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  7. 2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate

John Coyle | Nov 23, 2020


Exterior view of the 2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate

It's been five years since Genesis officially spun off from parent company Hyundai, and three years since the debut of its range-topping sedan, the G90. Now, in terms of luxury marques, Genesis is still effectively a newborn, as even "upstart" Japanese brands like Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura have been around for more than three decades.

But newborn or not? The product I've experienced from Genesis has been impressive across the board, so I was eager to get a chance to drive the latest flagship. Designed to compete with Lexus LS, Mercedes S Class, and BMW 7-Series, the G90 is all new for the 2020 model year, and significantly undercuts those established players on price.   

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2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate Exterior

See the exterior of the 2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate

During my week with the G90, I had a few opportunities to park where I could discreetly  observe it, and the big sedan got plenty of plenty of attention. Since I didn't do anything as gauche as take up two spaces, or park in a handicap zone, I'm chalking that up to curiosity. Because the G90 really doesn't look like anything else.     

In my opinion, it looks exotic. Not exotic in the way that a McLaren, Lamborghini, or Ferrari is exotic, of course. But exotic in a forbidden fruit sense, similar to how a Toyota Century might look if it was teleported from Tokyo to a Seattle side street. Honestly, if people are checking it out because they're not immediately sure what it is? I think that's great, because it means the Genesis styling division isn't cribbing from other successful luxury cars. It means they're going in their own direction, which is great for the nascent brand, and key to developing their place in the market.

The massive diamond-shaped grille is imposing in all the best ways, and the intricate pattern catches the light wonderfully. There's nothing flamboyant about the lines, as the designers went for stately instead of splashy, and it fits the character of the car perfectly. Overall, the lack of flashy features lets the ones that are there, like the grille, the beautifully detailed wheels, and the winged Genesis badge stand out. The way the turn signals wrap through the headlight and around the front fender is also pretty trick. Like many executive sedans, the extra-long rear passenger doors telegraph that the back seat is the place to be. Repeatedly, I found my eyes gravitating to the C-pillar, and the crease over the rear fender, which I think aided the car's regal bearing.        

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2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate Interior

See the interior of the 2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate

The exterior of the G90 projects an opulent aire, and once you're inside the cabin that impression only intensifies. While the buttons and switches might look familiar, as they see service in some of the G90's less-luxurious Hyundai cousins, the material quality was excellent.

Now, wood trim has been a car feature since the very dawn of the automobile, so it's hardly a new thing. But I'm a fan of the recent trend toward low-gloss, soft-finished bits, and the treatment looks great here. The diamond-quilt pattern in the seats, which echoes the shapes present in the wheels and the grille, also looks great, and the Nappa leather of the thrones is supple and buttery. Given the easy-chair comfort, the G90 would be an ideal place to soak up loads of miles behind the wheel.

But as I stated above, the back seat is really the place to be here. Because not only is there acres of legroom, the rear seats have basically every option you can think of. Not only do they recline, even the headrests are power operated, and the console between the seats also allows rear passengers to move the front passenger seat forward, for maximum lounge space.

Ultimate trim levels come with both heated and cooled rear chairs, and there are also individual displays mounted on the seatbacks. These allow rear passengers all the functionality afforded the driver, including the ability to change the music selection and enter destinations in the navigation system, though from what I could tell, they don't allow for watching videos.

Overall, the infotainment system is easy to navigate, and every G90 comes standard with creator comforts like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless device charging. 

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2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate Performance

See the engine block of the 2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate

While it's loaded with modern technology, in many ways, the G90 is kind of a throwback. To be clear, I mean that in the best way, as the focus of this vehicle is unapologetically on the comfort of the occupants, and not on performance. And personally? I like that. Because while it's cool when a vehicle takes the velvet glove, iron fist approach? The fact of the matter is that not every driver wants, or needs, ragged-edge athletic performance from their sedan.

Now, that's not to say the G90 is slow. The 5.0-liter V8 engine in my range-topping test model pumps out a respectable 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, which provides more than adequate acceleration for the big sedan. The most striking thing about the eight-pot mill is really just how quiet and refined it is. Even when I had my foot buried in the carpet, which I did purely for scientific purposes, the exhaust note was barely audible in the cabin.

On twisty sections of road, there wasn't loads of feedback in the steering, but the suspension didn't feel overly floaty either. All told, I think the G90 struck a great balance between agility and comfort, and it excels at its goal of providing insulated, luxurious transportation.    

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2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate Safety

See the safety features of the 2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate

At this point, the Genesis G90 has not been rated by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Generally, most of the vehicles at this elevated price point are not. That said, every G90 comes standard with a comprehensive suite of safety features, including Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, and Blind Spot Monitoring.

One safety feature I particularly appreciated was the camera view which appeared  in the center of the gauge cluster when you hit the turn signal. It provided an unobstructed view of the appropriate side of the vehicle, and was extremely useful during both city driving and highway cruising. It's an awesome bit of tech, and the Genesis team should be commended for it. In general, the camera system was outstanding, and it was easy to select multiple views.

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2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate Overall

View the exterior of the 2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Genesis is a new brand. So it doesn't carry the same cache that old-school European marques, or Japanese competitors like Lexus do.

Quite frankly, there's nothing Genesis can do about that, as even piles of money can't buy history. What Genesis can do, however, is build great cars that make buyers think twice about paying a hefty premium just to name drop. And in my opinion, the company is doing one heck of a great job in that department. The G90 is an impressive luxury sedan which delivers a tremendous amount of bang for the buck, and like its corporate cousins, it comes with a fantastic ten-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The Genesis G90 starts at around $72,000, which feels like a bargain. So if you're in the market for a large executive sedan, and more concerned with the whole package than the badge on the hood, it should absolutely be on your shopping list.

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2020 Genesis G90 Ultimate Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, RWD

Engine/Transmission

5.0L V8, 420 hp, 383 lb-ft
Eight-speed automatic

Mileage

17/25 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

N/A


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.