2023 Genesis G90 First Drive Review: Driving is Good, Being Driven is Better

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

The 2023 Genesis G90 is not an S-Class competitor.

Getting that off my chest now, right from the beginning, isn’t quite as comforting as the G90’s power-reclining rear seat. But it’s close. I get the appeal: the S-Class is the full-sized luxury sedan benchmark. Hey, the G90 is also a full-sized luxury sedan! Headline sorted, right?

There’s so much more to the latest Genesis flagship, however. No longer a limo defined by its discount price and little else, the G90 is a style-focused embodiment of the brand’s customer-first attitude. Its mix of classic proportions and cutting-edge tech should endear it to a whole new generation of luxury shoppers, ones who see the old guard as just that: old. On a recent launch in trend-setting Miami, the G90 was a lesson on how one person’s “niche” is another’s “exclusive.”

Get a Quote on a New 2023 Genesis G90

What’s new?

While the last G90 gave us the first glimpse of Genesis’ “Athletic Elegance” design language and its twin-line motif, it was a facelift on a tall, upright shape. The 2023 model is a clean-sheet design, and it’s a stunner in the metal. Long and low, it has weight without feeling hefty. Presence, gravitas. The rigid outline of the earlier diamond-shaped grilles has given way for a softer, more organic shape, with a complex, two-layer pattern within. A clamshell hood keeps the nose low, as do the impossibly thin headlights. Each little lowbeam square of light therein is made up of 200 micro-optic lenses, making them not only powerful, but incredibly precise. If I had to nitpick, the dotted-LED look is reminiscent of the bad early-aughts DRL trend, but it at least serves a purpose here.

Move around to the G90’s flanks and a strong shoulder swells out from the door handles, the crease flowing back into the rear taillights. A sturdy, stretched C-pillar gives the G90 the stately, limo-like stance a flagship needs. The latest evolution of the Genesis taillight treatment now stretches across the entire rear, with a pair of parallelogram hanging off the top line, housing all the important elements. A sloped deck and kicked-up lip give the G90 a Kammback that hides a deceptively large trunk space. Anchoring the whole look is a generous chrome strip along the lower body edge, and a set of gorgeous seven-point, 21-inch wheels (20s are standard).

For its second act, Genesis has moved the G90 onto the versatile M3 platform, the one that underpins the quietly excellent G80. Length and wheelbase are both up for flagship duty, and that’s before we even touch on the extended-wheelbase model, which isn’t coming to North America. All-wheel drive is now standard in the G90, and the V8 is no more. The standard engine is the brand’s familiar 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6, producing 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Spring for the top trim and Genesis hooks all that up to a 48-volt electronic supercharger. Increases to 409 hp and 405 lb-ft don’t seem like much on paper, but as we’ll discover once behind the wheel, numbers don’t tell the full story.

Before that, however, my first G90 experience is from the backseat.

Backseat boogaloo

With the luck of the draw, I end up in the best seat in the house on the route from airport to hotel: the right-side rear seat. There’s already plenty of legroom, but a button on the center console controls the front passenger seat, which tumbles forward for positively palatial space. Prod the button marked “REST” and the seat begins to go horizontal, complete with a legrest that unfolds from below.

Massaging? It’s here too, with three intensities, in addition to heating and ventilation. It’s all accessible via the rear touchscreen, as well as easy-access buttons on the door. There’s another button there too, to open the doors themselves. Genesis says the move to electrically-operated doors is all about “less is more,” though I’d say there’s few things simpler than the tried-and-true door handle. Nonetheless, the doors do offer a few neat tricks via key fob and digital key, like closing remotely. Opening them is simple enough if done in one smooth motion. Stop for even a split second and you’ll have to fight some odd, artificial resistance to continue. It’s also impossible to slam the door closed—just press the button on the handle for a near-silent shut. A corresponding button exists inside too, so you don’t have to do anything so unseemly as reach out and close your own door.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of the G90’s mission is the Chauffeur mode button to the left of the steering wheel. This tailors everything in the car towards maximum backseat comfort, even altering how the car rides.

On top of that, rear-seat passengers have full control of their five sunshades and the second, separate moonroof. They also can have a say in the G90’s 26-speaker sound system, which deserves its own section.

Personal music hall

Genesis has once again brought Bang & Olufsen onboard for its in-car entertainment. With speakers dang near everywhere, the sheer power of the setup is obvious. There are brains behind the brawn, too. What B&O calls Virtual Venue Live (VVL) replicates the acoustic profile of famous locations. Boston Symphony Hall is the example profile, and while I’ve never seen them there, I will say the Chemical Brothers sure sound awesome through B&O’s replication. What’s more, VVL works on live audio, too. Turn the music down and your singing voice up, and you’ll get an idea of what you’d sound like in Boston. I did not submit my driving partner to this.

There are other, practical uses of the sound system as well. When using native navigation, the audio directions can be beamed to the driver’s headrest, keeping the rest of the cabin none the wiser. The audio can also work in conjunction with the Mood Curator, a collection of Genesis-selected audio and visual themes that incorporate a new scent diffuser.

Still the tech list continues. The G90 is one of only a handful of cars to feature a second wireless charging pad, in the rear center console. Beyond that, the storage container features a very of-the-moment UV sanitizer feature. Drop your phone (or any other magnet for germs) into this little light-bases spa for 10 or so minutes, and it should pop out with over 99-percent less invisible grossness.

