The 2017 Genesis G90 is a legitimate luxury car accessible to those with less-than-luxury incomes.
No relation to the Sega game console of the '90s, in the automotive world, the Genesis name previously existed as a model name for Hyundai, but the G90 bears no badging from its corporate parent. No, similar to Toyota's Lexus brand, Hyundai launched Genesis as an all-new luxury brand to stand on its own four wheels.
The G90 serves as the new brand's luxury flagship, and heralds a lineup encompassing sedans, sport coupes and SUVs due to come out over the next five years.
On a Canadian freeway, driving the G90 during a Genesis-sponsored event, I see one of the other invited journalists coming up from behind. The G90's big grille takes up most of the front end of the car, running up to the leading edge of the hood. The winged Genesis badge looks elegant sitting above it, but why am I simultaneously reminded of Audi and Aston Martin?
As the big sedan, over 17 feet long, goes by, I get a sense of its road presence, a long cab with wide sailplane C-pillars. The rear end looks a bit chunky.
In my own car, I'm pampered with a fine leather-covered, 22-way power adjustable driver seat with heating and cooling functions. Lucky rear seat passengers get over a yard of legroom. However, the lack of massage seat functions, and the small sunroof with a (gasp!) manually operated shade tarnish the shine on this cabin.
The G90's quiet and comfort soothe me as I go barreling down the road at whatever 65 mph is in kilometers per hour. Not only did Genesis use double-paned glass on the windows, the wheels themselves include acoustic chambers to cut down on road noise. I find no need to raise my voice in conversation with other passengers in the car.
An ample amount of sound deadening materials insulate me from the twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 engine leading the charge. The engine's 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque proves ample to move this 4,784-pound sedan. Better yet, the throttle programming, engine torque curve and eight-speed automatic transmission make for smooth, easy acceleration.
When I want to hear some engine noise, stomping on the G90's accelerator produces a clean, mechanical growl. Well, not entirely mechanical, as the car's audio system generates some of the sound.
For those who revere eight cylinders, Genesis makes a 5-liter V-8 available in the G90, and each engine can be had with rear- or all-wheel-drive.
Taking a turn on a surface street, the G90 shows off a little agility, enhanced by its electronically controlled dampers and all-wheel-drive system.
But with the majority of the drive time on the freeway, I make good use of the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. The G90 does a fine job of braking gradually to match the speed of slower traffic ahead, but the lane keeping feature is not particularly aggressive, more safety than convenience.
Rounding out the driver assist docket, the G90 also comes with a blind spot monitor, head-up display and a surround view camera that turns parking into a precision game. Impressively, all these driver assist features come standard, not as an expensive option package.
Also standard is a 12.3-inch LCD in the dashboard, showing off the Genesis infotainment system. It features the usual suite of navigation, digital audio and Bluetooth phone system, all controlled by a dial and buttons on the console. It works well, the graphics look nice, and a telematics system provides concierge destination look-up.
I'm more interested in the Free Text Search item on the G90's destination menu, allowing keyword input for addresses and points-of-interest in a single box. While this paradigm represents the future of destination search interfaces, Genesis doesn't let you use it while the G90 is underway.
The G90's 17-speaker Lexicon audio system satisfies the requirement that all luxury cars have high fidelity sound. While I didn't get a chance to really put this system through my musical gauntlet, the tracks that I do hear reveal solid and balanced frequency output.
Honestly, calling the 2017 Genesis G90 a great value in luxury is premature, as pricing has not yet been announced. However, Hyundai, Genesis' parent company, has made value a virtue for many years, so it is a reasonable supposition that the G90 will undercut competitors such as the Lexus LS 460.
And while the G90 delivers a quiet ride, a roomy cabin and satisfying power -- the meat and potatoes of luxury cars -- it isn't an overachiever. It falls short of the sheer mechanical brilliance of the latest BMW 7-series or the opulence of the Mercedes-Benz S-class. But especially for those just stepping up to the luxury market, the G90 will seem worlds apart from the typical sedan.