2017 Genesis G90 review: A big-body bargain
Not every buyer with money need flaunt their wealth. Sure, a well-heeled individual might outfit themselves in the latest, hottest brands -- and pay out the wazoo to do so. But for every person who does that, there's another who's comfortable rocking a white t-shirt and a comfortable pair of jeans.
The 2017 Genesis G90 is the car for those who fall into the latter category. The full-size luxury sedan segment is filled with stalwarts that command high prices -- the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. And for many buyers, these are the only choices.
But the G90 makes an interesting proposition. It's loaded with many features present on the regular players, but its starting price is leagues below the competition. This is the car for the t-shirt-and-jeans crowd, and they're going to like what's on offer.
Not the prettiest swan in the pond
During our three-car Rivals film, which saw the G90 take on the Lincoln Continental and Volvo S90, it was apparent that the G90 was the least visually impressive of the three. While I think the G90 does a good job of adapting to the Genesis design language, I understand it's not for everyone.
Really, it's all a bit anonymous. Badging is barely there, and its hexagonal maw gapes like every other car in this (and many other) segments. The rear end is far less interesting than the front, with some swoopy taillights and body panels largely devoid of creases or interesting angles.
Then again, buyers looking to avoid the trappings of the segment stalwarts probably aren't looking for a car that will break necks on the road. The G90 is demure, operating under the radar.
Can't see it from the inside
Thankfully, as the adage goes, you don't have to look at it while you're driving it. The interior is more enticing, with ample wood trim front and rear, and thin strips of aluminum helping emphasize the G90's capacious cabin. It's not for everyone -- especially if you dislike glossy wood trim -- but it's welcoming and comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, there is so much rear legroom. At 6 feet tall, I had no problem getting comfy in the back, even with taller passengers up front. Even though my tester lacked the executive rear seat package, there were still rear-seat controls that move the front passenger seat. The middle seatback also hides a controller that rear-seat occupants can use to adjust the climate control and change media settings. It's a nice touch that doesn't require thousands of dollars in extra packages.
The infotainment system can be controlled with the rotary dial beneath the shifter, but there are plenty of physical buttons for both the climate control and infotainment system. The shifter is... not ideal, with a separate P button for Park, but it's easier to understand and commit to memory than similar offerings from Audi and BMW.
Plenty of tech, but not all of it
The G90's list of standard equipment is impressive for a car costing just a bit more than $70,000, and while not every piece of tech is along for the ride, it's still offering eight or nine pounds of stuff in a five-pound bag.
I'll start with the omissions. In terms of safety tech, the G90 lacks automatic parking capabilities. That said, parking isn't too hard, thanks to front and rear parking sensors, as well as a 360-degree camera system that offers a bird's eye view. The other major absence is smartphone connectivity. The G90 lacks both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which may be an issue.
But the G90's infotainment system is plenty capable on its own. Based on Hyundai's Blue Link, the car packs a 12.3-inch widescreen with two sets of physical controls -- no touch here, much like the S-Class. After about an hour, I felt comfortable swapping between menus, inputting nav destinations and pairing phones. It's snappy, responsive and capable of getting you around traffic jams. What's not to like?
Its suite of active and passive safety systems is excellent too. The steering wheel will work to keep the car between the lines, even when adaptive cruise control is turned off, as long as it can detect markings on both sides. It feels odd when the steering wheel moves on its own, as there's an immediate lightening of the steering feeling, but you can always turn it off. Adaptive cruise control was nice and smooth, too, never bucking as it accelerated or decelerated.
To keep distraction at bay, there's a lovely little head-up display. It's dense with information, displaying active-steering capability, speed limits and blind-spot-monitor warnings all at once. I never had to divert my attention from the road in order to make sure the area around the car was clear. It's one of the best head-up displays I've seen in a car.
You'll want to keep distraction to a minimum, because the G90 is a surprisingly adept driver, even if most owners won't try carving up corners.
It lacks air suspension, but its static damper setup can switch between Comfort and Sport modes. In comfort, it feels like air suspension, which is high praise in my book. Bad roads are chewed up and spit out with little noise making its way into the cabin, and you can only hear that noise because the car does such a good job of isolating the interior. Pop it in Sport, and things get a bit livelier, but it's hard to hide the car's curb weight, so you're never truly goaded to push it to its limits.
Our tester included the G90's "base" engine -- a 3.3-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 good for 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. It lacks the output of the more expensive G90's V8, but it sounds good under load and produces a truly impressive amount of hustle. The torque arrives with a light whistle from the turbochargers, and off you go, hurtling toward extralegal speeds.
The transmission is eager to play along, shuffling gears in the background with a delightful smoothness. It's one of the most refined powertrains I've experienced.
Thanks to all-wheel drive and its 4,500-plus-pound curb weight, it's not exactly efficient. The EPA rates the V6 G90 at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, which I found to be accurate. A light foot kept my highway economy around 25 mpg, with city numbers a bit lower than the feds suggested.
How I'd spec it
To be honest, this is how I would spec it. $70,600 gets you a whole bunch of equipment, more than most people will need, along with a potent V6 engine and the peace of mind that comes with all-wheel drive.
Sure, for an extra $1,600, you can get the 5.0-liter V8 and the executive rear-seat setup, but to be honest, they feel a bit unnecessary. The Genesis is the value proposition, after all. While I think our tester's trim is the right spec for this car, if you want a little more you'll be happy to see that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to upgrade.
There are no options packages for either G90 trim, so this wasn't a hard conclusion to reach.
Down to brass tacks
All it takes is one quick price comparison to see why the G90 should be on any full-size sedan buyer's list. A base G90 with all-wheel drive starts at $70,600. A base S-Class with AWD starts at $99,600. BMW's AWD 7 Series is a bit better at $84,500, and the Audi A8 comes in at $82,500.
The G90 is one of the least efficient vehicles in the segment, though. The S-Class is close, at 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, but the 7 Series blows it out of the water with an EPA rating of 19/28, and the Audi bests them all at 19/29. But dropping an extra $10,000 for that efficiency means it'll take years to make up for that in fuel savings.
If you want to price the G90 against cars that carry similar price tags, that's where things get interesting. For a bit less than the G90, you can pick up a loaded Lincoln Continental Black Label, which features fancier trimmings and, believe it or not, more rear legroom in a smaller overall package. Its efficiency is about on par with the G90, as well.
Therein lies the G90's secret. It's priced well below its actual competition, and cars that are priced similarly are generally smaller. If you aren't afraid to venture off the beaten path of luxury, you'll find yourself looking at a value proposition that's hard to beat.