Standard safety features
Justifying V-8 upcharge
2019 Hyundai Genesis G90
With a heavily refreshed model already in the pipeline for 2020, the 2019 Genesis G90 enters its third model year with no changes from last year. The flagship of a Genesis lineup, which now encompasses three sedans, of Hyundai's premium brand, came to market in November, 2015 as a 2016 model. Unlike the established European brands, the G90 downplays performance, instead choosing to offer buyers a gentle, cosseting ride, while dispatching mile upon mile of freeway with the least amount of disturbance.
A study in understated luxury with proportions that command respect, the G90 manages to fly under the radar behind a badge that often compels passers-by to ask, "What is that?", while concealing a girth of nearly two-and-a-half tons relatively well.
The look begins up front with a massive iteration of Hyundai's hexagonal "cascading grille" flanked by headlamp enclosures that wrap around into the fenders. Below the grille, a narrow lower air intake rests between a pair of enclosures, each containing 8 LED running lights.
Along the sides, an upper character line begins at the front edge of the grille, tracing a line along the hood, and continuing just below the beltline until it terminates at the leading edge of the taillight housings. The trunk, equally restrained, features a large Genesis wing badge, a chrome strip above the license plate surround, and a pair of chrome badges. The lower fascia is adorned with a single chrome strip that wraps around the lower bumper and just above a pair of trapezoidal, chrome-trimmed, exhaust outlets.
All told, it's a graceful – albeit somewhat bland – design.
The conservative, understated exterior is wrapped around a stunning, capacious, interior measuring 113.2 cu ft, that's refined, tranquil, and worthy of luxury status even by the high standards expected of the class. An added bonus is an abundance of features that are ladled on at no extra cost that include highly-adjustable, heated and cooled, Nappa leather seats, 3-zone automatic climate control, and acoustic laminated windows – items that typically command a premium on other brands.
The driver-facing electroluminescent gauges, as well as the various buttons and knobs, are clear, easy to read, and fall within easy reach. The dashboard houses a massive 12.3-inch touchscreen, while redundant knobs and buttons, set just below the central air vents, act as analog backups for a number of on-screen primary menu functions – allowing operation of the infotainment system easy for even the most tech-averse.
Despite a high cowl and beltline, driver visibility out the front and sides is excellent.
Perfection is eluded, however as thick C-pillars and a high trunk make viewing out the rear three quarters and back difficult, while the interior is offered with only 2 color choices – black or beige. In addition, the rear seat doesn't fold – a feature that's standard even on the lowly Hyundai Accent - limiting the G90's versatility.
Under the hood
A pair of engines are offered in the G90. For those looking for a bit more prestige and with an extra $4,500 burning a hole in their pockets, there’s a 5.0-liter V8 that offers 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Most buyers, however, will opt for the same engine in our tester: a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that putting out 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are good, but while the V8 features a nice engine note, the V6 is the better choice since the G90 lacks the handling prowess to take advantage of that power, while acceleration – given the V-8's additional heft - is nearly identical to that of the V6.
All-wheel-drive is offered as a $2,500 option with either engine.
Models like our G90 3.3T Premium tester are rated at an EPA-estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on the highway, and 22 combined, while our own observed fuel economy was 17.6 miles per gallon in a mix of city and highway driving.
At the same time, the G90 lacks the option of more powerful V-8 and V-12 engines offered by a number of competing brands.
Even the most affordable model comes with long list of standard features including an adaptive suspension, adaptive automatic LED headlights, a head-up driving display, and a 360-degree surround-view camera system. Interior highlights include wood accent trim, soft, comfortable Nappa leather seats that are heated, and ventilated, with driver 22 way and front passenger 16 way adjustability. And while the heated rear seats favor outboard passengers, those in the middle will find plenty of room.
But wait, there’s more, as a suede headliner, power door closures, acoustic laminated windows all around, a stunning 900-watt Lexicon sound system, Qi wireless device charging, power rear side and rear window sunshades, and three-zone automatic climate control are also standard - with more than a few of the aforementioned items considered optional in competing luxury marques - dramatically increasing their prices.
Standard advanced safety features include a multi-view camera, forward-view cornering camera, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with start/stop, front and rear parking sensors, land departure warning, lane keep assist and driver attention alert with steering wheel haptic feedback, and Genesis Connected Services that include remote start, point of interest search and download, voice text messaging, location sharing, geo fencing, and enhanced roadside assistance.
On the road
With suspension tuning that favors cosseting over cornering, a luxurious and comfortable ride are the G90’s priorities. Modern-day luxury sedans, addressing market demands, attempt to be both sporty and comfortable – attributes that are often at odds. More to the point: in emphasizing performance, luxury sedans have, in many instances, lost the ability to soothe and insulate occupants from the outside environment - hardly the case with the G90. The adaptive suspension offers three driving modes, Comfort, Comfort Plus, and Sport, but don't be fooled: compared to sport sedans from Germany and Detroit, the Sport setting remains pillowy soft.
The result is a supple, high-tech suspension, that, when paired with the smooth V6, and slick-shifting 8-speed automatic, together produce a refined highway cruiser offering excellent merging and passing capabilities, adept at swallowing up mile after highway mile, and the competence to easily filter out fussy road surfaces. The interior is also exceptionally quiet – even at freeway speeds, courtesy of NVH engineering that took advantage of everything from sound-absorbing materials to a low-noise fuel pump, with special attention paid to mid-to high-frequency noise reductions.
On the flip side, the G90 feel out of its element on curvy back roads where, even dialing in “Sport,” it feels out of place due to overly light steering, and where body lean is all too evident.
2019 Genesis G90 pricing, including a $995 destination charge starts at $70,345 for a rear-wheel-drive 3.3T Premium, and tops out at $77,345 for an all-wheel-drive 5.0 Ultimate model. Our Himalayan Gray AWD 3.3T Premium tester had an MSRP of $72,845, reflecting the additional cost of AWD.
The only downside to the G90’s mono-spec pricing is the lack of options and, therefore, personalization. That G90 3.3T AWD parked in front of your neighbor’s McMansion will – possibly aside from the exterior color – be exactly the same as yours.
The Bottom Line
Despite a conservative design, and the lack of prestige as well as more powerful engine choices offered by competitors, the Genesis G90 offers up a sumptuous interior, supple ride, and spectacular list of standard amenities and advanced safety features at a much more modest price tag.