Genesis is debuting the second-generation of its digital key with the G90. Now available on iPhone as well as Android, the feature allows users to easily share their keys with friends. Driver profiles are saved to the cloud, so walking up to the car automatically loads seat, mirror, climate, and audio preferences. With seven exterior sensors, the system is also accurate enough to know to load a profile to the driver or passenger seat, too. Genesis reassures us that a dead phone doesn’t make for a stranded driver, either. Digital Key uses a combination of ultra-wideband and Bluetooth Low Energy, meaning the phone can still send the necessary info to the car when off.

Cutting edge doesn’t always mean digital, either. The G90 trim pieces are made of black veneer and recycled newspaper, rolled tightly and then chopped for a unique cross-section. Forged carbon fiber and its unmistakeable marble-like texture dots the cabin as well. On top of this, Genesis inlays thin lines of metal, a nod to the thousand-year-old tradition of “Sanggam” in Korean pottery.

If there’s one obvious shortcoming, it’s the need for unsightly cords to connect Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to the 12.3-inch central infotainment screen. Genesis says this is a conscious decision because the wireless experience isn’t up to par yet, but I’m not buying that. Other automakers have made it work.

Of course, this being both a Genesis and a flagship, the G90 comes loaded with all manner of standard driver assists, including the latest version of Highway Driving Assist (now capable of automatic lane changes) and remote park assist.

Calm drive

This was not the typical launch event driving route. There were a few gently winding roads, but the point here was pampering, not performance.

The new platform is 12-percent stiffer than before, giving the engineers a rock-solid foundation to hang the air suspension on. Available on the top trim, it’s a predictive setup, which reads the road ahead via the front-mounted camera and adjusts accordingly. On the highway the G90 is uncannily smooth, though low-speed bumps do catch the system out, especially taller speedbumps. Acoustic laminated glass and thick carpeting keep the cabin whisper-quiet, as does the slippery 0.27 coefficient of drag.

This is a long, long vehicle at 207.7 inches (5,256 mm) tip to tail. Rear-wheel steering effectively shrinks it while low-speed maneuvering, however. The rear wheels turn out of phase from the fronts, and it’s audibly obvious on the high-gloss surfaces in the Wynwood parking garage. On the highway, the rears turn the same direction as the fronts, increasing stability. From behind the wheel, it takes little time to get used to. The G90’s tiller remains light and breezy.

The mild-hybrid drivetrain is the right pairing for a big limo like this—at least until an EV arrives. Over 90 percent of the maximum torque is available essentially from idle, so the G90 simply sails across the road. It’s quick enough to be assertive, but not rude. Genesis is proud of the improved start-stop system, imperceptible beyond the slight kick from the tachometer. There are drive modes, sure, but slotting into Sport throws off the carefully considered equilibrium. The G80 Sport is a thing, you know.

The serene ride provides plenty of opportunity to check out the interior fittings. Quality is easily worthy of the six-figure realm, with exception to the toggles to adjust climate temperature. I’m happy Genesis has moved back to physical switches for this, but the material and their actuation feels decidedly lightweight in something so sumptuous.

2023 Genesis G90 pricing and competition

All these improvements have naturally pushed the G90’s sticker further north. In America, the 2023 model will start at $89,495 for the 3.5T AWD, including destination. The previous model topped out at a little over 80 large with the V8, and while this one doesn’t quite match the firepower, its modern interior and multitude of creature comforts more than make up the difference.

Upgrading to the 3.5T E-Supercharger model is a pricey $10,300 step up. Genesis ladles on the goodies though, including that wildly clever 26-speaker Bang & Olufsen setup, air suspension, rear-wheel steering, power doors, upgraded rear seats with massage function, rear wireless charger (and UV sanitizer), and more. The only additional costs are paints, up to $1,500 for the matte options.

Canada will have it even simpler. Genesis will offer the G90 only in the top trim north of the border, with only a few small feature differences. The digital key, for instance, isn’t yet available in the Great White North. Neither is the white interior, because of the the other white stuff that’s pretty much unavoidable for the vast majority of the country. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but the first 50 buyers in Canada will also get extended warranties, maintenance, and a set of winter tires (including seasonal fitment and storage) on top of the purchase price. Genesis is serious about the luxury experience extending beyond the car itself.

Final Thoughts: 2023 Genesis G90 First Drive Review

I’ll say it again: the 2023 Genesis G90 is not an S-Class competitor. At this price, purchases are emotional. A vote for the Stuttgart limo is a vote for its legacy, the history of a benchmark with decades of history.

The G90 doesn’t have the associated baggage, either. That’s the glass-half-full side of being a brand barely older than Disney Plus. In an SUV-obsessed world, the G90 didn’t even need to exist. Yet it does, a rolling statement from the Korean brand about what it believes modern luxury really means. It will likely remain a niche player in the segment, but hey, where’s the fun in fitting in?


How much does the 2023 Genesis G90 cost?

$89,495, including destination, is the price of entry for the G90 in the US. You’ll need $99,795 for the mild-hybrid model we drove here. Canadian pricing was unavailable at the time of writing.

When can you buy the 2023 Genesis G90?

The latest Genesis flagship will go on sale August 10.

Is there a fully-electric 2023 Genesis G90 planned?

Genesis wouldn’t talk future product, so there is no G90 EV confirmed as of yet. Given the GV60, G80 Electrified, GV70 Electrified, and the brand’s commitment for every new car launch to be an EV by 2025—not to mention how electrification would fit the G90’s attitude—we expect a no-gas version at some point.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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Join the conversation
  • Michael Martin Michael Martin on Aug 05, 2022

    G90 pricing 2023 canada

  • Jon Jon on Sep 12, 2022

    On connecting your phone with a wire: There is a perceptible difference in the audio quality between listening to your music via Bluetooth and by wire, with wire being much better. Better definition. I had a B&O sound system in a 2021 vehicle and you can really notice the difference in this high end systems.