You'd expect the flagship sedan for Hyundai's new luxury brand to be big, comfortable, luxurious, loaded with features and modestly priced. But the 2018 Genesis G90 is also surprisingly satisfying to drive. While not quite the equal of the newest BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the big Genesis sedan is a solid alternative to them, especially for the price.
You'll Like The 2018 Genesis G90 If...
If you're living champagne dreams on a beer budget, the 2018 Genesis G90 is just what you're looking for. That's not a backhanded compliment, either, as the G90 offers all of the premium features you could hope for, just without a budget-busting price tag.
You May Not Like The 2018 Genesis G90 If...
We all know that there's more to luxury than just "more stuff," and while the G90 offers up lots of stuff, Genesis isn't yet the kind of aspirational badge that can rival Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Both the Genesis brand and the G90 were all-new last year, so changes are kept to a minimum this year. Dynamic LED headlights are standard, the V8-powered Ultimate gets a rear-seat entertainment system, and every model gets a CD/DVD player.
The Genesis G90 interior is a master class in how a luxury-car interior should look. The materials used, how they're assembled, and how they look are exactly right. There's soft and supple Nappa leather on the seats, echoed on the soft-touch door panels, dash, center console, and just about everything else. The wood trim is from real trees, the stainless-steel speaker grilles look expensive, and it all combines with the metallic-look switchgear for a high-class appearance, evocative of Mercedes-Benz. The same goes for the knob-based infotainment interface. Our only complaint: We've seen the same basic layout, info display and ergonomics in too many down-market Hyundai models.
The Genesis G90 is a conservatively handsome car. There's a distinctive grille, and it's big, but comes just short of the mega-grille trend on luxury cars that we've seen in recent years. There's a subtle nod to power on the hood, with a bulge that extends the width and then continues down the side of the car as a strong character line, eventually blending with the taillights. A chrome strip accentuates the length of the doors, and wraps around the back of the car, dividing the bumper. It's not a head-turner, but Genesis is still developing its design language, and the G90 looks expensive, and the style will likely wear well over time.
If your luxury sedan must be big, comfortable and quiet, the 2018 Genesis G90 is unquestionably on target. In traffic, in its most luxurious ride setting, the G90 stays smooth and quiet, with the cushy ride stopping just short of being too soft. You could drive the G90 for hours on end and still arrive relaxed and refreshed. But there's a Sport mode, and if you turn it on, the suspension stiffens and suddenly the G90's demeanor changes. There's just enough bite to the suspension that you'll think, "Hey, what if I cook it through that onramp?" And the G90 responds pleasantly, with suspension motions well controlled, steering that's nicely communicative, and eye-opening grip. All while you're ensconced in an organically luxurious interior filled with all the right textures, appearances and even smells.
The 2018 Genesis G90 3.3T Premium has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just below the $70,000 mark, when you include the $975 destination charge. If you want V8 power, the G90 5.0 Ultimate starts at just below $72,000, and that's a bargain considering the noteworthy rear-seat upgrades. If you want all-wheel drive, you'll add $2,500 to the price of either car. That's not cheap, but start comparing it to other full-size luxury sedans and suddenly it's a bargain. The twin-turbo V6 Lexus LS 500 starts at about $75,000, and all the European competitors start at more than $80,000. The KBB.com Fair Purchase Price tells you what others in your area paid for their Genesis G90, and resale value should be about average for the class, but trailing the Lexus.
The so-called "base-model” 2018 Genesis G90 is loaded from the factory. The G90 3.3T Premium comes with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 powering the rear wheels. It also includes the safety suite, adding automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active cruise control, and even a driver-attention alert. Premium Nappa leather covers the seating surfaces, there's a full-color head-up display, and a multi-view camera that includes around-view. The 22-way-adjustable driver's seat is complemented by a 16-way passenger seat. The 17-speaker Lexicon audio system is part of the 12.3-inch infotainment system. There are even power sunshades for the rear <i>and</i> rear side windows. Like we said. Loaded.
All-wheel drive is the only stand-alone option for the 2018 Genesis G90, and it is available on both V6 and V8 models. That said, upgrade to the V8-powered Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate and you get a few other niceties as well. The G90 Ultimate adds power-adjustable rear-outboard seating positions, including an integrated memory system to save your settings. The rear seats also get a power head restraint, and rear-seat illuminated vanity mirrors. It's a first-class seating accommodation by any measure. This year, there's also a rear-seat entertainment system.
STANDARD SAFETY SUITE
Active-safety systems are nothing new, but even on the luxury end of the spectrum things like lane-keeping assist, driver-attention monitor, active cruise control with full stop and start, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and a head-up display are options. Not so the Genesis G90, where they’re all standard.
The V8-powered G90 5.0 Ultimate is more than just an engine upgrade. There's also a significant enhancement to the rear seat, including independently adjustable outboard positions with seat memory, to keep your rear-seat passenger's favorite spot just the way he or she likes it.
Under the Hood
Neither engine for the Genesis G90 is a slouch. The 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 in the Premium model puts out 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. If that's somehow not enough, the Ultimate comes with a 5.0-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. That's a significant horsepower advantage, but only 7 lb-ft of torque better than the V6. Both engines connect to an 8-speed automatic transmission, with either rear- or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD). Both Genesis models require premium fuel, and neither is shy about drinking it down, with its EPA-estimated 24-mpg highway rating lagging other full-size luxury sedans like the Cadillac CT6, BMW 740i and Mercedes-Benz S550.
3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6
365 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
376 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg
420 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
383 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 mpg (RWD), 15/23 mpg (AWD)
Genesis is the new luxury division from Hyundai, and the full-size 2018 Genesis G90 sedan is its flagship. Despite the dominance of SUVs in the marketplace these days, there's still something to be said for a full-size luxury sedan, and the one Genesis has built is exceedingly comfortable, quiet, luxurious and surprisingly agile. Does it beat the newest BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, or Lexus LS at their own game? Well, no. But it's a solid bet against older sedans like the Infiniti Q70 and Audi A8, with the Genesis G90 making a good case for itself, especially when price is a factor. It will take a while for the Genesis brand to match the prestige of its more established competitors, but if it keeps making cars as fundamentally good as the G90, it's on the right track.