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2017 Genesis G90 5.0 V-8

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 10/20/2016 ALEXANDER STOKLOSA

2017 Genesis G90 V8
The G90 sedan is as new as the Genesis brand it belongs to, but neither the car nor the company is entirely fresh, at least in concept. Hyundai has been dabbling in the luxury space since 2008, when it introduced the mid-size, rear-wheel-drive Genesis four-door and, later, the larger Equus before sweeping together redesigned versions of the former (rechristening it G80) and the latter (this G90) and creating the stand-alone luxury entity Genesis. As a successor to the Equus, the megahuge G90 casts a wide net, hoping to both skim buyers away from pricier establishment players such as the Mercedes-Benz S-class, BMW 7-series, and Lexus LS and offer buyers a larger alternative to fully loaded mid-size luxury sedans for similar money. Within this scope, the G90 mostly succeeds. 

Budget Bugaboo

Price, that omnipotent purchase factor, plays a big role. The rear- or all-wheel-drive G90 sedan comes in essentially one trim level, with the lineup split by engine choice. A 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 is standard, while a 420-hp 5.0-liter V-8 is available (and adds decadent power rear seats that adjust 12 ways on the left and 14 ways on the right); take your pick, then decide whether you want all-wheel drive for an extra $2500, and choose from a few subdued paint choices, either a tan or black interior, and you’re done.

The G90 tested here had the V-8, rear-wheel drive, and a sticker price of $70,650. The car is fully equipped, although if we were to pick nits, it’d be nice if the kingly rear thrones offered a massage function and the tiny, compact-car-size sunroof were larger. Genesis otherwise packs enough standard features into the G90’s enormous, 204.9-inch-long body to give us carpal tunnel syndrome from typing it all. The abridged version: a self-leveling suspension, adaptive dampers, self-leveling directionally adaptive headlights, a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, inductive smartphone charging, a head-up display, a 360-degree-view parking camera, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking, self-latching doors, a power-operated trunk, a sunroof, supple leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering column, three-zone automatic climate control, and heated and ventilated power seats at the four outboard positions. There are even controls that allow the driver or the right-rear passenger to scoot the front passenger seat forward for even more rear legroom.

2017 Genesis G90 5.0 V-8© ALEXANDER STOKLOSA 2017 Genesis G90 5.0 V-8

Comfort, It Has It

Visually, there’s little about the G90 that suggests athleticism. Genesis’s comfort-first intention is clear from the moment you sink into its coddling 22-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (designed with input from the Aktion Gesunder Rücken, a German consortium of doctors and therapists in pursuit of diminished back pain). It continues with doors that shut with a damped refinement betraying the thick seals around the aperture. Thanks partly to the 124.4-inch wheelbase and the suspension tuning, the G90’s ride is softer than a cloud sandwiched between two marshmallows. Opt for the Sport drive mode and the ride firms up only slightly. Outside of a tendency for the G90 to outrun its rebound damping, which allows the body one gentle bounce after large road dips, the car is otherwise planted and wheel motions are well controlled. The steering filters out the road nearly as well as the suspension does, but it is nicely weighted and tracks straight and true on the highway.

Silence-seekers will love the G90’s convincing auditory impression of a bank vault with windows. We recorded a hushed 67 decibels at 70 mph, a figure that matches today’s Mercedes-Benz S550, while the car’s 37-decibel idle and 73-decibel full-throttle sound measurements beat the Benz by 3 and 2 decibels. Acoustically laminated glass in all four doors and “sound-absorbing” wheels contribute to the serenity. The car is so quiet that we figured it was simply a giant metal ingot, one that would weigh as much, but the all-steel Genesis is surprisingly light at 4647 pounds. That’s about 140 pounds less than the Mercedes S550 (although the Benz also carries a pair of turbos on its V-8) and falls directly between our long-term, rear-drive turbo-six-powered BMW 740i (4385 pounds) and an all-wheel-drive, eight-cylinder 750i we’ve tested (4883 pounds). The BMWs use carbon fiber in their structures and aluminum panels to reduce weight, but the Genesis is of conventional, steel construction.

