In retrospect, it’s only logical that we eventually would find ourselves behind the wheel of a nearly $70,000 Hyundai. Loosely following the blueprint used by the trio of Japanese manufacturers that launched upscale divisions in the late 20th century, Hyundai’s newly minted Genesis is meant to put a little space between its upmarket offerings and the value-oriented fare it built its name on. Morphing the model name of its Hyundai Genesis coupe and sedan into a stand-alone brand also creates a place in which to move loyal customers as their income and tastes permit more upscale pursuits. With the G90 standing as the new brand’s top offering, we secured one for a 40,000-mile long-term test.
Hyundai has a reputation for tilting the feature-content-to-price ratio in favor of the consumer, and its upscale Genesis division follows that formula. If you get a kick out of optioning a vehicle to the $100,000 mark, turn your attention elsewhere. For a segment-reasonable $69,050 base price, our G90 includes all the modern conveniences and then some: nappa-leather-upholstered, heated and cooled, multi-adjustable front seats (22-way driver, 16-way passenger); a leather-covered dash, steering wheel, and door panels with real wood accents; acoustic laminated glass; rear-side-window and backlight sunshades; a head-up display; adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability; a 12.3-inch infotainment screen; and a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, just to name the highlights. The only way to inflate the G90 Premium’s sticker is to add $2500 for Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive. Or one can step up to the Ultimate trim, which costs an additional $1600 and replaces the Premium’s 365-hp twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 with a 420-hp naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 (and again offers all-wheel drive for $2500).
While $1600 for 55 ponies may seem like a bargain, the grunt portion of the deal isn’t as convincing. Whereas all 376 lb-ft of the turbo V-6’s torque is on the job as soon as 1300 rpm, the V-8’s 383 lb-ft don’t punch in fully until 5000 rpm.
Matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission, our V-6 G90 seems to have hit the sweet spot. Early logbook entries agree that the combo pulls hard, shifts precisely, and sounds good doing so. Our initial assessments of the G90’s powertrain were confirmed at the test track, where it laid down a respectable 5.2-second zero-to-60-mph time and scooted through the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds. Braking from 70 mph consumed 182 feet.
As for rolling stock, our Patagonia Blue G90 arrived sporting a quartet of hefty-looking 19-inch chrome aluminum wheels wrapped in Continental ContiProContact tires. The multilink front and rear suspensions utilize adaptive dampers, with mixed results. While the ride is supple, the handling and body movements can get a bit sloppy. We can think of several competitors that better manage the ride/handling/comfort equation, although the G90 never pretends to be anything but a competent luxury barge.
Considering the G90’s cavernous and well-appointed interior, it’s only natural that the car would get the nod from those with a lot of highway miles to cover. Less than a week after arriving, the G90 was pressed into service to transport staffers to Virginia International Raceway for our annual Lighting Lap competition. Barely two weeks after its return, associate online editor Joseph Capparella climbed behind the wheel for a run to North Carolina, reporting an indicated 27 mpg for portions of the trip. In between highway jaunts, the G90’s enormous back seat, which is wide enough for three people even if they aren’t particularly friendly, makes it a top choice for lunch runs. Our overall fuel economy to date is 23 mpg, which falls on the sweet side of its 20-mpg combined EPA rating.
Although we have accumulated fewer than 5000 miles at this point, we are encouraged by the G90’s rock-solid reliability, coddling interior, and hushed ride. We’ll see how this story develops over the next 35,000 miles.