When the Lexus LS first launched in 1989, it changed the luxury car industry forever. The original LS gave the German luxury stalwarts their first real outside challenge and I imagine the new 2023 Genesis G90 will do the very same thing, 33 years later.
Quite a bit has changed with the second-gen G90. Genesis’ most luxurious car now has a new engine, some new exterior design elements, new interior features, and a suite of tech upgrades. All of those changes make the G90 a genuine rival for the mainstream German luxury brands. If Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series customers are open-minded enough to check out a “value” brand like Genesis, this new G90 could have an original LS-like impact on the industry.
2023 Genesis G90 Review Specs
- Base price (3.5T E-Supercharger as tested): $89,495 ($100,370)
- Powertrain: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with electric supercharger | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 409 @ 5,800 rpm
- Torque: 405 lb-ft @ 1,300
- Curb weight: 5,192
- Seating capacity: 5
- 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
- Cargo volume: 10.59 cubic feet
- EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city | 24 highway | 20 combined
- Quick take: Forget the value, the 2023 Genesis G90 is a great luxury car with a stylish design, a gorgeous interior, and useful luxury technology at any price point.
- Score: 9/10
Genesis has been taking on the Germans for quite a few years now. While it’s been trying since its mainstream parent company first launched Genesis as a pair of Hyundai models (the Hyundai Genesis and Genesis Coupe), rather than the separate luxury brand it is today, it’s only really been on par with Mercedes and BMW for the past few years. Recent cars like the Genesis G70, G80, and GV70 all proved that Hyundai’s luxury arm could not only compete on the world stage but excel. Six-figure luxury cars are a different ball game, however, one that Mercedes has dominated with its S-Class for decades. So the idea that Genesis, which is still fairly new, can come in and challenge the top-dog for luxury car supremacy might seem a bit overly ambitious at first. However, people said that about Lexus back in 1989, too.
One look at the Genesis G90 and you know it’s something special. Genesis seems to be the only brand that can do big grilles properly, as the G90’s grille is enormous and yet somehow not obnoxious. Its split headlights not only visually run through the front fenders but, if you follow their lines, line up with the taillights as well, creating a lovely continuity. The taillights look great themselves, with sharp blade-like edges while the subtly flared rear wheel arches add some visual muscle. And those wheels. My god, those wheels.
Inside, the Genesis G90 will quite literally wow its passengers. The sweeping dashboard design, gorgeous open-pore wood trim, rich feeling and smelling leather, soft Alcantara, and killer Bang & Olufsen sound system make the G90 a genuine treat for all the senses. The seats are superbly comfortable, both front and back, the technology is easy to use and looks great, and there are some genuinely cool tech features. If you want to impress your friends, the G90 is a great car to do so with.
Driving the Genesis G90
One of the G90’s main attractions is its power-closing doors, which close on their own with the push of a button. My 5-year-old son thought that was some Jedi stuff, sitting in the back seat and being able to close his own door with a button on the center armrest. After driving the G90 around for a week, closing my own doors feels like it’s for the plebs. But the G90 is loaded with quirky cool features. The 3D digital gauges are delightful, with incredibly cool graphics, like the fiery gauge needles in sport mode and the night mode once the automatic headlights come on. Another neat feature is the speaker in the driver’s headrest, which tells them their navigation directions, so cabin noise or music doesn’t overpower them. That same speaker is also where the turn signal noise comes from, which is unusual but quirky and fun.
The only real forgettable aspect of the Genesis G90 is its engine. The 3.5T E-Supercharger test version had a twin-turbocharged V6 with an additional electric supercharger. That electric supercharger is powered by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and provides torque super low in the rev range to help add some punch while the turbos build boost. Its 409 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque is sufficient but the G90 could never be confused with a performance sedan. Instead, it’s much more relaxed. Power builds smoothly, gear shifts are seamless, and engine noise is kept at a respectable purr. So no complaints, really, just don’t expect much character from the engine. I did try to shift gears myself, via the plasticky paddles on the steering wheel (one of the few interior complaints) and it felt a bit lifeless, so it’s best to just let the automatic gearbox do its thing.
In the back seat, passengers can recline to an almost flat lying position. They get pillows on their headrests, and there’s a rear center console touchscreen that can control the car’s infotainment system or rear seat climate controls. It’s great if you’re the back seat passenger, trying to listen to your music, but it’s annoying when you’re driving and your kid decides to endlessly mess with the volume.
