A Victory & Reseda review of the 2020 Genesis G90
The word "flagship" appears a lot on this website. It is a term of endearment, respect, honor, and reverence. This term is applied to the vehicle that is considered the ultimate above all offerings of a certain brand.
In a classical sense, I view a flagship as their largest, most expensive, and opulent of the marque. Usually, that means a four-door sedan that is often called a limousine in other parts of the world. Examples of these cars are quite well-known, such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Bentley Mulsanne, Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, Maserati Quattroporte, and, even, the Lexus LS.
These days, a flagship can now be described as a SUV. True, some SUVs cost more than their sedan or coupe counterparts. Some of these SUVs are designed to pull out all of the stops to define the brand’s ambitions to the universe.
Though I often question why Cadillac, Lincoln, and Infiniti would have to stuff everything that speaks to their heritage and status with their largest SUVs. I also question why Mercedes-Benz have to emphasize their G-Class as their ultimate offering, when the S-Class stood on that plinth for decades.
Let me make this simple: I defer to the definition of a flagship as their grandest sedan, coupe, or convertible. One that inspires dreams and fantasies. One that drive ambitions. One that speaks to your place in life and work. One that might require a driver to take you to fulfill your schedule of being important.
It is still refreshing that Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis, continues to produce a vehicle that instills these tenets of flagship-dom in a vehicle that is affordable to an up-and-coming executive or entrepreneur.
The Genesis G90 is not a new product in the luxury car marketplace. This flagship arrived a few years ago as the successor to the lovely Hyundai Equus. The pre-facelifted G90 took then-current Genesis design tenets from the G80 while changing the rear third quarter to a more formal roofline and equally elegant rear end.
For 2020, Genesis went forward with a mid-cycle refresh for the G90 sedan by establishing a new design language. They call it "G-Matrix." The design starts with a large diamond-shape "shield" grille flanked by split headlamp units. The three layers of horizontal lighting establish a signature that is seen on the side vents and the rear taillights. Some say that this is influenced by Bentley’s current design language, but I can see the differences between the two marques.
As the first Genesis model to showcase this new design language, the G90 makes a very bold statement to its rivals. That statement has been received. The G90’s bold new design elements truly work to push the flagship sedan further apart from its competitors.
Overall, I believe that it does that. The bold statement translates into a car that can be seen in the most notable places. It can be the perfect ride to the airport or the finest restaurants – even if you’re just picking up your meal.
My tester had a set of 19-inch alloy wheels that could be mistaken as ones found on a concept car. The bold mixture of small ventilation slots and solid finishes actually tops off the G90’s overall look.
One feedback I received from a lot of people have been the confusion of whether the G90 is a Lincoln or a Genesis. If you have never seen a Genesis before in the flesh, it is easy to mistake this as a Lincoln. I can assure you that the G90 is truly far more superior than the current Continental is various ways.
One of those ways is the interior. The space is vast and very straightforward – unlike the current Lincoln Continental. It is also very Hyundai…rather, Genesis. To me, that is quite good in my book. Hyundai interiors are uncomplicated and easy to use. Genesis adds some special touches to raise the luxury threshold with supple leathers, satin chrome, and wood trim.
The instrument binnacle is a mix of analog and digital. In-between the two larger dials is a wide information screen offering every bit of information you need. Off to the side is a 12.3-inch wide infotainment screen that can be controlled directly by touch or remotely by a knob with a set of buttons on the console or from the steering wheel. Climate control information is displayed on one of three widgets on the home screen in an excellent graphic. The shift-by-wire transmission controller dominates the business side of the center console along with a series of buttons for various vehicle functions, including selecting the drive mode.
Everything you touch has a supreme feel to it. Every switch, control, texture…it is what you want from a luxury automobile. Even if it is from its corporate brother, they elevated the control and gave it higher powers.
Seating is for five adults. The front seats are slathered with soft leather upholstery in a saddle-like color. I get deep bolstering and support up front, along with appropriate power adjustments and memory controls. You can adjust the seat bolsters for more or less support. Rear seat room is limousine-like. The leg room is extraordinary. You can leave the rear armrest down for the controls to the audio and climate controls. Or, you can raise the armrest up for a middle passenger.
Pop open the trunk and you get 15.7 cubic feet of space for your luggage or your day’s shopping along any Main Street store that is still open. I’m sure a couple of golf clubs will go inside the trunk, as well. Longer items can be slid through with a pass-through slot behind the rear center armrest.
One thing I was curious about. I questioned why the cover for the moonroof was a manual slide one instead of a powered one. Ease of use, perhaps. However, if I am looking at a flagship sedan, I want things to be taken to the next level – including moonroof cover operation. Needless to say, I don’t mind it at all. I’d rather have this than the corporate-parts-bin power system seen on panoramic roof models which is somewhat complicated to use.
The G90 offers two engines for its lineup. My Premium tester came with the highly successful 365-horsepower 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6. It is as smooth as V8 and responds with lots of poise from your right foot. It also helps to have an equally smooth 8-speed automatic transmission connected to its all-wheel-drive system.
All of this smoothness translates into effortless performance and decent fuel economy. I observed an average of 22.1 MPG in my care.
Driving the G90 meets the expectations of a flagship. It’s not too firm, not too soft. Just the right amount of dampening in all drive modes to assure a supple and confident ride for all occupants. The G90 also corners very well. You can enhance the cornering feel by switching to Sport mode, which will flatten the car through the turns.
The steering system is what you expect from a luxury car, however. The turns are a bit vague and the system felt a bit overboosted. Then again, it is an electric system. On-center feel is on the soft side but can be corrected by putting the G90 in Sport mode and turning on the Lane Keep Assist. Brakes are good with a solid pedal feel and response to the wheels. Stopping power is also good in both normal and panic situations.
Pricing for the 2020 Genesis G90 starts at $72,200. To put this in perspective, a 2020 Lexus LS 500 is just over $3,000 more, a 2020 Jaguar XJ is just less than $4,000 more, and the three German flagships start at $85,000 and up. My 3.3T Premium tester with all-wheel-drive came with a sticker price of $75,695.
If you must have the available 420-horsepower 5.0-liter Tau V8 – one of the smoothest engines I have ever driven in the modern era – then you must upgrade to the Ultimate model. Pricing starts at $75,700 and can be stickered as much as $79,225 with all-wheel-drive.
For under $80,000 you can get a flagship – complete with luxury, performance, technology, and a huge smile on my face. Through the Genesis brand, Hyundai cracked the code on creating such a vehicle for the upwardly mobile and those who already achieved that level of success in life. This mid-cycle G90 is proof that you can add a new design language on top of a package that sets it apart from the crowd – even if you want to look like the crowd you aspire to become.
If I set aside all of the obvious points made in this review, the 2020 Genesis G90 is a special sedan worth driving. This sedan exuded quality, prestige, and all of the trappings of success – exactly the kind of flagship I would enjoy driving every day.
The G90 also ushers in the future of Genesis. After my turn in this sedan, I am now more excited to welcome the next vehicle offerings from this brand.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Hyundai Motor America
All photos by Randy Stern