When Toyota launched Lexus in 1989, its first sedans impersonated Mercedes-Benz models, but cost a lot less. Now Hyundai has launched its impressive new Genesis luxury car lineup with two models and the top-level G90 looks like a Bentley. Even its logo resembles that of the British make.
Again the formula is to create a car that visually screams luxury while undercutting the original by thousands of dollars. To be sure the new G90 competes mostly with the large Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Cadillac sedans. But if you could convince your neighbors you were driving a Bentley, yet only spent $70 grand or so, well, you just might try.
Certainly the G90 is impressive and dressed in Caspian Black, a metallic black paint job, the tested rear-drive Ultimate model turned heads. People asked what it was. Genesis didn’t ring any bells.
But it may soon. Along with this 5.0-liter, 420-horse, V6-powered G90 Genesis offers the G80 with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that creates a substantial 365 horsepower. Both models are rear-wheel drive, but offer all-wheel-drive versions too.
The G80 lists at $69,050 in rear-drive format and $71,550 for AWD, so not a huge pricing difference between the models. You’re really deciding what sort of power you want, as the twin-turbo model is heavy on torque.
How’s the G90 drive and what’s the interior like?
Wonderful, but there is a flaw inside!
The car looks and feels luxurious inside and out. It’s super quiet and smooth to operate.
The massive V6 is strong, but quiet. It nearly perfectly links with a silky 8-speed automatic with a Shiftronic feature that allows you to make manual shifts. Plus there are four drive modes to choose from – Smart, Sport, Eco and Individual. The car defaults to Smart and it creates a good balance of sportiness and luxury as the shifts are not overly aggressive and the steering feedback is moderate.
The G90 is rated 16 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway, while the G80 is only slightly better in town at 17 mpg. It also is rated 24 mpg on the highway. I got 20.0 mpg in a mix of driving and the G90 prefers premium fuel.
Ride is luxurious (the 124.4-inch wheelbase is a big aid) at all times with proper suspension damping to control the car on rough roads and railroad crossings. There is only a slight bump felt inside, just as you’d expect at this price. Handling is moderately responsive, certainly not sporty, but this isn’t a big floaty boat of a car either. In Sport mode the steering firms further, but I’m betting most will be happy with its lighter feel in Smart mode.
Braking is first rate and Genesis comes loaded with the safety and semi-autonomous driving aids you’d expect at this price.
There are 9 airbags, stability control and traction control, of course, plus automatic emergency braking with pedestrian recognition to help a distracted driver avoid someone who walks in the car’s path.
Smart blind spot detection and a rear cross-traffic alert are designed to keep you from bumping into a vehicle in your car’s blind spot or backing into someone or something in a parking lot. There’s also a heads-up display so you needn’t look down at the dash for vital information, plus a smart cruise control system to help the car maintain a safe driving distance behind cars on the highway.
Inside, the cockpit is well laid out for driver ease of use. It’s also bathed in black leather from dash top to leather seats with gray piping. Satin chrome graces the buttons and trim and there’s wood on the dash facing and doors. A black gloss finish surrounds the center stack and more wood appears on the console.
Naturally the interior is hush quiet so you could carry on a conversation with business associates in the back seat, if need be. Plus there’s enough leg and headroom in back for tall riders. Oh, and the rear seats are powered (12-way) and will partially recline. Lighted mirrors fold down from the gray roof liner in back.
But there’s a lot of coddling going on in front too. The driver’s seat is powered with 22-way adjustments to get to that “just right” seating position, and the passenger gets 16-way adjustments. Finally a little seating love for front seat passengers.
The steering wheel has two levels of heat, with high being quite hot, and the seats get three levels of heating and cooling. The car also features a power rear sunshade and a power sunroof overhead.
All the dash buttons are large enough to be used while wearing gloves and are easy to figure out. Plus the G90 has a huge video screen for the radio and navigation, slightly over a foot wide and high-def so easy to read.
The Lexicon sound system with 17 speakers and surround-sound also sounds great
In back is a sizeable trunk for carrying mucho luggage on that long comfy road trip. Plus the trunk is power released and closes with the push of a button. Luxury protects your shoulders here!
So what’s the flaw?
The transmission shift pattern is odd in that the gearshift on the console goes from Reverse to Neutral to Drive. That’s not the odd part. The Park setting is not part of the shift pattern though. You must press a Park button on the console, just in front of the shift lever. That’s not only odd, but could prove a problem initially as most of us have been trained to push the shift lever all the way forward to put the car in Park. With the Genesis, that puts the tranny in Reverse. Ouch!
However, if you feel you can remember that important fact and can always put the car in Park by pressing the button while stopped, then the Genesis G90 is a bargain luxury sedan. It’ll likely save you at least $10 grand over most competitors … and a whole lot more if you were aiming for a Bentley. The chauffer’s cap will still be optional though!
FAST STATS: 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate
Hits: Super smooth power and ride. Roomy and hush quiet interior for large adults. Luxury feel, finely finished interior. Has 4 drive modes, heated steering wheel (2 levels) and heated/cooled seats (3 levels), power rear sunshade. rear seats slightly recline, sunroof, easy to use buttons, a huge screen and all the safety equipment and semi-autonomous driving aids you expect.
Made in: South Korea
Engine: 5.0-liter V6, 420 hp
Transmission: 8-speed automatic/Shiftronic
Weight: 4,751 lbs.
Length: 204.9 in.
Wheelbase: 124.4 in.
Cargo: 15.7 cu.ft.
MPG: 16/24 (EPA)
MPG: 20.0 (tested)
Base Price: $70,650 (includes delivery)
Invoice: $66,185 (includes delivery)
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $70,650
Sources: Hyundai, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage