Genesis G90 — A luxury bargain

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(September 27, 2020) Genesis has earned a trophy case full of accolades since Hyundai spun off its luxury nameplate as a separate division in 2015 to do battle with the likes of Lexus, Infiniti, Mercedes, BMW and Cadillac. Its luxury cars — there are now three, namely the G90, G80 and G70 — have already earned their stripes with the G70 winning North American Car of the year in 2019 and the Genesis brand ranking first in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study in 2018 and first in the 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Genesis' first stand-alone model was the full-sized G90 sedan launched in 2017 to much praise. For 2020, Genesis has refreshed the G90 with exterior styling changes and new technology.

The flagship G90 is one of the most comfortable, softest, calm-inducing vehicles we’ve tested. It's luxury personified. The ride is flawlessly smooth, the engine sound from the V-6 is nonexistent; and the car is loaded with amenities such as heated and ventilated front and rear seats, and seven-color ambient LED interior lighting.

If you argue that all the G90 features can be found in a 7 Series BMW or S Class Mercedes or a Lexus LS 500, you would, of course, be right. But you will pay thousands more for those cars.
The G90 is available in a choice of two trim levels: the V-6-powered Premium ($73,195) and the V-8-powered Ultimate ($76,695). Power is delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is a $2,500 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 expensive options and packages like you’ll find with other luxury brands.

For 2020 the exterior design has been updated. In fact, Genesis claims to have changed every panel except the roof and doors. The most noticeable changes are the massive and unmistakable diamond-shaped grille, 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.

On the road, our G90 3.3T Premium powered by a 3.3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder making 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque drove butter smooth and was 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.  The G90 5.0-liter V-8 makes 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.

Even though there is only a $3,500 price difference between the two engines, we would opt for the slightly more fuel efficient V-6. The performance differences are small. The only extra feature on the 5.0 Ultimate is a rear entertainment system and power-adjustable and ventilated rear seating.

Gas mileage ratings for the V-6 is 17 mpg city, 25 highway and 20 combined. The V-8 is rated at 16/24/19. Both engines use premium gas.

We found that the V-6 mated to the eight-speed automatic performed all the chores of driving life in a very efficient manner. Nudge into the accelerator and the big boat surges forward without complaint. For comparison purposes, a major automotive magazine tested the V-6 from 0-to-60 in 5 seconds with a quarter mile time of 13.5 seconds at 94 mph.

Inside, the new G90 is mostly a carryover from last year. There are some 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.

Standard features include tri-zone automatic climate control, power sunshades for rear passengers, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a head-up display, a surround-view monitor, remote control and monitoring through a smartphone app, a wireless charging pad, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, the 12.3-inch infotainment display, a navigation system, and a 17-speaker Lexicon premium surround-sound system. 

Standard advanced safety features include forward and reverse collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist with speed adjustment through curves, a drowsy driver monitoring system, and a safe exit monitor for passengers.

Our 3.3T Premium test car carried a bottom line of $73,195 including a $995 destination charge. The G90 comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty.

2020 Genesis G90


Base price: $73,195; as driven, $73,195
Engine: 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6
Horsepower: 365 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 376 pound-feet @ 1,300 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 124.4 inches
Length: 204.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,718 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Luggage capacity: 15.7
Fuel capacity: 21.9 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 17 city, 25 highway, 20 combined
0-60: 5.0 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S Class, Lexus LS 500

The Good
• All versions fully loaded
• New front and rear styling
• Excellent performance
• Exceptionally quiet cabin

The Bad
• Driving excitement limited

The Ugly
• Lacks cachet of Europeans