2017 Genesis G90 review: Old-money stealth yacht

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Hyundai’s launch of the Genesis brand signaled that Hyundai itself had arrived in the same place that three Japanese brands had in the late 1980s: in the U.S. for decades, and ready to take on German and American luxury marques. We all remember the good parts of those launches, mostly the Lexus LS, and most of us have forgotten the less glorious moments of those three early endeavors, such as the Toyota Camry-based Lexus ES 250, or Infiniti’s very short-lived M30 coupe and convertible duo.

Almost 20 years later Genesis is ready to build upon the success and consumer trust Hyundai has built up in the U.S., with a lineup of cars ready to undercut German, Japanese and American luxury cars in price.

The Genesis G90 is the flagship of the new brand, and the 3.3T version packs a twin-turbocharged and intercooled 3.3-liter V6 good for 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is actually the junior engine in the lineup — there is also a 5.0-liter V8 that churns out 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The twin-turbo V6 is expected to be the more popular of the two powerplants, and is also about 120 pounds lighter than the V8 model in RWD and AWD flavors.

In terms of size the G90 aims for the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series cars, with an overall length of 204.9 inches. For comparison, the long-wheelbase Mercedes S560 is 206.5 inches long, so the Genesis is pretty much at the upper end of luxobargeness with a height almost identical to the Benz as well.




The Execution

The cabin is usually considered the true measure of a luxury car experience and here the G90 offers a substantial if somewhat conservative layout, with a large infotainment widescreen integrated into the dash and plenty of traditional buttons just ahead of the gear shifter. In a nod to genre conventions there is an analog clock with a white background just below the infotainment screen as well as a large, circular iDrive-style knob positioned between the center armrest and the gear-shifter. The interior itself is expansive and airy, offering good ergonomics and top notch materials, with just a few Hyundai parts-bin-looking buttons here and there serving as reminders of humbler beginnings. Overall, it feels very well put together, even if it doesn’t quite have the heft of S-Class doors.

There is no hiding that this is a big car, but the light steering at slow speeds and parking maneuvers makes it easy to rotate the G90 with one-finger steering. The V6 stays quiet throughout, but the responsive throttle and transmission allows this admittedly large sedan to move around like a car a few sizes smaller.

In town, the sheer wheelbase and suspension easily shrug off broken pavement and other annoyances as the G90 hums along in impressive silence, while on the highway the 3.3-liter twin-turbo seems content just providing the acceleration without the soundtrack of the larger V8; there’s still 365 hp underhood, which is plenty these days even for something so large. The intuitive eight-speed transmission is perhaps the most impressive part of the powertrain here, never offering the wrong shift and never hesitating upon lead-footed throttle inputs. This makes the G90’s ease of use among its top attributes — the engine and transmission combo makes for effortless highway journeys — but the sedan is also quick on its feet in town.



2017 Genesis G90 3.3T AWD rear seats

The G90 aims for 7-Series and S-Class rear seat space, and follows it up with genuinely nice materials. Photo by Autoweek


First Drive 2018 Genesis G80 Sport2018 Genesis G80 Sport



The Takeaway

With a starting price of $71,550 the G90 offers interior luxury and anonymity in equal measure. Most buyers will find the 3.3-liter V6 here plenty to skip the V8; the jump in horsepower isn’t substantial enough on paper or in real-world driving, and it doesn’t make sense to spend more for it. After all, part of the appeal of the G90 is that you won’t be paying German sedan prices.

It remains to be seen how Genesis the brand is received in the U.S., especially at a time when big luxury sedans are experiencing even greater depreciation as the market shifts to big SUVs. But from what we’ve experienced in the G90 thus far, Genesis is off to a very promising start.











On Sale: Now


Base Price: $71,550


As Tested Price: $75,000 (est)


Powertrain: 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6; AWD; eight-speed automatic


Output: 365 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 376 lb-ft @ 1,300 – 4,500 rpm


Curb Weight: 4,784 lb


0-60 MPH: N/A


Fuel Economy: 17/24/20(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)


Observed Fuel Economy: 21


Pros: Roomy, quiet, quick acceleration, well-weighted steering, responsive throttle


Cons: Anonymous design, likely significant depreciation, having to explain to others what it is



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