Words and Photos by Jennifer Jensen
I love road trips. There is nothing like getting behind the wheel of your favorite ride and heading off into the great unknown. Especially if that ride is a comfortable one that offers a calm and serene driving experience.
Enter the Genesis G90, a full size sedan filled to the brim with techno goodies and comfort galore. Could this be the perfect car to spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind? Only one way to find out!
With our overnight bags set in the middle of the massive trunk, my sweetie and I set out for Door County, a cherry-infested land of peace and quiet…and little Internet connection.
With just the two of us the massive back seats were going to be a waste. Then again…
“Honey, would you mind driving for awhile so I can test out the back seats? You know, for editorial research.”
Yeah, I know how to play this game, er, um, do this job.
So we were all set to go and the G90 was set to be our carriage for the long weekend.
“But isn’t the G90 just some stretched out Hyundai,” you ask. Let’s dig into that a little.
Yes, as of 2015, Genesis is the luxury brand from Hyundai. Like Lexus is to Toyota or Acura to Honda. But it’s been around for longer than you may think.
Way back in 1999 Hyundai decided that they wanted to build a competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series. So in partnership with Mitsubishi Motors, the company debuted the Equus (Latin for “Horse”).
That original Equus was a large flagship sedan driven by the front wheels and powered by your choice of a V6 or V8. The car was shown at the New York International Auto Show in 2001 but was never sold in the US.
The Equus was updated with some new engine options for 2003 and it carried on through 2009 when an all-new, rear-wheel-drive Equus model was launched.
That model eventually DID sell in the US but without the Hyundai name directly attached to it, which created some confusion in the marketplace.
While all this was going on, Hyundai launched the Genesis. That is a single name car, just Genesis.
The Genesis debuted in 2008 and was targeted directly at the BMW 5-Series. Like the Equus, the Genesis had a choice of V6 or V8 power and a whole slew of luxury appointments.
Then, in 2015, Hyundai decided to get really serious and created the Genesis brand as a stand-alone luxury platform under the Hyundai banner. With that decision, the Equus became the G90 and the Genesis became the G80.
So even though the G90 nameplate has only been around since 2016, the car actually has roots that go all the way back to 1999.
For the 2020 model year, Genesis performed a major update on the G90. It is not an all-new car, but it’s changed clothes both inside and out.
According to the former Executive Vice President and Chief Design Officer of Hyundai Motor Group, Luc Donckerwolke, “G90 is the ultimate expression of the Genesis brand. Before the first sketch was even drawn, my team of designers thought carefully about how to evolve its styling and create something even more elegant and harmonic.”
Personally, I would agree that the G90 is attractive. It could even be described as imposing with some serious presence.
The designers used something they call, “G-Matrix” in the look of the updated G90. G-Matrix is a design aesthetic that is, “Inspired by light reflecting from an illuminating diamond.”
“When we tackled the challenge of reinventing G90, the Genesis flagship, we decided to start with designing light rather than form and shapes,” Donckerwolke said.
That theme is applied to the headlights and taillights and, for the first time, the wheels as well.
While the lights are quite attractive, especially the taillights with their stretch across the entire back end of the car, it’s the massive front grille that will catch your attention. But the funny thing is, even though the grille is big enough to park another car on, it works here.
As for the wheels, they are of the love it/hate it variety. During our time with the G90 we had a pretty equal number of commenters in both camps.
Things are new on the interior of the G90 as well.
The design team ran with a horizontal theme that is elegant and functional at the same time. The layout is very clean and easy to understand even for someone who has never been in a Genesis product.
Particular attention was paid to materials. There is an abundance of leather, real wood and even chrome plating. The interior of the G90 is a very pleasant place to spend time. Even when the car isn’t moving.
There is plenty of modern tech to go around. It is the first Genesis model to offer over-the-air wireless updates for software and navigation maps. Other standard features are Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Active Noise Cancellation, and adjustable suspension.
The 12.3-inch center-mounted display is now a touchscreen and can split to show more than just one feature. So, for example, you can have satellite radio channels listed next to a navigation map all at the same time. Nice.
Then there are the driver assistance features: Lane Following Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Assist, Highway Driving Assist and Highway Auto Speed Slowdown. Looking over the list of standard features made me wonder if I would even be needed to actually drive the car.
But that’s still the fun part, the drive. And so we head out on our road trip.
Get rolling as a passenger in the Genesis G90 and you might not be sure if you are actually underway. Such is the serenity provided in the cabin.
I was excited to be able to sit in the back to experience the chauffeured life and the G90 did not disappoint. There is so much room to stretch out and relax. The rear seats are heated and adjustable.
As we set off I closed the side and rear window sunshades and cranked up the music.
The standard 17-speaker audio system by Lexicon is very nice and perfectly tuned for the cabin. And yes, it can also be controlled from the back seats.
The flip down center armrest between the two sculpted rear seats has controls for the rear climate, rear sun shades, seat heating and even moving the front seats out of your way.
Cruising down the highway I kept nodding off in the back because it was just so comfy.
We made our first stop at a local winery to grab a bottle of ice wine. Ice wine is made from grapes that are allowed to stay on the vine into the fall when things freeze. Because the grapes sit on the vine so long, the sugars get very concentrated. So most ice wines are very sweet.
With a bottle in the bag we were ready to move on. While the back of the G90 is super comfortable, it is not where all the action is. So I took over driving duties.
Slipping into the 22-way adjustable driver’s seat I spent about 5 minutes configuring everything to my body. Seriously, if you can’t find a comfortable seating position in this seat, then you probably don’t belong in a car.
Heading off the first thing I noticed behind the wheel was how light the steering was. No matter the load. It is fingertip light.
There are two engine options for the G90. Our tester had the standard 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 good for 365 horsepower. An optional 5.0-liter V8 puts out 420 horsepower.
Both engines have the option of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. No matter which engine or drivetrain the G90 comes with an 8-speed automatic. Paddle shifters are present but who really cares.
The turbo V6 never left me wanting for more power and it is very fluid in its delivery.
Winding through some of Door County’s beautiful and lonely back roads the G90 struck me as a true luxury car. Rolling down the road is a quiet affair with very little wind or road noise. That Lexicon audio system easily covers up anything that gets through the double-pane glass.
Most of our driving in the area was at 45 MPH or less and you are always staying alert for local wildlife roaming across the roads. The brakes are more than capable of hauling this limousine down from speed and everything just works the way you want it to.
The layout of controls is so intuitive that it takes no time at all to get familiar with their layout. It is refreshing to have actual buttons for things like the HVAC and not have to navigate through endless menus on a screen.
We wound up in a park on the shores of Lake Michigan and picnicked there.
After lunch we headed to an Inn for the evening and, to be honest, the inside of the G90 was a little more luxurious than where we stayed.
The next day our G90 provided such a relaxing drive back to our home that half the time I almost forgot we were on the road. Carrying on a conversation is welcoming in the cabin and all of the driver aides do a fantastic job of keeping things in control.
I do have the continual fear that as cars get better at taking over driving duties, drivers will get worse at actually driving. Such is the way of “progress.”
I wish there were more color options for both the exterior sheet metal and interior leather. But that is a minor gripe on a very well executed car. The G90 serves its mission with authority. And at as as-tested price of $75,000 it does so at much less money than its rivals.
I sincerely look forward to our next opportunity to see how far Genesis has come.