Everyone loves a good deal, which is why eastern automakers are taking over the motoring world, with models like the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Telluride, and Honda CR-V topping sales in the USA and abroad. These nameplates, along with their siblings, are proof that you really can have it all. They are stylishly good-looking, both inside and out, comfortable, and well-appointed with loads of modern tech and safety features.
As if that weren’t enough, each manufacturer has made a move into the premium industry in recent years, opening divisions such as Infiniti, Lexus, and most recently, Genesis. After some teething problems in their formative years, these companies have shown that high-performance and quality vehicles need not be prohibitively expensive. In fact, Genesis, the luxury marque of Hyundai, was named the most dependable luxury car by J.D. Power, and now the G80 is considered a highly desirable vehicle in the States.
Of the top-selling vehicles in America, this includes:
- Toyota RAV4
- Honda CR-V
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Camry
- Nissan Rogue
- Toyota Tacoma
- Subaru Forester
- Honda Accord
- Mazda CX-5
If it weren’t for its higher cost, the Genesis G80 would most likely make the list, as would the GV80 and the recently released GV70. For how much they cost, they offer comparable quality to the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, while surpassing American brands such as Chevrolet and Cadillac. It may still take some time before these new premium cars are seen as true rivals to the automotive royalty, but it seems inevitable.
The latest from Lexus and Infiniti
Toyota and Nissan are at the forefront with their luxury divisions, Lexus and Infiniti. However, while Lexus has maintained the majority of its lineup, Infiniti has seen many models fall by the wayside internationally. Sadly, the MSRP of Lexus cars has been steadily rising to the point where they are on par with the more renowned brands, meaning that most shoppers will feel more comfortable owning a German luxury automobile since Japanese cars aren’t afforded the same status.
Some of the most exciting models that carry through to 2021 include:
Available as a coupe, convertible, or even a hybrid, the LC is an expensive yet gorgeous vehicle. But it has a lot more going for itself than just good looks. Under the hood of gas models, a luscious V8 engine channels 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft to the rear wheels via a ten-speed automatic transmission. This launches the hefty low-rider from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds in its quickest guise. But, while it may be far from slow, it can’t keep up with racier sports cars like the Porsche 911 or Mercedes-AMG CLA.
Similarly, it handles corners quite well, but it isn’t as light on its feet as the competition. But the roar of the V8 does a good job of making you feel exhilarated as you pull off. Inside, though, it looks and feels as classy as its premium rivals. This includes an extensive array of modern tech features, such as forward collision avoidance, blind-spot monitoring, and a head-up display. The infotainment touchscreen is integrated high up in the dash, but interacting with it it can still be a chore. The menus are unintuitive and need to be accessed via a touchpad.
Though not a current model, the QX55 is one of the more exciting prospects from Infiniti. Deemed the spiritual successor to the acclaimed FX, it inherits many of the latter’s fine qualities. These include a sloping roofing and a broad, imposing grille with an origami-inspired design. This proud Japanese heritage extends to the interior, with clear contrasting lines in the color scheme. Quality materials are used throughout, and all the latest tech is included as standard.
In terms of power, the QX55 makes use of a unique variable compression turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This develops 268 hp and improves fuel economy. It may not be the quickest SUV on the market, but it has the power to spare, and it’s extremely safe. It will also include a ProPilot assist system, allowing for near-autonomous driving. As a luxury crossover, it presents buyers with a fair amount of cargo space and hard-to-beat legroom in the back seat.
Genesis shakes things up
One of the more recent additions to the global automotive scene is Genesis, the luxury division of Hyundai. As such a young company, its lineup is quite limited – with only five models to speak of. These include three sedans, in varying sizes, and a pair of SUVs. Nevertheless, the brand has made a huge impact on the market with relatively affordable prices in comparison to its premium rivals. Even more impressive is that it doesn’t compromise on quality or practicality in the process.
Being the new player in an uber-competitive segment is never easy, but you may not believe it if you see how well the pair of SUVs from Genesis are doing. The larger of the pair is powered by one of two engine options, with the strongest delivering 375 hp and 391 lb-ft for a sprint time of six seconds. This makes it a lively high-rider, despite its hefty weight, and it handles especially well with the all-wheel drivetrain.
Aside from being dressed in high-quality materials and boasting a very attractive style, the mid-size SUV is one of the best-equipped vehicles on the road. This includes smart cruise control, highway driving assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision avoidance tech.
Keeping up with the Joneses
As with most car manufacturers around the world, each of the luxury divisions of Japan and Korea has committed themselves to make the move towards zero emissions in the near future. Genesis has confirmed that it plans to release its first EV later this year, with Infiniti making similar promises. Lexus, on the other hand, has already unveiled its UX 300e, an electric alternative to the gas and hybrid powertrains offered on the base model, although this won’t make it to the United States.
Since their parent companies plan to phase out gasoline and hybrid vehicles in favor of fully electric lineups in years to come, we expect to see more EVs planned from each of these luxury marques.