(Contributing Editor: Peter Stamatis)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….Then God said “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place and let land appear”… and God saw that it was good.”
In the beginning [ca. 1999], from the dust of Japanese car deities [notably Mitsubishi] before it, Korean industrial Hyundai’s automaker offered up a front engine, front drive gas V-8 powered luxury sedan (LZ) called Equus (Latin: “horse”).
Consumers saw it was not good. Hence is was sold only in South Korea and China.
Ten years later, Hyundai commanded a new front engine, rear drive globally sold flagship, the second generation Equus (VI). Korean and Chinese chauffeurs saw the Hyundai Equus were good.
Yet in the U.S. where the chauffeured chauffeur their own behinds, a derivatively styled flagship luxury sedan was a hard sell in showrooms where only movable partitions separated them from $14,000 economy cars. This, at a time when SUVs dominate splurges on $62k+ vehicles. After all, no one said Americans aren’t badge snobs.
In 2016, when Hyundai spun off the Genesis brand in North America last year, the grumblings of an SUV were merely in the drawing board stage. Thus, design VP Peter Schreyer, was tasked with molding a new flagship sedan based off the new luxury marques only carry-over model: the Genesis executive sedan, now appended model G80.
Thus, the “Luxury Brand of Birth” offers a Re-Birth of the flagship saloon: the 2017 Genesis G90.
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WHAT: 2017 Genesis G90 3.3T HTRAC 3rd generation flagship large luxury sedan, replacing Equus (though that name carries on in Korean domestic market).
Standard Power: longitudinal intercooled turbocharged 3.3L DOHC 24V DI gas V-6 = 365 hp/ 376 lb-ft @ 1300 rpm + 8-spd. torque converter planetary transmission w/ shift paddles + rear wheel drive (opt. HTRAC Magna all-wheel drive).
Optional Power: longitudinal 5.0L DOHC 32V DI gas V-8 = 420 hp/ 383 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm + 8-speed torque converter planetary automatic w/ shift paddles + rear wheel drive (opt. HTRAC Magna all-wheel drive).
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Schreyer and Co. have transplanted a meeker version of the visage from the one-size-down G80, with a narrower hexagonal grille and more subtle longer hood creases; The lower air dam in highly reflective piano black with amber corner LEDs contrasts excessively with the white body color in our tester;
The belt-line rises mildly, while a short but raked C-pillar and backlight converge upon a tall-ish trunk lid, replete with with a curved integral spoiler lip and chrome lid bar, topped by the winged emblem; Oversized inverted hockey stick taillamps follow the aperture line rather than cross onto the lid itself; A bulbous bumper is replete with dark plastic lower valance with corner chrome exhaust tips. The overall rear effect is fittingly derivative of another saloon with wings in its emblem: the Mk. I Bentley Continental Flying Spur;
WHY: Until a luxury SUV launches two years from now, a chauffeur-able sedan stands in as flagship
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Autumn 2017
WHERE: Genesis new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Ulsan, South Korea
HOW ROADWORTHY: “Linear delivery” describes the impact of the dual 1-scroll intercooled turbochargers on the 3.3L 24V DI DOHC Lambda engine; The 8-speed autobox is fluidic in cog swaps but hesitant to downshift unless steering wheel paddled; Space saving toggle-style center console shift selector = concentration challenge; In a slushy snow panic moment the variable mode Magna viscous multi-clutch all-wheel drive acquitted itself well, despite 3-season W-rated Continental rubber;
4700+ lbs of mass here is noticeable – that’s 600+ > Jaguar’s aluminum intensive XJ-L; A hard throttle produces nose lift, rear squat; High Sharp lane changes or turns induce disconcerting plow; E-adaptive dampers, tuned for silky rides on silken roads can rebound with quivers over surface ripples; During interstate drives, numb, slightly under-weighted electric steering assist calls for minute corrections which even upset the fully adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous lane keep assistance; A heavy foot is needed to obtaining respectable brake bite from the substantially rotored brakes with front 4-piston calipers.