Open the taps on Hyundai’s 420-hp Tau V-8, and the G90 leans back and smoothly builds speed with little more than a muffled ripple from beyond the dashboard interrupted only by the Hyundai-designed eight-speed automatic’s buttery shifts. And 60 mph comes up in 5.3 seconds, a figure that trails the large-sedan competition—even some of those with smaller engines and fewer cylinders are quicker. In fact, a 200-pounds-heavier, V-6–powered, all-wheel-drive G90 matched this eight-cylinder model to 60 mph, even though it has a 7-lb-ft torque deficit, thanks to its better off-the-line traction. The V-8 begins to pull away by 70 mph, though, and thoroughly spanks the V-6 model to 120 mph, reaching the mark 2.2 seconds sooner. In everyday driving, however, the V-8 model feels heavier and more ponderous than its sharper-handling V-6–powered sibling. The all-wheel-drive V-6 G90, for example, holds a 0.02-g grip advantage on our skidpad (0.85 g to 0.83 g), stops seven feet shorter from 70 mph (172 feet compared with the V-8’s 179), and generally feels lighter on its tires. Neither model is dynamically gifted, which is why we left the Sport mode alone and instead spent the majority of our time in the standard Smart setting.

Soaking up miles was made even easier sitting in the G90’s lovely interior, which combines stitched leather, soft-touch surfaces, real wood trim, and metallic elements to create a handsome if understated environment. There is a beguiling number of buttons on the dashboard, but all are within easy reach and impart a sense of accessibility to the G90’s myriad controls and features that you can’t find in, say, a BMW. Even the menus in the 12.3-inch central display are intuitive and well presented, and the now luxury-car-standard control knob on the center console makes quick work of navigating the digital space. A few bits and pieces are shared with lesser Hyundais, but the G90’s key touch points are specific to this design and operate with an expensive-feeling confidence. The knurled chrome steering-wheel controls, for example, as well as the infotainment system’s knob controller, are far more rewarding to use than any switch on the Cadillac CT6’s dashboard.

And Yet . . .

All of this lends the G90 an approachable simplicity that stands out among the technologically dense BMW 7-series and the flashy Mercedes-Benz S-class and Lexus LS460. Get in, drive, and be pampered. That cohesion, which extends to the car’s mechanicals, was sorely lacking in Hyundai’s first-effort Genesis sedan and the old Equus, both of which seemed to incorporate the suspensions, steering systems, throttles, and brakes from different cars. We should applaud Genesis for improving on those products and synthesizing their character in the G90.

Set aside Hyundai’s rapid progress since building its first U.S.-market car in the 1980s, though, and the G90 is less impressive on its own terms. Sure, it’s cohesive, but for any car that costs more than $65,000, that’s a core expectation. But where’s the beef, we ask, where’s the “why buy?” The G90 brings not one unique feature or standout technology to the table. It doesn’t look particularly interesting from outside, its interior is lovely but so, too, is the Volvo S90’s, as are many others. It doesn’t even offer the sort of customization, options, or fancier trims for today’s luxury buyers who desire choice (and don’t they all?). Some may argue that the G90 needn’t be anything more inspired than an affordable net into which buyers who can’t swing an S-class can leap, but a flagship sedan for a luxury brand should aspire to being more. It needs to make a statement whether by design, engineering, or manufacturing a car that suits the consumer’s desires better than do its competitors. Ascension to the luxury ranks depends on creating a cult of desirability—no one buys Louis Vuitton handbags or BMWs today because those brands built a reputation as discount-priced alternatives to better-known products. As a luxury sedan, the G90 is just fine. As a means of establishing Genesis as a name worthy of respect, it needs more work.

Specifications

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED: $70,650 (base price: $70,650)

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 307 cu in, 5038 cc

Power: 420 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 383 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:

Wheelbase: 124.4 in

Length: 204.9 in

Width: 75.4 in Height: 58.9 in

Passenger volume: 113 cu ft

Cargo volume: 16 cu ft

Curb weight: 4647 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS:

Zero to 60 mph: 5.3 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 12.6 sec

Zero to 130 mph: 21.6 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.7 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.8 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 13.8 sec @ 105 mph

Top speed (governor limited): 148 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.83 g

FUEL ECONOMY:

EPA city/highway driving: 16/24 mpg

C/D observed: 17 mpg

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