Behind the Wheel

2020 Genesis G70 Review: Worthy competitor to existing luxe-mobiles from Germany, Japan

The Genesis G70 has not received any major updates for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

When catching up with friends I haven't seen in a while — usually because of COVID-related lockdowns and such — the conversation inevitably comes around to: "What have you been doing to keep busy?"

In my case, it basically sums up to writing, playing Xbox with friends (which is a solid way to keep human interaction going when stuck at home), venturing out to Costco for essential supplies, and making turkey sandwiches.

I also spend quite a lot of time behind the wheel of cars. Taking a solitary drive to nowhere in particular is a fun thing to do in normal times, but I've been driving to nowhere more than usual over the past few months both to review my test cars and for the positive mental health aspects of getting some fresh air.

2020 Genesis G70 The G70 features a sporty back end.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

I have friends who are mildly horrified to find themselves whispering "I even miss my commute." I totally get this, particularly since I work from home. A commute is a time for solitude — you get some time away from both the family and your work. It's a time for you to just focus on driving, or listening to your podcast, or Taylor Swift or whatever.

Nothing makes you appreciate stop-and-go traffic more than not having to sit in it anymore. And it's both those drives-to-nowhere and the stop-and-go traffic that makes me particularly appreciate my test car this week: the 2020 Genesis G70.

Genesis is Hyundai's new(ish) luxury brand, competing with Lexus and BMW and Mercedes and the like. The G70 is a compact sports sedan, going up against the 3 Series, C-Class, IS, and A4 — and it does a terrific job of it.

My tester was fully-loaded with the 3.3T Sport Package, which means it sported a 365-horsepower and 376 lb-ft 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6. Which means it's fast. And then Genesis loaded it up with a sporty suspension, limited-slip diff, Brembo brakes, all-wheel drive, and a bunch of other stuff to make it go fast and handle well. It worked, too.

A six-speed manual transmission is available on the G70 but Genesis saw fit to lend me one that had a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

2020 Genesis G70 The interior of the G70 is sleek and well-appointed. Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Inside was the same story. There were gorgeous quilted leather seats, a terrific heads-up display, Hyundai's phenomenal adaptive cruise system with lane-keeping, a great stereo, and a bunch of other stuff like a suede headliner which is unnecessary but still kind of fun.

Don't get me wrong, any car that prices out at $51,275 is going to be nice and chockablock full of features. But the Genesis G70 seems just a little bit better in that department. Perhaps it's because it comes with the same terrific warranty that Hyundai offers on all its cars: a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, plus 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage.

Or maybe it's the Genesis Concierge service that — even before COVID — let you set up at-home test drives and delivery of your new car to your house (because we all know how much fun dealerships can be).

I do have a couple G70 nitpicks though. If you look on the front grille, which is the centerpiece of a rather excellent front end, there's a largeish plastic rectangle in the center. This is where the radar for the adaptive cruise control sits, and it causes a bit of a jarring effect to the overall look of the car. It doesn't quite fit right, and I wish there was a better way. As we get cleverer and more complex safety systems, hiding these sensors will be an increasing challenge. I imagine Genesis will get better at this as well.

2020 Genesis G70 Genesis has given the model the features and drive experience sports sedan buyers are looking for.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Finally, there's the Genesis badge itself. It just doesn't have the presence that this car — which in all other respects is a worthy competitor to the existing luxe-mobiles from Germany and Japan — deserves. The blue-and-white BMW logo or the four-rings of Audi or the three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz... they're all instantly recognizable and totally distinctive.

The winged Genesis logo looks to me a bit like a Bentley knock-off, a badge not worthy of the stellar vehicle it's attached to. And in this market, brand cachet counts for a lot. But if the worst thing I can say about a car is that I don't like the badge? That's a pretty big compliment in itself.

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The 2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST gives buyers more performance at a lower price.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer lineup is getting a three-model enhancement for the 2021 model year. The Explorer Enthusiast ST, Platinum, and Platinum Hybrid will be making their way to dealership lots later this year in a targeted attempt to identify customer desires.

The new models join the just-announced 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch, also a new addition.

2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST

The Enthusiast ST grade takes a lot of what customers like about the existing Explorer ST and delivers it at a far cheaper price. The Enthusiast ST has a starting MSRP of $48,750 as opposed to the ST, which starts at $52,830.

Setting it apart from there Explorers is the Enthusiast ST's quad chrome exhaust tips, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets, and sideview mirrors with ST projection lamps.

The new model comes equipped with the same 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine that's in the Explorer ST that churns out 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain.

Ford has given the model a sport-tuned suspension and a top track speed of 143 mph. A standard Class III Trailer Tow Package provides towing capability of up to 5,600 pounds.

The cabin of the Enthusiast ST is complete with leather seating surfaces, unique Miko micro-perforated inserts, and City Silver accent stitching with the ST logo. There's a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated sport-style steering wheel with the ST logo, and paddle shifters.

The Explorer Enthusiast ST also features standard Ford Co-Pilot360 technology.

2021 Ford Explorer Platinum

2021 Ford Explorer Plat Ford has two new Platinum models coming to a dealership near you.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Explorer Plat

The new Explorer Platinum is powered by a 3.0-liter engine and comes standard with rear-wheel drive. Four-when drive is available.

To make the Platinum version worthy of its upscale price tag, its packaging includes door handles with satin aluminum insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside cladding insert, roof-rack side rails, a twin-panel moonroof, and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish. Its cabin is fitted with leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and door and front console armrests.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Platinum has a starting MSRP of $52,480. The hybrid version of that model starts at $53,085.

All the models are currently available for order via Ford dealerships. Deliveries are expected to begin this summer.

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Drivers will be able to utilize the Mappo app in their Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Mappo is a new way to explore. The app provides culture-oriented travel recommendations based on books, movies, music, and more, going further than the traditional reach of points of interest recommendations. It includes themed routes and utilizes crowd sourcing to generate content from locations around the globe.

The app launched with 30,000 points of interest with references in more than a dozen major cities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Points of interest aren't just marked on a map, but are supported with content such as quotes, book clips and trivia. Users can browse points of interest nearby, or you can use the search box to look up themed routes based on a place, the name of an author or book, or several other filters such as movies, music and history.

Mappo app interface in SYNC 4

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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Ford will be the first automaker to add Mappo to its vehicles. The addition is the result of a collaboration between Mappo, a startup from Tel Aviv, Israel, and the Ford Research Center in Israel.

"People love telling their friends about interesting places in books, movies and music – now they can share these passions with the world through Mappo," said Stuart Taylor, global director, Ford enterprise connectivity. "Mappo makes long drives or brief escapes richer experiences, whether people stay inside their vehicle or step out to experience a landmark."

Customers who have vehicles equipped with SYNC 3 or SYNC 4 technology will be able to use Mappo through voice commands, giving them an easy way to experience the app as they travel. Mappo also will be available for the 2021 F-150, Mustang Mach-E, Bronco, and other future Ford vehicles.

Vehicles equipped with navigation technology can use SYNC AppLink for the unique capability of creating routes to the points of interest found in the Mappo app.

In addition to Ford vehicles, the Mappo app is aviaalbe for iOS and Android devices.

Getting in and out of your vehicle to explore doesn't stop the Mappo experience. Any saved route on your smartphone can be easily selected once running the app inside your vehicle, and you can quickly pick up where you left off – whether leaving a vehicle to explore or coming back to continue to your next destination.

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