Genesis G90 shows you don't need lots of choice when buying luxury

Hyundai’s audacious move into luxury market was initially met with derision

Published: November 23, 2019, 4:30 PM
Updated: November 23, 2021, 4:05 PM

2020 Genesis G90

2020 Genesis G90


  • Value
  • Customer-centric approach
  • No decisions to make other than colour


  • Uphill fight taking on the big guns
  • On the heavy side
  • Ultra-conservative styling

With the introduction of the Genesis brand, Hyundai is hoping to copy the Lexus story. Toyota’s attempt to position the Lexus brand head-to-head with the trio of German luxury brands in 1990 was bold, to say the least, but Lexus has become an established and highly respected name. Unrelenting attention to quality and customer satisfaction proved the skeptics wrong.

The other Japanese brands (Honda/Acura and Nissan/Infiniti) have tried the same approach, but with far less success.

Enter Genesis. Canada’s newest luxury brand came on the scene little more than three years ago. Hyundai’s audacious move into the luxury market was initially met with derision, but after a raft of awards and recognition, that has morphed into acceptance and the initial stages of respect.

Genesis has been named the #1 brand in initial quality for two years running by J D Power. Consumer Reports rates it the #1 luxury brand. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded Genesis vehicles its Top Safety Pick+ award. The Genesis G70 was named the North American Car of the Year with similar accolades from numerous enthusiast magazines.

Unique marketing approach

In order to stand out in a class where quality, engineering and content are expected, Genesis has taken a unique approach. — it has no dealerships.

The consumer buys from the company, online in most cases, and Genesis brings the vehicle to the prospective customer for consideration. Purchase paperwork is completed at the customer’s home or place of business.

When it comes time for service, a loaner is brought to the customer and retrieved when his or her Genesis is returned. Scheduled maintenance is complimentary for five years or 100,000 km.

The next chapter in the Genesis plan is to build distributorships, stand-alone facilities in high traffic sites where potential clients can see and drive Genesis vehicles. That may sound like a dealership. But, instead of buying from a privately-owned and profit-driven entity, you buy or lease directly from Genesis.

There are currently 22 of these micro-sites in Canada, with a goal of 30 from Halifax to Victoria by the end of 2020.

National treasure

Another interesting aspect of the Genesis approach is the unreserved pride that it’s a Korean product, the flagship of the Republic of Korea. At home, Genesis is a matter of national pride. The G90 is used by country’s President and industry leaders. More than 12,000 were sold in South Korea for first six months of 2019, a 113% increase over the previous year.

Genesis cars are based on unique rear-drive platforms. A series of upcoming crossovers will spring from those same genes.

All-inclusive luxury

And that brings us to the 2020 Genesis G90. This is a take-no-prisoners luxury car. The big, silent and powerful G90 comes complete at $89,750 all-in. That includes all delivery and destination fees, five years of at-home and Genesis connected service.

You can spend hours and tens of thousands of dollars on the option list of its competitors. There are no options on the G90. The only choice is colour. The savings of this marketing approach are significant. The G90 costs $20,000 - $30,000 less than the top models from the competition – before those extensive and expensive options.

Genesis says G90 customers are very pragmatic. About a third have retired and are looking for the best buy for their buck. Genesis owners say the major considerations in their purchase decisions were value (29%), safety features (29%), quality (24%), interior comfort, (22%), total cost of ownership (17%) and technical innovation (17%).

The G90 is astonishingly equipped and complete. Quality is a proven by the long list of awards. The design is conservative and slightly updated for the 2020 model year. The level of craftmanship, quality of materials and attention to detail is truly world class, cars costing two and three times as much do no better.

Just sit back and enjoy

The big sedan could be considered an oasis on wheels. It offers plenty of room for five, with those in the outside rear seats especially well cared for. The setup process provides “Smart Posture Care”. The driver inputs height, weight, inseam length, etc. and the system recommends and sets the most ergonomic seating position based on an analysis of that physical profile data. Seat angle and height, steering wheel rake and reach, side mirror position and Heads Up Display are adjusted accordingly.

It put me in a driving position I would normally not have chosen, but I emerged hours later with no pains or complaints.

Sensors automatically adjust seat and steering wheel heat according to ambient conditions. Motors pull the doors closed. The 17-speaker Lexicon audio system allows you to set the sound as if sitting on the stage with the orchestra or, at least in the front row. An advanced algorithm compensates for losses incurred by the process of compressing MP3, AAC and other formats.

The standard Genesis Connected Services allows remote access to various function through a smartphone app. From your phone, you can locate and/or start the car, pre-set the HVAC system, pre-heat the steering wheel and seat and get diagnostic reports. 

You get the idea - this is a very complete and luxurious automobile.

Sound, solid performance

The extremely rigid platform aids in an almost complete lack of road, wind or mechanical noise at any speed. Buried in the lengthy list of noise suppression details, is the fact the 19-inch alloy wheels have been especially formed on a hollow core to absorb sound.

The 420-horsepower V-8 is silent and smooth with plenty of power on tap. The sophisticated, Canadian-designed (Magna) all-wheel-drive system constantly shuffles power front-to-rear and side-to-side as needed, and the adaptive suspension copes well with a variety of surfaces and driving styles.

The G90 is big, it is heavy and will never be mistaken as sports car. That role is filled by the G70. But, there are a number of drive modes and shift paddles to play with should you so desire.

The argument can, and will be made, that Genesis lacks the credibility and reputation of the established makes. The segment is loyalty driven. More than 50% return to same brand. Genesis knows it is a huge challenge to overcome that. There is no argument, beyond the question of how much consumers are willing to pay for that “image.”

Let the games begin.


Price: $89,750 base, $89,750 as tested, including freight

Engine: 5.0-litre, V-8, 420 hp, 323 lb-ft of torque, premium fuel recommended

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive wheels: all-wheel drive

NRCan Fuel Consumption (litres/100km city/highway): 13.6 / 9.5

Length: 5,205 mm

Width: 1,915 mm

Wheelbase: 3,160 mm

Weight: 2,250 kg

Options on test vehicle: none