While SUVs may dominate the market, sedans still set the image for a brand, especially a luxury marque like Genesis.
And with the full-size 2023 G90, this South Korean upstart shows it’s ready to take on even the most established premium competitors, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Who called this the “Sunshine State”? So, far, all I’ve seen during this visit to Florida have been torrential thunderstorms. But if I’ve got to brave the weather while making a run from the Keys up to Miami, the next-generation Genesis G90 is certainly a good choice.
Odds are high you’ve never even heard of Genesis before. The brand began as a single, midsize luxury sedan launched by the Hyundai brand back in 2008. It shocked the industry when it was named North American Car of the Year, and led the Korean carmaker to introduce the even bigger Equus. It was that full-size model that morphed into the G90 when the now standalone Genesis brand was formally spun off in 2015.
Genesis G90 Review
Lavishly Appointed, Affordably Priced
That model had a fair bit going for it, though Genesis largely pulled a page from the playbook Toyota used a quarter-century earlier when it launched the Lexus line. The 2016 Genesis G90 offered a significant discount for those who wanted a large and lavishly equipped sedan but couldn’t — or wouldn’t — pay the premium demanded by established brands for products like the Mercedes S-Class or the BMW 7-Series.
At a starting price of $88,400 — plus $1,095 in delivery fees — the 2023 Genesis still boasts a substantial price advantage over those competitors, the 2022 S-Class starting at $111,100.
But buyers will have no reason to think they’ve settled for the bargain brand alternative. Quite the contrary. The second-generation G90 features a crisp and distinctive exterior design, a lavishly appointed cabin, plenty of appealing technology, and two solid powertrain options.
Considering the target market for the G90, I spent my first day in Florida comfortably ensconced in the sedan’s plush back seat, with my favorite tunes playing on the new, 26-speaker B&O sound system, while I tinkered with the massage settings for the reclining bucket. My second day was spent behind the wheel, drifting my way up from Key Largo to hipper-than-hip South Beach.
While the original sedan had a somewhat generic, me-too appearance, not so with the 2023 Genesis G90. The brand’s designers like to say it has the look of an athlete in a well-tailored suit, and that’s not a bad comparison. This sedan has a definite attitude.
The new model sits slightly lower and wider than the original G90 and gets a new clamshell-style hood. It also picks up on some of the cues we’ve seen from other recent Genesis updates.
That starts with the big “crest” grille which is framed by the brand’s now-signature two-line lamps. Easily the most distinctive look on today’s market, each row is made up of a matrix of small LED bulbs. Echoing that layout, twin character lines flow across the sculpted fenders and doors, blending into twin rows of taillights.
The sprawling cabin is equally impressive. To access it, you simply move your hand over the foldaway door handle, which then pops out and presents itself.
The first thing you’re likely to notice is the sheer size. The rear seats, in particular, could have been plucked from a corporate jet — and they offer even more amenities, starting with the multiple massage modes.
The choice of materials has been markedly upgraded for 2023, with details such as the inlaid metal lines — borrowed from traditional Korean art — embedded in the wood of the upper door panels. Genesis designers have come up with a lavish mix of leather, tailored wood, carbon fiber, and an elegant synthetic material, of all things, from recycled newsprint.
Classic Details, Modern Technology
They’ve also found a balance of classical elegance and very modern technology. That even includes the door releases. Powered buttons replace conventional handles. Press them as you enter and they automatically close the doors. Ready to exit? Another tap opens the doors just enough not to ding into a vehicle that might be parked alongside.
Large, twin digital displays anchor the instrument panel. The touchscreen display atop the center stack handles a lengthy list of vehicle functions — though you can also use the natural speech voice control system, as well as controls on the steering wheel. A separate, smaller display below the main touchscreen is specifically dedicated to operating the G90’s climate control.
My 2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-SC AWD model also provided a large head-up display, as well as a separate control panel in the center armrest for rear-seat occupants.
Attempting to list all the tech features on the G90 would easily double the length of this review. But one of the most notable developments is the introduction of a Digital Key system. It lets you skip carrying around your keyfob — at least if you use an iPhone, Apple Watch, or Samsung smartphone. Set it up and it uses a trio of communications protocols, including Bluetooth, Ultra-Wide Band, and NFC, to talk to the big sedan.
Approach and it will first light up the headlamps and puddle light, then pop out the door handles — or open the trunk if you stand behind the G90 for a few seconds. Once inside, the system knows who you are and resets a variety of vehicle functions to your preferences. It moves your seats, changes the radio settings, and even can plug in a destination in the navigation system.
Up to four people can have digital keys and you can temporarily forward one to someone who might borrow the car. A separate keycard with limited access can be given to a parking valet.
If you’re into great audio, however, the new B&O system could be the car’s best feature. It boasts 26 speakers and 23 separate channels. And it can be easily programmed to simulate the acoustics of a variety of different venues, such as Boston Symphony Hall.
Of course, when you buy a big cruiser like the 2023 G90, you expect it to deliver plenty of effortless power, and the new model doesn’t disappoint. The “base” engine is an impressive, twin-turbo 3.5L V-6 effectively carried over from the outgoing G90. It makes 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque.
I spent my time in the upgraded G90 3.5T E-SC AWD model which makes 409 horsepower and 405 pound-feet and shares an eight-speed automatic transmission with the base car. Both come standard with all-wheel drive.
The E-SC is shorthand for the upgrade’s 48-volt mild hybrid system which adds an electric supercharger to the twin turbos, providing plenty of instantaneous torque. The new engine replaces the prior generation’s big V-8, but that shouldn’t disappoint anyone unless they have a cylinder fixation.
The advantages became immediately obvious the first time I launched off from a stoplight. There’s effectively no turbo-lag, power coming on almost as quickly as with the latest generation of pure battery electric vehicles. And the V-6 kept pulling as I merged onto the Sunshine Turnpike and zig-zagged over to the hammer lane, readily reaching what I’ll only describe as “significant extra-legal speeds.”
Pricing & Final Thoughts
Florida isn’t the place to go if you’re intent on testing a new vehicle’s handling and dynamics. Hills and curves are few and far between. But where I could occasionally flog the new G90, I was impressed with its stability and manners.
This is no sports car, the 2023 model weighing in at over 5,000 pounds, depending upon configuration. But the new G90 is anything but ponderous and should match up to its European and Japanese premium luxury competition once I have the opportunity to take it out in a more compelling location.
Indeed, with the launch of the second-generation 2023 G90, Genesis has clearly arrived as a player you can no longer dismiss. The full-size sedan offers pretty much anything you’d expect, and does so at a surprisingly good price. As earlier noted, the G90 3.5 ST AWD starts at $88,400, while the G90 3.5T E-SC AWD comes in at $98,700.
And unlike most competitors — the Germans, in particular — you won’t get hammered with options. There is a $1,095 delivery fee. But, beyond that, the only thing you can add on is a choice of several premium paint colors. A matte finish will set you back another $1,500.
Ever since the debut of the original Hyundai Genesis sedan — the progenitor of today’s Genesis G80 — the South Koreans have been looking for a way to stand out in a crowded luxury market. With each new model, they’ve gotten closer and closer to the magic formula. And with the launch of the 2023 Genesis G90, they’ve pretty much nailed it.
There will still be buyers determined to park a car with a tri-star or spinner badge in their driveways. But even those loyalists will likely have a harder time looking down their noses at the 2023 Genesis sedan. It has truly arrived.