2020 Genesis G90 — Luxury sedan gets a refresh

By Jim Prueter

(June 3, 2020) Genesis is the fully credentialed premium luxury vehicle division of the hugely successful Korean auto giant, Hyundai. The Hyundai Genesis brand debuted back in 2008; the automaker spun Genesis off as a separate luxury entity in 2015, with the intention of directly targeting Toyota’s upmarket Lexus luxury brand.

To be sure, Genesis makes some seriously competitive luxury vehicles with attractive prices. But Genesis shares dealerships with Hyundai, although some dealers dedicate separate space to Genesis to help distance the connection. It’s not that $15,000 Hyundai models are bad cars, it was just that the visual isn’t very good for the Genesis’ image as a luxury brand. It also doesn’t help that Genesis owners have to share the same line in the service department. Not exactly a “feel good” experience.

Hyundai made at least two attempts to open a series of Genesis-only dealerships across the U.S. for the nascent brand to afford buyers an upscale luxury buying and service experience comparable to that of German luxury brands. Hyundai/Genesis executives and its dealer network are still attempting to work out the details, but as of now it’s a messy issue, and if you want a Genesis you’ll still have to buy it at the Hyundai dealership until a plan is rolled out for the Genesis brand.

Genesis has made servicing easy for its owners: a Genesis agent will pick up the car and leave you with a loaner vehicle, keeping you from mingling with the Hyundai owners.

That brings us to this review of the most impressive saloon, the flagship Genesis G90 sedan, one of the most comfortable, softest, calm-inducing vehicles we’ve tested. Related to or know someone who has insomnia or at a minimum a troubling sleep disorder? Skip the Ambien and suggest a non-pharmaceutical approach with a ride in the rear seat of the 2020 Genesis G90 sedan. If that doesn’t make them drowsy, they’re a hopeless case.

The G90 was the replacement vehicle for the Hyundai Equus, an impressive luxury sedan from the Korean automaker that nobody ever heard of and subsequently didn’t sell. Equus came on the scene in 2011 and was discontinued in favor of the G90 in 2017.

For 2020, Genesis G90, in an attempt to get noticed, has undergone a significant refresh, the first since it debuted as a 2017 model. The most noticeable change is the massive and unmistakable diamond-shaped maw, sliver thin headlamps bisected by an LED strip that doubles as daytime running lights and turn directional signals, and new front fender vent ports that also carry a LED light strip and operates with the turn signals. There’s also a completely new rear design and new wheel design. The only exterior components that haven’t changed are the roof and door.

The G90 is available in a choice of two trim levels: the 365-horsepower V-6 powered Premium ($72,200) and the 420-horsepower V-8 powered Ultimate ($75,700). Power is delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is a $2500 option on both models. Choosing which G90 to buy has been simplified by Genesis. Choose between a V-6 or V-8, rear or all-wheel drive, one of seven exterior paint colors, three different interior colors, and that’s it. No endless list of options and packages like you’ll find with other luxury brands.

Our test G90 was the fully equipped Ultimate with an MSRP of $76,725 – nearly $10,000 less than the base price of a rear-wheel drive BMW 7-Series which is well short of standard equipment on the G90.

On the road, our G90 drove butter smooth and is imperceptibly library quiet. The driver can select from Comfort, Sport, Eco or Custom drive modes. The selections adjust the throttle and transmission mapping, plus alter the adaptable dampers. We only drove the V-8 version but I suspect it has a smoother operation dynamic than the V-6. I suggest driving both before making your trim level choice.

The G90’s main objective is to keep occupants cosseted in quiet luxury. To achieve that objective, Genesis has included acoustical glass and triple sealed doors. Sound deadening material abounds, but of course you’ll never see it. And, oh, there’s active noise cancellation, making it perfect for those who are catching 40 winks in the back seat.

Inside, the new G90 is mostly a carryover from last year. There are some more contemporary tweaks in material quality; the quilted Nappa leather upholstery, open pore wood and overall look is exceptional with tremendous attention to build detail. There’s no noticeable cost cutting anywhere and we were most impressed with the new 12.3-inch touchscreen that now incorporates a copper graphic user interface. The split screens are highlighted with signature copper accents. Everything is simple and straightforward with good response and ease of use. The analog clock on the instrument panel isn’t a Breitling Chronomat, but looks impressive just the same.

Other features include soft close doors, 22-way power adjustable front and rear seats, and something Genesis calls Smart Posture Care that uses your physical profile data to ergonomically calibrate an ideal seating position. A panoramic sunroof isn’t part of the package, giving way to a small window above the front seats, and there isn’t the dramatic ambient cabin lighting we find in most luxury sedans. The Lexicon audio system is good, but not on par with the superior performance of Meridian or Bang and Olufsen found in some competitors.

If there’s one drawback to the G90 that might be important to some, it’s the lack of sporty driving dynamics even when the Sport mode is selected. That just isn’t part of the package. Still, the handling is fairly composed and predictable with no surprises on sharp curves and when cornering.

There’s an impressive list of active safety features including the automatic emergency braking system that detects other vehicles and both pedestrians and bicycles. The lane centering feature on the highway is much improved over previous G90 models. We especially liked the cameras that show either side of the vehicle on a screen immediately in front of the driver between the instrument cluster. It comes to life when either the right or left turn directional is applied. Safe Exit Assist may alert a driver and passengers when an object is approaching an opening door.

Overall, there’s much to like about the 2020 G90 and very little to dislike. If there is one drawback to the vehicle, it’s the lack of brand cachet. The luxury car market is all about image and perception, and Genesis is a new brand and hasn’t earned its stripes to stand shoulder to shoulder and impress at the country club, valet parking, or Rodeo Drive with marquee brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi. But if those things aren’t important to you, then you’ll be more than pleased and impressed with the G90.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $76,725
Price as Tested: $76,725
Engine/Transmission: 5.0-liter 420-horsepower V-8 paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 16/24/19 mpg, City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: The 2020 Genesis G90 earned the highest possible Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Where Built: Ulsan, South Korea

Competes With:
Audi A7
Cadillac CT6
Kia K900
Lincoln Continental
Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

Fab Features
Luxuriously plush, quiet, cosseting ride
Exquisite, quality interior
Loaded with a long list of standard features