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2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium - Review by Carey Russ +VIDEO

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               • SEE ALSO: Genesis Research and Buyers Guide

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This week’s test car is a new Genesis G90. But what’s a “Genesis”? Shouldn’t that be “Hyundai Genesis”?

No longer. Until model year 2017, there was a Hyundai Genesis sedan and coupe, and the Hyundai Equus luxury sedan. Look in the current Hyundai catalog, and they’re missing — because Genesis has been spun off as Hyundai’s upmarket brand, in the same manner that Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti were created a few decades ago. The former Hyundai Genesis sedan is now the Genesis G80. The coupe has disappeared, for now at least. The next-generation Equus, with major revision inside and out, is now the Genesis G90.

And the G90 is meant to compete with premium luxury sedans from around the world, from established manufacturers like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, and Cadillac. That could be challenging — but the G90 is capable. Offered with two engines — a 365-horsepower 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 or a 5.0-liter, 420-hp V8 — in rear- or all-wheel drive form, it has all of the current luxury-level comfort, convenience, and safety features expected, standard. There are no confusing lists of packaged and standalone options, only two interior color choices, and five exterior color choices. What you see is what you get…

Materials and build quality are to class standards. Previous top-level Hyundais were close, but I found seemingly small details like type fonts on switchgear shared with lesser models to be negatives. Picky? Perhaps, but when you’re spending in the $70,000 range, perfection is required. Even in oft-overlooked places like the footwells, the rear seat area, and the trunk. There is nothing in the G90’s cabin that looks to be from the more pedestrian lineup, and nothing that looks out of place.

Genesis’s theme for its G90 is “Human-Centered Luxury”, meaning a focus on the needs and desires of the driver and passengers. Design is paramount, not for its own sake or for the designer’s ego, but for passenger comfort and safety. To that end, interior design is conservatively simple, with all of the expected quality materials and first-rate fit and finish — and the interface to the myriad electronic systems and features is refreshingly simple and intuitive. All current semi-autonomous safety systems are standard.

My test car had the 3.3-liter turbo engine. With maximum torque — 376 lb-ft —available from 1300 through 4500 rpm, where the engine will usually be operating, merging in traffic, even from a too-short onramp, was never an issue. Multiple drive modes allow for personalization of power and suspension response, and the cabin was commendably quiet even on poor surfaces. Fuel economy, at 20 mpg for the week, was also good, especially for a 4,600-pound, 365-horsepower luxury car with all the trimmings. Genesis is the new entry in the premium luxury class and so faces a tough battle. I suspect it will be just as successful as its parent.

APPEARANCE: The smaller G80 has existed as the Hyundai Genesis Sedan since model year 2009. The second generation debuted for 2015, with very different, much more assertive styling. It continues as the G80, and the G90 is very much from the same mold, if larger and with more formal proportions befitting its status. The G90 sits on a six-inch longer wheelbase, and is about six inches longer. It’s more of a three-(rounded) box design. Grilles are similar, but not identical, ditto for the headlights. Both feature a strong, well-defined shoulder line. The major difference is at the rear, where the G90’s more formal roof-line and C-pillars, curving 3-D LED taillights, and trunk shape contrast with the sportier look of its smaller sibling. Yes, a jaded eye (that would be mine) can see plenty of influences, but here they work cohesively, for easy recognition.

COMFORT: Walk up to the G90, and the mirrors fold out, LEDs in the door handle pockets light, and the Genesis logo is projected on the ground from the undersides of the mirrors. Inside, the G90 is all space and grace. Design is global contemporary premium, conservative but not old. Materials are as expected, perforated leather seating, leather for the steering wheel rim, shift knob, and door panels, wood trim with aluminum accents, and aluminum switches in the center stack. The instrument panel is an electronic display, bright and easily visible in any light. Useful information is displayed between the tach and speedometer, and a bright but non-distracting head-up display shows speed, speed limit, and blind-spot data. If it can be power-adjustable, it is, with memory for both front seats. Comfort and support there is very good, and the cushions can be both heated and cooled. Outboard rear passengers have to make do with only heat, but get power sunshades, floor, B-pillar, and end of console vents, and plenty of room. And their own audio controls in the fold-down center console. The trunk is quite large, with a stainless steel scuff plate, cargo net, and first-aid kit. A space-saver spare is under its floor.

