GENESIS G90 3.3T AWD FIRST TEST 2017: FUNCTION OVER FORM

2017 Genesis G90 3.3T (AWD Premium)
BASE PRICE $71,550
PRICE AS TESTED $71,550
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.3L/365-hp/376-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,693 lb (52/48%)
WHEELBASE 124.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 204.9 x 75.4 x 58.9 in
0-60 MPH 5.4 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.9 sec @ 100.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.83 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.9 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17/24/20 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/140 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.99 lb/mile

After the first day of driving, it’s easy to pinpoint the G90’s best quality. It’s too early to say whether that quality is enough to lure luxury buyers to Genesis, but it’s significant nevertheless. Its well-controlled ride spares drivers entirely from the usual jumping and jostling you’d expect while traveling over speed bumps. Even if you fail to slow down, the ride remains perfectly undisturbed. So much so that every time I drive over a speed bump now, I wish I were in a Genesis G90. The praise from our staff was overwhelming, and editors noted it’s a top performer on our special surfaces testing.

“G90 has this creamy luxuriousness to it like an experienced pour of Irish stout,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said. “It’s rich and smooth from the engine response to the suspension damping, body control, and NVH isolation. Impressive, especially after driving others in the competitive set.”

“Real nice and real smooth,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said. “Buttery creamy. This is the best-riding Korean car I’ve never actually experienced. Better than even the old Equus.”

After praising its ride and engine, Angus MacKenzie deemed the G90 “a Korean full-size luxury car that’s better than anything America or Japan can build. And yes, that includes Lexus.”

The superior ride—as well as the extremely quiet cabin—is enough to forgive the G90 for a few peccadilloes, including the boatlike feel that’s common in vehicles in the same class. Fortunately, Sport mode helps sharpen its senses.

“This thing is big and a little heavy feeling, but it goes around a corner nicely,” associate editor Scott Evans said. “It’s genuinely fun to drive a bit hard.”

My bête noire: The G90 isn’t terribly fuel efficient, rated by the EPA at 17/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined with all-wheel drive. In the real-world tests we conducted, we achieved similar numbers: 17.1/26.2/20.2 mpg. Compare these figures to other V-6-powered competitors such as the Audi A8 L and BMW 740i xDrive, which both net 22 mpg combined according to the EPA.

For a brand looking to compete with luxury offerings from Europe and Japan, the design of Genesis’ flagship sedan is rather sedate. Other than the shiny wheels, the G90 adopts a pretty conventional look. That theme is perhaps more apparent inside the cabin. Take all the luxury car interiors you can think of and strip them of their distinguishing characteristics, and you have the Genesis G90. It’s chock-full of features and high-quality materials, including supple Nappa leather seats with heating and ventilation, a Lexicon 17-speaker surround-sound system, HD navigation, three-zone climate control, a wireless charger, a crisp head-up display, and the obligatory shiny wood trim. There are virtually no options on the G90, so all of these features come standard. Some of our editors noted there are way too many buttons inside the cabin, but you could argue that the easy-to-use 12.3-inch touchscreen at least partially compensates for that issue. In general, the interior is much nicer than the old Equus.

Last year, Hyundai announced plans to separate its luxury offerings into the new Genesis brand. Of the six vehicles Genesis plans to launch by 2021, the G90 is one of two already on sale. The Genesis G90 might be much nicer than the car it replaces, the Hyundai Equus, but has it carved out a name for itself in the luxury category?

Unlike the Equus, the 2017 Genesis G90 comes with a V-6 engine. It’s a new 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 rated at 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Although it doesn’t have the same 429 hp as the Equus we tested back in 2012, the G90 is just as quick; it hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, which is 0.1 second quicker than its predecessor. The G90 took 13.9 seconds to run the quarter mile at 100.7 mph, and the figure eight was completed in 26.9 seconds at 0.67 g. Braking from 60 mph to a complete stop took a respectable 118 feet.

Yes, you can also get a Genesis G90 with a V-8 engine, which is a carryover from the Equus. Packing 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, a rear-wheel-drive G90 V-8 tester hit 60 mph 0.4 second quicker than the V-6 model. Don’t expect to notice the difference on the road, however. The V-6 proves more than competent enough in daily driving, and our editors agreed after driving both that there’s no compelling reason to move up to the V-8, because they feel similar dynamically.

 

Every top player in the luxury car market has a signature standout feature. For BMW, you might say it’s the driving dynamics embodied by the 3 Series. For Mercedes-Benz, it’s the dripping opulence of the S-Class. Audi boasts impressive technologies such as its Audi connect with Google Earth technology, and Lexus, for better or worse, is typically known for its dependability. What is the hallmark of Genesis? That remains to be seen.

“When Lexus made its debut and changed the industry, it brought Japanese reliability to the market segment while matching the luxury of the Germans at a discounted price,” technical director Frank Markus said. “I’m not sure what the new trump card is for Genesis here. I presume it is just lower price.”

Said executive editor Mark Rechtin: “There is nothing exceptional or advancing of the segment about this car. It’s merely good enough. But to be a new luxury entry, you have to change the game, change the dynamic, and the Genesis does not do that. ”

Although the Genesis G90 may be a paradigm of refinement and execution, it doesn’t have enough of that new, special “something” luxury buyers typically desire. It doesn’t make us think of the segment differently, but it is another option in an increasingly crowded space.