by Ian Wright
Despite a low volume of sales in North America, Hyundai's luxury division is making serious ground with its cars. The management and design teams at Genesis Motors pack some seriously high-end punch with former operators from Lamborghini, Bentley, Audi, Mercedes, and Bugatti on the payroll, as well as the former head of BMW's M Division overseeing performance and tuning. These are not just expensive Hyundai's, despite the G90 being a direct descendent of the Hyundai Equus and Hyundai Genesis that the brand name stems from.
The G90 was the first model from Genesis and is still the brand's flagship luxury sedan. Now, just 4 years into Genesis becoming its own marque, there's a good reason for the stalwart brands in the full-sized luxury sedan market to be concerned. The G90 tops out at just $76,350 fully loaded and with the all-wheel-drive option ticked. That's still cheaper than an entry-spec Mercedes S-Class, but it isn't just the price the German brands should be concerned with. The G90 is more than just a value proposition, it's a complete package that doesn't cut corners.
With a newly unveiled, redesigned G90 set to debut later in 2019 as a 2020 model, Hyundai has carried over the 2018 MY G90 into 2019 completely unchanged.
The Genesis G90 may seem expensive with a base MSRP for the cheapest RWD 3.3T Premium carrying a base MSRP of $69,350 before tax, registration, licensing, and a $995 destination charge, but that's still more than $20,000 cheaper than an entry-spec S-Class and with better standard specification. Upgrading to the 5.0 Ultimate in RWD will set you back $73,850 while adding all-wheel-drive to either model will incur an additional fee of $2,500.
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While the Genesis G90 isn't looking to take on BMW's 7-Series on the backroads or at the track, that doesn't mean it doesn't have suitable manners for someone that enjoys driving. The steering is tuned beautifully with the right amount of weight and feel to be to inspire confidence through turns up to a point. The suspension is supple for cruising and comfort, and only letting the small imperfections on the road through at freeway speeds. The brakes are as strong as you would want for a large car like the G90, but the control available to keep things smooth and comfortable is to be applauded.
It would be easy to criticize the G90 for not having the sportier attributes of the cars it's punching up to compete with, but we've also been watching the BMW 7-Series trying to be all things to all people and the problems and extra cost to the customer that can generate. The G90 simply doesn't want or aim to get the adrenaline truly pumping. The focus for the G90 is squarely upon being a cultured, plush, and refined car for getting where it's going with the least amount of fuss possible.
What Genesis has pulled off here is offering an understated luxury sedan that comes together harmoniously inside and out. The restrained elegance on the outside, the understated elegance on the inside, and the smooth and hefty power available under the hood work together to make something special. Overall, the G90 will appeal to those that want to travel in style and luxury, but not be too flashy about it. After spending a week enjoying and exploring the G90, we came away pleasantly surprised at not just the value for money proposition, but the execution of the car as a package.
To us, when other reviewers complain the ride is a little sloppy when you drop the hammer on a back road, we believe they are asking a question of the G90 that is completely irrelevant. It's akin to faulting a Porsche 911 for failing to be a decent family car. Unlike BMW's 7-Series or an AMG S-Class, the G90 isn't suffering from an identity crisis. The G90's purity of concept and excellence in execution along with a pleasing price-tag doesn't just make it a good car, it makes it an excellent car.
By stocking the G90 with standard features that will quickly drive up the price on its European counterparts, Genesis has made the choice easy. The option of the V8 brings an old-school charm and distinctive engine sound as well as ventilated rear seats and 14-point adjustment for rear passengers. For people shopping in this category and avoiding spending those extra tens of thousands on comparable models, then springing for the V8 is a no-brainer. The only other option from there is the all-wheel-drive system, and as rear-wheel-drive adds to the charm of the G90, we would only tick that option if snow covered roads will be regularly in its future.
The Genesis G80 is the G90's smaller brother, rivaling the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class while the larger G90 rivals the S-Class and 7 Series. The two have several similarities, however, both making use of the same 3.3T V6 and 5.0 V8 engines, although the G80 gets a base 3.8 V6 that should best be avoided. Both are incredibly well equipped and jam-packed with tech and safety features, too. However, the G90 is more luxurious, catering to the comfort of the rear occupants more than the G80 does, with extra room to stretch and a smoother ride, as well as more convenience features in the rear. Conversely, because the G80 is smaller and is less comfort-biased, it's sportier to drive. That's where personal preference comes into play - if you're going to drive your Genesis, get the G80, but if you're going to be chauffeured, get the G90.
If Genesis is going to succeed in the luxury sedan segment, it's going to have to be as good as the best - the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Genesis, however, doesn't have the same brand cachet as Mercedes, but then again, the G90 is more than $20,000 cheaper than an S-Class and it boasts more standard equipment. However, the S-Class can be equipped better through options, even if that does drive the price up exponentially. The S-Class is ultimately more comfortable, though, and it has better powertrains that deliver power smoother and consume less gas in the process. The quality of materials is also slightly higher in the S-Class. However, at $20,000 less - before options - the G90 feels like a whole lot of value, and while the S-Class might be the better sedan, the budget conscious buyer won't be wrong in buying the G90.
The most popular competitors of 2019 Genesis G90: