2023 Genesis G90 Review and Test Drive

A world-class flagship that defines automotive artistry.

Christian Wardlaw

Review QuickTakes:

Here's the thing about luxury brands in the United States: If it doesn't instantly convey financial success or inspire envy in other people, it's a tough sell. Design, quality, innovation, and sophistication all take a back seat to showing off, and that's likely why the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) historically struggled to attract customers to its Genesis models.

In recent years, the luxury brand introduced a slew of critically acclaimed cars, SUVs, and electric vehicles, which helped move sales in the right direction. In 2022, Genesis outsold Infiniti and Jaguar. Yet, compared to Tesla, which sells fewer models, Genesis moved a fraction of the vehicles sold by the electric vehicle maker. That’s because Tesla basks in a futuristic, innovative, technological glow as a brand. A Genesis, some people might believe, is a Hyundai by any other name. See: the importance of instantly inspiring envy.

We can excuse them for thinking that. For a decade, Hyundai sold a luxury sedan called the Genesis. In 2015, two years after redesigning it, Hyundai made Genesis its new luxury brand and renamed the second-generation sedan the G80. Since then, the lineup has grown to include the G70 and G90 sedans and the GV70 and GV80 SUVs. In addition, the Genesis GV60 is an electric crossover and counts the Tesla Model Y as a chief competitor.

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Along the way, Genesis also found a cohesive design language that blends old-world elegance with futuristic technology. And that brand vision defines the redesigned 2023 Genesis G90.

In the new 2023 G90, Genesis crafts a full-size flagship sedan that sheds its awkward proportions. Instead, the G90 backs up its design with the engineering, technology, and quality that characterizes vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It is a rolling showcase of what HMG can achieve and is worth the attention of anyone planning to spend up to six figures on a new luxury car.

The question, of course, is whether drivers will put aside their motivations for buying such a vehicle in exchange for daring to be different. I think those who do will enjoy a rich reward in the new Genesis G90.

Genesis offers its new flagship in 3.5T and 3.5T E-Supercharger specification, each equipped with standard all-wheel drive. Oddly, every paint color costs extra, but there are no other options aside from an accessory first-aid kit. The G90 3.5T costs just over $90,000, while the G90 3.5T E-Supercharger price is just over $100,000, including the destination charge. Genesis builds the new G90 in Ulsan, South Korea.

For this Genesis G90 review, I test-drove the 3.5T E-Supercharger in Southern California. It came with Makalu Gray Matte paint, bringing the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $101,325, including the $1,125 destination charge. Genesis provided the vehicle for this G90 review.

Christian Wardlaw

2023 Genesis G90: The Design

To appreciate the beauty of the new Genesis G90, you need to get up close. Longer and wider than the model it replaces, the new G90 is artistry on wheels. The now familiar diamond-pattern grille and thin "two-line" headlight strips lead the way, their upper edges forming the shut line of a deftly integrated clamshell hood. The side marker lights continue the two-line lighting theme, decorating the fenders like a vent while hiding the hood seam.

Most Genesis models feature an unmistakable character line that sweeps down from the beltline to taper into the wraparound taillights. Back windows that arc up toward the rear roof pillars exaggerate the look. The motif is sometimes messy, as seen on the GV70 SUV, but it does help separate Genesis from its rivals.

With the new G90, which requires a more formal roofline in keeping with its mission, the dropping line fades as it reaches the back of the car. Instead, a fainter crease stretching from the clamshell hood's rear corners and through the door handles serves as the defining plane for the taillights while rising to serve as the sharp trailing edge of the trunk lid. The taillights also adopt a new interpretation of the Genesis two-line design, featuring thicker trapezoidal upper lenses appropriate for a large luxury sedan.

Inside, the Genesis G90 blends old-world elegance with high-tech controls and displays, putting a new spin on retro design. The automaker says it employs sustainably sourced wood trim and other materials for the cabin, and the G90 has both electronic door latch releases and a fragrance diffuser. The latter feature plays a role in the Mood Curator system, which adjusts the fragrance system, audio system, ambient interior lighting, rear window blinds, and seat massagers to create specific environments, or moods, within the car.

