Test Drive: 2017 Genesis G90

Frank Vizard

For the newest player entering the luxury car market, look to the Far East.

I’m driving the plush new Genesis G90 sedan east of Vancouver on a 280-mile road trip among some staggeringly steep mountains toward the Sparkling Hill Resort near Kelowna, British Columbia. If the car sounds unfamiliar, it’s because the Genesis name is fairly new. Officially unveiled to the world in November 2015, it officially hits the road stateside this October, backed by a well-known automaker—though one that’s not typically associated with luxury: Hyundai. For the first time, the South Korean company takes a page from the playbook of its Japanese competitors Toyota and Honda in creating a stand-alone luxury brand akin to their Lexus and Acura, spinning off Hyundai's erstwhile top-tier model into a line all its own.

The G90 I’m testing is a Patagonia Blue—a deep, liquidy color that works as a cool but elegant alternative to the standard black or white more common to luxury sedans. The short front overhang over the wheels evokes a sporty feel but the four doors and long wheelbase are more indicative of a car with lots of room inside.

And that certainly proves to be the case. There is plenty of leg and elbow room in a well-appointed cabin (wood accents, leather-stitched instrument panel), and at no point during the long journey did I begin to feel the onset of fatigue: The seat can be adjusted 22 different ways for maximum comfort and its designed specifically with added back support in mind. The center console is loaded with buttons, which may be a boon to those tired of navigating through layers of electronic menus just to turn up the fan. The shifter is electronic, meaning that it comes back to the same position even after shifting gears, but will automatically move into “park” if the driver disengages the seat belt and opens the door. The G90, the flagship vehicle in what’s expected to be a six-model line by 2021, offers an array of other safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection as standard equipment.

My G90 is equipped with all-wheel-drive and there is a newly developed twin-turbocharged V-6 engine under the hood that delivers 365 horsepower, although a V-8 engine with 420 horsepower is available, too. The ride is quiet and stately and gives me that same (though admittedly delusional) feeling I get from other large luxury sedans: that whatever is happening won’t get started until I arrive. The G90 also sports one unusual driving feature called auto hold that keeps the car at a standstill without having to keep a foot on the brake—useful when stuck in traffic on a hill, for instance.

What will catch the attention of buyers not already enamored of more established brands, though, is the price. The starting figure of $69,050 includes a lot of features like a full-color heads-up display and a multi-view camera that would be options on other cars—although AWD is an extra $2,500. Genesis also adds luxury service: it comes to you to retrieve the car for periodic maintenance. 

Sparkling Hill (888 Sparkling Pl.; 250-275-1556; sparklinghill.com) overlooks a stunning Lake Okanagan and the resort looks like it was plucked from a Scandinavian design catalogue and dropped into the Canadian woods. One big draw—aside from soaking tubs with lake views—is North America’s first European Cyro Cold Sauna, an experience to be had at -110 degrees Centigrade. I demur. The Genesis G90 is cool enough for me.

From $69,050; genesis.com.

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