In the beginning, there was the Hyundai Genesis, a midsize sedan meant to push the South Korean carmaker into a new level of luxury. The success of that model — which was named North American Car of the Year back in 2008 — convinced Hyundai to spin off the independent Genesis brand. In turn, the even bigger Hyundai Equus was rebadged the Genesis G90.
And now, for the coming model year, this flagship sedan is back in second-generation trim, with a new look, an upgraded interior, a new pair of drivetrain options and an assortment of high-tech features that even let you skip carrying around a key fob.
To get a feel for the 2023 Genesis G90, I headed out for a couple days of driving between Miami and the Keys — though it was hard to think of Florida as the “Sunshine State,” considering the thunderstorms that rolled in during my visit.
The original G90 helped position Genesis as a serious contender in the exclusive market for premium luxury sedans. But as handsome and well-equipped as the first-generation model might have been, it didn’t quite match up to its most exclusive competitors, notably the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS.
And that was something the South Korean luxury brand was determined to address with this second-generation model. The 2023 Genesis G90 gets a complete, ground-up makeover and succeeds pretty much across the board.
The new design is distinctive and appealing, both inside and out. The new powertrain options are solid — if not necessarily quite as powerful as what some of the competition offers. And the sedan gets a number of intriguing technology upgrades, as well.
While the original version of the G90 was a somewhat generic design, not so the 2023 makeover. And that was underscored during my day’s drive, as I repeatedly got a thumbs-up while parked and on the road.
The 2023 Genesis G90 is a bit lower and wider than the model it replaces, designers set out to give the sedan the look of an athlete in a well-tailored suit. It boasts an elegant refinement to its sculpted body panels, but adds a bit more of an in-your-face look to the G90’s front end, with its massive “crest” grille, and twin light strips, each made up of an array of small LED bulbs. That’s carried over in the double character lines flowing across the body into the matching twin lighting in the rear.
Grilles and lighting are today’s brand signatures, and here, Genesis has done a striking job of distinguishing the new G90 from its traditional competition.
Another notable feature: the recessed door handles. As a driver approaches, they “present” themselves for easy access.
Now, slip inside and you simply have to tap the button on the doors or center console to have them automatically close. There’s no traditional inside door handle on the 2023 Genesis G90.
Once inside, you’ll be greeted with a lavishly executed and appointed cabin that more than stands up to what European and Japanese competitors are offering. One of the more intriguing details is the use of thin, inlayed strips of metal in the upper door panels, a distinctly Korean touch.
Genesis designers blended a mix of materials, including tailored wood, upgraded leather and a synthetic, wood-like material made from recycled newspapers.
The cabin is absolutely massive and those in the rear will feel like they’re in business jet seating. The back buckets not only recline but also feature a variety of massage settings.
The classic elegance of the G90’s cabin is balanced by some decidedly high-tech elements, including the large twin video displays that dominate the instrument panel. A smaller screen, midway down the center console, handles the sedan’s climate control system. An additional screen in the rear center armrest allows the back passengers to control their own seat and climate settings.
Like a growing number of luxury brands, Genesis is downsizing its engine line-up. While it may no longer offer a V-8 for the 2023 G90, that doesn’t mean settling for less power. Quite the contrary. The G90 3.5T E-SC AWD model introduces a new V-6 engine that features twin turbos and an electric supercharger drawing power from a 48-volt mild hybrid system. It makes a solid 409 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque.
To add some perspective, the old V-8 made a few more ponies, at 420 hp, but fell short on tire-spinning torque, at 380 lb-ft. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz S 500 makes 429 hp and 383 lb-ft.
The “base” G90 3.5 ST AWD basically offers the same engine sans e-supercharger, delivering 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines are paired with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive is standard for both packages. Note that premium fuel is required.
In terms of fuel economy, the EPA rates the G90 3.5 ST at 18 mpg city, 26 highway and 21 combined. For the G90 3.5T E-SC AWD, it’s 17/24/20.
As it’s done with the “Electrified” G80 sedan, expect to see a full battery-electric version of the G90 follow in a couple years, though the precise timing has yet to be revealed.
Safety and Technology
One of the more intriguing features of the 2023 G90 is its Digital Key system. It allows you to pair up with an iPhone, Apple Watch or Samsung smartphone to leave your key fob at home. Using a trio of communications protocols — Bluetooth, Ultra-Wide Band and NFC — it can sense your presence and automatically unlock the G90 as you approach. Stand behind the trunk for a few seconds and it will pop open.
The Digital Key can be shared with up to four people and even e-mailed. You also can remotely cancel a key. Should you prefer, you can set the system up to require it recognize your face using a camera built into the B-pillar on the driver’s side. Meanwhile, you can give a valet a credit card-sized “key” giving them limited access to the vehicle.