Premium Nappa leather upholstery is standard and is perforated, piped, and stitched for a plush look and luxurious feel. It pairs with an artificial suede headliner, thick carpets, metallic accents, and matte wood trim for a decadently outfitted interior. In addition, a triple-zone automatic climate control system is standard.

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The G90 has an 18-way power-adjustable driver's seat and a 16-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat. Both front seats include heating, ventilation, and massage, and the back seats have standard heating. No matter which seat you take, you'll find plenty of comfort in the Genesis G90, although I thought the rear foot room was a little snug.

The fully equipped 3.5T E-Supercharger test car also had power-adjustable and reclining rear seats with ventilation, massage, and memory settings. Fold the rear center armrest down to reveal a climate system touchscreen display, multimedia controls, wireless smartphone charging, and a UV-C light compartment where, according to Genesis, you can eliminate 99 percent of bacteria from small items in about 10 minutes.

My teenagers loved riding in the Genesis G90, feeling like VIPs as we cruised around Los Angeles. Except for the light-colored carpets and mats — which are incompatible with family life, let alone inclement weather — it's easy to envision using a G90 3.5T E-Supercharger for a family road trip.

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Unfortunately, the new Genesis G90's trunk falls victim to the car's design and mission as an executive transport. It measures 12 cubic feet in the standard G90, and the E-Supercharger model's battery further restricts luggage room to 10.6 cu.-ft. The result is a shallow cargo area without much volume, so pack light.

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2023 Genesis G90: The Technology

Genesis equips the new G90 with every technology in HMG's arsenal. As a result, it's an impressive collection, starting with the 12.3-inch digital instrumentation and 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system displays.

Each screen looks larger than that and features appealing graphics combined with a wealth of data. In particular, I like the photography Genesis uses to illustrate each menu tile on the infotainment system. For example, the image for the SiriusXM satellite radio tile is a classic Tivoli-style tabletop radio, while the climate system's tile picture shows the fan blades of what appears to be a jet engine.

In addition to satellite radio, the infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto compatibility and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Our 3.5T E-Supercharger test car had an upgrade to this model's exclusive 26-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D high-end audio system, and it was sensational.

With the connected services plan active, the test car's native voice recognition technology worked well, for the most part. However, when I told the virtual assistant I wanted to listen to reggae music, the system could not find SiriusXM channel 19, the Bob Marley station. Also, I could not adjust the climate system temperature or the seat heaters using voice commands, which was odd and unexpected.

Digital Key 2 is new to the G90. It recognizes an Apple or Samsung phone as you approach the car, unlocks the G90, and sets everything to the driver's preferences. In addition, the G90 features an excellent head-up display, but you cannot see it if you're wearing polarized sunglasses. That's a real shame because the display provides so much information and reduces driver distraction.

Other visibility enhancements include a helpful surround-view camera system and a Blind-Spot View Monitor system that uses cameras to show the driver what's in the car's blind spots. This feature is a supplement to, and not a replacement for, the standard radar-based active blind-spot monitoring system.

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Genesis equips the G90 with every advanced driving assistance and collision-avoidance system that HMG offers and then some. It is one of the few Genesis, Hyundai, or Kia models equipped with Highway Driving Assist 2 (HDA2), an enhanced version of the original technology that combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assist to provide semi-autonomous driving assistance. With HDA2, the new Lane Change Assist (LCA) function automatically checks to see if it's safe to change lanes when the driver uses the turn signal. If it is clear, LCA steers the G90 into the adjacent lane.

It's important to remember that when using HDA2, your hands must remain on the steering wheel. With that said, the G90's HD2 technology is one of the best examples of a highway driving assist system I've ever experienced. The system performs smoothly and accurately in various driving scenarios, though it can feel a little less sure of its trajectory at lower speeds. Nevertheless, HDA2 is an outstanding system that seems to me to be ready to join existing hands-free driving aids such as Cadillac Super Cruise, Lincoln Active Glide, and Tesla Autopilot with Full Self Driving, a name that is more aspirational than actual.

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Remote Smart Parking Assist 2 is another of the G90's advanced driving assistance systems. When active, it can take complete control of the car to park in parallel, diagonal, and perpendicular spaces. In addition, it works with the driver sitting behind the steering wheel or standing outside of the vehicle and operating the system using the remote key fob. I've used similar technology in the hydrogen-powered Hyundai Nexo SUV, and it works if you — and your fellow motorists — don't mind how long it takes.

At time of publication, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had performed crash tests on the new Genesis G90.

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2023 Genesis G9: The Drive

Genesis equips the G90 3.5T with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine making 375 hp and 391 lb.-ft. of torque. In addition, the G90 3.5T E-Supercharger model adds a 48-volt electrical system and mild-hybrid technology to boost the twin-turbo V6 engine's output to 409 hp and 405 lb.-ft. of torque.

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Genesis bases the power ratings on using premium gas, and the EPA fuel economy ratings are 20 mpg in combined driving for the E-Supercharger model and 21 mpg for the standard G90. Both cars pair their engines with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, and Genesis offers a choice between Eco, Comfort, and Sport driving modes. On the evaluation loop, primarily using Comfort mode, the 3.5T E-Supercharger returned an indicated 20.5 mpg.

An electronic adaptive suspension is standard and features a road preview function. That means it scans the road ahead, identifies holes and bumps, and then adjusts the suspension before impact to ensure the smoothest ride possible. The G90 3.5T rides on attractive 20-inch wheels, while the G90 3.5T E-Supercharger gets a more intricate-looking 21-inch set of wheels with 245/40 front and wider 275/35 rear tires.

The E-Supercharger model has a multichamber air suspension in addition to the adaptive road preview components and employs rear-wheel steering to make the large car more maneuverable at slow speeds and more stable at higher velocities. Acoustic laminated glass for nearly all windows keeps the interior quiet on the highway.

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So much about how the G90 drives is buttery smooth, from the throttle and steering response to the ride quality and braking action. Remember, Genesis makes this car to chauffeur corporate executives, so Genesis calibrates it for the utmost sublimity. The ride quality is especially remarkable, considering the 3.5T E-Supercharger's 21-inch wheels and low-profile tires. You'll feel like you're wafting along on a cloud, but commendable performance is just a switch to Sport mode away.

In Sport mode, the Genesis G90 is quick, calm, and collected. The E-Supercharger powertrain supplies prodigious performance, and the suspension adjusts just enough to eradicate the body lean in sharper and higher-speed corners but without any loss in ride comfort. This is a serious automobile that can rapidly cover ground at high rates of speed.

I hope it sets the stage for more good things to come from Genesis.

Christian Wardlaw

Is the 2023 Genesis G90 a Good Car?

I think the 2023 Genesis G90 is more than just a good car. It is an excellent one. It looks like nothing else on the road, exuding class, style, and hints of old-school grandeur tucked under its high-tech skin.

Furthermore, the new 2023 G90 is a top-notch luxury car that isn't trying to be anything other than a capable yet quiet and comfortable conveyance. The interior wraps you in a sense of occasion and provides you with plush, supportive, massaging seats. The sound system fills the cabin with lush sound; the technology is comprehensive but approachable; thoughtful details such as the UV-C light compartment are impressive.

Finally, it is wonderful to drive. Remember, the G90's role is to isolate the driver and passengers from the road so it doesn't behave like a sports sedan. Nevertheless, it supplies impressive performance and handling, and you can tap into either whenever the mood strikes.

I was so impressed by the new G90 that I deemed it one of my three favorite test cars of the 2022 calendar year. Tellingly, the others were also from the Hyundai Motor Group: the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.

All vehicle pricing includes MSRP plus destination charges (set at the time of publication) and will be rounded to the nearest thousand.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.