CARS.COM — There's a new player on the global luxury scene, wearing a somewhat familiar face and brandishing a decidedly familiar name, but in a new way. South Korean automaker Hyundai has upgraded its Genesis sedan to become the Genesis brand of luxury automobiles, currently featuring two offerings: the G80 (the original Hyundai Genesis) and the G90 (originally the Hyundai Equus). While the G80 is the same as the old Genesis sedan and merely features some new badges, the G90 is a thorough redesign of the old Equus and qualifies as a significantly new car — an extremely impressive one as well.
Related: Our View: 2017 Genesis G90
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week with a G90 in Los Angeles, testing it through bumper-to-bumper gridlock, high-speed freeways, coastal boulevards and canyon twisties. And like many of my colleagues who have also had the opportunity to sample the G90 at our Chicago headquarters, I was blown away at what Genesis has achieved with its new flagship sedan.
So here are five ways that the 2017 Genesis G90 has proven itself to be a true luxury sedan champ, and not just a wannabe newcomer from an unknown luxury brand:
While the exterior of the G90 is attractive, it is ultimately invisible. The more important part of this luxury flagship is the interior, where Genesis has done an exceptional job of creating a luxurious environment that's easily on par with brands such as Lexus, BMW and Audi, and even Mercedes-Benz. From the knurled metal finish of the switches and buttons to the quality of the wood and leather to the comfort of the multi-adjustable seats front and back, the G90 coddles and impresses. There's nothing you can point to in the G90 and say "that's not up to snuff." There's nothing inside that looks shared with the mass-market Hyundai brand either. The G90 looks and feels expensive inside, like a proper luxury car should.
The G90 has two powertrains to choose from: a 365-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 or a 420-hp, 5.0-liter V-8. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and paired with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Of the two, the 3.3-liter V-6 is the one to have — it's amazingly quick, buttery smooth, nearly silent on the highway and generally behaves like a much larger engine. The turbochargers bring on torque at a much lower rpm for around-town quickness that hides the G90's bulk amazingly well. It provides excellent freeway on-ramp power and plenty of highway passing power, and the eight-speed automatic never gets confused or hunts for the right gear when you ask it to perform. Skip the V-8 in the Genesis G90; you'll never miss it.
While other luxury brands make many electronic features optional, the G90 comes with them as standard equipment. Features such as lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot warning and automatic cruise control with full stop-and-go are all standard. Luxury items are included standard too, like 22-way power front seats, bi-xenon headlights and a 17-speaker Lexicon premium audio system. Every Genesis G90 comes one way: loaded. The only things you need to choose are the drivetrain and colors.
In South Korea, the Equus was used as an executive limousine for CEOs. The new G90 continues that tradition, so the backseat features incredible space. Rear legroom is a copious 37.8 inches, just a couple inches short of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series or even the Cadillac CT6. But unlike those cars, the rear compartment features duplicate controls for entertainment, climate control and much more.
Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the G90 is how much it costs — it's priced more like most luxury automakers' mid-size cars, but it's sized like their full-size competitors. A rear-wheel-drive Genesis G90 3.3T starts at $69,050, including destination fee — and since it comes fully loaded, that's the maximum price as well. Grab an all-wheel-drive G90 5.0 and you're looking at $73,150. Comparably sized vehicles from other luxury automakers go for far more. The cheapest Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the S550, starts at a hair less than $100,000, and the least-expensive BMW 7 Series comes in at just less than $83,000. And that's before you start adding electronic safety packages, night vision cameras, rear executive seating and more.
The new Genesis brand faces a bit of an uphill battle, trying to make a name for itself in a badge-conscious luxury market. But if the badge is less important to you than the car that's wearing it, the G90 offers an exceptional luxury experience for an impressively reasonable price.