The system knows who you are and automatically sets up your seats, changes the radio settings, and even can plug in a preferred destination in the navigation system. It will then adjust routing to reflect traffic conditions.
The cabin is loaded with technology, from the Qi wireless charging system to the B&O audio package that features 26 speakers and 23 separate channels.
The G90 is linked to the cloud through Genesis Connected Services which offers a variety of safety, security and convenience features. The 4G LTE link used here also allows for over-the-air updates of virtually every line of onboard software.
The upgraded trim package comes standard with a head-up display and the G90 navigation system adds limited Augmented Reality functionality to help you spot when to make a turn.
Both G90 trim packages use active suspension technology, though the 3.5T E-SC AWD model is upgraded to an air damping system that uses the sedan’s forward-facing camera to predictively adjust the shocks, depending upon road conditions.
Active cruise, forward collision warning with collision avoidance assistance and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection and lane-keeping assist are part of an extensive package of advanced driver assistance systems.
South Florida isn’t the place to go if you want to push a new vehicle to its limits. My trip allowed me to focus on the luxury side of the G90. And there, it truly delivered. Among other things, I spent time in the right rear seat, much as someone would while being chauffeured. The experience was everything I could expect, the bucket offering near womb-like comfort. It took things up a notch further activating one of the multiple massage settings. I suggest anyone who might plan to ride in the back of the G90 order the accessory pillows Genesis offers.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to truly flog the 3.5T E-SC AWD — I spent my time in on Florida’s flat, straight roads — I did clock the better part of my second day behind the wheel. While that package doesn’t quite match the numbers of the Mercedes S 500, it is still quite quick and pleasantly responsive. Credit the electric supercharger which throws out plenty of instant torque even as the turbochargers are just starting to spin up.
The engine continued to deliver plenty of power at higher speeds, making it easy to blast onto the Sunshine Turnpike and execute high-speed passes.
The car’s air suspension proved particularly enjoyable, the predictive system able to smooth out all but the most jarring potholes and bumps.
Overall, whether you’re driving or riding in the big sedan, the G90 more than lives up to its role as the Genesis flagship.
That raises the question: why devote so much time and energy to develop a flagship sedan at a time when more and more buyers are migrating to SUVs and CUVs? Part of the answer is competitive positioning. Genesis planners rightly surmise they need to have a model like the G90 to go head-to-head with competing flagships such as the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS.
And, with the 2023 Genesis G90, the brand has handsomely succeeded. It has come up with a vehicle offering truly distinctive design — inside and out — an array of appealing features and solid performance.
Better yet, it delivers all that at a surprisingly affordable price. You can get into the G90 3.5 ST AWD for $88,400, while the G90 3.5T E-SC AWD starts at $98,700 — those figures excluding $1,095 in delivery fees.
And where you’d typically add thousands of dollars to the base price of a German or Japanese premium luxury sedan for all the features you want, the two Genesis packages come fully equipped. Yes, you can order those rear seat pillows. But the only true option is the paint color, matte adding $1,500.
By the time the 2023 Genesis G90 rolls into U.S. showrooms Aug. 10, you also can take advantage of the automaker’s new Priority One program. Plunk down a $1,000 refundable deposit and you’ll jump to the front of the line when taking delivery and, in the meantime, will have access to a test vehicle and a “dedicated concierge agent” to walk you through all the sedan’s features and functions.
As the new kid on the block, I don’t expect Genesis will knock out key competitors like Mercedes. For many luxury buyers, there’s too much heritage and value to having the tri-star logo on the grille. But the South Korean carmaker has seen a surge in demand this past year that suggests it’s come up with the right formula to crack into this exclusive club.
2023 Genesis G90 — Frequently Asked Questions
How much will the 2023 Genesis G90 cost?
There are two versions of the second-generation Genesis G90. The G90 3.5 ST AWD starts at $88,400, while the G90 3.5T E-SC AWD starts at $98,700. The only options are paint upgrades, the matte finish going for another $1,500. Add $1,095 in delivery fees.
What powertrain options are offered for the 2023 Genesis G90?
The G90 3.5 ST AWD features a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 making 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. The G90 3.5T E-SC AWD model adds an electric supercharger powered by a 48-volt mild hybrid system, and makes 409 hp and 405 lb-ft. Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission, while all models come with all-wheel drive.
What new features are offered on the 2023 Genesis G90?
Along with the new twin-turbo 3.5-liter E-SC engine, with its electric supercharger, the 2023 G90 adds an assortment of luxury features, such as the reclining and massaging rear seats, as well as some impressive new technology. Its Digital Key lets you use a smartphone instead of a conventional key fob, for one thing. There’s also a 26-speaker, 23-channel B&O audio system.