Review: Does the Sumptuous 2023 Genesis G90 Matter in a Luxury World Gone SUV Mad?

The executive sedan practices a dying art with supernatural skill

April 4, 2023 7:25 am
We review the 2023 Genesis G90 sedan
SUVs may rule the road, but the shorter G90 has the upper hand.
Vehicle: 2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWDStarting Price: $88,400 MSRP ($98,700 for E-Supercharger)
Pros: Exceptional luxury experience for driver and passenger, price undercuts established brands, cabin and exterior design stand out among executive sedansCons: Genesis is still striving for badge recognition among luxury cognoscenti, SUVs have obliterated big sedan sales

The current state of the automotive industry is such that it’s possible for a high-end luxury brand to build an utterly fantastic car and still have it strive for relevance. Regardless of the massive charm offensive executed by the unflappable 2023 Genesis G90, this executive sedan is fighting — and winning — in an arena that has largely been abandoned by the scores of well-heeled masters of the universe who used to wield the imposing wheelbases of their full-size sedans like long-swords.

Instead, those captains of industry and their assorted hangers-on now prize overall height, rather than length, when selecting the sport-utility vehicles that currently denote one’s place in the pecking order. With SUVs having remade the entire automotive landscape in their image, the role of the once-proud near-limo has become more liminal, existing to serve an old-school sliver of moneyed motoring that shrinks with each passing year.

Does any of this somehow make the G90 “lesser than”? Certainly not. Evaluated in the company of its peers, this Genesis easily rises to the same lofty echelons occupied by its target customers, and does so at a discount over the general German tax that applies to all-in uber-sedans of its ilk. Sadly, however, it does make it much less likely that any more than a handful of fortunate, trend-bucking free-thinkers will ever get to drink from its bottomless well of opulence.

The profile of the 2023 Genesis G90 sedan as it drives down the road
Tip to tail, that’s a good-looking sedan.

Presence, Poise and Posture

There are three key areas where a car like the G90 must excel in order to be taken seriously as a true flagship. The first is presence: that delicate balance between imposing and eye-catching that requires a brand to scale up its existing styling language across a full-size palette that can’t rely on the shock and brawn of a bulky 4×4 to carry the day.

Genesis has worked wonders here with the G90’s visage, which wears the automaker’s plunging diamond grille perhaps better than any other model in its lineup. It’s a cohesive effort that links razor-slit headlights with similar slashes down each front fender, wrapped up by a Kammback-style trunk lid and muscular, but not bodybuilding flanks. It stands in contrast to the more rectangular look of the BMW 7 Series, and adds detail that the conservatively-styled Mercedes-Benz S-Class can’t quite match. Most importantly, it stands out as something special in a sea of taller-than-thou SUV sameness.

After being lured in by its looks, the next important criteria for a super sedan is its interior environment, as sampled from each of its four cabin corners. The G90’s warm and inviting dashboard, which tucks a pair of well-proportioned displays into a landscape of gently curving leather and wood, presents a stark contrast to the sterile, hard plastic expanses of digital display that have increasingly taken over the forward view of ultra-luxury machines. Couple this organic presentation with the plenty of physical buttons and dials for dealing with the G90’s deep menu of various comfort accoutrements and driving details, and you have a human-centric interface for a car that feels built to accommodate living, breathing beings rather than simply show off the bit-depth of its processors and screens.

Review: The 2023 Genesis GV60 Completes an Irresistible Electric Triumvirate
As a luxury EV, it’s endlessly compelling. It’s also engaged in sibling rivalry.

Just as important in a sedan of this size are the rear seat specs, and the Genesis excels here as well. Full-recline thrones with heating, cooling and massage surpass the comfort offered by the G90’s forward buckets, with final say over entertainment and climate settings falling readily to hand by way of the car’s full-length center console and control center. All of this is wrapped in parlor leather that further enhances a rider’s insulation from the hustle and bustle on the other side of the thick glass, with an additional reality disconnect available from its three-sided privacy screens.

So sumptuous is the Genesis take on luxury that the brand strives to reduce even the slightest labor involved in the car’s use. Each of the doors in the G90 can be opened and closed at the touch of a button, a novelty that doubles as a mobility-enhancing feature for the older demographic more likely to purchase a car like this one. Although for the most part easy to use, my only real complaint about the vehicle stems from the heaviness imparted by this system when pulling the door open from the outside, where a reluctance to swing wide calls for extra arm effort.

The interior dashboard and infotainment of the 2023 Genesis G90 sedan
Where tactile buttons and dials live in harmony with screens.

A Sedan Greater Than the Sum

All of the above means little if it can’t come together as part of a superior experience while sailing down the highway, and it’s here, as something greater than the sum of its parts, that the Genesis makes its most compelling argument.

Although the G90 comes in a single, options-free trim level, there is a choice of drivetrains to be made at ordering time. The model I sampled was equipped with the mightiest edition of the car’s standard twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V6, which adds an electric supercharger to produce 409 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. Trainspotters will note that these figures place the Genesis mid-pack when it comes to heavy passenger metal, but divorced from the need to snap necks on the autobahn, the setup is perfectly paired with the sedan’s American mission.

That e-charger pulls 48 volts to help smooth over low-end acceleration, giving the G90 perfect pull from a stop that doesn’t peter out when it’s time to pass. Power feels plentiful, and pairs well with the sedan’s air-suspended chassis. The Genesis is best appreciated when one avoids pulling on its 10-speed automatic’s paddle shifters and refrains from engaging its Sport drive mode, allowing all occupants to experience the kind of silent, unbuffeted transportation typically only available from maglev technology. “Spa-like” is not a term often associated with commuting, but the G90’s calming presence loosens neck muscles and clears traffic frustrations from the frontal lobe like a telepathic masseur chasing down that tension in your C5 vertebrae.

The back seats in the Genesis G90 sedan
Heating, cooling and massage? Dibs on the back.

Skip the SUV, Take a Chance

Priced at $99,000 in its e-charged trim, the Genesis G90 checks in at $14,000 less than the most affordable Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and just a tad more expensive than the more modestly outfitted base BMW 7 Series. It’s important to understand, however, that Genesis doesn’t hold anything back in terms of features or content inside its flagrant four-door, which effectively enhances the price gap when comparing it to similarly-equipped rivals that rely on options packages to push up margins.

The Genesis G90 comes across as a masterful symphony being conducted in an almost empty music hall. Interest in near-six-figure sedans is at an all-time low, and if even a few thousand customers are intrigued enough to turn their backs on badges with better recognition in favor of the G90, that will count as a major win for the nascent brand. It’s a ticket you won’t regret buying, and unlike with much of the rest of the auto industry’s supply-chain-restricted models, you won’t have to fight scalpers or wait half a year before you can slip behind the wheel. 

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!