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The Genesis G90:


ELK MEADOW, Texas – Finally beyond the traffic labyrinth that has turned I-30 into the world’s longest 18-wheeler parking lot, I felt the anxiety begin to ease as I savored, as if from a honeysuckle tip, a drop of comfort from the tall pines and rolling green hills of East Texas.

I had a taste for a little more, so I told the 2023 Genesis G90 to manage the steering and braking while I flipped on the Mood Curator, which asked if I sought delight, vitality, care, or comfort. I chose the latter.

The car immediately raised shades around the executive-level back seats, turned on back massagers in all occupied seats, set the interior lighting to a comforting shade of blue, piped a reassuring symphony through the 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen® 3D surround sound system and released a fragrance that was, well, comforting.

As often occurs, a stray thought wafted across my mind.

“You’ve just finished a romantic three days with Blonde Bride on a secluded lake and now you’re driving this refined and powerful car to do one of your favorite things, cover a high school baseball game,” it began. “If you are not happy at this moment in time, what might it take?”

I took a deep breath and held it. As I released it, I smiled.

“I am, indeed, happy,” I assured my busy mind.

By my reckoning, over the past 27 years, I’ve analyzed and evaluated some 2,214 vehicles at give or take 1,000 words apiece. That means I’ve crafted some 2.2 million words into decipherable utterances about automobiles, and none of them contained the word “love.”

Until now.

I love the Genesis G90.

New kid in town

It is hard to believe that Genesis, the luxury arm of Hyundai, has only been in business for six years. The company offers eight models: Three sedans, three SUVs, and electrified versions of the midsize sedan and SUV. Genesis has quickly eclipsed all the American manufacturers in quality and value and competes in the rarified air of Europe and Japan’s best.

MotorTrend’s 2023 Car of the Year, the G90 has amassed universally positive reviews across the spectrum of auto critics, few as knowledgeable as MotorTrend Group Head of Editorial, Ed Loh.

“Although Genesis is a relative newcomer to the luxury segment, the brand has been making waves with its combination of high style, sophisticated technology, and thoughtful, comprehensive approach,” Loh said in announcing the award. “The flagship Genesis G90 is luxury distilled, everything you see, touch, and experience has been carefully considered and executed with the greatest of care.”

Consumer Reports editors saw it the same way. 

“Few cars feel so polished and refined as the G90, with added details that give this new Genesis just as much presence as long-established models from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Lexus,” they wrote.

Worth the money

Starting at $88,400 for a base model and climbing to just below $100,000 for an electronically supercharged model, the G90 is generally less expensive, better equipped, and sometimes flat-out better than its chief rivals, the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

To be sure, what we are talking about here is a dying breed. The market for large luxury cars is becoming smaller and more specialized. There is some call for executive transporters, but high-income people who drive themselves are gravitating toward EVs and luxury SUVs.

Those of us who learned to drive in powerful muscle cars that were behemoths by today’s standards still appreciate a large car. Our family’s Pontiac Bonneville, for example, had a wheelbase of 124 inches and an overall length of 223.4 inches. A 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe, by comparison, has a wheelbase of 120.9 inches and is 211 inches from headlight to taillight, a foot shorter.

I am not saying the G90 is the best large car I’ve ever driven. That would be the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS, but that one starts at $30,000 more and skyrockets, depending on how many goodies a buyer selects from Mercedes’ ponderous options menu. 

I would apply the same argument to the BMW 7-series, a beautifully executed and certainly more athletic car. Kelley Blue Book did a comprehensive comparison of the two and chose the Genesis because it rode better, cost $11,000 less, and came with a superior warranty (5 years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper for the G90 vs. BMW’s 4 years/50,000 miles. The Genesis also comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty vs. 4 years/50,000 miles on the Beamer).

I love Audis, but for the same money the G90 is more powerful, better equipped, quieter, and more luxurious.

A Lexus LS is somewhat cheaper than a G90, but the emphasis on that sentence belongs on the adjective, cheaper. In all phases – powertrain development, ride, handling, cabin comfort and materials, digital integration and user interface – the G90 makes the Lexus seem as appealing as a dirty ring around a bathtub. Lexus is behind the times, and Genesis demonstrates exactly why.

“They’re putting the pants on them,” is how we say it in Northeast Texas.

The G90 was designed with a progressive approach to technology and style. It is outfitted with some of the most cutting-edge automotive technology available. This includes features such as:

  • Safe Exit Assist does two things. (1) It warns the driver if an approaching vehicle is detected alongside an opening door. (2) A radar sensor in the headliner scans for rear seat movement after one exits and locks the car. We tried this with a person sitting as still as possible; still, it picked up breathing motions. If movement by a child or pet is detected, the car sounds the horn, flashes its lights, and sends an alert to the driver’s phone.
  • Multi-chamber air suspension which uses multiple airbags instead of coil springs to dampen and control height. Computer-controlled and continuously monitored, the system produces world-class ride and handling characteristics.
  • Highway driving assist. Not an autonomous system, Genesis’s technology takes a lot of stress out of driving by keeping the car centered in its lane and a safe distance behind the car ahead. When asked, it can safely change lanes and keep the car at the right speed using GPS and highway data.
  • Rear steering, which helps with stability and steering response on the highway and, at parking-lot speeds, can reduce the turning radius by about half. I got to test that in Hot Springs, where, after failing to heed Blue-eyed Beauty’s words of wisdom, was forced to flip a U-ee.
  • Best-in-class seating comfort. One does not sit on the G90’s seats but in them. Padding and support make a road trip as comfortable as an afternoon at home in my favorite recliner. Heated and ventilated rear seats seem like they belong on an executive jet.

I have yet to mention the exquisite materials and design touches throughout the cabin. I was happy to note that the Napa leather readily relinquished the droplet or eight of blood I spilled in the wake of an encounter with a mountain.

“Don’t fall” were Beautiful Blonde’s final words of wisdom as I abandoned her in our lake retreat for a sunrise hike.


No love perfect

One knock I have on the G90 is the company’s decision to be conservative in styling. I get it that some high-income owners might prefer to eschew flamboyance, but it seems a car this special should hold out a candle for all to see.

On the other hand, imperfection is a mark of all true love. It still blows my mind how much Beautiful Bride tolerates, has tolerated, and apparently will continue to tolerate.

Barely tolerable in the Genesis G90, however, is the fuel economy. In an age when more than a handful of luxury vehicles are capable of 35-40 mpg, the base G90 gets a combined 21 mpg, 18 city, 26 highway. To be sure, it is a sweet and slick powerplant, cranking out 375 hp and 391 lb.-ft of torque. 

Our supercharged tester was even more powerful with 409 hp and 420 lb.-ft of torque, the force you feel when a vehicle accelerates. Unlike belt-drive superchargers, which draw power from the engine, electric ones have no parasitic power loss and respond instantaneously (which our tester certainly did), but that cuts a mile off the EPA-estimated combined mileage.

We did not achieve that, averaging about 18 mpg in two weeks of rather extensive driving. 

Still, they were amazing weeks to love. And to be in love.

In four decades of journalism, Bill Owney has picked up awards for his coverage of everything from murders to the NFL to state and local government. He added the automotive world to his portfolio in the mid '90s.

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