- The 2020 Genesis G90 is the executive luxury sedan designed to compete against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series.
- The rear seats recline and offer first-class levels of legroom.
- My loaner had a base MSRP of $US72,200 and cost $US73,195 after destination fees.
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But now that Hyundai’s new(ish) luxury brand, Genesis, is more firmly than ever on the radar, the full-size G90 sedan wants to give buyers a plush alternative â€” and it certainly looks the part.
A limo needs to fulfil a few things; namely, have understated but executive looks and a sophisticated interior. The G90 embodies these traits exactly right, leading me to spend my weekend with it driving family around.
By the end of it, I kind of wished I’d been the one in the back seat.
The 2020 Genesis G90: It looks better now
This is the only generation of the Genesis G90 so far and it’s been in the United States since 2016. When unveiled, it was reasonably nice inside, if not a little bland on the outside. With a 2018 face-lift, the G90 now wears Genesis’ striking corporate face that you can also find on the GV80 SUV.
How that horizontally themed face will age remains to be seen, but as such, Genesis managed to pull off a big, modern-looking sedan that makes everyone around it feel like they’d find someone important in the back seat.
As an added bonus, my loaner came in a gorgeous and sparkly deep plum colour and an ivory-toned interior.
Details and safety ratings: A Top Safety Pick Plus winner
The face-lifted G90 comes with two engine options: either a 3.3-litre, twin-turbocharged V6, good for a claimed 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, or a 5.0-litre V8, good for a claimed 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.
Rear-wheel drive is available as standard but all-wheel drive is an option. All G90s are fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The car is 17 feet long, 6.3 feet wide, and 4.9 feet tall. It has 15.7 cubic feet of cargo room. Fuel economy for the V6 is an estimated 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.
Though it’s not yet been rated for crashworthiness by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2020 G90 earned a Top Safety Pick Plus award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety â€” the agency’s highest safety award.
What stands out: Legroom for days
Peer at the G90’s backseat and the first thing you’ll notice is how much legroom there is. It’s first-class legroom! Like, first class on international flights. The good first class, not just the one that’s glorified economy.
The seats just don’t fold down flat, though they do recline. Sitting back there, I had no problem crossing and uncrossing my legs and without worrying about whether I’d kick the front seat.
I put taller people back there, too. They also remarked on the expansive legroom.
As a final test, I was able to fit a whole wedding cake â€” in its box â€” snugly in the rear footwell. The cake was delicious, in case anyone was wondering.
The rest of the car’s interior quality impressed as well. Soft leathers, brushed aluminium switches, and open-pore wood all added to the cabin’s sense of unobtrusive serenity. Within and without, the G90 wore interesting patterns and textures on every surface that it could, including its speaker design and daytime running lights.
Had the Genesis G90 recently and I have to say, the little musical chime when you turn the car off was one of my favorite features. Wholly unnecessary but absolutely pleasant all the same. pic.twitter.com/a320Wr7bl1
— kristen (@KristenLee) January 12, 2021
It was even aurally pleasing. Every time you turned the car on or off, the action was followed by a charming little musical chime. We should style all waiting rooms after the inside of the G90.
Tranquility is the top priority here. That much is obvious. Climbing into the G90 is like walking into a spa, unbothered by uncivil potholes or cracked pavement thanks to the G90’s superior suspension.
Even on the most pockmarked of Manhattan cobblestone streets, the system soaked up road imperfections like a sponge. Like they weren’t even there. Like magic.
What falls short: Needs rear-axle steering
I couldn’t understand why the G90, of all cars, came with a sport mode â€” especially when said sport mode made no discernible difference to the way the car drove.
The steering became just a smidge more weighted, but it was already fine to begin with. The mode just seemed so at odds with a car that was decidedly against sporty driving.
There’s also no getting around the fact that the G90 is a large car, and large cars can be a pain to navigate around tight parking lots. Thousand-point turns, cutting the wheel back and forth hundreds of times, the works.
Here, the Genesis could have really benefited from rear-axle steering. Rear-axle steering works wonders to tighten turning radiuses of large cars, making them feel much smaller than they are. It made even the gargantuan Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S feel petite.
Finally, half of the passengers I chauffeured reported feeling slightly carsick after experiencing the G90’s floaty ride quality. While I’ll admit that motion-sickness does run in my family, I’ve also heard no such complaints when shuttling them around in other cars.
How the G90 compares to its competitors: Thousands of dollars cheaper
Prices for the 2020 G90 start at $US72,200, and the 2021 model will cost you $US72,950. My loaner (which was incredibly well optioned just with its standard features) came to $US73,195 after a $US995 destination and delivery fee.
It’s not a particularly cheap car, but you do get an awful lot of car for the money.
Save for the Acura, the Genesis undercuts all of its competition by thousands of dollars (and in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars). On top of that, Acura has plans to cancel the RLX after the 2020 model year due to poor sales, so it won’t be a competitor for much longer.
There’s no denying that big, executive sedans don’t sell like SUVs and crossovers, but for certain buyers who prefer to outsource the driving, they’re perfect. And as long as you’re in the market for one, why not consider the Genesis and save a little money?
I wouldn’t call the G90 a super direct BMW, Audi, or Mercedes competitor, though.
The European sedans have always exuded a sense of sportiness beneath their luxurious exteriors. The Genesis rides much more softly. It’s not wanting for more power, but also, power isn’t the point.
If you want a heavyweight engine in a dignified suit that will outrun small planes taking off, look elsewhere. The svelte G90 is more concerned with delivering a ride that won’t upset your drink onto your lap.
Our impressions: Better to be driven in than to drive
It was abundantly clear that the focus here, above all else, was smoothness. Everything about the G90 was smooth as oiled glass. Or butter.
The steering is consistently weighted throughout turns and across all speeds. You can barely feel the transmission shifting. The brakes don’t grab rudely at the beginning of the pedal travel. The acceleration, though present, pulls the car up to speed in a completely drama-free manner.
And that floaty suspension, man. I couldn’t get over that. It worked miracles over crappy pavement.
But it was also the only time a suspension system has ever made me quite that aware of my own driving. I found myself looking even further ahead in traffic, trying to anticipate my next move more than usual, because any sudden movement â€” a jab of the brakes, a jerk of the steering wheel â€” was amplified throughout the rest of the car, sort of like rolling around on a water bed.
As a car for the driver, the G90 didn’t do it for me. The front row materials were just as nice as the ones found in the back row, but it’s not like I can fully appreciate them while I’m driving. I didn’t particularly appreciate how even the smallest sudden movement resulted in body wobble. I felt bad that my family got carsick.
Or maybe I’m just a terrible chauffeur! There’s a high likelihood that this is the case.
Regardless, I envied my family in the back of the G90, and wished to be there as well â€” rear seats reclined and privacy shades pulled up. The back of the car is calm. It encourages relaxation. You feel important back there.
Genesis put most of the G90’s focus on the rear seat, making it the place to be. But for the love of the driver â€” whether they be paid or volunteer â€” it could have used a bit more engagement in its step.