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Cabin electronics — audio (AM, FM, SXM radio, with USB and jack in a console compartment with a Qi wireless charger), navigation, phone, apps, and BlueLink telematics — are controlled by the rotary knob on the console or marked buttons under the center climate vents and analog clock in the center stack. Climate control is by means of buttons below that, no need for sub-sub-submenus. The steering wheel has controls for audio, information, phone, and cruise systems.

SAFETY: In addition to its unibody structure strengthened for increased rigidity and better dispersion of crash energy, the Genesis G90 has nine airbags and pre-active safety belts that automatically tighten under acceleration, braking, or quick maneuvers. It’s expected to receive five-star NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ IIHS ratings. Standard electronic systems include everything — Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Smart Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start, front and rear parking sensors as well as a color heads-up display, high-beam assist, and haptic steering wheel.

RIDE AND HANDLING: The G90’s structural rigidity helps its road manners in addition to passive safety, and the accident you can avoid is one you don’t have. Its fully-independent multilink suspension was designed to minimize camber and toe-in changes, for predictable response. The Adaptive Control Suspension, from Sachs/ZF®, gives independent control of compression and rebound damping for improved roll and yaw control. That is integrated with the Dynamic Stability Control system. Steering is electrically-assisted, with variable assist. Brakes are vented discs all around, with four-piston calipers in front and twin-piston calipers in the rear. Steering, stability control, and damping rates are controlled by the Intelligent Drive Mode switch, with Eco (maximize fuel economy), Smart (adaptive), Sport, and Individual (customized) modes. Smart works very well and was what I mostly used. Sport is a bit firmer, but more “luxury sport-touring” with an appropriate emphasis on comfort.

PERFORMANCE: It’s only a V6 and, at 3.3 liters / 204 cubic inches, not an especially large one. But with lightweight aluminum alloy construction, four-valve per cylinder heads, continuously-variable cam phasing and variable-length intake, and twin intercooled turbos and direct fuel injection, it’s a V6 that makes 365 horsepower at 6000 rpm, and more importantly for everyday driving, 376 lb-ft of torque between 1300 and 4500 rpm. Turbo lag is a non-issue, any delay in immediate acceleration is more likely from the transmission downshifting. That transmission is Hyundai/Genesis’s own, an eight-speed multimode automatic with manual shifting ability via paddles behind the steering wheel.

Intelligent Drive Mode works here, too, changing throttle response and transmission shift mapping. Smart mode “learns” the driver’s desires. Eco decreases throttle sensitivity and increases shift points to improve fuel economy. Sport increases throttle sensitivity and suspension damping while decreasing steering assist. Differences are not immense, but are noticeable. Despite only momentarily using Eco, I still got an honest 20 mpg for the week.

CONCLUSIONS: Hyundai goes after the luxury car heavyweights with its new Genesis division’s flagship G90.


2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium

Base Price $ 68,100

Price As Tested $ 69,050

Engine Type aluminum alloy DOHC 24-valve turbocharged and intercooled V6 with continuously-variable cam phasing, variable intake, and direct fuel injection

Engine Size 3.3 liters / 204 cu. in.

Horsepower 365 @ 6000 rpm

Torque (lb-ft) 376 @ 1300-4500 rpm

Transmission 8-speed multi-mode automatic

Wheelbase / Length 124.4 in. / 204.9 in.

Curb Weight 4630 lbs.

Pounds Per Horsepower 12.7

Fuel Capacity 21.9 gal.

Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium for best performance Tires 245/45R19 101W F, 275/40 R19 101W R Conti Pro Contact

Brakes, front/rear vented disc all around ABS, EBD standard

Suspension, front/rear independent multi-link front and rear

Drivetrain Front engine, rear-wheel drive


EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 17 / 24 / 20

0 to 60 mph 5.5 sec


Destination Charge $ 950