The 2020 Genesis G90 marks the fourth model year of the flagship sedan. It’s the South Korean challenger, still young, unheralded and a worthy underdog to its well-heeled front runners from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
If its stalwart German rivals haven’t noticed it yet, they should.
As the subsidiary luxury brand of Hyundai, Genesis has risen quickly among the automotive watchdogs. Car and Driver to J.D. Power and Motor Trend to Kelley Blue Book annually simultaneously bestow automotive honors while touting themselves.
Genesis, with its G70, G80 and G90 models, has been the star for a few years. The G70, the value-priced sedan, is leading the clan in the accolades tally.
The Genesis G90 is the limo-like cruiser offered as a twin turbo-charged V6 or 5-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available. Acceleration is adequate, with the 0-to-60 miles per hour standard achieved in 5.7 seconds.
Genesis G90: Smooth Operator
Luxury non-hybrid sedans aren’t known for their economic efficiency, and Genesis should do better. It’s rated at 15 miles per gallon in city driving, 24 mpg on the highway.
While not as sports-oriented as some competitors, the Genesis G90 has enough power to satisfy performance junkies. The top-line sedan is also a smooth operator, taking occupants on quiet, smooth rides with near-effortless authority.
All G90 models seat five with plenty of space. There are 46.3 inches of legroom in the front, 37.8 inches in the back. Cargo volume is 15.7 cubic feet, with a deep trunk for a few sets of golf clubs and or a dozen or so bags of groceries.
Like its original release as the Hyundai Genesis (2010 to 2016), the Genesis lineup (including the new GV80 SUV) has two qualities the leading luxury sedans can’t match. Its starting price is about $15,000 less than the new Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series and $22,000 less than the Mercedes-Benz S-class. The Genesis also has all-inclusive pricing, with the sedan listed at $76,695.00
Genesis, like Hyundai and close relative Kia, has a 10-year, 100-mile powertrain warranty. The rival German brands don’t. The Genesis Experience extends the warranty with 3 years or 36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance, valet and connectivity services and navigation system map care.
As a comfort cruiser, the G90 has few shortcomings. The cabin is plush, with lots of adjustments for the Nappa leather seats, all heated and ventilated as desired. Matte finish interior wood trim complements the brown interiority and metallic Himalayan Gray exterior. The rear seat center console folds forward, revealing controls for the two rear-seat monitors attached to the top of the back of the front seats. It’s an intimate, small theater on wheels.
While the G90’s luxury is impressive, so too is the manufacturer’s emphasis on safety and technology. The Genesis has 10 airbags, and a half-dozen systems — forward collision avoidance to lane keep assist.
Technology creature comforts reigns. The Lexicon 17-speaker surround sound system is impressive and the rest of the long list of stuff further defines the car’s luxury status.
Consider: a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Audio, power rear side and rear window sunshades, seven-color ambient LED interior lighting and a head-up display.
Two features can be polarizing. The recently added large “Crest” grille is reminiscent of the Mad Max movie vehicles’ bravado. And the retro basketweave wheels are further attention-grabbers.
Sales of the Genesis G90 have been disappointing, only a few thousand per year. But the top-flight sedan is as appealing as more prestigious brands. It doesn’t have the same badge recognition as top-sellers, but that just makes the Genesis more attractive.
Article Last Updated: October 19, 2020.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.