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Handsome but conventional, the G90 sedan is the flagship for the new Genesis brand borne from Hyundai (image: Bill Visnic).

What we're driving - Genesis G90

Hyundai’s newly stand-alone Genesis brand may or may not eventually shoulder its way into the luxury-market country club, but for now it’s a little tough even keeping it straight regarding the budding Genesis model range. The G90 is larger and basically more luxurious and carries more standard equipment than the G80. The G90’s 124.4-in wheelbase is nearly identical to the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

At 4784 lb. (2170 kg)—about 150 lb more than a V8 S-Class—the G90 feels thick but not lardy, which might have to do with the well-considered tune of the Sachs/ZF adaptive damping that guarantees the expected luxurious "foundation" ride quality while stifling the body motion that makes “soft” cars feel soft. This and the palpable quiet in the G90’s cabin during high-speed cruising might be the most convincing aspects of this infant brand’s development reach.

The G90 is available with familiar Hyundai-group engines: either a twin-turbo 3.3-L direct-injected V6 or a 5.0-L V8. The 3.3-L generates 365 hp and 376 lbft (510 Nm) versus the V8’s 420 hp 383 lbft (519 Nm). Either engine is backed by an 8-speed automatic. The 3.3-L driveline couldn’t be creamier or more responsive and mid-range acceleration is impressive and utterly devoid of turbo lag.

A calling card for Genesis is value, and it’s almost impossible to ignore the sheer volume of stuff—all-wheel drive, a giant 12.3-in (312-mm) touchscreen, full LED headlights, color head-up display (HUD), a haptic-feedback steering wheel, to name just a few—that comes standard with the G90 Premium AWD. Interior build quality is nothing short of stupendous.

Apart from basic brand recognition, Genesis’ biggest problem might be communicating to buyers the “walk” between the G80 and G90—and its current all-sedan lineup in a market ravenous for SUVs. As far as brand-building goes, a production version of the titillating GV80 concept needs to be in Genesis showrooms yesterday.

2017 Genesis G90 AWD 3.3T Premium

  • Base price:    $70,600
  • As tested:      $71,550
  • Highs:           Exceptional build quality; refined powertrain; excellent value
  • Lows:            No-surprises styling; the typical “new brand” obstacles
  • Takeaway:     Remember how Lexus got its start?

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