When Hyundai spun off Genesis as a stand-alone brand, it was the equivalent of taking off training wheels on your first bike. And a luxury one, at that. The upscale sedan class has long been dominated by European household-name brands. With the G90, a new snazzy sedan came onto the scene, with attractive looks and a well-apportioned interior. It was well put-together in every way, but carried a significantly lower price tag.
Three years later, the 2020 Genesis G90 has earned its keeps. The horizontal lines of the nose were replaced with a hexagonal shaped grille, whose aesthetic is more like a piece of art, best described as “mesh-like.” The makeover — modification? refinement? — was complete with redesigned front fenders, lower front bumper and the inclusion of slim LED headlights.
Our test vehicle, in Himalayan Grey exterior, feels bold and elegant yet practical, because it lacks the aura of self-absorption and swagger that European luxury sedans showcase. The oversized eye-gramming grille is eye-grabbing, but the rest of the G90 is almost stereotypically bland in terms of design. The G90 does sit on 19-inch wheels and has giant passenger doors, which is certainly an invitation to hop in to see how the South Korean luxury fares in comparison to the Lexus LS 500 or Mercedes-Benz and other luxury sedan models.
Luxury cars are known for spoiling their owner the finest of the fine. Our G90’s Brown and Havana interior was stunning without being too opulent. The dash, wheel and middle console are underscored by high-quality wood and leather. The aesthetic here is reminiscent of Lexus LS, with detailed finishing and stately feel.
The dashboard’s highlighted by the 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment center, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Amenities that signal luxury also include leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, wireless smartphone charging and a heated steering wheel.
Comfort for driver and passengers is the goal, and Genesis delivers. The front seats are adjustable 22 ways, so every nook and cranny of a discerning driver back and backside will be cared for on long-distance drives.
Passenger seats can be adjusted 16 ways and a buyer can opt for cooling and heating in them if s/he adds the option. There’s ample head and knee room for all, with the back seat offering a generous 37 inches of legroom. Considering the 124.4-inch wheelbase, shorter than that of the German sedans, it’s still surprisingly well apportioned. The G90’s 15.7 cubic feet space in the trunk is also pretty good, but it can’t be extended by dropping the rear seat back.
There are no additional options or packages on this Genesis flagship to drive up the price, which is reassuring to know.
Our tester, fitted with a V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive, notched 16 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway, and averaged 19 mpg.
Powered by a mighty 5.0-liter V8 GDI engine, our tester packed a punch. We’re talking about 420 hp, corralled by an 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic and paddle shifters. The specs translate to real-world performance, too. The acceleration is quick, smooth and the engine sounds eager to get you up and out. The G90 generates 383 lb.-ft. of torque, and it arrives at higher rpm than the other G90 engine variant, the turbo V-6.
Both V-6 an V-8 options are available with all-wheel-drive systems, which Genesis turned to Magna International to co-develop. This system enables the G90 to feel like a RWD car, although the drive torque is released to the front wheels to ensure traction.
From driving in the G90 in Sport mode to playing around in customized mode — tuning up suspension, powertrain and steering — our confidence in the G90’s performance continued to increase with every mile on the odometer.
The 2020 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate has a base price of $75,700, and since there are virtually no options, the realistic price is $76,695.
What we liked: The exterior is styled to closely compete with rivals that cost much more. It’s not that it’s a bargain luxury as much as Genesis simply offering a viable alternative to those foreign sedans in hopes of shaking up the market. The G90 delights with its quiet cabin, bevy of standard options, and a powerful engine,
What we didn’t like: The G90 driving experience can be described in one word — mild — and that’s not quite even a backhanded compliment. Gliding similar to a boat, it’s as if the G90s is not interested in pushing the throttle and showing off its power. It’s jump sort of lunges and limps, albeit in a serene way. There’s also a debate to be had over whether the turbo-charged V-6 is a better engine than the V-8.
The cream of the crop in the luxury sedan segment has long been a two-way race:the BMW 7-Series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are simply dominant.
The two German big dogs roll out cars known for decadent looks, exhilarating performance and premium materials. The Beamer offers unparalleled driving experience, with technology spliced into the sedan to make the experience as futuristic as possible.
The Audi A8 offers a precise transmission, with gamely looks and performance. While the variety of powertrains and a myriad of interior and driver-centric tech can tilt the segment in the Europeans’ favor, the G90 stacks up against the Germans with its appealing looks and lower pricing.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2020 Victor Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog