It’s been less than a decade since Genesis became a standalone brand separate (and above) Hyundai, and it’s nary had a misstep in that time.
As the brand’s first car, the G90 has earned plenty of praise with its classic luxury sedan proportions and silky V8 engine. Entirely overhauled, the 2023 Genesis G90 is markedly improved over the outgoing model in every respect, giving the segment-defining S-Class from Mercedes-Benz a proper run for its money.
The current generation of Genesis models share a split-light signature that carries from the headlights all the way around to the taillights. It’s a family trait that’s given Genesis some distinction in the premium space, helping the relative newcomer carve out its identity.
The smaller G70 and G80 sedans have a sporting litheness to their looks, but the flagship G90 possesses the sort of broad-shouldered weightiness to its appearance that’s normally associated with a Mercedes S-Class or perhaps even a Rolls-Royce. This, of course, is fully intentional, and the G90 cuts a dashing profile with plenty of gravitas. It’s also well-proportioned, with just the right ratio of hood to cabin to trunk.
With stunning snowflake-like 21-inch wheels filling the fenders, it’s only the dramatically gaping grille that’s likely to fall out of fashion anytime soon.
The G90 is equally impressive inside, with lovely patterns stitched into the seats and swaths of wood trim highlighted by contrasting aluminum accents. Looking closer, there are details befitting a flagship sedan, like the microsuede headliner and fine metal inlay in the wood panels. And while this is a high-tech car, the screens never detract from the overall elegance of the G90’s cabin.
Sublime comfort is expected in cars of this calibre and to that end, the G90 absolutely excels. The driver’s seat features 18 different ways it can be manipulated to find the perfect driving position (the front passenger seat adjusts 16 ways), and blends posh suppleness with supportiveness. Plus they’re finished in buttery-soft Nappa leather and feature massaging functions that can help knead out the stresses of being a captain of industry.
G90 buyers might also want to spring for a chauffeur to enable enjoyment of the rear lounge seat that reclines and features an elevated leg rest, as well as that excellent massage feature.
Beyond the sensational seating, the G90’s long wheelbase and air suspension provide a magic carpet ride that nearly eliminates bumps and road imperfections altogether, yet it never feels nautical or floaty. There’s an obvious heft and solidity to the G90 that I’ve only previously felt in Mercedes S-Class, Range Rover, and Rolls-Royce models, highlighting the painstaking development Genesis must’ve endured for this car.
The G90 is also a silent cruiser, with road and wind noise non-existent thanks in part to acoustic laminated glass on the windshield and side windows, but also careful attention to door and window seals, and what must be piles of insulation. Engine noise is only heard when the throttle is stomped in an undignified way.
The quietness of the cabin helps audiophiles enjoy the 1,400-watt, 23-speaker sound system that delivers marvellous clarity and brightness, but I could never quite tweak it to give the sort of depth and fullness of sound produced by the systems found in Porsches and Mercedes, or the one in the Lexus LS 500.
The G90 is loaded up with amenities befitting its station in life that begin with the lavish finishes throughout, and include niceties like the panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control, automated rear window shades, proximity locking and unlocking, and even the ability to move a car in and out of a tight parking spot via the remote.
Genesis offers the G90 with connected services that allow a number of functions to be accessed and controlled via a paired smartphone, so the cabin can be pre-conditioned, the heated seats and steering wheel can be turned on, or the car located via GPS.
There are frivolous features, too. For instance, the driver can choose between two different perfumes to keep the cabin smelling fresh. The self-latching doors are a common feature on top-tier cars, but the self-closing doors are typically found only at the Rolls-Royce and Maybach levels. Unfortunately, their use tended to cause more confusion and frustration with both driver and passengers unaccustomed to pushing a button for closing the door. When the rain is pouring down, most of us would rather just yank on a handle, whip the door open, and slam it shut once inside rather than fumbling with buttons and waiting for motors to do their thing. I’d happily forego the power doors for the heated armrests found in most competitors that are missing here.
Aside from the fiddly door operation, the only other real gripe about the G90 revolves around Genesis’s inability to have wireless smartphone connectivity with its widescreen infotainment screens. The wireless charge pad is a nice feature, but it’s moot when the phone needs to be plugged in to access Apple CarPlay or Android Auto anyway.
Otherwise, the G90 is very user-friendly. There’s plenty of configurability to the 12.3-inch primary screen and the digital instrument panel, plus the head-up display, ensuring whatever information a driver deems crucial is available at a glance. The infotainment system employs touchscreen actuation, but it can also be operated via a rotary controller on the console, the placement of which requires a bit of muscle memory to not mistake it for the gear selector knob that sits beside it.
Normally, I’d gripe about climate controls via a screen, but Genesis has sorted them out well in this car and they’re easy to operate at a glance.
The G90 is also a showcase of the company’s safety tech prowess, with a comprehensive suite of automated collision avoidance features. There are parking distance warnings front, side, and rear, plus collision avoidance all around, as well.
Most impressive is how all the sensors combine to enable the adaptive cruise control that permits hands-free driving on the highway along with automated lane changes. The system does a great job with smooth inputs to keep the car safely centred in its lane of travel and manage its speed.
Driving Feel: 8/10
For those looking to pilot their own G90, the driving experience improves upon the already impressive previous generation. Response to drive inputs is smooth yet very precise. It’s a very large car, so reactions are deliberate and almost creamy rather than immediate. And although the suspension prioritizes ride quality over high-speed hijinks, the G90 keeps calm and motors on without drama – even when the corners come up quickly. Meanwhile, braking is smooth and powerful.
Upon learning Genesis had replaced the wonderful 5.0L V8 from the previous generation with a new 3.5L V6, I worried it would have the same effect a similar move by Lexus had with its LS 500 when it lost much of its soul. My concerns were unfounded, however, as this new Genesis mill is augmented by twin turbochargers, plus an electric supercharger backed by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. It’s a very complex setup to be sure, but in action it does everything expected of a flagship powertrain.
There’s 409 hp on tap and, more importantly, 405 lb-ft of torque between 1,300 and 4,500 rpm. This means even with more than 2,300 kg (5,071 lb) of mass to move, the biggest Genesis has no trouble pulling away from a stop and accelerating fiercely well beyond the legal speed limits. Indeed, the thrust of the G90’s engine, particularly in the mid-range and when passing, and the smooth way the 10-speed automatic transmission goes about its business, was better than expected.
Fuel Economy: 7.5/10
No matter how polished and powerful the new drivetrain is, its soundtrack can’t replicate the bass-rich thrum of a V8. Of course, the new, smaller engine is notably more efficient, with government ratings of 13.6 L/100 km in the city, 9.6 on the highway, and 11.8 combined. During a test week of driving that combined highway, stop-and-go traffic, and more than a few occasions where a heavy right foot called upon that wealth of torque, an indicated overall average in the mid-9s was very impressive for such a large, luxurious car.
These days, consumers flock to SUVs for their perceived practicality, and while those offer larger cargo holds, the G90’s passenger space for up to five adults, and a trunk that will swallow 340 L of cargo, should make it suitable for most daily needs, including commuting and transporting clients or board members to lunch.
The 2023 G90’s sticker price has increased more than $20,000 since last year’s model, but it’s also an appreciably improved machine with more features, style, and a more sophisticated drivetrain. Even at its $115,000 cost of admission, this costliest Genesis model is still priced well below a comparably-equipped BMW 7 series or Mercedes S-Class, although many buyers of those machines also appreciate the pedigree of the brand, too. The G90’s closest competitor likely remains the Lexus LS 500, which starts below the entry point to the Genesis, but quickly surpasses it when optioned up competitively.
There are a lot of places to spend six figures in the automotive realm these days. Fancy sports cars, lavish SUVs, and even optioned-up pickups can command north of $100,000 – and all of them seem to be more popular than premium sedans.
Even still, there’s a prestige attached to these CEO-class sedans that just doesn’t apply to those other modes of transport, commanding attention and serving as the pinnacle of technology and luxury that an automaker can do. To that end, the G90 in its previous iteration proved to the world that it could build cars on par with the best of them. The new 2023 Genesis G90 is swifter, better equipped, and far more stylish than before, making it truly a worthy alternative to an S-Class.
|Engine Cylinders||V6, twin-turbo, electric supercharged|
|Peak Horsepower||409 hp @ 5,800 rpm|
|Peak Torque||405 lb-ft @ 1,300 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||13.6 / 9.6 / 11.8 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||340 L|
|Model Tested||2023 Genesis G90 Prestige|
|Price as Tested||$118,100|