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 Nissan Pathfinder is just at home on the trial as it is on the road.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". The message is about making choices and, how the road taken made all the difference. Often in life and on the road, we have to make one choice. Take one road. No turning back. I thought of this poem on my recent test drive in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder in the hinterlands of Montana, when I could take two different roads—paved and dirt—and that made all the difference!

Nissan has redesigned and retooled its fifth-generation Pathfinder instilling greater latitude for buyers who want to travel both types of roads and expand their adventure footprint. After seven decades of off-road development, 35 years in the business of selling Pathfinders, and with more than 1.8 million sold in the U.S., this Japanese automaker has moved the needle with a ground-up revision of the previous-gen model.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a capable off-roader.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The full-sized sport utility is available in four trims (S, SV, SL and Platinum) and two- and four-wheel drive versions; Nissan expects that nearly 60 percent of buyers will choose four-wheel drive. The Pathfinder is in a segment that has grown larger each year as more families want a vehicle for around-town, school and playdate runs and for weekend getaways with traction technology that allows travel in the backcountry and good towing capability. Direct competitors are the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

A day-long drive of approximately 150 miles on tarmac and over a variety of dirt roads and tracks provided the opportunity to assess the Pathfinder's updates. A late-spring snowstorm added slickness to all the road surfaces in the region and allowed the Pathfinder to show off its traction capabilities at both slow and higher speeds and with lane change and emergency-braking maneuvers, when towing. I concentrated my evaluation on the augmented hardware and software designed to enhance the crossover's capabilities for backcountry travel and towing.

What I found most notable over every road surface was the comfortable ride and responsive handling that come from a collection of upgrades—and, in particular, as a result of the following: the gearing on the new nine-speed transmission, with paddle shifters for personal and more precise shifting for sport driving and slowing over rough terrain; the new terrain mode system that's engineered for different driving conditions; the four-wheel drive system that moves torque more quickly to avoid wheel slip; the improved suspension system; and new tires with a larger contact patch and more aggressive tread pattern, among other changes.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Pathfinder's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Pathfinder provided sure-footed motoring and comfort over uneven surfaces. Its 7.1 inches of ground clearance easily maneuvered over the small obstacles on the trail and hill descent control took the reigns without hesitation for steeper and longer downhills on traction-compromised surfaces.

I was also impressed with the Pathfinder's towing competence and appreciated the standard trailer sway control onboard all trims. It offered notably strong, mannered acceleration from a standing start and excellent straight-line braking without porpoising for either exercise.

The new 2022 Pathfinder brings off-road and towing attributes that are important to families who are seeking to spend time in the backcountry for days trips and longer and for overlanding in terrain that doesn't require a true off-road vehicle with a low range. It's will appeal to buyers who want don't want to have to choose only one road.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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