Car enthusiasts are the way they are for a variety of reasons. I’m big on the driving experience and the visceral sensations you get behind the wheel of something that is just so damn good. But cars are also memory-making machines, either solo or with those special to you. And that’s where this 2022 Genesis G80 came in to the picture.
“We’re going for a week, you should find a room and come with us.” My friend Garrett was referring to Fire Island Pines, the gay-friendly (gay-focused?) hamlet located on the little barrier island a short ferry ride from Sayville, New York. He and another friend already had made plans, and thanks to a Facebook group, I was indeed able to find a room in a house up the boardwalk from his. The G80 was already booked, and what better way to evaluate a big(ish) luxo-liner than with three adults and a ton of highway time?
The Genesis G80 isn’t new, Tyler spent a week with a rear-wheel drive four-cylinder example last year. But this Sport Prestige was loaded, to include a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 making 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque and adaptive suspension that scans the road, changing damping to accommodate imperfections. Pair those mechanicals to comfortable seats, a fantastic 21-speaker Lexicon sound system, tri-zone climate control, power rear sun shade, and Genesis’ Highway Driving Assist technology and you get one hell of a road tripper.
Given all three of us on the trip were “car guys” – understatement of the century – we all had opinions as the miles rolled along. Everyone liked the seats, with the back seat feeling just as premium as the front two. Other-Jake (we call her Margaret, don’t ask) had plenty of space, while Garrett had a tougher time with head room given his 6’3″ frame. Leg room and seat comfort, in both rows, was superb. As the driver, I also enjoyed Smart Posture Care, which automatically plays with the lumbar support to keep blood flowing on longer drives.
As the designated chauffeur of our group, I didn’t love the throttle response in Comfort mode, or just how pillowy-soft the suspension was set as speeds climbed higher. It was all perfect for slower city driving, but at 70 miles per hour or faster, I preferred Sport mode for the sharper pedal action and less side-to-side movement of the body – especially as I sliced my way through New York traffic.
Highway Driving Assist II was, per Genesis usual, fantastic. The “II” adds lane change assistance that was too slow and finicky (keep your hands on the wheel but don’t apply pressure, otherwise you get to change lanes yourself) to bother using, but lane centering and other expected assistance all worked well.
After some hours of driving, we arrived in Sayville, ready to park and catch the ferry. Suitcases and boxes of food from BJ’s and Stop and Shop were unloaded from the cavernous trunk and backseat, at least one person at the ferry asked if that was a Bentley, and we departed for the Pines.
I don’t often legitimately “relax.” The vacations I’ve taken lately have all involved activities, I’ve been “on” for my day job in some capacity, and so on. My friends turned their house into a WeWork every morning; I took the week in the Pines to almost entirely disconnect and just enjoy what I came to call “gay adult summer camp.”
Our days (well, mine and housemates who weren’t working) were spent hanging at the beach or at one of our houses’ heated saltwater pools. I learned of the fun that is afternoon Tea – and the coordinated looks that come with it. Tea was followed by some amazing group dinners at our houses, followed by that night’s event. We went dancing, we saw a drag show, we lost our voices at showtunes night.
New friends were made quickly. Nobody has walls up at Fire Island, they’re all there for the same reason you are – to see who shows up, get to know some new people, relax and have fun. There’s only one big thing going on each night, aside from a random house party or two, and between Tea and The Programming, you’re guaranteed to run into the same people again and again. “Plans” are a loose concept because you’ll see everyone regardless.
There are no cars on Fire Island, save for a few pickup trucks used for maintenance and emergency services. All 600-some houses are connected to the harbor by boardwalks and you walk everywhere. And despite being obsessed with all-things-car, I just didn’t want to catch the ferry back to reality when the time came. The waves on the beach, hellos on the boardwalk, and tell-me-mores at Tea were all so genuine and so refreshing.
And yet, after seven days in an overwhelmingly good-vibes place, it was time to come home. We boarded the 10:50 AM ferry and some of my housemates waved from the dock as we pulled away. Garrett, Jake and I loaded up the Genesis and stopped for gas where I once again reassured someone it was not a Bentley – truly – and pointed the long, beautiful sedan south, with Baltimore and Washington, DC in our sights.
Travel memories are made regardless of the car you use to take the trip. We would have had just as much fun on the island had we driven a Hyundai Sonata as this Genesis G80. But for such a remarkable, special vacation with two of my best Judys, the 600-mile highway journey was made as fun as the destination – and the 2022 Genesis G80 did have a hand in that.
The three of us agreed on the drive home that we’d rather have this Genesis G80 than something more “mainstream,” like a Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5-series. At $72,000-ish, the G80 is a lot of car for the money. It’s interesting, it’s different, it’s superb, and it gets people talking. And getting people talking can lead to some really great times, with cars or otherwise.