Lexus’ debut in late 1989 rocked the luxury end of the automotive market. Here was a brand coming out swinging, attempting to build a better Mercedes-Benz S-Class and provide the best customer service in the industry. Lexus was, by and large, successful in their mission. And now Genesis is doing the same thing with their flagship sedan, the 2023 Genesis G90.
The path to today’s Genesis is far more convoluted than Lexus, of course. Starting as a luxury sedan model under Hyundai and sharing a name with the same brand’s sports coupe didn’t do many favors, but the Genesis we know and (many) love got rocking and rolling around 2016 in the United States. Early efforts with the G80 and G90 sedans were fine, but the “coming out swinging” bit has happened much more recently.
And thus, the latest G90 sedan appears.
What Is It?
The 2023 Genesis G90 is all-new this year, replacing the model that helped launch the brand in the States. Though a short-wheelbase model is offered elsewhere, we only get the biggest model and its 125.9-inch wheelbase. Coming in a few inches shy of a new Chevy Tahoe in length, the G90 is competitively sized against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS, and BMW 7-series.
My test car was the loaded “E-Supercharger” variant, which is a fun way for Genesis to brand their 48-volt mild hybrid system. Designed (as these all are) to more or less shove the engine into its torque band, the electric motor pairs to two turbochargers and a 3.5-liter V6 to produce 409 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, and the only transmission choice is an eight-speed automatic.
G90 E-Supercharger models include a multi-chamber air suspension that adjusts ride quality based on drive mode, including a “Chauffeur” mode that makes the rear super soft. Other rear-end trickery comes in the form of rear-wheel steering that cuts the G90’s turning diameter by three feet.
Every G90 can technically seat five, though they’re really meant to be four-seaters as the rear center “armrest” is actually a fold-down console. It allows rear passengers to control almost everything about the car while lounging in their reclining, heated and ventilated massaging chairs. Heat, ventilation, and massage are carried up to the front seats, too. Also found at each of the four main seating positions? A power-operated door, able to close with the touch of a button. Pulling a door closed yourself is just so gauche, you know.
The New York Trip
My time in the 2023 Genesis G90 coincided with the New York International Auto Show’s media days, a trip I decided to take last-minute. Amtrak was oddly expensive, and who wants to ride on a train with dining-car hot dogs when you can be whisked up the potential hellhole that is I-95 in complete silence and excess? So then, I threw my bag in the G90’s trunk and set off for Manhattan.
Traffic to New York City was somehow not bad. I ended up using cruise control more than I typically would, as the 2023 Genesis G90 was so quiet that I truly did not realize how fast I was going. I found myself traveling a good clip above the posted speed limit and only noticing when I saw a silver Dodge Charger in the median, ready to pull out. I generally elected to pick a lane and hit the Highway Driving Assist button on the steering wheel, enabling one of the better driver assistance suites on the market.
With HDA enabled, the G90 did its thing, keeping me dead-center in my lane and slowing for cars ahead. The G90 features version two of HDA, which adds “automatic” lane changes triggered by a tap on the turn signal stalk. It’s a slow lane change process that doesn’t work well on the I-95tobahn. In its normal drive mode, I found the transmission a bit slow to downshift for passing maneuvers if I was the one managing speed instead of HDA’s cruise control.
Other than having to change lanes on my own (can you even imagine?), I enjoyed my copious highway miles in the G90. Its Bang & Olufsen sound system was great, though not earth-shattering-great like Mercedes’ Burmester or Lexus’ Mark Levinson. My massaging seat was perhaps never turned off during my week with the car. I poked at the fragrance control on the G90’s climate panel, and while I did prefer one scent over the other, they were both a bit too subtle when set to full-Abercrombie.
My complaints then, were few. I was feeling pretty smart about this whole “road trip a long-wheelbase luxury sedan” idea until somewhere in New Jersey. It was then that I had the full realization that I had never actually driven in Manhattan and about to be um, blessed with the opportunity to rip that Band-Aid with a very large sedan on very crowded streets.
Worry quickly turned to confidence, though, as I realized just how much of a boon the rear-wheel steering was in a tight city environment. I’d driven other cars with rear steer, most recently the new Range Rover, but not in this kind of crowded atmosphere. I got in a rhythm as I made 90-degree turns and learned how much to actually turn the wheel. The back of the car squared off each turn and made things easy.
Driving a huge luxury sedan was indeed a great experience. It was a great partner as I sliced my way through Hell’s Kitchen for a few events and eventually, to my borrowed apartment. But the point of the G90 and these other large sedans is not entirely focused on the driver’s seat. To figure out more, I needed some friends.
The Winery Trip
New York was fabulous, but to really understand the entirety of the G90, I had to get some group feedback. A few local friends were planning a day trip to a Virginia winery and I offered to play chauffeur – a perfect way to see how the rear seats could stack up.
Of course, the car impressed immediately. The styling is imposing, but in a tasteful way, and the interior’s rich Bordeaux leather was deemed “perfect.” Each of the four seats was filled and my passengers were all able to find comfort with ease, between the ample leg room, recline function, and massagers. Given everyone in the car is on the taller side, we’re used to moving front seats forward to provide space for those in the rear – no need here.
Everyone found the ride quality spot-on. Cabin noise, hushed on my solo journey, was equally impressive here. Conversation was easy between the two rows of seats. The only real complaint, if you can call it that, echoed mine: the cabin fragrance dispenser was a little weak. A favorite surprise-and-delight discovery? Rear passengers can change the temperature of the reading lights from cool to warm.
Though Genesis’ formative years weren’t quite as strong as Lexus, they’ve hit their stride now. The 2023 Genesis G90 is a fantastic car, not just “for a [fill in the blank]” but in general. I do wonder about the dealership experience, as it’s been a mixed bag based on friends’ experiences who own Genesis vehicles. The first three years of ownership include a concierge service. Owners will never have to visit a service department, instead having a loaner brought to them and their G90 whisked away for whatever it needs. Past that, will dealerships be at that Lexus level of quality and care?
I think the dealer experience is getting there, more and more by the day. In the meantime, the cars are there. The 2023 Genesis G90 is a carefully-crafted, clever luxury sedan. Brand snobs will likely stick to buying the same model every few years. The more open-minded should and will consider this excellent option.