The 2021 Genesis G90 marks the fifth model year of the flagship sedan. It’s the South Korean underdog, still young, unheralded, but a worthy challenger to front runners from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. If its stalwart German rivals haven’t noticed it yet, they should.
As the subsidiary luxury brand of Hyundai, Genesis has risen quickly among the automotive watchdogs. Car and Driver to J.D. Power and Motor Trend to Kelley Blue Book annually simultaneously bestow automotive honors while touting themselves. Genesis, with its G70, G80 and G90, has been a star for a few years, most notably with the G70, its value-priced sedan.
The G90 is the limo-like cruiser, offered as a twin turbo-charged V6 or 5-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available.
While not as sports-oriented as some competitors, the Genesis has enough power to satisfy performance junkies. The top-line sedan is also a smooth operator, taking occupants on quiet, smooth rides with near-effortless authority.
Like its original release as the Hyundai Genesis (2010 to 2016), the Genesis lineup (including the new GV80 SUV) has two qualities the leading luxury sedans can’t match: Its starting price is about $15,000 less than the new Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series and $22,000 less than the Mercedes-Benz S-class; and Genesis, like Hyundai and close relative Kia, has a 10-year powertrain warranty. The rival German brands don’t. The Genesis Experience extends the warranty with three years or 36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance, valet and connectivity services and navigation system map care.
As a comfort cruiser, the Genesis G90 has few shortcomings. The cabin is spacious and plush, with lots of adjustments for the Nappa leather seats, all heated and ventilated as desired. Matte finish interior wood trim complements the brown interior and metallic Himalayan Gray exterior. The rear seat center console folds forward, revealing controls for the two rear-seat monitors attached to the back of the front seats. It’s an intimate small theater on wheels.
While the G90’s luxury is impressive, so too is the manufacturer’s emphasis on safety and technology. The Genesis has 10 airbags, and half a dozen safety systems— forward collision avoidance to lane keep assist.
Two features can be polarizing: The recently added large “Crest” grille is reminiscent of the Mad Max vehicles’ bravado, and the retro basketweave wheels are further attention-grabbers on a car that doesn’t otherwise boast.
Sales of the Genesis G90 have been disappointing, only a few thousand per year. It’s a shame. The top-flight sedan is as appealing as more prestigious brands. It just doesn’t have the same badge recognition.