Mountain Wheels: Executive-class comfort and speed in the Genesis G90 |

Mountain Wheels: Executive-class comfort and speed in the Genesis G90

Motor Trend’s car of the year is the ultra-futuristic Genesis G90, a large and imposing rival to vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Courtesy photo

Proof positive of the quantum leap made by Korean carmakers in just a few short decades, the big, elegant and hyper-futuristic Genesis G90 luxury sedan is a striking automobile.

With ahead-of-the-curve technology including self-closing doors, rear-wheel steering and a semi-autonomous driving mode, the car is the top of the Korean super-brand’s lineup, and equipped with all-wheel drive to make it, at least technically, winter-friendly.

It is, of course, really more a Southern California lifestyle statement, which is why it was picked as Motor Trend’s vehicle of the year last year, but for the individual seeking a Mercedes S-Class-styled experience that’s … not German … this would be patient zero.

My 2023 test vehicle was the 3.5-liter V6 turbo AWD edition, mated with an electronic supercharger, and an impressive $98,700 base price. The combined system ups output to 409 horsepower and … yes, that makes it very quick. Occasionally alarmingly so, actually, given how big, long and wide the car is. It’s not the only vehicle with rear steering, but the system here is quick and means the big car corners ferociously.

But unlike earlier versions of Korean executive-sized automobiles — the Kia K900, for instance — the engineering and tech here means that power can be used safely almost all of the time, resulting in a prestigious and powerful ride. Even with its air suspension system, the G90’s roll is just a little crisp and bouncy on our embattled Colorado highways. The 21-inch wheels, rendered in a vaguely biohazard symbol-styled outline, also suggest the G90’s shock-and-awe duty. Mine was, for instance, the first factory vehicle I’ve ever had with a custom-styled matte paint job (a $1,500 extra), which meant it needed to be cleaned repeatedly after any exposure to mag chloride or water. Keep that in mind.

It is, all things considered, suspiciously close to the passenger experience found in a considerably more expensive S Class, with bits that reminded me of that equally audacious Maybach build: ultra-puffy headrests, reclining rear seats, a massage function that bordered on the painful in its intensity, a video control system in the rear console and full sun shades.

For more excitement, fire up the perfume-emitting disco light mode, which is a real thing, part of about 30 options on an endless control suite on the car’s 12.3-inch screen — all channeled through a Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium audio system.

Curiously, when actually driving the G90, you only get three specific drive mode choices, including a more gurgly sounding sport mode that I used for the rest of the week.

In real life, the car and its super-wide grille, white and orange LED lamps, running lights and a squared-off tail are all quite the thing to behold.

Indoors, it’s pure luxury, with pop-up speakers, a sumptuous mix of leather and suede surfaces. Press a button or, set your foot on the brake, and the doors will close on their own — that’s a new one for me. Like the other Koreans, it’s also got the remote-control forward-and-back system so you can park it in a spot smaller than it actually is.

I was also impressed by Genesis’ Smart Cruise Control system which, unlike the totally jerky and unpredictable experience I had in the Ford F-150 Lightning and its Blue Cruise system, was artificial intelligence come to life. It very fully and accurately drove for me, with my permission, though it often got a little too close to big rigs in adjacent lanes.

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