A styling refresh that takes away the subdued and forgettable styling.
NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO – The Genesis brand officially debuted in 2017, redefining the way buyers look at the luxury segment. The G90 flagship arrived with S-Class (reviewed here) levels of luxury at a significantly lower price tag. Fit and finish was up to par with the Germans, with no compromises anywhere. This model year marks the first significant update to the car, with upgrades all around to freshen it up. We were invited to Niagara Falls to spend a few hundred kilometers behind the wheel of the 2020 Genesis G90 and establish how relevant it has remained three years into its life cycle.
The G90 was Genesis Motors’ first all-new vehicle, with the smaller G80 having mostly carried over from its past life under the Hyundai Genesis name. Since then, the G70 (reviewed here) has been offered for sale and has won just about every award, including our magazine’s Car of the Year last year. The original G90, while extremely good fundamentally, was a bit on the bland side. There was nothing really wrong with it, but it was just a touch boring when compared to the exciting 7-series (reviewed here) or even the polarizing Lexus LS.
Genesis Motors has been following a Horizontal Architecture design language, which has now reflected into the updated G90’s styling. The side profile is vaguely similar to the car it replaces, but the front and rear ends have been completely reworked. The fascia has a bolder grille, almost reminiscent of Acura’s TLX (reviewed here), with a new headlight design that Genesis calls a “G-Matrix” system. From the rear, a light bar that extends the length of the trunklid reminds of the Lincoln Continental. These aren’t slights, as Genesis has always employed derivative styling and borrowed the best attributes from rivals. The new 19-inch wheels are gorgeous, featuring a retro design that looks vintage.
Standard fare for the 2020 G90 is a creamy smooth 5.0-liter V8, naturally aspirated. It offers 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque. It sends power to all four wheels in Canadian models, through the all-wheel-drive system. This system is a smart variant that uses an electronic transfer case to send torque to the appropriate axle by analyzing driver inputs and road conditions. In Sport mode in the right situation, the G90 can send up to 90% of torque to the rear wheels. An eight-speed automatic transmission is also standard, an in-house unit, that’s one of the best-sorted boxes around.
The G90’s powertrain is responsive, and a refreshing change to see the immediacy of natural aspiration in a segment crowded with turbochargers. Every single rival is powered by a turbocharged six or eight-cylinder engine, and they all exhibit a good amount of lag. The only time the Genesis resists or takes an extra second is when the transmission needs to downshift multiple gears. Otherwise, response is immediate and speed is imperceptible. This thing was built to a very high standard and it’s evident.
Ride quality is one of the best attributes of the G90, with unmatched smoothness and minimal body roll around corners. There are some questionable secondary body motions that lead to a wallowy feel over certain road imperfections, but a lot of this could be attributed to the oversized wheels. Steering feel is virtually non-existent, but the wheel is nicely weighted and on-center feel is good as well. Overall, the G90 is compliant, but not quite as refined as the air suspension setups in the big German players.
Interior quality is one area in which Genesis hasn’t made any compromises. Every single material that you can see, smell and touch is top-notch. The design is on the conservative side but is pleasing to the eye. The seats are very comfortable for short and long hauls, and the longer wheelbase means rear passengers are transported in luxury as well. The G90 remains the only vehicle in its segment to not get a panoramic sunroof, but this means that rear headroom is among the class leaders. Strangely, while the seats are heated and ventilated with a plethora of adjustments, no massage feature is available on the G90.
The G90 gets a 12.3-inch infotainment system that employs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies. It’s a good setup that is more user friendly than Mercedes-Benz’s, and responds quickly with no unnecessary glitches. Active safety features include Lane Follow Assist, forward collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and more. It’s a good sign to see Genesis not charge more for an added set of safety gizmos – everything’s included in one comprehensive package. All Genesis vehicles from the base G70 right up to this G90 include the full safety suite as standard equipment.
One of the biggest advantages to Genesis’ structure is simplified pricing. There are no complicated option packages, just one easy way to order your vehicle online. Canadian pricing for the 2020 G90 has been set at $89,750 for the 5.0 Prestige model. There are no additional fees, and this price includes five years of complimentary scheduled maintenance as well as the “Genesis at Home” concierge service. The 3.3L twin-turbo V6 is only available by special order, and comes in at $86,750.
In comparison, a six-cylinder S-Class starts around $106,000 and the new 750Li in the same ballpark. Optioning these cars out to match the G90 Prestige goes north of $130,000 without batting an eye. Even the Lexus LS (reviewed here), which was once in the same position the G90 is now, starts at $103,750 in base trim. Other noteworthy rivals that cost more include the Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera. In reality, the G90 is priced like well-equipped versions of mid-size luxury sedans such as the E-Class and 5-series, while offering the interior and exterior size of the full-size cars.
When the G90 was first introduced, it was in a similar position to the Lexus LS 400 back in 1989. A new brand comes with plenty of challenges, the largest being brand awareness. Over the past three years, Genesis Motors has faced challenges educating the consumer that this luxury car from Korea is indeed up to par with the obvious players. The conservative design and lack of physical dealer network may have contributed to this. Thirty years later, the Lexus LS now costs about the same as a comparable S-Class, and most buyers consider its level of luxury equal, with a boost in reliability.
The 2020 Genesis G90 comes with a styling refresh that takes away the subdued and forgettable styling of its predecessor. While it doesn’t pack many of the gimmicks that the Germans offer (handsfree gesture controls, forty-six different levels of Shiatsu massage, etc.), it steals the show in convenience. Genesis offers a concierge service that brings you a courtesy vehicle and takes your car away for each scheduled service, which also happens to be complimentary for the first five years. It’s a trendy new way to purchase and manage your vehicle, and it’s what the new era of buyers want. We can’t wait to see sales take an upward trajectory as Canadians begin to realize what they’re missing out on.