Six years. That’s the short period of time in which Genesis has thoroughly rethought the G90 flagship luxury sedan three times. As the saying goes, third time’s the charm.
The 2023 Genesis G90 exudes elegance and style and glides into its next stage of its young life with fewer cylinders, an optional mild-hybrid system, a new design inside and out, and new mechanical tricks as it aims for a swath of the luxury market seemingly left behind by Lexus.
Electrified, but not electric
The smooth 5.0-liter V-8 of yore is gone. RIP.
The base 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque hooked to an 8-speed automatic is found throughout the Genesis lineup. It’s a gem of a powertrain that does a decent impersonation of a turbo-6 hailing from Bavaria. The E-Supercharger trim’s new engine takes that turbocharged V-6 and pairs it with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. It adds an electric compressor said to help deliver boost at low revs (like an electric supercharger) before the turbo kicks. Genesis rates the whole shebang at 409 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque.
For those keeping track, it’s down 11 hp but up 22 lb-ft of torque over the V-8.
TL;DR: the smooth power delivery and build of the outgoing V-8 is missed, and this complicated powertrain felt like proof the G90 should have just gone all-electric (which this platform’s capable of doing; see the 2023 Genesis Electrified G80).
The G90 has enough power for swift highway passing maneuvers, but it never feels like there’s over 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque on tap. The reason? The G90 weighs in between 4,861 and 5,192 pounds. Put two adults in the front seats and it’s nearly the weight of a base Chevrolet Tahoe. The electric assist is smooth and the power transitions are seamless, but strong jabs of the throttle require the transmission to kick down one, or three, gears, which it does so in rapid succession.
Ironically the luxury flagship’s largest downfall is its ride and lack of control. The tested E-Supercharger model featured a multi-chamber air suspension system paired with adaptive dampers. The ride is floaty, uncoordinated, and at times feels boat-like. My wife, who experiences motion sickness, quickly noted the Genesis was making her feel ill on the highway in Comfort mode. Sport mode’s firmer suspension tune helped, but takes things a half-step too far for true old-school Lexus LS-like ride quality and day-to-day driving.
The rear-wheel-steering system that is the highlight of the smaller G80 Sport is one of the G90’s downfalls. It can turn the rear wheels up to 4.0 degrees opposite the fronts below 37 mph and up to 2.0 degrees in phase with the fronts above 37 mph, and while it shrinks the G90’s footprint around corners, it can exaggerate the G90’s uncoordinated feeling.
It’s hard to not understate the latest G90’s elegance and presence. The overall design is simple in an era of overwrought BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS flagships. The front end is low, and yet obviously it still meets pedestrian crash-test standards. Eat your heart out, BMW.
That low front end gives way to a simple clamshell hood that wouldn’t be out of place on a million-dollar Aston Martin, and the front and rear horizontal LED lighting are distinctive and jewel-like. The tall greenhouse is refreshing in an era of small glass windows and high beltlines.
The Germans should take notes, because inside the G90 features buttons, knobs, and hard controls in a digital era where someone told someone the largest iPad slapped on a dashboard wins. Knobs feature fine-texture detailing while every surface is soft and many feature fine stitching. Genesis isn’t relying on cheap gimmicks or a flashy crystal ball here (hint: look at the smaller GV60 for that). It all just feels, and looks, like simple yet upscale pieces that belong in a lounge. Those looking for cheesy carbon fiber or ridiculous amounts of wood will need to head to other showrooms as this is a calming interior made for relaxing cruises from point A to point B.
But some of the G90’s interior functionality is compromised. The touch-sensitive pad on the two-spoke steering wheel can lead to changing songs by accident just with a graze of a finger. The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster’s layout is baffling in its formats and information displayed, limited to the driver-assistance system status, trip computer, or a map. It all feels like a waste of digital real estate. The uprights that bookend the digital gauge cluster are a snappy design statement, but have controls that dim the gauge cluster and feel like a poor use of space that could be better used for other vehicle controls. The 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system lacks wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though it costs $100,370 as tested; that borders on astonishing. At least the doors close automatically at the push of a button.
The 2023 Genesis G90 costs $89,495 in base form, so it isn’t quite the value play it once was. But even at $100,370 as tested, the latest version of the young luxury automaker’s flagship feels like it’s punching above its class.
It’s not so much that the G90 is offering features competitors lack, but that it’s doing so with the kind of class that BMW, and even Lexus, seem to have forgotten while leaning into both style and substance. Now, give it the electric powertrain it deserves and refine that suspension, Genesis.
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