Legitimate flagship: Genesis G90 is new arrival to luxury market

Legitimate flagship: Genesis G90 is new arrival to luxury market

View CaptionHide Caption
The 2017 Genesis G90 offers two engines, a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 with 365 horsepower, and a 5.0-liter V8 with 420 hp, and comes in two trims the 3.3T Premium and 5.0 Ultimate. Metro New Service

Luxury is hard to describe. Certain images come to mind. Pinkies raised while drinking wine or tea. Leather-clad luxury cars tooling up to country clubs. And high-browed trips to the opera with people dressed to the nines. Hyundai hopes to jump into this highfalutin’ world with its new line of luxury vehicles known as Genesis. But, can this week’s tester, the 2017 Genesis G90, slide comfortably into the luxurious world with already established names like Lexus, Acura, Infiniti and Cadillac? Two guys, who are far from highfalutin’, are former Wheels editor Jimmy Dinsmore and Dave Mikesell, and they’re here to answer that question.

JIMMY: In a word, yes. But it’s not that simple. In many regards, the Genesis G90 is nicer than some of its competition. But far too many will get hung up on the Hyundai name. That’s why there’s no mention of Hyundai anywhere on this car. It’s a Genesis and with that it means soft touch points, elegant looks and a fancy-pants vibe. On looks alone the Genesis puts on airs. It’s long and lanky and has resemblances to Jaguar, Infiniti and even Bentley, to a lesser degree. In short, Dave, it looks the part. But does it perform like some of the luxury stalwarts?

DAVE: Hyundai, or Genesis as it were, offers two engines, a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 with 365 horsepower, and a 5.0-liter V8 with 420 hp. I tested the latter and, sticking with Jimmy’s wine-and-cheese theme, found it as smooth as a Sonoma Chardonnay – although, I must attest, I prefer the creaminess of a Young’s Jersey Dairy chocolate milk shake. Quick, powerful and responsive, this will definitely change your perception of the Korean automaker’s product. With rear-wheel drive, the steering feel is like cutting through warm butter. Even in Sport mode the G90 handles road imperfections flawlessly. EPmpg/highway for a 3.3-liter RWD.

JIMMY: The interior hints at luxury, but when compared to other tony flagships it doesn’t quite hold up. Sure, the interior is nice. And it’s certainly quiet for all passengers. That V8 engine is rendered practically silent as is road noise. The seats are comfortable and clad in leather. But the dashboard and center stack feel a little too much like a high-trim Hyundai than a true luxury car. This should be the next area Genesis addresses to truly take this vehicle to the next level.

DAVE: As much as I enjoyed being behind the wheel of the Genesis, I almost — almost — would have preferred to drive from the rear seats, where the right side has 14-way power and left side has 12-way power. That means sliding and reclining, too. Throw in heat and ventilation and let the pampering commence, whether you are an executive or a grade schooler. There is a center pass-through to the cargo area that has 15.7 cubic feet of space that looks larger because of its length. Back up front, the driver benefits from a 7-inch information screen between the tachometer and speedometer and a 12.3-inch screen that contains navigation and a full complement of audio and entertainment features, most of which can be controlled by a rotary knob on the center console.

JIMMY: To keep things simple, the G90 has only two trims. The 3.3T Premium and 5.0 Ultimate have a long list of standard features. For a vehicle with a big price tag, starting at $68,000, it’s important to offer as much as possible. In this large luxury sedan segment, cars can hit quickly hit six figures with options added. My tester was the all-wheel drive 3.3T Premium and had an MSRP of $71,550. The 5.0 Ultimate AWD has a starting price north of $73,000. Dave do you think it justifies its price tag, considering some of the other competition it’s up against?

DAVE: It depends what you consider the competition. If you want to peg it against those large European luxury brands like Mercedes, BMW and Audi, I think you’ll find comparable features at a much lower sticker price. Plus, I give Hyundai credit for being sly about the badging. Give the Genesis G90 a try and find out, like I did, that the person following you might indeed think you are in a Bentley.

JIMMY: A friend of mine said of the Genesis G90 that the “country club sect will never accept a Hyundai posing as a luxury car.” To that I respond, the G90 isn’t a Hyundai. It’s a flagship sedan that isn’t putting an act, it’s legitimately ready to hang in the upper crust of society. With just a few more minor adjustments in the next model year, it can really push this brand even further toward legitimacy.

2017 GENESIS G90 3.3T PREMIUM

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $71,550/$71,550
  • Mileage…………………………………… 17 mpg/city; 24 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 3.3-liter twin turbo V6
  • Horsepower…………………………… 365 hp/358 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Ulsan, Korea

2017 GENESIS G90 5.0 ULTIMATE

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $69,700/$70,650
  • Mileage…………………………………… 17 mpg/city; 24 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 5.0-liter V8
  • Horsepower…………………………… 420 hp/383 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. Rear-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Ulsan, Korea

Weather and Traffic