If you’re looking for a large luxury sedan that provides most of the amenities offered by better-known German sedans but at a significant discount, then the 2020 Genesis G90 is worth a closer look. As luxury cars go, the G90 represents a simpler approach to opulence without sacrificing the character that a proper luxury sedan is due. It is amply quiet and comfortable without including some of the more costly (and often unnecessary or less functional) features found on German and Japanese competitors.
Haven’t heard of Genesis? You’re not alone. The brand is a luxury spin-off of the Hyundai/Kia conglomerate and offered its first models for sale only three years ago. What you’ll get with a G90 is a comfortable ride thanks to adjustable dampers and, according to Genesis, the quietest car in the segment.
The 2020 Genesis G90 starts at $73,195, which is about 30% less than a 2020 Mercedes S-Class, yet it offers similar power (when comparing base trims) and is, in many ways, equally luxurious.
What’s New for 2020?
The most obvious changes to the new G90 are its restyled nose and tail, though Genesis tells us that the only panels that remain the same are the roof and doors. A new set of optional 19-in wheels are offered in a design that matches the G90’s restyled grid-pattern grille. The G90’s suite of safety-centered driver aids is enhanced with nine new or updated features. And, crucially, Genesis recognizes the merit of smoothness and quietness in its luxury flagship and bolstered those traits this year with additional sound insulation, revised seals, sound-deadening modifications to the transmission housing and new rear differential mounts. See the 2020 Genesis G90 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Low starting price
- Competitive luxury content
- Silent on the road
- Simple primary and secondary controls
- Abundant and effective safety features
What We Don’t
- V8 engine lacks the power of the class leaders
- A value play in the luxury segment might not matter
The large luxury sedan segment is not sensitive to fuel economy, so the G90 isn’t exactly a fuel sipper. Still, its smaller base engine delivers an Environmental Protection Agency estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in combined driving, whether configured with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The optional V8 isn’t as good; however, rear-drive V8 models are EPA rated at 16 mpg mpg city/24 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined, and AWD V8 G90s earn 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
Genesis keeps the G90’s configurations simple. Two engines are offered in the form of two different trims: Prestige and Ultimate. AWD is a $2,500 option on either trim. Both trims come loaded, but the Ultimate offers several additional rear-seat amenities.
The Premium ($73,195) comes standard with a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 that produces 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission is offered exclusively. Even this base trim G90 comes with nearly every luxury amenity expected in the segment. Highlights include a 12.3-in infotainment screen, navigation, 22-way power-adjustable driver seat and 16-way power adjustable front passenger seat, heated and ventilated leather front seats, heated leather rear seats and full LED headlights. A 17-speaker audio system, wireless device charging, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
The Ultimate ($76,695) comes standard with a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 good for 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The V8 is attached to the same 8-speed automatic used in the Premium trim. In addition to the features found in the Premium trim, the Ultimate adds a rear-seat entertainment system with two 10.3-in screens, ventilated rear seats, power adjustable rear seats and headrests with memory settings.
The sedan includes a suite of active driver aids that are its headlining safety equipment, but it doesn’t forgo the fundamentals, either. There are 10 airbags, including a passenger-knee airbag. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are federally mandated on every 2020 model-year vehicle. The big sedan also includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision avoidance via automated braking, blind spot monitoring, a surround-view monitor, driver-attention warning and ultrasonic parking sensors with an audio alert.
The government has not rated the new G90, but the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2019 G90 (essentially the same car, remember) as a Top Safety Pick Plus in all relevant crash and crash-prevention categories.
Behind the Wheel
Don’t let the G90’s relatively low cost of entry fool you into thinking that it lacks the crucial elements of a luxury car, because it does not. Its silent cabin and smooth (yet adjustable) ride are part and parcel with expectations in the luxury sedan segment. Genesis tested the G90’s interior noise levels against the best in the business and tells us that it is class-leading in this regard. And though it lacks the sophisticated chassis systems of some of its competitors (air springs, active anti-roll bars), it gives up nothing in ride comfort, even on the optional 19-in wheels.
Four drive modes allow the driver to fine tune the experience to his or her desires, and each is different enough from the others that the experience changes substantially. A custom mode even allows the driver to pick favorites among the systems controlled, such as steering weight, throttle response, damper setting, etc. And Genesis doesn’t distract itself with unnecessary changes like so many players in the segment. Instead, its shifter remains simple, functional and intuitive.
But it’s the G90’s rear seats that really shine. They’re big enough to offer leg room on par with others in the class and rear-seat passengers can control the infotainment and rear ventilation systems. There’s enough legroom for adults to sit behind adults, and if you’re installing child seats, the LATCH fasteners are reasonably easy to access. Genesis also makes five different leather finishes and four wood trims available in the G90.
Our experience with the Genesis’s revised flagship was good. On one occasion, the 8-speed automatic slurred a downshift during engine braking, creating an ever-so-slight unevenness in the deceleration, but that’s the only gripe we have about its driving character. It’s no sports car, and it shouldn’t be driven like one. But for a big fella, it’s respectable on back roads.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class — As the gold standard of luxury sedans, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is typically considered the most advanced car in the world — a title it lives up to with class-leading tech and a price tag to go with it. It is, however, a fantastic car to drive and ride in, offering a large, silent cabin, multiple powertrain options and even coupe and convertible variants.
2020 BMW 7 Series — At slightly less cost than the S-Class (though still substantially more than the G90), BMW‘s 7 Series sedan offers a typically German onslaught of tech, as well as inline 6-cylinder, V8 and V12-powered models. There’s also a hybrid 7-series. The 7 Series gets a mid-cycle refresh for 2020, which endows it with new tech, safety features and styling.
2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — If you’re willing to step down a class to the less costly and smaller Mercedes-Benz E-Class, you’ll get a brilliant luxury car with multiple powertrain options, impeccable road manners and near-equal amenities for a starting price lower than that of the G90.
Audi A8 — Audi‘s executive sedan, the A8, was all new for 2019, including new electrically assisted V6 and V8 engines and a new chassis with the ability to electrically raise and lower itself, control body roll and compensate for bumps. In other markets, the A8 offers mild self-driving (in-traffic) capabilities.
Because they’re quiet and powerful, we love both of the G90’s engines. However, the twin-turbocharged V6 in the Premium trim is the smarter buy. Costing thousands less than the V8, the V6 delivers nearly identical torque 3,700 RPMs earlier in the powerband. And since this isn’t a sports car that will be revving to redline every time it’s driven, it makes sense to have abundant, usable torque down low. That’s what the V6 provides. Plus, you give up very little equipment going with the Prestige trim that only the most finicky back-seat passengers will notice. Find a Genesis G90 for sale