HOW FAR: 20 combined miles per gallon;
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 124+” wheelbase matches Mercedes S-Class long-wheelbase honors; √ 204+” inches overall length means cleaning out the garage for fitment; √ King LeBron James, a segment leading 46+” inches front seat legroom is reason enough to switch from the 2017 Kia K900 side; √ Separately power reclining 2nd Row outboard buckets can safely fit a couple of shooting guards (assuming King James isn’t doing the driving); -1 Short, nearly unusable middle rear seat cushion with intrusive-when-stowed center infotainment loaded armrest;
HOW USEFUL: √ Trunk center pass-through; √ Trunk space par for segment; √ Cargo tie-down net; √ Proximity power trunk open & close; √ Fold-down trunk shopping bag anchor; √ Over-sized front ceiling soft-hinged sunglass caddy; √ Large mouse-fur lined glove box; √ Center-stack covered smart phone bin; √ Deep clamshell front center armrest bin; –1 Long hood impairs outward, thick seat headrests, wide side pillars & rear headrests impair outward visibility; -1 Average 16 cubic foot trunk has narrow aperture;
HOW SAFE: √ 9 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick +; √ Bird’s Eye view Rear camera; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control, √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; √ Driver Attention alert; √ Auto parking brake hold; √ Auto high beam headlamps; √ Heads-Up display
Partial Autonomous Driving: √ Full adaptive cruise control, √ Lane Keep Assist, √ Forward Collision avoidance braking. -1 Lane keep assist overwhelmed by acute road bends;
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: √ Heated & cooled 23-way driver, 16-way front pax power seats, w/ 2-setting memory; √ 4 power windows w/ full up/ down express; √ Rear door front & cross controlled power sunshades; √ Rear backlight power sunshade w/ reverse auto retract; √ Puddle lamps at each door; √ Row 2 remote front pax seat pitch adjust; √ Standard panoramic roof;
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Power reclining split rear seats; √ Row 2 center armest = embedded climate, seat heating, front pax seat pitch adjust & redundant rotary infotainment audio controller; √ Driver’s door Genesis winged logo puddle lamp; √ Variable color ambient LEDs.
Details Done Right: Simulated suede lined ceiling & pillars; √ Serrated Brushed aluminum switches, √ Genuine wood veneers; √ Contrast stitched, Satin Nappa leather seating; √ Variable color full cabin ambient lighting; √ Power Tilt / telescoping heated leather & wood steering wheel; √ Exposed stitched leather dash cover & hinged ceiling pull handles; √ Stainless steel door audio speaker covers;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Short seat cushions; Leather wears premature, Faux embossed dashtop stitching; Hard plastic front seat backs advertise scuffs.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 12.3″ tri-pane touch LCD infotainment screen, √ Rotary dial display navigator; √ Voice recognition command hands-free communications; √ 3-D SD GPS navigation; √ Subscription based Sirius XM radio & TravelLink; √ Soundstage-alicious 17 speaker, 900 Watt 7.1 DTS HD radio 30GB jukebox Lexicon audio; √ Connected Services, including remote start, via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa; √ USB x 4, 12V x 3.
HOW MUCH: $71,550 = as tested 2017 Genesis G90 3.3T AWD Premium; Priced about 10% < than comparable 2018 Lexus LS500 AWD;
WHAT’S MISSING: Better front seat torso support; 115V outlet; Cooled rear seats; Native SMS messaging; More accurate lane keep assist; LTE Wi-Fi; Android Auto/ Apple Car Play.
ANY COMPETITION: BMW 740L: +1 powertrain refinement & hybrid option, handling, fuel economy, cabin IT; Cadillac CT6: +1 powertrain options, Level 2.5 autonomous driving; Lincoln Continental: +1 exterior design, powertrain peformance, seats; Lexus LS500: +1 cabin detail, performance, seats; Mercedes-Benz S430; +1 driver assist technology, chassis capability, lavish interior design and materials, fuel economy;
FINAL WORD: Admirably executed luxury land yacht, but how many shoppers in the segment AREN’T badge conscious? Swimming against tide of luxury SUVs.