Sunday, August 9, 2020

2020 Genesis G90 V8 Review


For people who are not familiar with the brand Genesis, it was established in 2015 as a luxury vehicle division of the Hyundai Motor Group. To quickly fill a lineup, Genesis introduced its flagship, the G90, in 2017 based on the Hyundai Equus. While the G90 was a fine vehicle, its exterior was rather understated as a flagship.

With the newly introduced 2020 G70 being the brand’s first vehicle designed from ground up, the G90 has undergone a mid-cycle redesign as well. The new exterior is a significant upgrade from the original and makes the G90 stand out from the crowd. It also sets the tone for future exterior designs of the Genesis vehicles, including the upcoming luxury SUV, the GV80.

Thanks to Genesis Canada, I was loaned the G90 for one week to test drive. Below is my unbiased review.

According to Genesis, every exterior body panel except for the roof and doors have been replaced or changed on the 2020 G90. It is designed with Luc Donckerwolke (former design director at Bentley, Lamborghini and Audi) at the helm.

The styling of the 2020 G90 evolves the brand’s “Athletic Elegance” design language. The front fascia features the new signature crest grille which is much larger and more dramatic to look at. The headlamp housing features quad lamps that are divided by a horizontal LED signal light bar that extends beyond the housing to meet the front wheel arch. Genesis uses the term G-Matrix to describe how they utilize angular surfaces to simulate light reflecting from an illuminating diamond. The treatment is applied to both the head and tail lights, as well as to the optional 19-inch wheels for the first time.

The multi-spoke retro style 19” wheels are simply gorgeous to look at. They also get the most compliments during my one week test drive. The G90’s almost coupe-like side profile is emphasized by sweeping character lines. The side gills are highlighted by chrome trims to look expensive. They also houses the linear LED signal light bar that are visually connected to ones from the front.

The tail of the G90 looks rather conservative compared to the front. Long tail lights and chrome trims emphasize the width of the car. There is an LED light bar running across the entire width of the back. The license plate holder is located as low as possible to give the trunk gate a clean look. The sharp spoiler gives the G90 a slightly sportier rear profile compared to the last generation.

The exterior of the 2020 G90, while still elegant, is definitely much more attention grabbing than the original design. This is especially true in the front. The large pentagonal grille is giving the Genesis brand a much needed unique identity that should trickle down to the entire lineup. I like it!

The interior design embodies the ethos of Horizontal Architecture. In the front cabin, long matte chrome trims separate large open-pore wood panels and cocoa-colored leather inlays for a cohesive color scheme that is elegant and premium. The armrest is large and plush, and all the physical buttons are nicely organized in easy to understand clusters. 

The premium leather front seats are 22 way adjustable and very comfortable. Handsome stitching and electrically adjusted headrest, bearing Genesis logo make the front seats worthy of a flagship luxury vehicle. They are both heated and vented. The driver seat also has a trick up its sleeve. Pressing the Smart button on the door panel brings up a special page on the 12.3” infotainment display to let you input your height, weight, and inseam. The system takes those into consideration and automatically adjusts the theoretical optimal seating position for you. I personally find the calculated seat position too close to the steering wheel, but the system does provide a nice starting point for best visibility from the driver’s seat. 

While the front cabin is a very nice place to be, the most comfortable place in the G90 is actually  the rear cabin, more specifically, the rear passenger side seat. I suspect the G90 is used to chauffeur corporate executives and celebrities in Korea. The folding armrest incorporates a fancy center console that controls the audio system, seat potions, and climate controls. The electric privacy screens cover the rear passenger windows and the rear windshield, perfect if you don’t want to be seen in the car.  

The rear seats are heated, vented, and electrically adjustable. It comes with seat position memory functions and can be folded almost completely flat. The passenger on the right side can choose to push the front seat forward via buttons on the folding center console, or the buttons on the front seatback. This gives you even more legroom compared to the other seats. The headrests are 4 way adjustable. Not only do they move up and down, but they also extends forward and backward. Other thoughtful features include coat hangers on the B pillars, and folding vanity mirrors with LED illuminators mounted on the roof. 

Few things can be improved upon to make the G90 more competitive in the segments. First, the switch gears can use some refinement to look and feel more upscale. Right now, they are almost identical to the ones we see in the Hyundai lineup. They are perfectly functional, but lack the tactile feedback of a premium car. Second, adding more mood lighting can elevate the class of the interior. Other than those, the interior of the G90 is truly exceptional. It is as thoughtful and comfortable to the front passengers as well as to the important people sitting in the back. The level of comfort competes with its German rivals like the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class. 

