Genesis has wowed a lot of folks with its full-size luxury sedan, the G90 — including me.

Competing in the space occupied by titans of the industry such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series can’t be easy. Buyers in this segment can be very demanding. They want space, power, and luxury appointments. I’m here to tell you the G90 delivers on all those, and does so at a much cheaper price point than its European rivals.

The last review I did of a Genesis product was the G80 Sport. In that review, I said Genesis is where Lexus was 30 years ago: the scrappy underdog offering a compelling package for a value price. The G90 was its opening shot across the bow of the establishment — including Lexus. All of them should be paying attention.

Design Notes

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The face of the G90 is elegant, with the Genesis shield-style cross-hatch grille dominating.

The G90’s size doesn’t become apparent unless parked among lesser sedans. At that point, its length of 204.9 inches is hard to miss. The long chassis rides atop a wheelbase that measures 124.4 inches.

The face of the G90 is elegant, with the Genesis shield-style cross-hatch grille dominating. Attractive full-LED headlights give it bright, seductive eyes.

From the side, the G90 has a clean, if slightly anonymous design. (Hey, buyers in this segment are very into understatement.) A crisp line runs the length of the body starting at the headlight, where the line coincides with the clamshell hood’s shutline, all the way back to the sweeping tail light. A second crease starts with an upkick at the front wheel opening and flows gently back through both doors near the bottom of the design. Turbine-style wheels (19 inches in diameter) and a tasteful low strip of chrome are luxurious without being gaudy.

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Inside, the Genesis G90 is a cocoon of luxury

The rear quarters show a similarly reserved, tasteful design. The tail lights are like red waterfalls and might be best compared against Jaguar’s XJ. A single chrome strip divides the trunk lid just above the license plate mount. Squared-off exhaust outlets are found at the bottom of the design.

Inside, the Genesis G90 is a cocoon of luxury. My tester had buttery soft tan Nappa leather seats with black contrast piping. The steering wheel and upper dash were black leather, to contrast with the tan leather lower dash, door panels, and seats. A panel of dark stained wood was present on the dash as well as the console, door panels, rear disappearing arm rest, and even the front seatbacks.

Drive Notes

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Thanks to the V8’s power and the G90’s interior quietness, it is entirely possible to find yourself unwittingly breaking the speed limit on your favorite curvy road in this automotive luxury schooner

My tester was the Genesis G90 5.0 V8 Ultimate. This is an optional powertrain — the other option being a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that is no slouch in this car, at a stout 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. But the V8’s naturally aspirated grunt was satisfying in a way the jet-turbine 3.3T is not, and its 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque felt perfectly suited to the big G90 sedan.

Handling transmission duties was an eight-speed automatic, which sends power to the rear wheels — as any proper executive luxury sedan should. Its shifts were almost imperceptible when driven smoothly, and it wasted no time finding the appropriate gear when driven in anger. There was no frustrating hunting, as befalls many eight- or nine-speed transmissions nowadays.

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of with this transmission: It’s equipped with one of those new-fangled shift levers where you have to press forward to go into reverse and press a “P” button to go into park. I drove a 5.0-equipped G80 a year ago that had a standard PRNDL style shifter, which is more to my liking. I suppose that might not look luxurious enough in the range-topping G90.

2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate - Driven Drivetrain
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The V8’s naturally aspirated grunt was satisfying in a way the jet-turbine 3.3T is not, and its 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque felt perfectly suited to the big G90 sedan.

The electric power steering with variable ratio felt isolated from the road, which is something I suppose most luxury sedan buyers want. I wouldn’t have minded a little more road feel. The steering did load up nicely as the wheel was cranked into a turn at speed, however. It’s worth saying that a surprising number of manufacturers, even luxury and sports car builders, don’t get that right nowadays.

Genesis does a solid job on infotainment. My G90 tester had 17 Lexicon speakers driven by a 12-channel, 900-watt amplifier. It would rock ‘n’ roll if you wanted it to. More importantly — and the true measure of a good sound system — it reproduced sounds with good clarity at low volume levels, too. Partial hat-tip here to Quantum Logic Surround Sound and Clari-fi Music Restoration Technology, both of which do wonders to make imperfect audio sources such as low-bitrate podcasts and MP3 music files sound cleaner.

I loved the seats in the G90. The driver’s seat was excellent, with 22-way power adjustment including separate controls for lumbar, shoulders, and bolstering, plus a seat cushion length adjustment. This was one of those situations where the seat memory function comes in handy, because there are so many minute adjustment possibilities that you really want to make sure to store your position once you get it perfect. Even rear passengers were spoiled for choice, with a recline function built-in to their fold-down center armrest and the ability to fold the front passenger seat forward for a chaise lounge-like seating arrangement for the outboard rear passenger. Of course, all seats except the middle-rear were heated, and the front seats were ventilated.

