2017 Genesis G90 3.3T AWD

Posted on Nov 1 2016 - 5:43am by Jeff Dunham

In the words of Kevin McCallister preparing to fend off Harry and Marv in Home Alone, “This is it. Don’t get scared now.” Hyundai announced in 2015 that Genesis would become a stand-alone luxury brand, and 2017 is the year that Genesis takes the plunge. Will it flop like Filipino divers failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics, or will it slip gracefully into the luxury mainstream?

2017 Genesis G90

The G90’s interior trappings are, if not first rate, then something that would round to first rate; perhaps 1.47th rate. There are only two interior options: black or beige leather. In fact, there are no typical options at all on any G90. You pick an engine, rear- or all-wheel drive, your interior color, and one of six exterior color options. Aside from V-8 models featuring LED headlamps and cushier, power-adjustable ventilated rear seats, that’s that. Four of those colors are grayscale, plus a brown and a blue that, if you haven’t eaten enough carrots lately or the light is low, could pass for grayscale. But with either interior color, you get rich wood and metallic accents, soft leather, handsome knurled knobs, and gentle LED ambient lighting. Lingering whiffs of cheapness—a few buttons shared with lesser Hyundais—only slightly diminish the luxury atmosphere.

The HVAC and infotainment controls are laid out in a pair of attractive rails on the center stack, with most functions controlled through a large knob on the console. Among a population of infotainment systems that is becoming increasingly convoluted and illogical, the G90’s menu structure is straightforward and relatively navigable. Some of the system’s graphics are a little cartoonish, but we’ll grant a temporary pass for now. It’s only been a few years since Hyundai shrugged off the “for a Korean car” qualifier. And if the point of the G90 is to spoof the German luxury mainstays, it has done well.

The G90’s ride tends toward the pillowy end of the spectrum without wallowing down the road, although it lacks the sense of control familiar to drivers of Germany’s best such barges. The steering is well matched to the chassis with satisfying heft, but it offers sterile isolation from the road. A 172-foot stop from 70 mph is below average for the class, but 0.85 g of grip on the skidpad is adequate and competitive with large sedans from established luxury marques.

As is the straight-line performance. With the G90, Genesis debuts Hyundai’s new 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6, an evolution of the 3.3- and 3.8-liter Lambda engines that the brand has employed with several variations since the 2006 model year. In the context of the outputs made by other similarly sized turbocharged engines—say, the 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque from Ford’s 3.5-liter in the F-150 Raptor or the 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft from 3.0 liters in the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400—this one’s 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft might appear to be unambitious, but the understressed 3.3 doles out its power smoothly, Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic swapping ratios in kind.

Thanks to the additional traction of all-wheel drive, this six-cylinder managed to tie a rear-drive G90 V-8 to 60 mph, with both hitting the mark in 5.3 seconds. Although the V-8 gains a couple of tenths on the six through the quarter-mile, clearing the lights in 13.8 seconds at 105 mph compared with the V-6 car’s 14 flat at an even 100, we expect few G90 purchase decisions will hinge on drag-strip ETs. Fuel economy will likely be a higher consideration; on that front we recorded 18 mpg with the V-6 and 17 for the V-8. Those numbers likely suffered, though, as our testing of the G90s coincided with our annual 10Best Cars festivities, in which our feet are even more leaden than usual. In our last test of a Hyundai Equus, the G90’s predecessor, we saw 21 mpg on a trip that involved far more highway driving.

Compared with that Equus, the G90 is a remarkable step up, a commendable improvement generation over generation. And while there aren’t any options, that’s not to say the car lacks substance. Most anything a luxury buyer could want is simply included as standard, from adaptive dampers and soft-close doors to a 22-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated outboard seats all around (ventilated in the front), and reclining rear seats. But it still lacks the down-to-the-last-detail refinement of established luxury flagships, while the G90’s base price leaps about 10 grand higher than the first Equus’s. A base Lexus LS is only $4445 distant. If the G90 is going to continue to creep closer to pricing parity, then Genesis will need to get on par with final polishing as well.