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New-School Luxury: 2018 Genesis G90 Test Drive Review

Thirty years ago, Toyota and Nissan both followed Honda’s lead by creating a separate luxury division thus resulting in Lexus, Infiniti and Acura, respectively. In a similar move, Hyundai introduced its Genesis luxury brand starting with the 2017 model year launching with two big sedans. By 2021, Genesis will have a six-model lineup including sedans, coupes and SUVs, but it’s already easy to see that Genesis is having a much more luxurious start than its 1980s-era Japanese rivals did. After testing the G80 Sport earlier this year, I had the chance to check out the 2018 Genesis G90, which is the replacement for the Hyundai Equus and stands as the flagship sedan for this new Genesis brand.

Genesis G90

2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate Exterior

Compared to the previous Hyundai Equus, the 2018 Genesis G90 is far more stylish and elegant but it lacks the flashiness of many of its large luxury sedan contemporaries. The biggest offenders to this sedan’s design are the grille and the wheels. Hyundai’s signature cascading grille looks great on the Sonata and G80 (a carryover from the second-gen Hyundai Genesis), but if the Genesis brand wants to poach S-Class buyers, the styling team is going to have to step up their game. Same goes for the wheels – the turbine-style design is amazing, but the 19-inch diameter are much too small for a modern luxury land yacht. If you’re big on choices, the G90 might disappoint since the only option you have for the exterior is the paint color; this tester came in Casablanca White.

What that means is everything you see here is included in the price without having to factor in expensive option packages (have you tried configuring a Mercedes-Benz or BMW lately?). Full LED exterior lighting is standard with jewel-like taillights, but Genesis designers nailed this car’s stance making it sit long and low. In terms of its overall size, the G90 is right in between the Cadillac CT6 (about an inch longer) and Mercedes S-Class (about 2 inches shorter) opening up lots of space for a fully stocked luxury interior.

Genesis G90

2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate Interior

Whether you’re behind the wheel or being chauffeured around, the 2018 Genesis G90 is an excellent vehicle to spend time in. No matter where you sit, the G90’s cabin has excellent fit and finish, and the mix of beige and black leather that adorns most touch points is rich feel with stylish stitching. Just like on my G80 test drive review, I am not a fan of the G90’s gear selector, but my biggest complaint about this car was the glossy wood trim, which is extremely disappointing compared to the wood accents found in the Hyundai Santa Fe Unlimited.

Considering that the wood trim is the downfall of the interior, that’s a win for Genesis. This sedan has everything you expect from a large luxury sedan from the soft-close doors, suede headliner, full color head-up display, 12.3-inch navigation display, Qi wireless charging pad and 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system. Up front, the driver gets a 22-way power-adjustable seat with lumbar, shoulder and side bolster adjustments, and there’s a power tilt and telescoping steering column and brilliant jewel-like LEDs used for the dome lights.

The G90 is technically a five-passenger sedan, but it is best enjoyed as a four-seater with the rear center console folded down; these are where the controls are located for the seat, multimedia and HVAC. The highlight of the backseat are the heated and ventilated adjustable seats (14-way for the right rear and 12-way for the left rear – both with memory settings), and there’s a rest mode for the right outboard seat that moves the passenger front seat all the way forward and tilts the seat back to be used as a foot rest. It’s not the most elegant approach to this max-luxury feature, but it opens up a ton of legroom nonetheless. For added privacy, the rear door windows and rear window have power sunshades, and the 5.0 Ultimate trim brings more than just a bigger engine with a standard with a rear-seat entertainment system that uses dual 10.3-inch high-def monitors.

Genesis G90

2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate Powertrain

In base form, the 2018 Genesis G90 offers a 365-horsepower 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 (shared with the Genesis G80 and Kia Stinger GT), but if you want to keep up with other luxury sedans, go for the G90 5.0 Ultimate. This model packs a 5.0-liter V-8 rated at 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, and it is paired a silky smooth eight-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC and paddle shifters. This combo helps the 4,751-pound sedan return EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway**.

The most impressive aspect of driving the G90 is its dual personalities. On one hand, it’s a buttery smooth cruiser with a cabin that is whisper quiet, but when the driver goes heavy on the gas pedal, this big sedan can really move. Even better, there are four driving modes (Smart, Eco, Sport and Individual) that can tailor the G90’s personality to fit the driver. The best way to describe the G90’s ride quality is to say that it’s a perfect balance of a classic American luxury sedan and a European sport sedan.

Genesis G90

2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate Safety

The 2018 Genesis G90 has yet to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but it received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. All 2018 G90 sedans come standard with a long list of safety goodies such as Smart Cruise Control with full stop/start capability, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Change Assist, Smart Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, forward-view cornering camera and a multi-view backup camera.

Genesis G90

2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate Overall

As great of a duo that Genesis currently has in its lineup, the fledgling brand still has an uphill battle as traditional luxury buyers tend to be very brand faithful. While most luxury automakers allow buyers an almost infinite amount of options and packages, the 2018 Genesis G90 only baciall buyers to choose between two engines, a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive (a $2,500 option) and, of course, an exterior color.

There are still a few tricks of the trade to master before Genesis can become a true player in the luxury market, but so far it is succeeding by offering more luxury for less money – a tactic that has caused an explosion in the small SUV/CUV market. With a starting price of $68,350*, the G90 offers similar size, performance and luxury as the Lexus LS, but this Lexus starts at $75,000. Missing out only on the AWD option this car had an as-tested price of $72,845.

The 2018 Genesis G90 stands out even more from its rivals when you consider the warranties and services that are included like 3-year/36,000-mile coverage for Complimentary Normally Scheduled Maintenance and Complimentary Service Valet, a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper to bumper warranty and Hyundai’s best-in-class 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Genesis dealership and test drive the 2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate today!

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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