As it should be, steering is light and numb in the G90, but it steers beautifully. There’s a wonderful sense of control, despite it being so big and heavy, that belies its cushy ride. Even on its massive 21-inch wheels, it rides like the best luxury cars in the business: supple and sophisticated but also planted and controlled. It’s top-tier luxury car suspension tuning.
Another thing Genesis gets incredibly right is driver-assistance tech. The G90’s semi-autonomous driver aids work wonders, keeping the car centered in the lane while giving clear informational graphics about what it’s doing in the gauge cluster. It shows a little graphic of itself in its lane, as well as any other car it notices nearby, which provides some peace of mind, knowing the car is seeing the same things you are. Some semi-autonomous systems can make the car sort of bounce back and forth between lane markers, like a kid bowling with bumpers, but the G90’s kept it nice and centered, which spares its passengers from any unnerving moments with nearby traffic in adjacent lanes.
The Highs and Lows
Without question, the best part of driving the Genesis G90 is simply sitting inside it. The cabin is the perfect combination of excitement and relaxation. It actually feels a bit old-school in a way, too. It doesn’t rely on techno-gimmicks, such as massive screens or fancy lighting, but it does sprinkle some in for fun. Instead, it mostly impresses with great materials, a slick design, comfortable seats, and a whisper-quiet cabin. That relaxed nature continues over to the actual driving experience, which is so smooth and calm that I found myself genuinely feeling more relaxed after driving it than before.
If there are any lows, and there really aren’t many to speak of, they’re pretty nitpicky. For instance, the infotainment system can be a bit confusing at first, with a ton of graphic tiles to navigate for things like the car’s settings. There are redundant buttons on the dashboard, though, so it does provide physical controls to quickly access common functions, such as media or navigation. Also, if I’m really looking for issues, the build quality wasn’t quite up to par with the best from Germany, as the center console would move just a bit if my knee bumped into it and some of the buttons felt a bit plasticky. Are either of those things deal breakers? No, but in a six-figure car, some customers might notice.
Genesis G90 Features, Options, and Competition
Being a G90 3.5T E-Supercharger model, the test car was as loaded as absolutely possible. There aren’t actually any options or packages to choose from, aside from color choices and a first-aid kit. If you spec the 3.5T E-Supercharger model, your Genesis G90 is loaded with things like the power closing doors, that Bang & Olufsen stereo, and reclining, massaging seats as standard.
In terms of competition, its two main rivals are the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series, both of which are also relatively new. The Genesis G90 isn’t as opulent as the S-Class, nor is it as sporty or high-tech as the 7 Series. However, it has a unique character all of its own that makes it every bit as compelling as those two cars, while also coming in at a lower price point, when options are equal.
The G90 disrupts the segment the same way the original Lexus LS did. Back in ‘89, Lexus proved that luxury didn’t have to come from stodgy old German brands but that there are different flavors of luxury and it’s been doing so ever since. Now, the luxury-disrupting baton has been passed to Genesis, as the G90 proves luxury can still be unique and interesting.
Unfortunately, Genesis doesn’t yet offer an electric or plug-in hybrid version of the G90. There’s an electric G80 but there doesn’t seem to be an electric G90 variant planned. Which is a bit of a shame because the G90 would benefit greatly from a silent, electric powertrain. Its twin-turbo V6 isn’t really all that special feeling, even with its electric supercharger. So why not replace it entirely with an electric powertrain that’s even quieter and more refined?
Making matters worse is the fact that the G90 is pretty thirsty at the pump. It has an EPA rating of 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined, which is worse than both the six-cylinder Mercedes S500 and BMW 740i. Both of those competitors also have full electric versions, in the Mercedes EQS and BMW i7. So as great as the Genesis G90 is, its powertrain feels a bit behind the times.
Value and Verdict
The Genesis G90 makes up for its slightly outclassed powertrain by being a great value. As I mentioned before, the G90 3.5T E-Supercharged really doesn’t have any options to choose from, as it’s essentially fully loaded as-is. So its $100,370 as-tested price significantly undercuts the S-Class and 740i, as those cars would cost—with similar options—around $133,000 and $108,000, respectively.
I can’t help but feel like the 2023 Genesis G90 is a special car that will be remembered for proving once again that the Germans don’t have a stranglehold on luxury. The Lexus LS proved that high-end luxury didn’t have to come from Germany and that it could be had for less money and with better reliability. While the G90 is too new to say whether it will be more reliable than an S-Class or 7 Series, it certainly proves that the same level of luxury can be had at a better price. But it’s more than just a value proposition. It’s also a unique car, with a unique character, and a charm that makes it worth buying over its rivals, regardless of price.
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