It’s not hugely difficult to create a brand new luxury brand from scratch, but to create one as an off-shoot of an existing mass-market brand can be quite a challenge. To be fair, it doesn’t happen a great deal in most areas of commerce, but it’s increasingly common in the auto industry. Toyota has Lexus, Nissan has Infiniti, Honda has Acura, and now Hyundai has Genesis.
The 2019 Genesis G90 is the fledgling luxury brand’s flagship model. Taken in isolation, it’s every inch a top-level full-size luxury sedan that can stand with some of the best on the market. Its one big problem is always going to be convincing buyers to pay such a considerable amount of money for something without the kudos of a BMW, Mercedes, or Cadillac badge on the front. So let’s see how Genesis is doing so far with the G90.
If you stand at the side of the new G90 and take a good look at it, nothing about its styling really leaps out at you. The roofline isn’t as sloping and sporty as some of its rivals, and the rest of the silhouette is a fairly standard long-wheelbase sedan fare. At the front, things get a little more interesting though, with relatively squinting headlights and a large, gaping grille that is very on-trend.
The rear looks as though it’s missing a Mercedes-Benz badge, which means it isn’t a particularly original look, but it does give you an idea of where this car takes much of its inspiration. And if you’re going to produce a luxury car and you’re using Mercedes as your inspiration, that’s definitely a pretty good place to start. The G90 has plenty of its own presence though, and it’s impossible to mistake it for anything other than a luxury model.
One of the many good things the G90 and its manufacturer is how straightforward they are. There are just two trim levels, and each one is characterized by its own powertrain. The first of the two models is the G90 3.3T Premium, which comes equipped with a 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6 engine, producing 365 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque. The power is sent in standard form to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, although all-wheel drive is available as an option. As you might expect from an engine like that, the V-6 is smooth, powerful, quick, and quiet. It’s not too bad on gas either.
If a V-8 is more to your taste, Genesis is happy to oblige with a 5.0-liter V-8 in the G90 5.0 Ultimate. This time you get 420 hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque, which is once again sent to the rear or all four wheels through that eight-speed automatic. The V-8 is every bit as good as the V-6 turbo, but unless you’re absolutely adamant on having that V-8 sound, the larger engine probably isn’t a big enough upgrade in power and performance to think too hard about paying the extra money. Don’t get the wrong idea; the V-8 is an excellent engine, but the V-6 is so good and so close to the V-8 that most buyers will be happy with it.
Because the Genesis G90 doesn’t have one of the big-name luxury badges and a price ticket to go with it, you could be forgiven for expecting the interior to be less impressive than an equivalent BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac, or Lexus. The good news is that you’d be very wrong. The interior of the G90 isn’t some sort of luxury sedan tribute act, it’s actually a cabin that sets standards that the more established brands need to live up to.
The comfort, luxury, and quality of fit and materials aren’t perfect, but they’re incredibly close and much nearer to perfection than anyone has the right to expect for the price. The front and rear seats are beautifully designed and incredibly comfortable, and the front are both heated and cooled (in both models). The driver’s seat has 22 different adjustments, and the front passenger seat can be adjusted in 16 ways.
There’s all the practical storage throughout the cabin you’d expect from a car with Hyundai origins, and while the rear seats are likely to be used for just two people the vast majority of the time, it’s not a problem if you need to seat three back there.
As is only right for a car of this stature, soft Nappa leather is the standard upholstery, and the rest of the cabin is beautifully dressed in tasteful combinations of stainless steel, synthetic suede, and real wood. If you’re looking for upscale, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the interior of the 2019 Genesis G90.
Features and Equipment
There might be a few complaints that there isn’t a list of expensive upgrade options available on the G90, beyond its standard specs (apart from all-wheel-drive, of course). But the reason for that is the G90 in Premium or Ultimate trims simply don’t need any upgrading, as its already better equipped than just about any vehicle you can imagine for the price.
Standard features include Nappa leather upholstery, a 22-way adjustable driver’s seat, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a premium audio system, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, navigation, power door closers, an incredible warranty, tons of active safety features, and tri-zone climate control.
Not only is the list of included features impressive because of how many things standard, but everything works exactly as it should. Even the satellite navigation and infotainments systems are extremely intuitive and user-friendly — something that can’t be said for every vehicle on the road these days.
Truthfully, the G90 does lack a few of the more advanced driver-assistance features some of its rivals boast. However, every model still gets automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and a driver attention monitor, in addition to all the usual safety kit. Add into the mix a full five-star rating for overall safety from the NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ status from the IIHS, and it’s hard to fault the safety credentials of the G90.
- Fabulous ride
- Packed with standard features
- Lots of power
- Incredible value for money
- Conservative styling
- Lacks a hybrid option
- No options for customization
The Last Word
Generally speaking, there are three things that tend to drive your buying decision when it comes to a new vehicle. Most of us listen to our head, our heart, and our wallet. While your heart may still yearn for that Mercedes three-pointed star or the blue and white propeller logo of BMW on the front of your new luxury sedan, if your head and wallet get an equal say, then the 2019 Genesis G90 is going to be the clear winner.