If it still takes you a moment to remember what the Genesis brand is when you hear the name, well, that's because it's still rather new. That's not for lack of trying to build to brand awareness on parent brand Hyundai's part to build— after all, Genesis has been an official sponsor of the NFL in recent years, as well as a staple of TV sports advertising — but the fact remains that, compared with the lengthy histories of Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac or even the multi-decade existences of Lexus and Acura, the five-year-old nameplate is still too fresh to have solidified an impression in people's minds.
But while the brand may be new, the G90's lineage actually dates back far longer than the winged logo has been around. Its predecessor, the Hyundai Equus, began roaming the roads back in 1999, with the second-generation version gracing U.S. showrooms alongside the tin can third-gen Accent and the jellybean second-gen Tucson back in 2010. Not surprisingly, Americans didn't know what to make of the dichotomy — which, in turn, was part of the reason why the carmaker spun the Equus (and the equally-unsuited-to-econo-car-showrooms Hyundai Genesis) off to a new luxury brand half a decade ago.
The car you see here, the 2020 G90, is both the most expensive and the oldest car in the Genesis lineup, now that the new G80 is about to arrive on our shores. But as I found out after logging about 1,500 miles in one over the course of five days, it's still a damn fine car — and practically a bargain.
Comfortable and powerful, the G90 is a stellar road tripper
To be fair, I tapped the G90 for my summer road trip suspecting that it would be a good car for the task: 700-plus miles of almost entirely interstate driving, with a hefty portion of that through notoriously speeding-unfriendly Virginia. With driving fun off the menu, I figured it made sense to grab as comfortable a car as possible.
As the old knight at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade might have said, I chose wisely. The G90 proved even more comfy than I’d hoped. The seats were, dare I say, perhaps as good for a long haul as those in the Mercedes S-Class, which is the high-water mark of car seats; I knocked out two 12-hour driving days inside of a week, and didn’t feel bad after either one of them. The stereo is crisp, clear, and powerful; combined with the bank vault-quiet interior, I never had to turn the stereo up past four clicks of the volume knob.
The turbo V6 is perfectly matched to highway driving, with loads of low end torque available at the slightest squeeze of the accelerator. Passing is easy, and highway merges a breeze; it’s no muscle car, but between the broad powerband and well-tuned gearbox, it hustles up to speed with decorum.
Something I didn’t expect, given the car’s performance: the Genesis was much more fuel-efficient than I’d have guessed. I saw 29 mpg over the course of about 1,400 miles,with speeds for most of that hovering between 70-80 mph. (Even more surprising: the EPA rates the V6 G90 at just 25 mpg highway.)
It’s not a perfect car by any means. First off, it’s big; parking and maneuvering on city streets or in other tight quarters can be a bit stressful, and while it technically offers a Sport mode, it’s certainly not made for tearing up backroad or tracks. The interior tech and controls feel a bit outdated compared to some newer cars, both in the luxury classes and below; the dashboard and instrument panel come laden with large buttons and analog gauges, which might put off buyers who want the latest and flashiest in-car attractions. (For what it’s worth, however, I actually prefer it to the touchscreen extravaganzas found in many new cars.)
But those are minor quibbles. Settle in for a long road trip, and you’ll find the G90’s skill set is practically unparalleled.
The new Genesis face is a bit much for the G90, but you get used to it
The new Genesis corporate face is, shall we say, a little much — at least in the way it manifests on the G90. I like the basic idea, but the Extreme Superman Shield grille, as I took to calling it, looks almost comically big when it’s stretched across the front of this large of a car. Still, it’s far more distinctive than the generic appearance of the pre-facelift model.
The sides and rear certainly look more refined and impressive than the previous version, though, and the detail work is surprisingly exquisite; the million-spoke wheels look quite elegant in person. The whole overall effect is solid; my girlfriend asked if it was a Bentley when we walked up to it for the first time.
Even the well-off like a good deal, right?
At a base price of $75,725, the G90 starts at about twice the average new car transaction price in America these days, which makes it seem like it’d be hard to consider it a bargain. Still, that means it’s cheaper — sometimes significantly so — than the entry-level MSRPs of competitors like the Lexus LS, Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
And while each those cars offers a ton of options above those price, the G90 comes fully loaded for that price. There are only two ways to add anything onto the G90’s price, both $2,500 options: a naturally-aspirated V8 that makes slightly more horsepower (420) and sounds slightly better, but isn’t worth the cash; and an all-wheel-drive option that might be worth it if you live somewhere that snow tires alone won’t be enough grip come wintertime.
2020 Genesis G90 3.3T
Base Price: $75,725
Powertrain: 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
Torque: 376 pound-feet
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Seats: Five, but it's way better if you just have four