The G90 recently made its way to my driveway for a bit, and I was eager to get behind the wheel and see what this new luxury machine has for the big-time competition it’s heading into the lion’s den to face. Here’s my report on how this bold venture turned out and what chance of success Hyundai has in the luxury space.
Looks are everything in the luxury vehicle marketplace -- a car has to look the part or will fail miserably, as first impressions are key.
Thankfully for the Genesis brand, this first set of offerings shows it clearly belongs, with the G90 having a slick elongated exterior design that will turn heads, and an attractive wheel design too. Inside, the Nappa leather seating is as comfortable, and intricately stitched, as you would expect from a luxury competitor.
The interior wood trim is also elegantly put together, and functionally you get a well-designed system of buttons and controls on the dashboard and steering wheel. There’s even a redundant set of controls that someone in the back seat can control, which is helpful. The metal on the control buttons is also high quality and nothing feels cheap in this vehicle.
Spacious is a good word to describe the G90, both in front and in the rear, and in the trunk. Tall folks still get plenty of headroom and legroom all around. You’ll get heated seats (though not massaging seats -- which is something several of the G90’s competitors do offer).
I won’t call it the most attractive design, in or out, of the luxury models in the class. But it’s close enough to the best ones that the differences aren’t too extreme, and that’s pretty good for a first shot at the category.
The G90 offers two engine options, a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 365 horsepower, or a 5.0-liter V8 that will get you up to 420 horsepower. The G90 features an 8-speed automatic transmission, with paddle shifters.
My test vehicle had the V6 and it was more than enough, eagerly guiding me through the street with a powerful pull. The V8 isn’t the option I would go for … and I think most buyers will skip it.
I tested a G90 with all-wheel drive, but rear-wheel drive is also offered.
The G90 has the kind of engine that makes a driver want to get behind the wheel. Even if you’re not entranced by the vehicle's luxury and comfort, hit the road and you’ll feel a whole different reason to like this vehicle. It handled fantastically in all situations and the ride was smooth as silk, and amazingly quiet inside. Road noise is essentially nonexistent.
One area that often can determine what brand a car buyer goes with is technology and safety. We’re all so married to our tech that if our potential car has a system that’s not up to snuff, we’re likely to move on.
Genesis planned well for this, creating a helpful infotainment setup in the G90 that’s easy to use by voice or touch, as well as the full array of tech features to keep driver and passengers safe. Best of all is these features are on all Genesis vehicles, not just options. It’s worth noting that while some of the top luxury competitors may best Genesis in terms of ride quality and engine performance, there are several who have tech/infotainment systems in major need of an upgrade for better ease of use.
Here are some of the safety highlights, and my thoughts on them:
* 9 airbags (including driver’s knee airbag) … you’re covered from all sides in case of an accident
* Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection … the G90 stops fast, all by itself, if it thinks anyone is going to be hit.
* Smart Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert … great for preventing human error accidents
* Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist … it really does keep you in the lanes and prevent drifting
* Driver Attention Alert … If the vehicle senses you are letting it do too much on its own to keep car straight, you’re reminded to grab the wheel and control it; very helpful and potentially life-saving feature.
* Heads up Display … lets driver keep eyes on the road and not look down at speed
* Excellent 12.3-inch screen on dashboard is wide and full of information
* Bi-Xenon HiD headlights with dynamic bending light … sounds very superheroish, but in reality just keeps you safe
* Lexicon 17-speaker system … booming, yet clear
* Wireless phone charging
Official fuel mileage numbers on the Genesis G90 with the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 are 17 city/24 highway/20 combined. Upgrade to the 5.0-liter V8 and those numbers drop to 15/23/18. This is a weak point of the G90, as its competitors tend to be a couple miles per gallon better. So if that’s a deciding point for buyers, the G90 loses out.
My test vehicle came in at $71,550; base price starts about $68,100.
Interestingly, there is little decision-making to be done on the G90. Outside of picking between the two engines, and choosing RWD or AWD, the G90 will come to you fully loaded. … Oh yeah, you can pick the color too..
Its competitors in the full-size luxury sedan market include: Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-series, Cadillac CT6, and the Lexus LS. … Price on the G90 is better than all of those competitors, often by a large amount (most end up in the $80K to $90K range, or even six figures; CT6 is the only one somewhat close). Even if performance and design are judged as evenly matched, the dramatic price difference may help draw more frugal luxury buyers who are fans of the ride in the G90. The 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty is also an attractive feature for potential buyers.
So let’s be frank -- is the 2017 Genesis G90 going to rocket to the top of luxury car sales charts straight out of the gate? Not a chance, not this year or any year in the near future -- the Germans pretty much have those spots locked down and aren’t too scared of the competition.
But I will tell you this. The G90 is one of the best 2017 luxury vehicles I’ve tested in terms of overall experience -- I would rank it just a notch below the Cadillac CT6 and the Audi A8 -- and it offers an immensely enjoyable ride that’s on par with many of the higher-priced luxury vehicles with which it competes.
That has to count for something, and the feeling of getting behind the wheel and enjoying everything the G90 can do in terms of comfort, performance and tech will sway some luxury buyers and get Genesis moving up the charts -- we’ll just have to see how quickly that ascent comes.
Matt Myftiu can be foundon Twitter @MattMyftiu.