The Genesis G90 luxury sedan, Hyundai’s flagship, was a totally new car for the 2017 model year. It’s bigger than any other Genesis, rear-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive, and has a turbocharged V6 or non-turbo V8 engine.
It’s a bold move by Hyundai, stepping up to compete with established luxury carmakers, such as Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. So the G90 had to be good, and it is, with solid engineering, first-rate assembly, attractive styling, lots of standard features, and exceptional value for the price.
The G90 has about the same size and roominess as the long-wheelbase Audi A8L and BMW 7 series. It has presence at the country club, and will end up in the front row of valet parking at fancy restaurants.
Being all new for 2017, there are few changes for 2018. The 3.3T Premium model gets standard LED headlamps, and the 5.0 Ultimate gains a rear-seat entertainment system. Both models now include a CD/DVD player in the glovebox. Importantly, all models get pedestrian detection added to the standard automatic emergency braking system.
Base engine is a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 making 365 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, while the upgrade engine is a 5.0-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet, both having an 8-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive.
EPA fuel economy ratings are 17/24 mpg City/Highway for the V6, and only a fraction less for the V8, at 16/24 mpg. All-wheel drive drops that to 15/23 mpg.
The crash test results are impressive, with a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS (no tests yet from NHTSA). Those new LED headlamps for 2018 got a rare and coveted top “Good” rating.
Standard safety equipment in every G90 includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam LED headlights that swivel with the steering wheel, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera system. Also nine airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and seatbelts that cinch ahead of a crash.
Every G90 comes with three years of maintenance, as well as emergency roadside service. For that maintenance, even with small things like oil changes, a Genesis dealership will send someone to your house with a loaner car, and return your G90 when the job is done. Clearly, Hyundai is doing all it can to introduce itself to the world of luxury buyers.
The two models are Genesis G90 3.3T Premium ($68,350) and G90 5.0 Ultimate ($71,850). All-wheel drive is optional ($2500). Prices are MSRP and do not include destination and delivery charges ($950).
Standard equipment on the 3.3T Premium includes a V6 engine, Nappa leather, power front seats with 22-way adjustment for the driver and 16-way for the passenger, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, three-zone climate control, Lexicon-branded audio, satellite radio, and 12.3-inch touchscreen with infotainment and map updates for the navigation system.
The 5.0 Ultimate with V8 engine adds a rear-seat entertainment system, power-adjustable and cooled rear seats, and rear vanity mirrors.
The G90’s styling may not be adventurous, but the car still has upscale style and presence. If it’s not a head-turner, it’s no wallflower, either. Its long, low rear-drive proportions say luxury and power.
Given the history of Koreans’ talent for copying (and in many cases improving), it’s safe to suggest the styling is derivative, especially of German luxury cars. The rear view looks decidedly Mercedes Benzish, the profile could pass for a BMW to some eyes, and the big bold grille would be at home on an Audi.
But the G90 leans maybe too far conservative. The colors are somber–a dark blue, a brown, and a quartet of silver grays, while the standard 19-inch wheels come in just a single design.
Attractively designed and elegantly appointed, the inner G90 is a essentially a textbook example of how a luxury car should be equipped. Leather seats are heated and ventilated in front, with power adjustability (22 ways for the driver). There’s leather on the dash, door panels, and steering wheel. A premium 17-speaker sound system by Lexicon. Power doors that close softly.
Still, those who want to be pampered more than that might find things remiss. No power moonroof. No remote start capability, so you can’t warm up the car and seats from your kitchen on cold mornings.
Interior trim includes real wood, stainless steel, and aluminum, all handsomely done. A 7-inch information screen resides between the tach and speedo, no squinting required to read this one, nor the color heads-up display, and that goes double for the lucid icons and crystal-clear display on the big 12.3-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. The infotainment includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the software is a cinch to use. This is a huge plus. If only all luxury cars were this easy.
Naturally, there’s a lot of room inside, and it’s as quiet as a chapel. In fact, the G90 is one of the quietest luxury cars we’ve driven.
Two small quirks are the awkward electric parking brake location below the steering wheel on the left, and the shift shifter that leaves the transmission in Reverse, not Park. Twice, in the week we had the car, we inadvertently backed up.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone being dissatisfied with the acceleration of the twin-turbo V6. But the V8 has 45 more horsepower, gets only 1 mpg less, and costs just $3000 more (with rear-seat entertainment), so maybe it’s worth it. During our seat time in the V8, we only felt a touch more speed, but we certainly heard and enjoyed the sonorous engine note.
And we liked the smooth ride. There are driving modes to give some tuning capability to the Sachs/ZF dampers: Eco, Smart, Individual, and Sport. However the modes aren’t as versatile as the German luxury cars. Sport mode, in particular, doesn’t firm things up as much, to allow more enthusiastic cornering.
The speed-sensitive power steering gets firmer with speed, but it’s short on feedback; it doesn’t give the driver much sense of how much the front wheels are turning, and offers very little on-center feel, regardless of speed.
Get over the fact that your luxury car is Korean, and count the money you can leave in your bank account. The G90 gives you as much as its luxury rivals, plus three years of maintenance with pickup and delivery. If you compare performance, mainly powertrain and ride, plus stylish looks, it’s right there. Long list of standard active safety features. It’s smooth and silent in the cabin, and don’t underestimate the joy of infotainment that’s easy use.