Test Drive: 2017 Genesis G90 5.0

This is not a Hyundai. This is a Genesis. A brand focused on a luxury ownership experience. When Genesis decided to become a standalone brand, they brought about some wholesale changes to the way they do business as well. They make a big deal out of Genesis at Home. You can book test drives and even the actual purchasing experience to take place at your home. And if you’ve taken that step, all maintenance is done via a Genesis representative picking up your vehicle for service and leaving a loaner vehicle with you.

First impressions matter, and anyone who talked to me about this car had only positive things to say about its exterior styling.

Genesis went back to the drawing board. While you can see some familiar lines, the G90’s shape has been refined and streamlined.

Parked or driving, this car gets a ton of attention – and for good reason. Genesis has knocked the design out of the park in my opinion. I was at an event for one of my daughters, and a gaggle of other waiting fathers gathered around the 2017 Genesis G90, and within a minute, every passenger seat was filled with an admirer and I was answering dozens of questions. First impressions matter, and anyone who talked to me about this car had only positive things to say about its exterior styling.

There’s nothing ground-breaking or shocking here – it’s a tasteful, modern, clean design that exudes class and luxury. The proportions are delightful – I loved the short front overhang and the long, dramatic doors that lead to the sculpted rear end. It’s a large automobile, but manages to contain its dimensions such that they don’t become ridiculous.

Genesis has refined the front end and incorporated their signature grille. It looks very good, but the front-facing radar for some of the car’s technology is integrated in the grille and becomes a highly visible block of grille squares. While it’s not a huge deal, I still found it somewhat distracting when looking at the front end. This trim gets full LED lighting, including headlights, driving and signal lights, and taillights that sport a fantastic waterfall signature.

The handsome 19-inch rims fill the wheel wells nicely, and are shod with staggered size rubber – 245/45s in the front and huge 275/40s in the rear.

The G90’s cabin styling is modern and clean. The lines flow smoothly across the dash and it feels very refined and well thought out.

The materials that Genesis selected for the G90 feel very high-end. Everything from one end of the car to the other looks and feels sumptuous. From the beautifully stitched leather-wrapped dash to the real wood grain (a gorgeous glossy walnut in my review car’s case) to the pillars and headliner upholstered in luxurious micro-suede to the trim that is real aluminum, not metallicized plastic – it feels like Genesis did not miss a beat. The seats are crafted from full-grain Nappa leather. They are very comfortable and even quite supportive should you want to pick up the pace with your G90 and get sporty. They are heated, cooled and insanely adjustable – there are even power adjustments to raise and lower your headrest and to adjust it forward and backward.

The huge 12.3-inch screen in the centre of the dash is crisp and bright. The centre stack is home to a few hard buttons for the system’s major functions but the rest of it is controlled using a rotary joystick knob. The system is generally intuitive and works pretty well. You handle everything from here – the navigation system, your phone, vehicle settings and the ludicrously-good Lexicon sound system. It is endowed with 17 speakers and 900 watts of amplification and is one of the best systems I’ve heard.

You’ll find a smartphone-sized drop-in bin on the console which features a wireless charging as well as USB and auxiliary plugs. Pop the armrest’s clamshell lid, and there’s a nice carpeted bin with two more 12V plugs.

All G90s come with a full suite of technology called Genesis Smart Sense as standard equipment. You get a 360-degree camera and parking sensors, customizable head-up display, pre-tensioner-equipped “Pre-Safety” seat belts, automatic high-beams, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention alert, blind-spot monitoring, active lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. All of it works well and none of it felt intrusive.

While none of this is new, I have to mention one of the stand-outs for one of these technologies. The 360-degree camera view is absolutely mind-blowing. It uses multi-megapixel cameras for the sharpest picture I’ve seen to date, and the software that stitches the pictures together is flawless. There are no blurry edges or distortions – it truly seems like there is a drone with a high-resolution camera floating above your car. This is my new standard.

Some of the details inside the G90 deserve special mentions. The interior lighting happens via stunning crystal-like LED light pods – not only do they look cool, they cast a cool white light over the interior. The steering wheel is heated. That’s not unusual, but there are actually two heating levels and that’s next-level. The analog clock in the dash has a beautiful machined-finish face – like you’d find on a fine timepiece that you’d wear on your wrist. Nice touch! Opening and closing the power windows is almost eerie – because they are close to being completely silent. We appreciated the puddle lamps with a Genesis logo projected on the ground next to the car.

With this much on offer, it’s hard to imagine anything missing. If you want to get nitpicky, I’d wish for massaging seats. Some high-end competitors have this feature, and it makes a difference on long road trips.

Rear passengers enjoy a ton of head room and a crazy amount of legroom (960 mm!). Yes, you can stretch out nicely in seats that are extremely comfortable. The two outboard seats are heated and cooled and each side has power seat adjustments (including lumbar support and the headrest!), memory settings, power window-shade switches and even overhead vanity mirrors with lighting. By the way, those rear passenger-side window sunshades can also be controlled from the driver’s seat, which made for some epic sunshade battles with my kids.

Your friends in the back can adjust their temperature, control the sound system and raise or lower the powered rear window sun shade. These and the aforementioned seat controls are all found on a very deluxe rear centre console, which also features charging ports via USB and 12V plugs.

