2020 Genesis G90 Review

2020 Genesis G90 - Luxury without breaking the bank


Despite countess numbers of media and social outlets gracing today's information super highway of phones, laptops and tablets (and lower-speed, two-lane old-school newspapers) the Genesis Brand may be one of the best kept, or perhaps misplaced, secrets.

First and foremost, Genesis represents a luxury automotive brand, the upscale division of South Korea's Hyundai Motors specifically; in much the same way Lexus denotes a step-up experience when compared with its mainstream parent company Toyota.  The Genesis luxury brand premiered four years ago, offering two posh selections; its flagship, full-size G90 sedan and mid-size G80 sedan.

Confusion arises within consumer's collective consciousness because prior to its stand-alone brand status, the Genesis name represented an aspirational product within Hyundai's lineup. Unlike Lexus, Infiniti and Acura brands which debuted their own stand-alone showrooms/service centers during their late 1980s/early 1990s arrival, Genesis still finds itself too close to Hyundai's shadow.

For the immediate future, Genesis counts approximately 320 franchises nationwide (and about 15 here in Chicagoland) working out of shared floor space within select Hyundai showrooms. Constructing stand-alone dealerships remains an important priority, greatly crystalizing in the general public's mind that Genesis is INDEED its own separate entity, entitled to its own home sweet luxury-appointed home.

One common parental thread Hyundai shares with its up-start Genesis brand; a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, one of the longest provided by any manufacturer luxury or plebian.  This simple, easy-to-remember marketing mantra helped jump start Hyundai's U.S. sales in the mid-1990s and can't hurt efforts at Genesis.  

Consider 2020 a very extensive mid-cycle update time for G90.  Back in the 2017 model year, G90 underwent a next-generation redo. Exterior wise, Genesis boasts that every panel except the roof and doors are revamped; resulting in new front and rear styling and confident stance.  The prior 2019 effort could get labeled as stately but frumpy.  Inside, audiophiles now get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing easier iPhone interaction through the sizable, high-definition 12.3-inch deep-set, in-dash screen.

Several interested stoppers by inquired about and visually probed the G90 during our week of  testing, most of whom needed schooling about Genesis but found the sedan intriguingly  eye appealing, almost Bentley-esque. The crowd included a wide spectrum; both male and female, young and seasoned, and not relegated to any one specific national origin.

Two engine choices, two trim levels and two drivetrain options await potential buyers.  Powering our tester is a 3.3-liter, V-6, turbo delivering a healthy 365 horses.  It's exclusive to Premium trims.  Those eyeing V-8 thrills can turn to the naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 5.0-liter V-8 generating 420 horses and marketed under the Ultimate label. Both engines offer rear-wheel drive standard with all-wheel drive a $2,500 option.  A smooth-shifting, conventional, eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard.

Both trims come well stocked (as a top-shelf luxury opportunity should) with remaining choices mainly relegated to interior and exterior color preferences, helping expedite sales and negotiating.

Our tester's turbo six certainly provided amply oomph during long stretches of Interstate 90. This same 3.3-liter V-6 turbo powers the Genesis brand's first ever, soon-to-arrive crossover, the mid-size 2021-model year GV80.

Pricing starts at $72,200 for a rear-drive G90 V-6 Premium trim.  Our tester included $2,500 all-wheel drive (recommended for upper Midwest travel) bringing the bottom line to $75,695 with $995 destination charge.  The Ultimate trim starts at $75,700 for rear drive.  Add $2,500 for all-wheel drive.

While 75 grand sounds like (and adds up to) substantial bling, it's a value-orientated glitter when compared to longer established luxury nameplates with gobs of well-eared name recognition. For those willing to chance an upstart newbie building a reputation, G90 delivers a tempting alternative to rivals costing 20 grand additional.

Headroom abounds in all five seating positions with a textured, microfiber suede headliner topping the ceiling, and wrapping around all three inside pillars (A, B and C).  When sunshine streams in, power rear side and sunshades ease glare. All seats heat up when desired and front buckets include a ventilation cool-down feature. The driver's seat powers 22 distinctive ways while the shotgun side settles for 16 choices. A heads-up windshield projection display comes standard.

With two traditional analog gauges and center digital message/information window, the instrument panel offers an easy-to-digest format. A high-tech yet simple video feed also appears in the center window when activating the turn signal stalk. The Blind Spot View monitor sends a crisp color in-motion feed from tiny side-view mirror cameras. Activating the left turn signal highlights activities in the left-side blind spot.  Push up the stalk and an in-motion view of right-side shenanigans shows up.

An electronic 'stubby T-bar' gear shifter placed at a 45-degree angle between front buckets requires a gentle tap forward and backward to summon reverse or drive.  A separate rectangular push button calls 'Park' into action. Four available drive modes (comfort, eco, custom and sport) summons from a vertical column of chrome buttons directly left.

Other elegant touches include power soft-close function sensing if any of the four doors don't shut completely tight. If perceiving any gap or leeway, soft-close technology takes over resulting in tight fix. These triple-sealed doors along with insulated acoustic glass maintain a remarkably quiet cabin experience.

A flat-top dash stretches end to end.  Below the deep-set color screen one finds a round, stately analog clock centering the middle tier. Two rows of brushed-aluminum buttons summon HVAC options. A chrome push dial between front buckets also interacts with the touch-sensitive screen as do secondary, textured steering wheel scrolls and buttons.

Up front, G90 showcases a prominent five-sided, diamond-meshed-filled grille that many have likened to the emblematic art work embossed on the center chest of Superman's skin-tight outer jersey (without the cursive capital S inside fill). Upon closer inspection, the grille outline also mimics the central portion of Genesis' own logo, the base part sans the outstretched wings.  

Both G90 and Superman enjoy aerodynamic, soft-spoken contours  while seamlessly moving through the air.  Perhaps the Man of Steel should maneuver a side gig as Genesis spokes hero during the current pandemic, and save the planet in the near term.  

Long, thin, bands separate two levels of bejeweled headlights.  In addition, a second  accent strip on the upper fender between the wheel arch and side door acts as a secondary blinker (turning amber when activated), alerting fellow road warriors of intended moves. Dual inboard exhausts adorn the lower back end.  The power trunk opens if standing closely adjacent to G90 with the key fob on person.  

On the open road, G90 takes on a super soaker persona; set the adaptive suspension to comfort and experience a soft, smooth glide eliminating road imperfections.  Smooth comfort takes priority over a connected-to-the-pavement encounter.  Regional managers, sales folks or vacationing retirees who call Interstate highways their second homes should keep G90 in their thoughts the next time new car shopping.

In addition to the luxury segments longest powertrain warranty, a complimentary three year (or 36,000 miles) maintenance program gets thrown into the equation taking care of scheduled oil changes along with other fluid/filter changes and tire rotation.  Best of all, Genesis dealership staff members will pick up and return G90 to your abode and provide a temporary loaner if desired while the G90 receives service work through the 'Genesis Service Valet.'

2020 Genesis G90

Price as tested: $75,695

Engine: 3.3-liter twin turbo V-6

Horsepower:  365

Wheelbase:   124.4 inches

Overall Length: 204.9 inches

Overall Width: 75.4 inches

Overall Height:    58.9 inches

Fuel Economy:  17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway

Powertrain Warranty: 10 years/100,000 miles

Assembly: Ulsan, South Korea

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.