The 2023 Genesis G90 Is a Shot Across the Bow of the Luxury Segment
Genesis is proving to be a serious contender in the luxury segment. The brand has been around for just seven years, and every single vehicle in its lineup is excellent. From the G70 sport sedan – which is probably the closest anyone has gotten to taking on the BMW 3 Series – to the GV70 and GV80 luxury crossovers, Genesis is making a name for itself by delivering high-end opulence for a lot less money. But the full-size G90 sedan is truly the embodiment of Genesis’ luxury know-how after just a short time in existence.
Full Disclosure: After waiting since last spring to get my hands on one, Genesis finally dropped off a G90 at my house so I could live with it for a week. I hated to see it leave.
Just What the Hell Is a G90?
The G90 is Genesis’ flagship, and it’s sized similarly to the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Its roots can be traced back to the old Hyundai Equus, but the G90 itself has been around since 2016 – it’s the car that launched Genesis as a standalone brand. The model you see here is the second-generation G90 that debuted in 2022, and it’s a complete, ground-up redesign, riding on a dedicated platform and using a brand-new interior.
Tech and Luxury Galore
Sit inside the G90 and you’ll quickly see that it’s an oasis of luxury. I know that reads like something out of a brochure, but it’s the truth. Many of the interior’s features show that Genesis has the comfort and convenience of its owners in mind. Don’t even think about reaching to close a door; all four can be electrically operated, with buttons on the front and rear consoles that close the doors when pressed. (You still have to open them manually, however.)
Climbing behind the wheel of G90, you’ll notice that it’s surprisingly driver-centric. In front of you is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that displays everything from navigation and radio data to information for things like the adaptive cruise control and forward-collision avoidance. Some of this same info also shows in a head-up display.
Separated by a leatherette-wrapped button for dimming the display is another 12.3-inch display for the infotainment system. It’s gorgeous and shows all its graphics in high definition. This system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard, though it’s not wireless, which may be a dealbreaker to some. Genesis also knows a lot of buyers still want physical controls, so there are actual buttons for the climate controls, radio, nav and media.
All the luxury features inside the G90 are meant to coddle above all. There’s Nappa leather seating with massage, heating and cooling functions for all passengers, as well as tri-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof and multi-color ambient lighting that’s some of the best and brightest in any car. There’s even a Mood Curator that can help you relax with different themes, including ambient sounds like a forest, pouring rain or ocean waves that can be played through the Bang & Olufsen 26-speaker 3D sound system. That’s all in addition to a fragrance diffuser with three different scents that can make the cabin even more relaxing by masking unwanted odors.
Back-seat riders get the really good features. For privacy there are powered sunshades for the rear and side windows, and if you want to lean your head back, there are microfiber suede-covered pillows on the headrests, in addition to a suede headliner. Rear passengers also have all manner of controls housed in the center armrest, and can manage everything from the sound system’s volume to the individual seat settings to the brightness and warmth of the rear lighting.
But the absolute best seat in the house is reserved for the right-side rear passenger. Sitting there, you can move the front passenger seat forward and fold it slightly, leaving room for you to fully recline like you’re in a super luxurious La-Z-Boy, complete with an ottoman for your feet. It all makes for an ultra-comfortable, sleep-inducing ride – in a good way.
That said, I don’t know who actually thinks white floor mats are a good idea, but definitely don’t get them in your G90. With all the rain I experienced in California during my test, it made these things impossible to keep clean. Anything someone’s shoe is going to touch should not be in a light color.
Some of you might still think you need eight cylinders to be competitive in the full-size luxury segment. But the Genesis G90 is proof that you don’t. The G90’s base engine is a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 with 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. Optionally, you can get a version of the same engine with an electric supercharger. The addition of the 48-volt supercharger isn’t for efficiency, though – it increases the engine’s responsiveness. It also ups overall output to 409 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and an excellent Haldex all-wheel-drive system. A rear-biased AWD setup, it has no trouble putting down the engine’s power, even in inclement weather.
Behind the Wheel
I figured the G90’s ride would be supple, but this thing is on another level. The G90 is equipped with a multi-chamber air suspension that delivers ride comfort reminiscent of Cadillac land yachts of yore. Similar to Mercedes’ E-Active Body control, Genesis’ technology uses a combination of exterior cameras and sensors to adjust the sedan’s ride height to prevent you from being jostled by road debris and pavement imperfections. For instance, let’s say you’re driving on a pockmarked road full of small holes and bumps. The system constantly reads the road and adjusts accordingly so that the suspension soaks up these minor imperfections. It works beautifully, and road noise is nearly nonexistent as well, thanks to active noise-canceling technology. Sound vibrations coming into the cabin are detected by a series of sensors and microphones that Genesis says react in 0.002 seconds to cancel out the sound.
Smooth as it is, the G90 can hustle when it needs to. Independent tests estimate the G90 can hit 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, and I don’t doubt it. The acceleration is impressive for a 17-foot-long luxury sedan with a curb weight of just over 5,100 pounds.
The G90 is no sport sedan by any means, but it does handle better than you’d expect. The sedan’s platform, called M3 internally, was designed to be both rigid and lightweight. Combine that with a rear-wheel steering system and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and there’s some surprising agility here. The all-wheel-drive system is just as excellent; driving through heavy rain, having four-wheel traction gave me extra confidence over flooded and slippery roads. Even under full acceleration in Sport mode from a standstill, there’s no wheel slippage in the pouring rain.
Unfortunately, despite the G90’s mild-hybrid setup, it’s not that efficient. The EPA says the G90 gets 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. I know Genesis says that this engine setup is more about performance and responsiveness than efficiency, but the G90 has V8-like fuel economy.
On top of that, the stop/start system actually negates the benefits of the supercharger, making throttle response rather slow off the line. Even worse, stop/start interferes with the climate control, making the air conditioning humid and reducing the effectiveness of the heater. Thankfully, stop/start can be deactivated.
It Has Presence
The G90 makes a statement wherever it goes. My test car’s $1,500 matte paint job, called Makalu Gray, makes this thing look like some kind of cool prototype. Up front there’s Genesis’ huge signature grille flanked by thin headlights, the lines of which continue down the car’s sides with LED amber turn signals. Around back there are dual exhausts in the shape of the Genesis grille, techy-looking taillamps and an LED light bar that runs the width of the car. The G90 is actually rather aerodynamic, too, with flush door handles that automatically deploy when you approach the vehicle and then retract when not in use. Overall, the G90 has an attractive and cohesive design that doesn’t try too hard to stand out, nor is it too conservative.
What we have here is a phenomenal effort by Genesis. No car offers the G90’s combination of performance, luxury and technology at this price.
Still, the G90 is not cheap by any means. Including a $1,125 destination charge, the G90 starts at $90,100. If you want the electric supercharger, your G90 will set you back $100,400. The only option my car had was the $1,500 matte paint, bringing the total to $101,295. That’s expensive, sure, but when you consider the features you get for the price, plus the excellent warranty, you’re still undercutting traditional luxury competitors by thousands – if not tens of thousands – of dollars.
Besides, cars like BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class are obvious money, while the Genesis G90 flies under the radar. It looks expensive, feels expensive and is every bit as comfortable as its German rivals. Genesis is still an up-and-coming automaker with a nearly nonexistent standalone dealer network, but the G90 is proof that this company knows what it’s doing.
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