When you’re buying a luxury flagship sedan, you are making a statement to the world. Drive an S-Class, 7-Series, XJ, or other sedans and the impressions can range from being someone important to just having a lot of money. But for some people, they don’t want their luxury sedan to make itself known to the world. They want to enjoy the features available on their sedan, but without making so much noise. That’s where the Genesis G90 could make some inroads. Part of Hyundai’s new luxury brand, the G90 has its sights set on the stalwarts of the flagship luxury class by offering many of the features and luxury appointments found in them at a very low price. We spent a week in a G90 Premium to see if this ploy could work.
Genesis has injected a bit of style into the G90’s design. The key traits are a distinctive character line running the whole length of the vehicle and fenders that bulge out slightly. The rear end is slightly boring. However, the G90’s front end doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the design. The flat nose and large grille borrowed from the smaller G80 seems a bit out of place.
Step inside and the G90 seems to have the design and materials nailed down. It is quite handsome with a simple dash design, genuine wood trim, and a mix of Nappa leather and soft-touch plastics. But take a longer look and you begin to notice some glaring issues. The steering wheel is a good example as it doesn't feel like it is covered in leather. Instead, it feels like textured vinyl. This is odd since a couple of months after the G90, I spent some time in the G80 Sport and found the steering wheel to feel like leather. Another issue is the center stack's button and knobs which appear to be borrowed from Hyundai’s parts bin. I’ll admit I’m nitpicking, but it's the little things that can make or break a flagship luxury sedan.
Settling in the G90, you cannot help but be impressed by the front seats. Upholstered in Nappa leather, the seats offer the right mix of cushioning and support for long drives. The driver’s seat comes with 22-way power adjustments, while the passenger has to make do with 16-way power adjustments. One nice touch is the seat moving back whenever the door is open to allow for easier entry and exit from the vehicle. Those sitting in the back will have no complaints as there is a large amount of head and legroom on offer. A folding armrest has controls for climate control, audio, and heated seats. Ultimate models add more luxuries such as power adjustments and a rear-seat entertainment system.
A large 12.3-inch screen houses Genesis’ infotainment system. This is controlled through either a controller knob on the center console or a set of buttons below the screen. Using the system is a breeze thanks to an easy to understand interface and the various control methods on offer. The screen is vibrant and allows you to have two functions up at the same time - having audio on one side and the navigation on the other. There are some areas Genesis can improve on. For one, the G90 doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility - something most of the competition does. Also, it would be nice to have more than two USB ports - one in the front and the other in the rear - so that people are not fighting over who gets to charge their phone.
Genesis offers two engines on the G90. Our base Premium tester came with the 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. The uplevel Ultimate features the 5.0L V8 with 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is equipped with either engine and there is a choice of rear-wheel or HTRAC all-wheel drive - our test car had the latter. Unless you want the rumble of the V8, the twin-turbo V6 is the engine to go for. For one, the V6 feels just as fast as the V8. Outlets who have timed both say the V6 can match the V8 in 0-60 mph. Plus, the V6 feels more eager to accelerate thanks to torque arriving at 1,300 rpm. The eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts and doesn’t show any hesitation to downshift when more power is needed.
EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 G90 3.3T HTRAC AWD stand at 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 20.2 mpg.
The G90’s ride is similar to big 70’s Buick or Cadillac, soft and pillowy thanks to the standard adaptive dampers. Even with the G90 set in Sport mode, the dampers were still able to keep road imperfections at bay. In terms of noise isolation, the G90 is towards the top. Road and engine noise are nonexistent inside. Only a little wind noise is noticeable. This makes the G90 a perfect car to take a long road trip.
The trade-off to the soft ride is a fair amount of body roll in corners, even in the sport mode. Steering is light, but has a precise feel. If you’re looking for a luxury sedan that is a bit fun on a winding road, we are happy to point you in the direction of a Cadillac CT6 or Jaguar XJ.
The 2018 Genesis G90 significantly undercuts the competition when it comes to price. Our Premium tester came with a base price of $70,850 with the HTRAC AWD system. Add a $975.00 destination charge to get our as-tested price of $71,825. Considering that includes the 12.3-inch infotainment system, three-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and surround view camera system, it makes the G90 very much a steal.
The Genesis G90 may not shout out its intention of being a flagship sedan, but it goes about its business quietly. It delivers the smooth ride, long list of equipment, and understated looks a number of folks are looking for. The punchy twin-turbo V6 and low price are just the cherries on top. However, the G90 does cut some corners in terms of the materials. Considering the competition that the G90 is going up against, this is a big black mark for an otherwise excellent sedan.
As they say, the devil is in the details.
Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G90 Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: 3.3T Premium HTRAC
Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo DOHC 24-Valve V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300 - 4,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20
Curb Weight: 4,784 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
Base Price: $70,850
As Tested Price: $71,825 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)