Even though the 2017 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate is a totally new vehicle- and Genesis is now a stand-alone brand, parent company Hyundai has had a few years to get it right. As far as luxury goes, the South Korean company introduced the Equus, in 1999. We didn’t see it until its second-generation sibling appeared in North America, which was an okay first effort for these shores. Still, it suffered from some cost-cutting measures that rendered that horse a little lame from the start.
What a difference a name change and a total re-imaging of Hyundai’s prestige brand can accomplish. We are just thankful they have re-imagined their current ad campaign (“Respect is the ultimate Luxury.” Huh?) Hop in as we test the new 2017 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate.
Choices: You get two.
Available in two trim levels, the 3.3T Premium, and as our tester, the 5.0 V8 Ultimate, the G90 is the large flagship of the Genesis premium line. A five-passenger unibody design, it is adaptable for family or executive transportation duties nearly anywhere in the world.
Our tester received motivation from a 5.0-liter V8 direct-injection engine making 420-horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to an eight-speed electronic automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shift mode using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.
This sled rides on a Nürburgring-developed multilink front and rear suspension with Genesis Adaptive Damper Control, allowing the driver to adjust ride characteristics according to road conditions and driver’s mood. They can be set for Eco, Smart, Sport and Individual drive modes that set specific calibrations for throttle and road conditions.
Both 3.3T and 5.0 versions are available with optional all-wheel-drive.
While not exactly following the design ethos of its Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-series or Lexus LS competition to the “T,” the G90 is still as large and imposing. Accented with just the right amount of chrome brightwork, the exterior of the new G90 also features the trademarked Genesis grille as seen through most of the lineup. Expressive LEDs illuminate the G’s path and include self-leveling and steerable lighting to brighten up the darkest corners of the night.
The swept-back roofline finishes with a short rear overhang that is elegant and functional at the same time. The rear fascia includes a pair of chromed finishing pipes that exit just under the rear bumper.
The part where driver and passengers interact shows that Hyundai / Genesis have been paying close attention to the cabins of their competition. Well-made, the G90 interior breaks no new ground but, with a few exceptions, does offer all the features you would expect from highline rides costing thousands more.
Workmanship in the car is beautiful, and a huge improvement in quality over the Equus. Gone is the polished leather feel found in that dearly departed, replaced with a higher-quality, more heavily-gauged Nappa hide that actually feels like it belongs here. The buttons are all over the place–lots of them. But their arrangement is much better sorted than the outgoing model. Still there is room for improvement.
Seating in the G90 is found at the intersection of elegant and comfortable. A 14-way driver’s seat offers a multitude of adjustments including bolsters that widen or narrow as needed. Heating and ventilation occur in the outboard seats, which also include reclining front and rear seatbacks. We were only wishing they included a massage function.
On the dashboard sits an analog clock that is a nice touch, but we think it is definitely in need of a specialty watchmaker brand, to boost the caché of this car. IWC, Bulova, and other brands could be leveraged in this spot.
While a factory rear seat DVD system does not currently exist, we were thoroughly entertained by the Lexicon 900-watt audio system with Clari-fi technology, which helped to restore sound quality lost in digital audio tracks. It goes a long way to enhance the musical quality coming from the 17-speaker 7.1 Surround-Sound system.
The Genesis G90 is loaded with all the safety features typically found in this class of vehicle including a forward collision warning system with automatic braking, driver drowsiness sensing, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic sensing, full front, rear and side air curtain airbags, and of course, lane departure warning and prevention.
Behind the wheel
Intensely quiet, the Genesis G90 sits alongside such segment luminaries as the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi’s A8, Lexus’s LS460, and even the Cadillac CT6. Except for the engine raising its voice under pressure, it manages to proceed with little more than a purr from the pavement. Credit to the ContiProContact tires and the gobs of underbody insulation to keep the road noise at bay.
Power from the 5.0-liter V8 is immense. While not absolutely necessary for most people, it will still be the choice for those who equate luxury with power. Steering from the motor-assisted power steering system offered a competent feel that is perfectly at home in a luxo-barge like this Genesis. If the standard Smart setting is not to your liking, a quick flick of the switch will place you in either Eco, Sport or customizable Individual settings, that while not appreciably firming up the suspension to any major degree, still offer a slight throttle and suspension remap. Either way, it results in a satisfying ride quality.
Despite the fact the Genesis G90 will feel to some as the next-generation Equus, it is all new from the ground up. While the G90 may not attract the conquest buyer the brand is hoping for, it is priced right. Going for the fences, this Genesis hits solidly. While it may not be a grand slam, this one is out of the park.
2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate
Story and photos by Mark Elias
MSRP: $69,700. Price as tested: $70,650.
Includes: $950 Destination fee.
Power: 420 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 383 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Fuel System: Direct Injection
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Drive Type 4WD
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic with Shiftronic
Tire Size: 245/45R19F front — 275/40/R19 rear
Unladen Weight: 4,905-pounds
Cargo Volume: 15.7 cubic feet