Should you buy the Genesis G90?
Hyundai is a lot like Chris Pratt…
Originally just the pudgy funny guy on The Office, Pratt lost weight and ripped up for big name roles from Zero Dark Thirty, to Jurassic World. Hyundai was the pudgy funny guy you turned to when you needed an unashamedly cheap economy car to get you through 100,000 miles of commuting. Then, in a startlingly short amount of time, Hyundai turned from el cheapo basic transportation into something people wanted to buy. Bigger and more expensive cars paid off, as the Azera, Genesis, and Equus kept pushing luxury appointments and prices ever higher. But, while you know you should probably go see a Chris Pratt movie, should you buy a lux Hyundai?
To continue the movie theme, the first generation 2010 Hyundai Equus sedan reminded me of Mouse’s great scene from The Matrix: “You take chicken for example, maybe they couldn’t figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything.” Only here, Hyundai couldn’t figure out what a luxury car should look like, so they made their luxury car look like everything. A watered down Mercedes S-Class front, BMW 7 Series rear, and a half-assed copy of an Audi profile. The overall effect was somehow a sum of less than its parts, and while it looked nice for a Hyundai, it looked cheap compared to similarly sized Euro hardware. The Genesis G90 looks to change our minds.
While it’s a “new” car company in Genesis Motors, and a new model name, the Genesis G90 is really just the second generation Hyundai Equus. And that’s okay. Hyundai sweat the details, and it shows more in the second gen car than the Equus. The style is unique, but restrained. The G90 is a combination of Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class, but with an updated and classier Hyundai face, and some subtle Infiniti and even Bentley hints out back. In person, it looks bigger and sportier than in pics, giving off a slightly muscular 300C vibe. This isn’t your uncle’s old Chrysler though, and it’s priced accordingly.
Trim levels depend on the engine and drive wheels. The 3.3T Premium with rear-wheel drive is the lowest priced spec at $68,000. As you probably guessed, that trim offers a 3.3L V6 with a turbo generating 365 horsepower. Want all-wheel drive? You can get that, for another $2,500. That’s a steal, as it’s probably what Porsche charges for floor mats. The other significant option level is the 5.0 Ultimate. Under the hood is Hyundai’s most powerful engine, the Tau 5.0L V8 belting out 420 horsepower. Not that you’ll care, but selecting the thirstier V8/AWD combo over the V6/RWD trim loses only 1 mpg in the city, while highway mileage remains unchanged at 24. Eight cylinders for ours, please.
Outside, colors range from bland-to-boring, with the usual black/silver/white, plus the one unusual choice of Manhattan Brown. Interior colors are equally sedate, with a choice of black or beige leather. Black is the choice here, as black leather is matched to heavily gnarled red stained walnut. It looks classy. The beige leather seats look decent enough, but they’re matched on the dash with a light gray ash that’s just… okay.
Tech options are par for the course in the big lux arena, but they’re still surprising to see from this manufacturer. There’s lane keep assist, smart cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and driver attention alert. That last one is kinda cool, as the G90 will watch for signs of drowsiness in the driver, and vibrate the steering wheel if it wants your attention. The interior looks nice and serious, with a large 12.3 inch HD infotainment screen integrated into the wood/aluminum finished dash. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Apple/Android interface, but the screens are responsive and easy enough to navigate without even glancing at the owner’s manual. It’s a very livable cockpit.
As for the drive, we only experienced the 3.3T, but it was a nice enough experience. The engine noise is neither pleasant nor disagreeable, it’s just sort of there, but at least it’s quiet. Road and wind noise are almost nonexistent. The steering is electric, and needs to borrow a few tips from the LFA or at least the BRZ on some feedback and feel. We didn’t expect it to be a driver’s car, but the G90 takes corners acceptably, even surprisingly well for its size and Tesla-like 4,900 lb heft. Acceleration with the 3.3T is more than enough for highway on-ramps and passing, although you won’t be winning any drag races here. Again, not the point.
This is a big car. It’s over 17 feet long, with a wheelbase 4.5 inches longer than the Equus. The power rear seats offer a myriad of adjustments, 38 inches of legroom, and speakers galore. Yup, the back seat is where this car shines. The G90 is not a driver’s car, because it’s a rider’s car. This is the car you want to be driven in. This shouldn’t be a surprise, and you would think the market for this kind of luxury would be larger, but it’s rather rare. In an age when every Cadillac and Bentley is thrown around the Nürburgring in a pointless pursuit of record lap times, we end up with luxury cars that can rip it on a track day, but deliver a jarring road-going ride. The G90 is old school luxury, like a ’90s Town Car, ‘70s Caddy, or any 20th century Rolls. The G90 makes the case for plush comfort as luxury.
Now the question you probably want us to answer is, “Should I buy the Genesis G90?” And of course our answer is “maybe.” This isn’t the best car in the category. That’s the Audi S8. Then again, the Audi also costs nearly double the price of the G90. The Genesis doesn’t look as good as the Jaguar XJ, doesn’t have the brand cachet of the S-Class, the interior of the S90, and doesn’t have the driver focus of the 7 Series. Sure, it looks better than the Lexus LS, but so does nearly everything, and the G90 doesn’t have the sterling Lexus reputation. So why buy it?
To swing back to Pratt, the Genesis G90 is like Guardians of the Galaxy. No, it’s not The Avengers, X-Men, or something else with huge name recognition, but it’s still Marvel and a seriously good time for the same price as the other big-name movies. And that’s where Hyundai gets it. As usual, Hyundai is killing it here with value for the money. The Genesis G90 delivers the same options while undercutting everyone in the segment. Only the Cadillac CT6 comes in under the G90 price, and that’s with a lot less power. The G90 is the 95% luxury car that only asks you to pay the 60% price. It’s for buyers that want luxury, but don’t need the badge association (good or bad) that comes with a brand. It’s the modern equivalent to the Lincoln Town Car, and wants you to enjoy the ride in peace and quiet. It’s for lux buyers that long for something different, to make a personal statement saying “I can buy expensive vehicles, but I went the non-traditional route.” It’s for buyers that want a helluva lot of car for the price, with an outstanding 10-year/100,000 mile warranty. Any one of those is probably reason enough for most people.
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