2017 Genesis G90 Car Review

September 29, 2016


A new luxury brand has arrived in the U.S. with two sedans, one of them a repurposed model already available here. The strategy? Woo upscale buyers with prices so compelling and service so seamless that buying a Mercedes and BMW means practically throwing Benjamins out the window. Prestige badge? Heritage? Absolutely zero.

This describes Lexus in 1989.

In 2016 those words apply to Genesis.

The Genesis name should sound familiar; it’s an upmarket sedan that Hyundai sold. Genesis is now the Korean conglomerate’s luxury car brand, spiffing up that car and rechristening it the G80. My attention is on the flagship- the G90.

G90 has Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, and Mercedes S-Class in its crosshairs. Cutting to the chase, the G90 is an exceptionally done luxury sedan. Most will never ride in a car this ritzy. Measuring that praise, the 90 lacks superfluous gee-gaws like perfumed ventilation and massaging seats that capture the imagination of the moneyed. Oh, and there are no Genesis dealerships. It will be years before those expensive showrooms are built.

A fully optioned all-wheel drive V8-powered G90 retails for $73,150 while a base inline-6 rear-drive BMW 7 Series starts at $82,495. Ka-ching! Value buyers with secure egos should have no issues walking past Elantra and Santa Fe at the 350 Hyundai dealerships specifically selected to present G90. All 830 Hyundai dealers can sell the near-luxury G80.

Buyers may never return to the purchase place. For servicing, a valet picks it up at home or work and a loaner is left behind. This pampering and scheduled maintenance is complimentary for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles.

No ground has been broken with styling, the G90s exterior design is a derivative mix of the established competitors. The interior is properly paneled with a small grove of trees and lined in high quality hides. There’s visual and tactile heft here.

Only luxury snobs (and Virgo automotive writers) will notice a couple Hyundai buttons, door releases where the underside is hollow, and a shut-down chime that retains the Hyundai theme (albeit richly orchestrated).   

Fancy stuff such as climate-controlled seats and safety gear like auto braking with pedestrian detection can’t be added… because it’s all standard.

G90’s only choices are paint and interior color, rear or all-wheel drive, and engine. I drove a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 model with rear-drive at $69,050. With 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque it nearly matches BMWs buttery inline-6. Most buyers won’t need the V8. Silky 8-speed transmission shifts may go unnoticed. Drive modes change transmission and throttle mapping, steering weight, and suspension.

On a 340-mile road trip I saw 25 m.p.g. (the E.P.A. rates my tester at 17 city, 24 highway using premium fuel). Assisted by adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, I arrived refreshed. Every glass panel is acoustically laminated, there’s enough sound insulation to quiet a house, and a two-piece wheel design forms a hollow chamber that quells noise. All libraries should be this hushed. That isolation makes listening to Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street” on the Lexicon audio system a magical experience.  

Impressively stout, Hyundai engineers claim the body structure is lighter and stronger than an S Class Mercedes. An adaptive suspension offers serenity and control with very little body roll in “auto” mode. Even firmed up nicely in “sport” mode this is not a canyon carver. Neither are the competitors. Everything about the G90 seems double dipped in Teflon. That said, 7 Series and S Class can feel like they get one more coat.

The rear accommodations coddle executives who are driven, though they will have to provide their own screens, there are no LCD displays in back. An armrest console controls climate, sunshades, audio, and the front passenger seat. The chauffeur must endure his passenger’s music tastes, there’s no separate audio system. V8 models add ventilation and a power recline feature to the heated rear chairs. No panoramic roof though, something available on a Sonata.

Genesis plans on six models by 2021, including two much-needed S.U.V.s. By then it should have stand-alone showrooms too. Even though Hyundai built the Equis (G90’s spiritual successor), the established luxury marks benefit from decades of nit-picking. But like the first Lexus LS 400, clearly G90 offers compelling luxury and value.

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