This console can be flipped up to make a middle seating position – which is the one thing we didn’t like about the rear seats. With all that space and all that luxury, it is still designed for two passengers. So when it came to our third kid that drew the short straw and had to sit in the middle, we had an unhappy customer who had to straddle the huge drive shaft tunnel and sit on a narrow, hard middle seat. So the G90 is probably not a great solution when you’re regularly transporting more than three passengers. And we were more than a little surprised that Genesis did not include a standard household plug in the G90. This is becoming pretty commonplace and while USB ports do handle most of our charging needs these days, a luxurious rear cabin like the G90’s should have this feature. But I still can’t think of a better road trip vehicle for two rear passengers.

Opening the powered trunk lid exposes a large 444 L trunk with a pass-through in the middle for longer, skinnier items like skis or perhaps a mini Alpenhorn.

The long hood opens to reveal a 5.0L V8. This massive mill puts out 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. All that goodness makes its way through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four corners via Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive.

A large, heavy, all-wheel drive luxury sedan with a V8 isn’t built with fuel economy in mind, and Genesis’ ratings of 15.2 L/100 km in the city and 10.2/100 km on the highway make that clear. We averaged 13.2 L/100 km which wasn’t bad at all, considering I made no effort to conserve fuel during my week with the G90.

When it comes to the driving experience, I found it to be smooth, smooth, smooth. The V8’s power comes on immediately and however you drive it, there is no hesitation. It simply delivers an ample amount of power wherever you need it. I quite enjoyed the non-linear nature of the V8. There’s plenty of juice off the line, but the power feels as though it builds exponentially as the revs soar, and rapidly sweeping speedometer needle is accompanied by a rich, frenetic roar from the normally silent engine. It’s an addictive sound and feeling! The transmission is slick – you won’t feel the shifts during everyday driving, and it’s surprisingly quick when you use the paddle shifters.

The G90 features several drive modes – Smart (which constantly adjusts to your driving style), Sport, Eco (for saving fuel) and the fully customizable Individual mode. Sport mode is very transformative in the G90. It has a very sedate, laid-back attitude when driven normally. There is no feeling rushed, but no lag either – it’s very well-suited to this vehicle. But put it into Sport mode and the car suddenly has a sense of urgency. Responsiveness is immediate, the steering tightens, the suspension is more gathered and the transmission holds shifts much longer and shifts with more aggression. Yet all this sportiness never overwhelms the car’s serenity. It easily copes with the dual personalities and that is something I found highly impressive. Either mode suits the car, and either mode is highly satisfying.

Regardless of driving mode, the G90 is always a very comfortable car thanks to the adaptive variable suspension. The ride is creamy – I would say it’s bordering on flawless. There was nothing that our often-nasty Edmonton roads threw at this car that upset it in any way. Handling is quite good as well. A car this size with luxurious intentions will still have plenty of body roll when you start trying to carve corners, but that’s just fine. It still felt stable, secure and competent at all times. And the rear-biased HTRAC all-wheel drive system was always invisible – in a good way. I only drove it on dry roads and it provided outstanding grip when I tackled some freeway cloverleaf merges at higher speeds, but around town, you’d never know it was there. And I think that’s exactly how Genesis intended it. The car achieves what feels like a perfect balance between performance and refinement.

We found that it didn’t matter how we were driving, or on what kind of road – the G90 was definitely one of the quietest cars we have ever reviewed. The cabin is hushed, even at highway speeds. I loved rolling the windows down and feeling the top edge – yep, those are two-pane windows. Visibility out of the G90 is excellent in every direction.

In addition to the Genesis at Home experience I mentioned earlier, Genesis also backs up their vehicles with a pretty hefty five-year/100,000 km Genesis Experience that extends not only to the comprehensive limited warranty, but also to 24/7 roadside assistance, complimentary maintenance, courtesy vehicles, navigation map updates and valet service to your home.

The G90 already feels like a value proposition versus the competition. It’s a sophisticated vehicle in every sense. It looks stunning, it is loaded with nearly every luxury enhancement you can think of, it performs beautifully and it is stuffed to the brim with technology. Add in the Genesis Experience, and it really seems like Genesis is dead serious about making ownership of their vehicles a rewarding experience from start to finish.

The WAF (Wife Approval Factor) on the G90 was bipolar. She loved being a passenger in it and said it was definitely one of the nicest cars she has ever been in. But she didn’t like driving it, only because of the sheer size of the vehicle.

Genesis has crafted a truly outstanding vehicle in the G90. I found a surprising balance between impeccably-tailored luxury, inspired performance and refined styling and design. Genesis has waded into the deep, deep waters of the luxury sedan class with its eyes wide open, and they are here to compete with the best.

2017 Genesis G90 5.0
Engine Displacement: 5.0L
Engine Cylinders: V8
Peak Horsepower: 420 hp
Peak Torque: 383 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 15.2/10.2/13.0 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 444 L
2017 Genesis G90 5.0
Base Price $87,000
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee N/A
Price as Tested $87,100
Optional Equipment N/A
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 8.4
8 Styling
8 Powertrain
9 Quality
10 Comfort
8 Practicality
9 Drivability
8 Usability/Ergonomics
6 Fuel Economy
9 Features
9 Value