Review by Mark Stevenson, photos by Mark Stevenson and courtesy Hyundai Genesis.
Canada is a vast and varied land. Different regions. Different climates. Different weather patterns. What works in one province may not work in another. What works for one family may not work for another.
While in Quebec for Hyundai’s all-wheel drive winter experience program, those differences became all too apparent.
Hyundai Canada, with a fair bit of data-driven wisdom to back up their decision, went with all-wheel drive only for the 2015 Genesis sedan. Now in its second generation, the entry-luxury full-size sedan is much more refined than the introductory, outgoing model and at a great value for those desiring more than just a nameplate. It’s also not as derivative as the old car which was constantly criticized for being a knock off Mercedes.
We went to Quebec specifically to test Hyundai’s new HTRAC all-wheel drive system in the wilds of la belle province. I’d love to tell you Hyundai nailed it; that they (along with Magna) put together an all-wheel drive system rivaling the engineering might of the Germans with the mechanical refinement of the Japanese. I’d love to give you little anecdotes of how fun the Genesis was to slide around on our closed course and offer up a simile about perfect balance including a herd of elephants, a room full of ball bearings, and a Rube Goldberg machine.
But, the fact of the matter is – well – I can’t.
(If you hang in for just a moment, we will get to the Santa Fe XL. I promise.)
When we buy winter tires for our own vehicles, we usually have a good grasp on the type of weather we need to do battle with during our morning and afternoon commutes. In Nova Scotia, our biggest challenge is slush and snow (though this year, we’ve gotten more than our fair share of ice that can only be removed with a mine-clearing machine). Ontario sees much more black ice than us and on the west coast standing water is a bigger issue.
Unfortunately, when it comes to these flyaway programs, local conditions aren’t always well known. Even when they are, short-term weather can’t be predicted months in advance. You need to plan for the most probable outcome. That’s where our failure came in.
Hyundai decided to put a tire on the Genesis testers tuned more toward ice performance and, as is inevitable in these sorts of situations, it snowed a blizzard the day of our drive.
The majority of our route with the Genesis was spent managing the little amount of grip we could muster versus pushing the new HTRAC system to its limits. Plows weren’t able to keep up with the sudden downfall of fluffy stuff. At one point, a vehicle in front of us was actually leaving a wake in the snow like a jet ski over a calm lake.