My Car Quest

August 10, 2020

Driving Impression: 2020 Genesis G90 Luxury Sedan

by Wallace Wyss –

Photos by Richard Bartholomew –

Location: Big Bear, California

When Hyundai announced they were going to make luxury cars, I was a little skeptical. I mean how could they go after Lexus, infiniti, Audi, Mercedes and BMW?

After driving a Genesis G90 500 miles I can say that in my opinion, they already have surpassed Cadillac, the last luxury American car I drove but Ford won’t loan me a Lincoln (something to do with age discrimination–they don’t think I reach the right demographics) so I can only say cosmetically this Genesis almost bests the Lincolns though the Lincolns do have the appeal of coach doors (as a rare option) and a simulated Bentley grille and interesting door handles and look alike Bentley upholstery patterns.

Genesis G90

But the Lincoln Continentals are front wheel drive which in my mind prejudices me against them as far as a luxury car that has performance way down deep. To me, Genesis has beat the Americans but they can best the Europeans if they have muscle behind the discreet luxury styling. The G90 Genesis already existed, so this is a surface restyling but one that’s very much in line with the target cars it is competing against. The only thing I have trouble with is the grille (read design critique below).

Our test car was the optional V8 but the base engine is plenty energetic– a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 boasting 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. They say the torque comes in low, at only 1,300 rpm. The Ultimate package 5.0-liter V8 produces more power (420 hp) than the V6 but only adds a tad more torque.

The only transmission is an eight-speed automatic. We found it flawless. At first we drove it without using the paddles but you can shift it into Sport mode and upshift and downshift as if were a sport sedan. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but if you want all-wheel drive it is optional with either engine.

DESIGN CRITIQUE

FRONT: Alas, in seeking to have a unique grille different from their rivals they chose a sort of superman shield shaped grille surround that seems too big, and for me not enough of an inset of the mesh (look at Dual Ghia for great inset). The headlights have a horizontal orange turn signal bar that is strongly Volvo-ish.

Genesis G90

SIDE: The best view. One continuous line gives the car character though it’s a bit like the first Infiniti sedan. The wheels look to be very high quality mags.

Genesis G90

REAR: They went with horizontal themes. Pleasant but nothing that’s going to set a style (didn’t Aston have those on the Lagonda decades ago?)

Genesis G90

INTERIOR: Very well done except for a cheap looking clock in dash center. The wood though is so processed you can barely see the grain (maybe you can in the other three wood choices). And there’s a console in the back that handily flips up. I think you could fit a child in the rear between two adults on the rear seat but nominally it’s a four seater.

Genesis G90

The paddles behind the steering heel rim are too hidden, need to have the paddles taller so you know they’re there. One flaw is that if you push the automatic shift lever to the front after stopping the car it doesn’t go to Park but stops at reverse. You have to press a separate button to go to Park.

The 12.3 in. dashboard display screen does a lot of things, one week behind the wheel wasn’t enough to learn all its capabilities. One very interesting feature was see through screens that were on the rear window and rear compartment windows. These are more common in Europe but really handy in giving you privacy. You feel like a celebrity hiding from the press when they’re deployed.

Genesis G90

We found a weakness in the simulated aerial display technically called a surround view monitor. Somehow they are simulating having a camera above your car. After awhile you think what’s shown is what’s around your car. But when a nefarious stranger was lurking off the right rear at a drive-through, the screen image showed no man but in the right hand rear view mirror there he was. So remember it’s not an actual view.

IN SUM: The 2020 G90 is a mature car that pays more attention to the rear seat passengers than most American luxury cars. I don’t know how many executives are chauffeured to work but this is a car that fulfills that role and yet can still be owner driven as well.

Genesis G90

Why go for the Ultimate version (it’s actually called that)? Those are the V8-powered models. Going that step up in engine also gets you a rear-seat entertainment system with two 10.3-inch screens as well as ventilated rear seats, which you can’t order with the V6. We were puzzled why the top of the line doesn’t have an extra badge indicting its status like Mercedes AMG models do over regular Mercedes? You spend that extra money, you like to brag about it, right?

HANDLING: DUAL PERSONALITY

It is not being marketed as a gentleman’s sports car and while flicking the lever in to Sport mode I realize it didn’t have adjustable air springs or active anti-roll bars but at least in the mountains it felt more ready to handle hundreds of curves when in Sport mode than in the other three drive modes.

The presence of the Sport mode is the one enthusiasts want. With luxury cars most of the time the owners are merely cruising but there are those moments when you have to use “a bit of stick” as we horse people say. Like accelerating up a freeway ramp. It was much faster than I thought it was going to be.

It has a lane-keeping system, which accurately centers the sedan in its lane and warns you if you’re drifting. It of course warns you when you’re coming too close to a car ahead or in parking when you’re too close to anything ahead or behind. Very appreciated to have the up front warning because in most cars you can’t see where the front of the car is.

It is an incredibly silent car. In fact looking back on the last Cadillac sedan I drove, a car priced at $50,000, it was too noisy to fit my definition of “true luxury.”

Pricing theoretically starts at roughly $70,000 USD for the Prestige base model and $79,000 USD for the Ultimate. All-wheel drive will add $2,500 USD to the price tag. Expensive but compared to a Mercedes S450 you save $20,000 USD. Compared to the BMW 740i, about $17,000 USD.

Genesis G90

So I think they have the right formula–rear wheel drive, V8 if you want it, and big savings over two of the top German brands. They just need to redesign that grille….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

 
 
THE AUTHOR: A former Motor Trend magazine road tester, Wallace Wyss is co-host of Autotalk, broadcast weekly from KUCR FM Riverside.

 
 
 
 

THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Bartholomew is an artist and photographer based in Southern California. Visit his YouTube channel here. He is open to interesting consignments and can be reached at zeroagenow@aol.com

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Summary
Driving Impression: 2020 Genesis G90 Luxury Sedan
Article Name
Driving Impression: 2020 Genesis G90 Luxury Sedan
Description
After driving a Genesis G90 500 miles I can say that in my opinion, they already have surpassed Cadillac, the last luxury American car I drove.
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Comments

  1. the front wing has a Volvo, BMW, Caddy features , Oh and lincoln on the wheels(covers) with almost a Bangle butt-where is the “new”?

  2. Byron LaMotte says

    Handsome car and great write up!

  3. I always wondered about the Genesis and now I know, more. That front grill is hideous. Still, like most of those luxury sedans, they all look alike.
    The only ones that stand out to me are the Aston Martin, price notwithstanding, and the Tesla.

  4. I think the grille on the Lexus LS is uglier.

  5. SKIP HINOJOS says

    THE ONLY THING I DON’T LIKE ABOUT IT IS THE GRILL. I HAVE SEEN TRUCKS WITH BETTER LOOKING GILLS.

  6. Skip,

    I like some truck grilles like this one.

  7. And this one.

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