The 2020 G90 introduces multiple technology firsts for the Genesis brand. It is the first Genesis vehicle to offer over-the-air wireless updates for maps and software. Its 12.3-inch display navigation system now incorporates touchscreen controls and a copper Graphic User Interface. The screen is sitting a little far from your hands, so most of the time drivers would use the command dial in the center console to interact with the system instead. The widescreen display is a significant upgrade from the one we saw in the G70. It is sharp, responsive, and much more befitting of a luxury vehicle.

Further enhancing the technological capabilities of G90 are standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirror Link. The digital information display in the instrument cluster is on the smaller side. To be honest, having a fully digital instrument cluster would be better suited for the G90. The display is controlled via the switch gears on the steering wheel. They are nicely textured and easy to operate.

The Head-up Display shows rear and side alert information, Smart cruise control (SCC) information, and navigational information. The projected screen is effectively divided into sections to improve visibility.

The premium Lexicon audio system produces rich and high quality sound through 17 speakers including a large subwoofer and an acoustic lens. The interior environment is quiet thanks to Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which reduces noise, vibration and harshness.

Safety and Driver Assistance
Genesis always delivers high levels of standard active and passive safety systems. Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in the 2020 G90 add a level of assuredness to the already refined driving experience. They include:

  • Blind Spot Detection (BSD)
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)
  • Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFLS) with LED Headlamps
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Around View Monitoring (AVM) System
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA) to help the car stay centered in a lane.
  • Rear Cross-traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) 
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)
  • Safe Exit Assist (SEA) alert a driver and passengers when an object is approaching an opening door.
  • Highway Driving Assist (HDA) assists the driver to maintain the center of a lane on marked interstate highways, while keeping a safe distance from a vehicle in front.

The 2020 G90 also includes 9 standard airbags, including a passenger-side knee airbag. The LCD information display in the instrument cluster also displays rear facing camera feed when the turn signal is activated. This is a great implementation that we are starting to see in more and more vehicles. The 2020 G90 is not yet rated by the IIHS, but the 2019 model earns TOP SAFETY PICK PLUS from IIHS.

The 2020 G90 is offered in two engine options for the state. The 3.3T Premium comes with a 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6 that produces 365hp of power and 376 lb-ft. of torque, and the 5.0 Ultimate that comes with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that produces 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque. In Canada, we only get the V-8, and it is one of the last remaining V8 engines on the road. While the acceleration doesn’t feel as dramatic as the performance oriented G70, it is by no means slow. 0-100 km/h happens in 5.5 seconds. The acceleration feels rather relaxed, and the 8 speed automatic transmission is smooth and composed in all ranges.

Taking a corner too fast results in quite a bit of body roll. Genesis tuned the adaptive damper for comfort, not for performance. The steering is precise and effortless. There isn’t a whole lot of feedback from the steering wheel, but enough to let you know where the wheels are pointing.

The rather muted driving characteristics might not be for everyone, but I rarely felt like I needed more from the car during my one week test drive. The 2020 G90 with the V-8 engine is rated for 10 L/100km highway and 15 L/100km city. Our one week city test drive returns a fuel economy rating of 14.3 L/100km.

Cargo Space & Storage
The G90 is a spacious car, but most of the available space is reserved for the passengers. There is 15.7 cu. ft. (445L) of cargo space in the trunk. It is by no means class leading, but should be enough for most daily drives. Cargo nets are provided in the trunk to hold smaller items, and there is a center pass-through behind the rear center armrest. Like all of its full-size luxury sedan competitors, the rear seats cannot be folded to provide additional cargo space.

Inside the cabin, there are plenty of options for storing smaller items. The storage compartment under the front center armrest is large and deep. There is a smaller phone storage bin with a wireless charging pad and a USB charging port at the front of the center console. The rear folding armrest also holds two pop-out cup holders and a storage compartment. The hard covered pockets behind the front seats provide additional storage options for the rear passengers.

The 2020 Genesis G90 is a great full-size luxury sedan that competes with the likes of BMW 7 series, Mercdes S-Class, Audi A8, and Lexus LS. With the mid-cycle refresh, the G90 not only looks much more distinguishable outside, but also feels more technologically advanced inside. It is packed with premium thoughtful features and costs 20k to 30k less than its competitors. Genesis is pricing the G90 to incentive potential customers to switch brands, and savvy customers would recognize that a great bargain it is.

Test Vehicle
2020 Genesis G90 5.0 Prestige AWD
$89,750 CAD All inclusive (except sales tax)
Himalayan Gray

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