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First Drive Review: 2017 Genesis G90

by Harvey Briggs
First Drive Review: 2017 Genesis G90zoom in

    2017 Genesis G90

  • Engine: 3.3 L Twin Turbo V6
  • Horsepower: 365
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 376
  • Transmission: 8-Speed automatic with paddle shifters
  • Drive Configuration: RWD, AWD available
  • 0-to-60 Time (secs): 5.5 (estimated)
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 17/24/20
  • Curb Weight (lb): 4,630
  • Wheelbase (in): 124.4
  • Total Length (in): 204.9
  • Width (in): 75.4
  • Base Price (USD): TBA

With the rise of full-size SUVs and Crossovers, full-size sedans have taken a hit in sales in just about every market – except the luxury market. The BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S Class and Lexus LS are still big sellers. So it’s hardly surprising that when the Hyundai Motor Company decided to launch a new luxury brand, their flagship for the new Genesis division would be the new G90.

This is a statement car. Big. Bold. And loaded. And that’s the real story here. Rather than offering it at a super low starting price, knowing that you’d option it up, the product planners at Genesis decided to create a car with a very short options list. How short? Other than color and trim, essentially you have two. You can upgrade from a V6 engine to a V8 and you can add all-wheel drive. That’s it. Everything else is standard.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

What do I mean by everything? I mean everything. The G90 includes more standard safety features than any other luxury car including: automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention alert, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop/start, rear cross traffic alert, and Xenon HID headlamps with high beam assist. It’s loaded with the latest comfort and convenience features like: a 22-way drivers seat, buttery soft Nappa leather seats, high gloss real wood accents, brushed stainless knobs, dials and buttons, four color heads up display, Hi Def 12.3 inch center console display, 7 color LED ambient mood lighting, three-zone climate control, 360 degree camera system, 7-inch color display between the gauges, 17-speaker ultra high fidelity Harmann sound system with Clari-Fi up-sampling technology and surround sound, satellite navigation, radio and more. And, the G90 doesn’t scrimp when it comes to performance and handling. There’s a 365 hp twin turbo V6, 8-speed transmission, adaptive multi-link fully independent suspension system and lightweight alloy 19-inch wheels. It’s as loaded as loaded gets.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

But that’s just the car. When you buy a Genesis G90 you also get a suite of special services that include valet pickup and delivery for service that you can schedule through the Genesis app, free scheduled maintenance, Sirius/XM radio subscription, complimentary map upgrades and more connected services for three years or 36,000 miles.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

So when you plunk down your hard-earned cash for a Genesis you get a lot. And while pricing hasn’t been announced, we’d be surprised if all this comes for much more than $80,000, which admittedly is a lot of money. But, a comparably equipped Mercedes Benz S Class, BMW 7 Series or Lexus LS will cost close to or even more than $100k.

So now the really important stuff: how do these pieces come together and what’s the Genesis G90 like to drive?

Not surprisingly, it’s pretty damn nice. While not as blingy as a Mercedes or aggressive as a BMW, the G90 offers a nice balance between performance and luxury. The Lexus is really its bullseye competitor.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

The G90 is a classic rear-wheel drive, full-size sedan which features a traditional high-strength steel architecture. No carbon fiber, aluminum or other exotic materials like you’ll find in BMW or Cadillac. When I asked why the G90 doesn’t use those, the answer was simple, “Hyundai is a steel company.” The penalty the G90 pays for this heritage is weight. The rear wheel drive G90 with the V6 weighs in at 435 pounds more than a 740i. The result is a car that feels substantial. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a luxury sedan, but nimble, it is not. The G90 also has a tendency to roll a bit in the corners despite the multilink front and rear suspensions with stabilizer bars.

Adaptive ride control is standard and in “smart” mode, sensors read the road, your driving style and other inputs to automatically adjust the suspension settings for maximum comfort and control. You also have the ability to choose one of four drive modes – Smart, Sport, Eco and Individual – so you can set the car up for your particular driving style. In addition to adjusting the suspension, drive modes impact throttle tip in, shift points and steering feel. The rack mounted power steering has very good feel even in the lighter Eco setting with predictable turn in.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

The real news with this car is under the hood. The G90 is powered by a brand new aluminum 3.3 liter twin-turbo V6 that makes 365 horsepower and delivers 376 lb-ft. of torque at just 1,300 RPM to the rear wheels. This is significantly more power than the 3.0 TwinPower turbo in the 740i, which helps the G90 get briskly off the line. There was plenty of power for quick stoplight getaways on the crowded Vancouver streets and when we hit the open road, passing was a breeze with tons of mid-range oomph aiding acceleration from 60 miles per hour on up. Aiding this is a very smooth 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shift paddles behind the steering wheel. I’m not sure where you’d use the paddle shifters, I guess Genesis engineers did when they tested it on the Nurburgring, but in everyday driving, they’re a little superfluous. Surprisingly fuel economy is a little low for the category, lagging well behind the CT6 and 7 Series with just 17 city and 24 highway mpg.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

Inside the G90 is a big step of from the previous Genesis and Equus sedans from Hyundai. The 22-way adjustable driver’s seat is a remarkable feat of engineering. It’s comfortable and fits just about every body type with adjustable bolsters, headrest, and thigh support. I’m 6’3” and my co-driver was 5’4” and neither of us had a problem getting comfortable. If after playing with all the adjustments you still can’t get comfortable in this seat, you might want to visit a chiropractor.  In addition to a great seat, soft touch surfaces everywhere so the feeling inside the cabin is luxurious.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

They did a nice job on the details, an example of this is in the audio/infotainment system. In addition to being slightly canted slightly toward the driver, the tuning knob is a little larger than the volume knob since it’s further from the driver which makes it easer to reach. The infotainment system is very high quality with a rotary interface similar and real honest to god buttons on the center console to take you directly to the system’s most used functions. The 12.3 inch HD screen provides excellent clarity, but surprisingly isn’t a touch screen. The 17-speaker Harmann sound system delivers great sound quality and features their proprietary Clari-Fi technology to enhance high compression digital formats like MP3s, adding definition back into the recordings.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

On top of all that, the G90 is quiet – so quiet that like a lot of other manufacturers they have to pipe in engine noise through the stereo so you can hear it. In addition to sound insulation, the G90 also uses laminated windshield and side glass to cut down on outside noise and even the cars basic architecture uses significant amounts of bonding adhesives that reduce noise and vibration. It’s hard to say whether it’s best in class in this area, but if it’s not, it’s damned close.

2017 Genesis G90zoom in

So what it boils down to is this. If you want a luxury car that’s loaded with just about every feature you can imagine. A car that’s smooth, sophisticated, and offers ample, but not outrageous, performance. A car that should deliver rock solid reliability and a seamless ownership experience. And you want one that’s going to cost significantly less than the current kings of the category, you should probably take a long hard look at the new Genesis G90.


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