for the instrument panel and the center console. The panel features traditional tachometer and speedometer displays flanking a large, driver information center. Much of the information found on the center screen can appear on the digital screen, including music and navigation displays.

The Genesis has cruise and secondary control switches on the steering wheel. Traditional buttons and knobs surround a numberless and stately clock face centered within the console. Voice and touchscreen control of the center display screen is also possible.

The driver’s seat is as comfortable as you would expect in a premium sedan. Adjust the steering column to suit your needs, buckle up and you’re ready to experience the Hyundai Genesis.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

View manufacturer details and pricing

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Capable V-6 Engine

The current Genesis roughly parallels the defunct Lincoln Town Car in size, but with shorter overhangs. With its smaller standard engine, the Hyundai Genesis still manages to deliver a higher horsepower rating than the last Lincoln Town Car (311 hp v. 284 hp) and that alone should dispel concerns by some that the V-6 isn’t enough to power this big sedan.

I found the V-6 to be energetic, capable and sufficient for the Genesis. Like the V-8, the standard engine employs continuously variable valve timing and direct injection without turbocharging. You get good off the mark acceleration and never lack power when you’re on the highway, especially when passing. Consider the V-8 only if you prize performance and the added continuous damping control suspension system that comes with it.

Hyundai made the Genesis quiet, comfortable and its suspension soft, in keeping with what many buyers want. This model is outfitted with front and rear stabilizer bars, an independent front and rear suspension and performance gas shock absorbers. Early on in the Genesis’ development, Hyundai engineers reached out to Lotus for assistance to enhance driver feedback. Lotus came back with advice on improving the steering, with Hyundai incorporating those changes to help make this model more BMW “M-Like” than before. Whereas the first generation model was closer to the earlier Lincoln in drive and feel, the current model has transitioned nicely to compete with what the big European sedans deliver.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Taking on the Competitors

Hyundai has unquestionably raised the bar with the current Genesis. Certainly, you can shop the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW’s 5 Series, the Audi A6, Cadillac CTS and Lexus GS when considering a sedan in this class. What you won’t find is anything near the Genesis’ sub-$50,000 price for this fully-loaded Korean bargain. Wow indeed.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

  • Sticker price from $38,000
  • Price as tested: from $49,950
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.8-liter 24-valve V-6 gasoline engine
  • 311 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
  • 293 foot-pounds of torque @ 5,000 rpm
  • 3.78 inches bore by 3.43 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 11.5-to-1
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 118.5 inches
  • Length: 196.5 inches
  • Width: 74.4 inches
  • Height: 58.3 inches
  • Passenger volume: 107.7 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 15.3 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: NR
  • EPA: 18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 20.3 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 4,138 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+ (2014)
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 10 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 7 years/Unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Asan, Korea

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