If you haven’t given this Korean marque serious consideration in the past two years, you should adjust your priorities. Genesis is playing with the established manufacturers now.
In the process of rebuilding its entire brand identity and positioning, Genesis is making some seriously good cars. Aiming to steal a piece of the pie German competitors have enjoyed for ages, Genesis is delivering performance luxury models at a price point that’s hard to overlook. Over the past couple years, the Korean lineup has been refreshed, with its sedans and crossovers all getting stunning new designs inside and out.
The driving experiences have been commendable too, with the G70 sedan being my pick versus its BMW M340i and Audi S4 rivals, the big GV80 SUV earning my respect as the leader in its segment, but I haven’t had a chance to evaluate the Genesis G90 flagship. When I tested the all-new Mercedes S-Class last year, I said that the iconic sedan reset the bar, so this big Korean sedan has to make a meaningful impression.
The Important Figures
Genesis ships the G90 with one of two powertrains, starting with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 (shared with the Genesis GV80 SUV and G80 sedan) with 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque, and an optional 48V mild hybrid upgrade–which Genesis calls an E-Supercharger) to that V6 that increases output to 409 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel-drive is the only drivetrain for the G90.
If one opts for the E-Supercharger model, the interior gets a massive upgrade by adding power reclining and adjustable rear seats, with the one on the passenger side providing a fully-extended lounge chair setup. Interestingly the EPA fuel economy estimates for the E-Supercharged G90 dip one MPG versus the standard turbo V6, at 17/24/20, with the hybrid more focused on better performance rather than increasing efficiency. Something I appreciated about the current generation Acura NSX’s powertrain.
Keeping the options sheet simple, Genesis delivers the G90 with a loaded model that has very few choices for its buyers, leaving the choices down to just the powertrain, paint color, and interior theme. The standard G90 price is $88,400, and the upgraded E-Supercharger model and its seriously upmarket rear cabin bumps up to $98,700. The G90 I tested was the E-Supercharger model, with premium Hallasan Green paint and Glacier White interior, hitting a total MSRP of $100,370 after destination, making it a healthy $20,000 less expensive than a comparably-equipped S-Class.
Sublime Commutes To The Office
Top-class driving is the goal of the Genesis G90, and your trek to the office will be wonderful behind the wheel of this massive sedan. The hybrid’s supplemental power neatly flattens the powerband of the G90’s twin-turbo V6, providing seamless acceleration, whether you’re smoothly gliding along through traffic or trying to blast past slower commuters along a freeway on-ramp.
Steering inputs are feather-light, thanks to electric assistance and the G90’s rear axle steering system, its turning circle is ridiculously tiny and parking this massive four-door is effortless. Big monoblock brake calipers do a great job of providing confident stopping power, and the braking system also adjusts pedal feel based on the drive mode selected.
The G90 E-Supercharger model upgrades to a multi-chamber air suspension that subtly adjusts as you change speeds or driving inputs, with distinct characteristics in each of the G90’s drive modes. Even with 21-inch wheels fitted, the G90’s ride quality is sublime. When I dialed in my custom drive mode setup, I kept the suspension in sport to minimize a hint of floaty behaviors in the chassis, but most luxury buyers will appreciate the comfort mode.
The G90’s cabin design is top-notch, with clearly placed controls for every system, avoiding any use of touchscreens for systems where knobs and buttons are required, and there isn’t a single piece of piano black trim in sight. Genesis installed 12.3-inch screens for both the instrument cluster and the infotainment system, with the latter offering control through your choice of touchscreen or the center armrest-mounted knob. Genesis has a great user interface with great software too, rather than conceding to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as the primary look and feel. Audiophiles will appreciate the 26-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D system that offers supreme clarity and punch. Genesis has what it calls a Mood Curator in the infotainment system, which plays audio and adjusts the ambient lighting to craft an environment that energizes or calms.
Exquisitely stitched and perforated, the Genesis G90’s seats are heated, ventilated, and massaging for all four main occupants. The middle rear seat doesn’t get such treatment, since it’s an afterthought position that also has a massive armrest that folds into its space. Air chambers in the 18-way adjustable driver and 16-way front passenger seats’ bolsters inflate and deflate accordingly to make your entry and exit more comfortable, while also adjusting in each drive mode to meet your mood.
Entry to the G90 can also utilize a digital key through your iPhone or Apple Watch, neatly unlocking the doors and popping out the power door handles. A tap of the button on either the door handle or center console enables the G90’s power closing doors, and using the one installed on the door again will lightly open each of the four doors, because only peasants open and close their own doors.
Legit Luxury When Being Driven
In the back seat of the G90 is where you want to be. While the driving impressions are great in this flagship, the top-class Genesis’ rear cabin encompasses passengers in the sort of opulence found in the Bentley Flying Spur I enjoyed. The G90’s rear doors are much longer than the front, allowing easier transitions into the seats. Power window shades raise for the doors and rear windscreen, offering greater privacy.
When in the standard position, the G90’s rear seats provide a considerable amount of legroom and shoulder space, with power reclining for the setback and bottom that make it even easier to relax on longer drives. Via an 8-inch touchscreen mounted within the center armrest, the rear occupants can adjust their seat’s heating, ventilation, and massaging modes, in addition to the climate and audio controls to ensure optimal comfort levels.
When seated on the right side of the cabin, the upgrades for the G90 E-Supercharger model are truly experienced. This Genesis has an added chauffeur drive mode that optimizes rear passenger comfort by adjusting the suspension accordingly. Offering a massive stretch of reclining and footrest extension, you can fully relax after a long day in the boardroom. The center armrest enables full control over the front passenger seat, to extend space even more, making the chauffeured experience more complete. All that’s missing are a driver and partition.
The Highlights And Tiny Complaints
Details are exceptional around the Genesis G90. With the thinnest headlights fitted in its lineup, and lighting elements that carry the theme along its fenders and tail-end, Genesis gives the G90 a sleek fascia that’s met with a massive pentagonal grille and badge that could easily be mistaken for a Bentley. A designer may have been poached from that English marque. Dimensions and proportions for the G90’s body are obscenely good, giving a stately appearance while still earning plenty of cool points.
Interior appointments continue the effort of supplying equal parts contemporary and finely crafted, with a great ensemble that incorporates Nappa leather, quality stitching, brushed metallic trim, and a mixture of wood and recycled newspapers that resembles forged carbon. Thin metal inlays complete a high-class detail within the door panels, and the steering wheel is designed with the airbag panel and button components to appear more three-dimensional than your typical setup.
As first world problems go, wireless Apple CarPlay didn’t want to stay synced in the G90, so I had to use the cable more often than not. This doesn’t seem so bad at first, but the USB-C ports in the center armrest made my iPhone start to roast within a couple minutes, so it would also have to unplug to cool down, which would make me lose the use of CarPlay.
This Is A Proper Flagship, And It Deserves Respect
Ignore the badge, and accept the fact that Genesis is a player in the luxury game. The G90 is impressively equipped with all the features one demands from this segment, looks fantastic inside and out, and drives exceptionally. While down on power versus the Mercedes S-Class I reviewed, the G90’s powerplant is not exactly slow. Once behind the wheel, you’ll see that it’s more than enough power to effectively deliver to your destination.
At a savings of tens of thousands of your hard-earned dollars against the established German players, you’d be foolish to overlook this Korean executive sedan. The Genesis G90 is a massive success at delivering a legit flagship, and your pride in being a brand snob needs to be swallowed immediately.