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In all, there was 113.2 cubic feet of passenger space in the Genesis G90, with 15.7 cubic feet of space to haul their belongings in the trunk

If you need specs on room, suffice it to say there’s plenty in the G90: Front legroom was a whopping 46.3 inches, with rear legroom coming in at a still-impressive 37.8. There’s 41.1 inches of headroom up front and 38 in the rear. In all, there was 113.2 cubic feet of passenger space in the Genesis G90, with 15.7 cubic feet of space to haul their belongings in the trunk. You won’t feel cramped in a carload of four adults with this one.

It’s not a sporty car, but it’s competent in the twisties, too, which I appreciated. Its 64.6/64.5-inch track, fron/rear, gave it a surefooted stance that worked in concert with its five-link front and rear suspension to provide a controlled, yet soft ride. Thanks to the V8’s power and the G90’s interior quietness, it is entirely possible to find yourself unwittingly breaking the speed limit on your favorite curvy road in this automotive luxury schooner.

Competitors

BMW 7 Series

2016 BMW 7 Series High Resolution Exterior
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“The Ultimate Driving Machine” has perhaps no more ultimate sedan than the 7 Series.

Long ago, this was a car that drove smaller than it was, with surprising acrobatics for a long, heavy sedan. But nowadays, BMW appears to be putting the emphasis on luxury above handling. Perhaps “The Ultimate Luxury Machine” would be a better tagline for the modern Siebener, if we ignore rumors that a real, honest-to-goodness M7 is supposed to be coming, someday, maybe.

Basically, as our Robert Moore said, the 7 should go on a diet if it wants to regain its sporting prestige. Otherwise, it’s a German with an affinity for schnitzel and smoothness.

You won’t get into a new 7 without spending six figures. Genesis G90 is a bargain by comparison, and has a better warranty, to boot.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 7 Series.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Hail to the king, baby. Mercedes-Benz has long owned the full-size executive luxury segment with the S-Class.

Compared to the Genesis G90, the S-Class is a little bit more stately and a lot more expensive. Mercedes infotainment and luxury touches are out of this world awesome, but that comes at a price. The Three-Pointed Star has always come at a premium, though, right? Why should the S be competing on value when its whole selling point is exclusivity?

If you must have the best of the best, the S-Class is your best bet for a ride that will equally impress driver, passengers, and passers-by. But those of more modest means, or who don’t get hung up on brand prestige, can find a lot to love about the Genesis G90 when comparing the two directly.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Lexus LS 500

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Lexus’ LS was the G90 of the ‘90s, battling the European establishment with Japanese reliability and impressive value for the money. Among some residents of Mahogany Row at your local corporate office park, the LS of the early 2000s became an equal status symbol to those established players, having spent a decade-plus proving itself as reliable as a quartz watch.

Lexus released the newest generation of the LS this year, the LS 500. There’s a new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 good for a massive 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, which beats both the 3.3T and the 5.0 V8 offered by Genesis. There’s also still a hybrid LS in the lineup, this time making 354 combined horsepower and offers more than 600 miles of driving range between fill-ups. Genesis doesn’t offer a hybrid model at this time.

The interior is almost otherworldly, too. Available in distinct hues such as a deep red/black combo seen in the show car, the LS 500 combines traditional luxury with futuristic design. The G90 looks conservative in comparison — which might be a good thing.

Lexus continues to offer a value proposition, with the LS starting at $75,000. But Genesis G90 undercuts that significantly, with a starting price of $68,350 for the V6 and $71,850 for the V8.

With a less-polarizing design, the G90 is probably aiming at buyers who have been turned off by Lexus’ affinity for edgy, envelope-pushing interior and exterior designs of the last few years. Those running away from the “spindle grille” of Lexus may well find themselves in Genesis dealerships.

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus LS 500.

Conclusion

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Genesis G90 is a superb full-size luxury sedan that calls to mind the insurgent Lexus LS of the ‘90s. This is a car that should be taken seriously by shoppers who want a stately, luxurious car with a price tag that doesn’t require corporate executive status.

The argument deserves to be made: With the money you’d save buying the G90 instead of a European rival, you could hop a jet out of the U.S. and take one heck of a European vacation. Those who value experiences more than things, your luxury sedan has arrived.

Disclosure: Genesis provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

References

Genesis G90

2017 Genesis G90 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Genesis G90.

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