2020 Genesis G90 Review

2020 Genesis G90 - Flagship luxury without the pretense and, almost, without the price.


The G90 is Genesis' largest passenger car and its technological flagship, at least until a GV80 crossover arrives later this year. Tracing its roots back to the Hyundai Equus, the G90 is a full-size, rear- or all-wheel drive luxury sedan. Competitors include the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS, Maserati Ghibli, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Volvo S90. It is mechanically similar to the Kia K900.

The G90 is offered in a single wheelbase with seating for 5 passengers. Changes for 2020 include new front and rear styling, additional safety features, upgraded infotainment system and new interior materials including open-pore wood-grain trim. The model lineup includes the $72,950 3.3T and the $76,700 5.0. Both are available with rear- or all-wheel drive, which adds $2,500 to the base price.

3.3T models come with a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 that makes 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. 5.0 models get a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 that makes 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. Both engines mate to an 8-speed automatic transmission.  

Standard safety features include forward and reverse collision warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, drowsy driver monitoring system, and safe exit monitor for passengers. Also standard are soft-close doors, adaptive suspension, power rear and side sunshades, tri-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, head-up display, wireless charging pad, and standard Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration. The Ultimate package adds a rear-seat entertainment package with dual 10.3-inch displays, 14-way power right rear seat and 12-way power left rear seat, ventilated rear seats, rear-seat memory system, fold-down center console with audio and climate controls and illuminated rear-seat vanity mirrors.

Interestingly enough there's not a substantial difference in performance between the twin-turbo V6 and NA V8. Both engines provide ample thrust to get the 4,700-pound luxury sedan underway. Most enthusiast magazines peg the 0 to 60 MPH time at about 5 seconds. In addition, both engines provide plenty of passing punch and sound great while doing it. However, the V8 seems more relaxed around town and when cruising on the highway. With either engine, the 8-speed automatic shifts smoothly and responds quickly in passing situations.

As you'd expect, the G90's all-wheel-drive system doesn't have a low range and Genesis isn't expecting buyers to take this flagship off road. That said, spending the extra $2,500 is probably well worth it considering Chicago's long winters. Either way, buyers would benefit most by fitting a set of snow tires once the temperature consistently drop below 40 degrees.

EPA numbers for the V6 are 17/25 MPH regardless of drive wheels; the rear-drive V8 is rated at 16/24 MPG and the all-wheel drive V8 at 15/23 MPG. Both engines require premium-grade fuel. Those numbers trail most in the class by a MPG or two. In typical suburban commuting expect to average about 20 MPG overall, perhaps as high as 25 MPG if you throw in a lot of gentle highway driving.

Dynamically, the G90 is not nearly as athletic as the Audi or BMW flagships; It is more on par with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Lexus LS. That means it favors ride quality and control over ultimate cornering limits. Of course, it's a fine line though, as the G90's adaptive suspension firms up enough to provide better grip than you might expect. Still, G90 is a large and heavy sedan, so you'll want to avoid sudden maneuvers where weight and inertia just can't be overcome. But driven with a deft balance between throttle and steering inputs, the G90 can reward the inner race-car driver.

On the flip side, the suspension provides a smooth and comfortable ride over even the roughest terrain. The suspension simply smothers road imperfections and the shocks control secondary motions. Combine that with a long 124.4-inch wheelbase and you have the perfect recipe for limousine-like comfort. Brakes have strong stopping power in repeated hard stops and the steering, though a bit vague on center, is quick enough in parking lots and has a nice heft.

Interior noise levels are admirably low. There's nary a hint of wind or tire noise at highway speeds and the engines only gets vocal with deep stabs into the throttle.

Step inside the G90 and you are instantly transported back in time to a period when exquisitely finished natural materials dominated interior design -- thanks in part to the 2020 refresh. open-pore wood, real metals and nappa leather sweep over nearly every surface. This is in stark contract to some of the more modern and minimalist interior designs in some other flagships. Even the large infotainment screen is tastefully nestled in a leather-wrapped surround.

Drivers face large analog gauges for engine and vehicle speed with a large programmable information display between the two. This is in stark contrast to most competitors that offer all-digital IP displays. At the top of the center stack is a 12.3-inch infotainment screen that's controlled by a jog dial located on the center console. There are traditional buttons and knobs for most radio and climate controls. Overall, the effect is fairly simplistic and intuitive. Again, this is in contrast to competitors that offer more austere, and often button-less, interior designs that rely heavily on infotainment system input or voice commands.

The font seats are extremely comfortable and offer a multitude of adjustments. As expected, they are heated and ventilated. In typical flagship fashion, the rear seat is the place to be. Not only do the seats offer heating and ventilation, but they have multi-way power adjustments and a command center designed to offer complete operation of the audio, infotainment and climate control. The G90 embarrasses other flagships by offering things like a head-up display, power operated sunshades and wireless charging dock as standard equipment. Front and rear, head and leg room are exceptional. Thinnish roof pillars and a tall greenhouse provide great outward virility and large doors provide easy access. It is also worth noting that the doors have a soft-close feature that snugs the doors closed when appropriate.

From a technology standpoint, it's clear that the infotainment system in the G90 is designed to be easy to use. Where some competitors offer the ability to customize just about any vehicle setting, the G90's system offers basic and simple menus that are designed to highlight features that occupants might most want to change. Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration are standard. The 17-speaker Lexicon audio system provides amazing sound quality as well.

The capricious 16-cubic-foot trunk has ample space for suitcases. The rear seats don't fold (common in this class) but there is a pass through in the center seating position for stowing longer gear. Interior storage is modest with just a few open and covered bins. It's worth noting that the center console has a butterfly design that allows items to be accessed by front- and rear-seat passengers -- again a common feature in luxury vehicles.

Bottom Line -
Key improvements for 2020 give the G90 new life as the flagship of the nascent Genesis lineup. But the bones of the vehicle were solid in the first place and include robust powertrains, a smooth and comfortable ride and, dare I say, affordable pricing.  If you are looking for an extremely capable and comfortable luxury sedan and aren't pretentious, the G90 might be your best bet.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.