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2020 Genesis G90 Review, Take 2: The Start of Something Big

Auto123 puts the 2020 Genesis G90 to the test – part 2!

See also our 2020 Genesis G90 Review, Take 1 (East Coast edition!)

While I’m sure many non-Vancouverites will roll their eyes at this, the week I spent in B.C. with the 2020 Genesis G90 was wet, rainy and somewhat miserable.

Nothing unusual there, but it was a particularly moist stretch of days and the bottom line is there were many times throughout my weeklong test that I thanked my lucky stars I was sitting in something as coddling, insulative and luxurious as Genesis’ latest flagship.

The G90 in fact has a bit of a following in its home country of South Korea not just because it is the Presidential car, but because motorists there are generally fans of big cars -  and the G90 is a darn good one.

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The look
The 2020’s exterior styling is nicely enhanced for 2020, for instance the full length taillight is a nice addition, the proportions are right on and the standard 19-inch wheels are absolutely to die for. They feature some of the best designs available in showrooms today, and like pretty much everything else on the Genesis, they’re standard spec.

Then, there’s the grille. How you feel about it really depends on just how much you’re willing to accept various eyes on you because it’s going to happen with an expanse like that. It’s certifiably massive and gives the Lexus spindle grille and Audi’s big grille seen on some of their cars a real run for their money.

Heck, it may even have the massive kidney grille on the BMW X7 SUV thinking twice as it prepares for the ball, and that’s saying quite a lot. At the same time, it’s a bit at odds with the rest of the styling, which is actually a pretty tame affair this side of those wheels.

Photo: D.Heyman

Inside a luxury suite
Of course when it comes to the G90, the experience really begins and ends with that gorgeous gingerbread-like interior, complete with diamond-printed seats. It oozes opulence when you first take it in, and continues to impress once you take your seat in one of the gorgeous chairs, which can be power-adjusted from 14-24 ways, depending on which set you’re in.

The seats are just the start. After that you begin to see more details: the way the dust-attracting piano-black plastic you used to find at the base of the centre stack has been switched for proper leather, the tasteful silver-look inserts around the shift lever, infotainment controls and some window switches, even the way some of the plastic buttons and switches match the brown leather. All speak to the keen eye for detail harboured by the G90’s designers.

And that’s just the front row. With a 3,160-mm wheelbase and up to 960 mm of rear legroom – not to mention massive rear door openings – it’s plain that this is a vehicle whose potential owners wouldn’t be averse to being driven in, as opposed to driving. I mean, just look at that rear armrest! There are almost as many controls there as you see on the front centre console, because when you’re in the back seat, why shouldn’t you be able to control the infotainment system, right?

Photo: D.Heyman

In addition to that, there are standard privacy blinds on all the rear windows, heated and cooled seats and the ability for the right-side back-row passenger to move the right front seat forward themselves. The left rear passenger doesn’t have that ability, which is why their seat is adjustable 14 ways, while the right side is adjustable 16 ways because you can further recline the seatback and Genesis says that it needed to install extra lumbar controls for maximum comfort.

The one thing that’s lacking – and this may sound like a real nitpick – are massaging rear seats. A detail it may be, but when the Lincoln Continental – one of the G90’s main competitors -- offers a feature like it for similar money, you can see that it may not be that trivial at all. Not at the high-luxury level we’re at here.

The back seats are immensely comfortable and roomy, though – you really do get the sense you’re in a very big car when sat back there and while that may not be a great thing for drivers, it sure as heck is when you’re a back-seat passenger looking to get to the ball in the most relaxed way possible. I know that if I knew of a livery service that happened to operate these, I’d put them at the top of my list.

Photo: D.Heyman

Not that Genesis has forgotten about the driver and front-seat passenger, either; in addition to making the centre console more attractive-looking, they’ve made it easier to use by lowering the button count. The infotainment screen is also a big widescreen affair with an intuitive interface, responsive touchscreen and good colours as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Indeed, it’s the colours that are the main difference between what’s found here and what you get elsewhere in the Hyundai lineup.

What I would like Genesis to consider, however, is adding a digital rearview mirror. Before you jump all over me, please hear me out. The beauty of these types of mirrors is manifold; for one thing you never have to change the angle for different drivers because the camera points the same way, no matter what. You don’t have heads in your rearview when you look and you get a better field of view overall.

I see it making sense here because a) there’s a good chance the rear window is partially shaded for rear seat comfort, and that changes the view through the mirror, b) rear seat occupants may not want to see their driver in the mirror and c) the G90 is large and long, and the wider the view out back, the better.

What they have done in terms of improving visibility, however, is affix blind spot cameras to both sides of the car, the displays of which appear on either side of the gauge cluster as soon as you flick the turn indicator. It’s intuitive and sharp, and I prefer it to Honda’s LaneWatch system that only covers the right side of the car and appears on the central display instead of within the gauge clusters.

Photo: D.Heyman
Photo: D.Heyman

The powertrain
Another good fit here is the standard 5.0L naturally-aspirated V8. While the competition all switches to turbo and twin-turbo sixes and eights, Genesis has stood steadfastly by their big, deep-chested V8 that’s good for 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, more than what’s made by the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S450 and the V6-powered Audi A8.

Since the engine is naturally aspirated, power comes on smoothly and quickly, and noisily only if you ask it to by changing the exhaust note through the infotainment system. Not sure how necessary this is considering that the G90 is made for coddling occupants to the nth degree, but as a driver and fan of fun-sounding cars, I liked having it.

Photo: D.Heyman

On the road
Considering the weather, though, I liked having the G90’s ultra-smooth ride even more. There are self-adjusting dampers that respond to what’s going on below them and while they’re not of the magnetic variety, they work in concert with better insulation ‘round the bushings and in various other parts of the subframe to keep the goings smooth. I guess if I had a complaint it would revolve around a slight surplus of body roll, but considering this isn’t a performance sedan, I won’t hold that too much against it.

Really, it’s hard to find much to gripe about with the Genesis G90, especially when you consider the price: $89,750, with the only option being a $2,500 rear seat entertainment system. That’s midsize luxury sedan money for a full-size luxury sedan, and it just may be the lighting bolt that actually gets traditional full-size luxury car buyers to look to the sled from South Korea.

Photo: D.Heyman

We like

Smooth V8 power
Exquisitely-appointed interior
Interior room
Good tech offering

We like less

Ride can be a little too soft
Conflicted styling punctuated by massive grille
No rear seat massage system

The competition

Acura RLX
Audi A8
BMW 7 Series
Cadillac XT6
Lexus LS
Lincoln Continental
Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Volvo S90

Photo: D.Heyman
Photo: D.Heyman

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2020 Genesis G90
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Photos:D.Heyman
Photos de la Genesis G90 2020