The G90 sedan is as new as the Genesis brand it belongs to, but neither the car nor the company is entirely fresh, at least in concept. Hyundai has been dabbling in the luxury space since 2008, when it introduced the mid-size, rear-wheel-drive Genesis four-door and, later, the larger Equus before sweeping together redesigned versions of the former (rechristening it G80) and the latter (this G90) and creating the stand-alone luxury entity Genesis. As a successor to the Equus, the megahuge G90 casts a wide net, hoping to both skim buyers away from pricier establishment players such as the Mercedes-Benz S-class, BMW 7-series, and Lexus LS and offer buyers a larger alternative to fully loaded mid-size luxury sedans for similar money. Within this scope, the G90 mostly succeeds.
The G90 tested here had the V-8, rear-wheel drive, and a sticker price of $70,650. The car is fully equipped, although if we were to pick nits, it’d be nice if the kingly rear thrones offered a massage function and the tiny, compact-car-size sunroof were larger. Genesis otherwise packs enough standard features into the G90’s enormous, 204.9-inch-long body to give us carpal tunnel syndrome from typing it all.
Comfort, It Has It
Visually, there’s little about the G90 that suggests athleticism. Genesis’s comfort-first intention is clear from the moment you sink into its coddling 22-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (designed with input from the Aktion Gesunder Rücken, a German consortium of doctors and therapists in pursuit of diminished back pain). It continues with doors that shut with a damped refinement betraying the thick seals around the aperture.
Silence-seekers will love the G90’s convincing auditory impression of a bank vault with windows. We recorded a hushed 67 decibels at 70 mph, a figure that matches today’s Mercedes-Benz S550, while the car’s 37-decibel idle and 73-decibel full-throttle sound measurements beat the Benz by 3 and 2 decibels. Acoustically laminated glass in all four doors and “sound-absorbing” wheels contribute to the serenity. The car is so quiet that we figured it was simply a giant metal ingot, one that would weigh as much, but the all-steel Genesis is surprisingly light at 4647 pounds.
Soaking up miles was made even easier sitting in the G90’s lovely interior, which combines stitched leather, soft-touch surfaces, real wood trim, and metallic elements to create a handsome if understated environment. There is a beguiling number of buttons on the dashboard, but all are within easy reach and impart a sense of accessibility to the G90’s myriad controls and features that you can’t find in, say, a BMW. Even the menus in the 12.3-inch central display are intuitive and well presented, and the now luxury-car-standard control knob on the center console makes quick work of navigating the digital space. A few bits and pieces are shared with lesser Hyundais, but the G90’s key touch points are specific to this design and operate with an expensive-feeling confidence.
And Yet . . .
All of this lends the G90 an approachable simplicity that stands out among the technologically dense BMW 7-series and the flashy Mercedes-Benz S-class and Lexus LS460. Get in, drive, and be pampered. That cohesion, which extends to the car’s mechanicals, was sorely lacking in Hyundai’s first-effort Genesis sedan and the old Equus, both of which seemed to incorporate the suspensions, steering systems, throttles, and brakes from different cars. We should applaud Genesis for improving on those products and synthesizing their character in the G90.
Set aside Hyundai’s rapid progress since building its first U.S.-market car in the 1980s, though, and the G90 is less impressive on its own terms. Sure, it’s cohesive, but for any car that costs more than $65,000, that’s a core expectation. But where’s the beef, we ask, where’s the “why buy?” The G90 brings not one unique feature or standout technology to the table. It doesn’t look particularly interesting from outside, its interior is lovely but so, too, is the Volvo S90’s, as are many others. It doesn’t even offer the sort of customization, options, or fancier trims for today’s luxury buyers who desire choice (and don’t they all?).