2020 Genesis G90 review: The new swagger sedan

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The look is distinctive, alright.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The 2020 Genesis G90 will turn heads everywhere it goes, and whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on your needs and wants, but suffice to say this is a strong statement and another big step forward for an impressive new brand. 

LikeDistinctive stylingSolid, smooth accelerationComfortable, well-appointed interiorLoaded as standard

Don’t LikeDistinctive stylingDecidedly casual handling

We’re still at a point in the very brief history of Genesis where it’s difficult to talk about the company’s cars without mixing in a healthy handful of words like “value” and “comparable.” Such is to be expected when a new player comes in and swings for the fences, taking on established brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The company’s first steps were somewhat hesitant, excellent but generally by-the-book sedans starting with the G80 and the original G90. With the 2020 G90, it’s time to change the tone. With one look you can easily see that Genesis is moving further along its own path. This is a brand finding its swagger, branching out from the previously demure looks and creating something that will absolutely turn heads in any situation. 

Mind you, some of those heads will carry faces bearing looks of disdain and bemusement. The new G90 has a style that’s not for everyone, but everyone will notice it and you can be sure they’ll all have an opinion, too. That’s more than you can say for the bulk of today’s remaining sedan market.

Given that, I might as well talk styling first, because it is the area where the new G90 makes the most radical departure. It starts with that nose, which is impossible to miss, even if you’ve misplaced your glasses. 

The G90 has, and I cannot stress this enough, a very large, shiny grille. The first time I saw it at the 2019 LA Auto Show I thought it was too much. Six months on, it’s definitely grown on me, but a casual poll of friends and family revealed about a 50/50 split between love and hate. Crucially, though, few shrugged their shoulders. The wheels, however, proved too much for most. In fact, my wife persisted in referring to the G90 as “the car with the wheels.” 

I love a good set of chunky Monoblocks as much as the next enthusiast, and I covet a set of Compomotive TH wheels for my Subaru. In other words, I appreciate bold wheels, but even I find the G90’s combination of solid inners with the faux-spokes on the outer a bit too much. And, heaven forbid you ever have to hand-clean the things.

But, taking a step back to appreciate the 2020 Genesis G90 in its entirety, and I confess to being more than a little taken. It’s a bold car, and while some individual lines and details are odd, as an overall package it’s delightfully different. I appreciate that.

On the interior, however, none of that daring attitude is on display. Everything is familiar to a fault, including the UVO infotainment system that could be mistaken for that running in a Kia, because that’s exactly what it is. Likewise, the small display nestled in the center of the gauge cluster is basic compared to other luxury sedans, as is the head-up display. It’s all perfectly functional, however, and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are here by default. 

“The car with the wheels.”

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

As to the rest of the interior, it’s of generally high standard. The seats are comfortable and extremely configurable, with fancy bolsters that unnecessarily squeeze you in the corners when the car’s in sport mode. The seat heaters are more than effective, as is the two-level steering heater. Most materials you can touch are worth touching, but it doesn’t take long to find some harsher examples, like the flimsy plastic divider in the armrest. Minutia, I know, but the little things matter in this segment, perhaps more so than any other. 

Rear seat accommodations are just as plush, if not more so, and while there isn’t quite as much headroom as up front, it isn’t lacking. The rear-seat controls aren’t as comprehensive as the fronts, though you can at least push the front-passenger seat out of the way. There’s also a rotary controller back here that I thought might replicate the UVO experience in the rear, but as it turns out it just controls the media — effectively a giant volume knob. 

So, overall it’s a mash-up of high-brow details like soft-close doors and pillowy headrests mixed with some occasionally harsh plastics and cut-rate electronics. Not an altogether different experience than earlier Genesis entries, but the nits are definitely getting harder to pick. 

Things are a lot less daring in here. 

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

There are still some to be found in the driving experience, though. The turbocharged, 3.3-liter V6 offers a healthy 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Those in need of more displacement can pay an extra $3,500 and step up to a 5.0-liter V8 and another 55 hp, but I don’t know why you would. The 3.3 is smooth and has plenty of oomph for this big sedan, and it even sounds decently good (surely thanks to some digital augmentation), but it is far from frugal. Rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway, I netted just 17.9 in my mixed but generally relaxed testing. The V8 promises to be even worse, at 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway when attached to the all-wheel-drive system, or one higher if you opt for rear-wheel-drive. 

So, overall it’s a mash-up of high-brow details like soft-close doors and pillowy headrests mixed with some occasionally harsh plastics and cut-rate electronics. Not an altogether different experience than earlier Genesis entries, but the nits are definitely getting harder to pick.

There are still some to be found in the driving experience, though. The turbocharged, 3.3-liter V6 offers a healthy 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Those in need of more displacement can pay an extra $3,500 and step up to a 5.0-liter V8 and another 55 hp, but I don’t know why you would. The 3.3 is smooth and has plenty of oomph for this big sedan, and it even sounds decently good (surely thanks to some digital augmentation), but it is far from frugal. Rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 highway, I netted just 17.9 in my mixed but generally relaxed testing. The V8 promises to be even worse, at 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway when attached to the all-wheel-drive system, or one higher if you opt for rear-wheel-drive. 

You can opt for a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 or the 5.0-liter V8 pictured here.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The ride quality of the G90’s adaptive suspension is gentle to say the least, in comfort mode offering slightly more body control than a dirigible on a breezy day. But driven casually it offers a suitably plush, quiet experience. You can toggle over to a sport mode if you like, or even create your own custom blend of suspension, powertrain and steering modes. I find the sport suspension to be preferred for any road with any turns, even though I leave everything else in comfort. 

More important are the technology and safety features, which are comprehensive. The Genesis Highway Driving Assist is similar to what you’ll find in other corporate cousins, like the Kia Telluride, and does a good job of adjusting your speed for traffic or road conditions and keeping the car centered. There are systems to monitor both blind spots outside the car and driver attention inside, active emergency braking for frontal and rear collisions and a 360-degree camera to make parking this beast a little easier — though the image quality here is disappointing. 

Genesis Connected Services offer remote vehicle management, preconditioning and starting, a package that sounds comprehensive enough. Genesis also includes complimentary maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, and will even send a valet to pick up your car. That’s proper luxury. 

Coming or going, the G90 doesn’t look like anything else.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Impressively, you won’t have to pay extra for any of it. To configure your G90 you pick your engine, choose AWD or RWD, select your preferred color from an (tragically limited) palette, and that’s it. Everything else comes standard, meaning the starting price of $72,200 is all you’ll need to spend — other than a $1,025 freight charge. Add $2,500 for AWD. 

If you compare the G90 to a premium alternative in this premium segment, that’s about $20,000 cheaper than a bare-bones Mercedes-Benz S-Class. I won’t bore you with the pricing details and you’ll have to factor in the value of prestige yourself, but suffice to say you’ll have to spend a lot more than that to get one comparably equipped.

And so again I find myself talking value. That’s an attribute this segment has never really prized, but despite that the 2020 Genesis G90 has it in spades. It’s still not good enough to stand toe-to-toe against the best in the segment, but with its head-turning design and low-stress ownership, the new G90 is a viable alternative for buyers wanting something different and something easy. 



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