2018 Genesis G90 AWD 3.3T Review - Serenity Now

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2018 Genesis G90 AWD 3.3T Premium

3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (365 hp @ 6000 rpm, 376 lb/ft. @ 1300-4500 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
17 city / 24 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
21.3 (observed mileage, MPG)
13.7 city / 9.7 highway / 11.9 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $71,825 US / $84,131 CAD
As Tested: $71,825 US / $84,131 CAD
Prices include $975 destination charge in the United States and $131 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2018 genesis g90 awd 3 3t review serenity now

Driving my family can be a harried experience. The pair of tween girls in my brood constantly chatter about whatever both to each other and to nobody in particular. Or they’ll be silent save the bleeps and boops of their cell phones or Nintendo 3DS, playing silly games and texting nobody in particular.

Thus, when the kids hopped in the back of this 2018 Genesis G90, I expected more of the same, turning up the stereo in reflexive compensation. But, to my astonishment, the girls became immediately calm — the youngest dozed off quickly en route to Grandma’s house, located just across town. Quieting a hyper 10-year-old — that alone can sell a car to moms and dads everywhere.

Genesis has taken a measured, careful approach to its new luxury line. The styling is demure to the point of being dull — a point driven home by the Himalayan Gray finish found here. It blends in to the parking lot easily. It should age nicely, however. (A 2020 refresh ups the car’s styling game just a bit.)

The interior is nearly perfect. Seats are among the best I’ve ever experienced, with adjustment options for lower cushion length and for upper shoulder rake taking the seats beyond the usual fore/aft, tilt, and height adjusters. The rear seats have rake and height adjustment, as well, and controls for the right rear passenger to adjust the distance to the front passenger seat. For a chauffeured car, I suppose? The kids liked that feature — which, thankfully, can be locked out from the driver’s seat if your kids are similarly mischievous, and will not function if the front seat is occupied.

Take a gander at that center stack — absolutely peppered with buttons. Three broad horizontal rows of matte-finished, metal (probably?) buttons. Follow that with a vertical line of four immediately to the left of the shift lever. While too many cars have had their buttons and knobs replaced with touchscreen functions accessed via layers of menus, this proliferation of indistinguishable protuberances is a little overwhelming. Several of the functions are made redundant by the controls on the steering wheel. I’d rather clean up the dashboard and make the oft-used controls a bit more distinct.

The G90 has one absolutely brilliant feature that will likely only be noticed by a few users: the excellent wireless phone charger. Many cars simply use a flat pad on which one can toss a phone, which works well when stationary. However, cars are best used in motion, which means that phone tends to slide around, causing the wireless charger to lose contact — and thus charging functionality — with the phone. I’ve driven other cars with wireless chargers on road trips, only to find my phone dead on arrival.

The Genesis G90, by contrast, has a covered receptacle just to the right of the shift lever that holds the phone at a roughly 45 degree angle downward. It’s narrow enough to keep the phone from sliding sideways, meaning the phone keeps charging. My phone here is a Samsung Galaxy S7 in an Otterbox case, so it’s possible some newer, larger-screen phones might be a touch too wide to charge. Otherwise, it works beautifully. I’m not saying that I’d buy a seventy-one-thousand-dollar car because of the charger, but it’s a damned good charger.

Driving the Genesis G90 is very nearly what one would expect from a large luxury sedan from one of the established Japanese or German marques, with a couple of minor exceptions that I’ll get to shortly. The ride is sublime, with little to no road or wind noise filtering through to the cabin. Potholes and expansion joints transmit only the faintest thump to the ears and rump. There is absolutely no pretense of sportiness to the handling — everything is refined and reserved.

My two concerns: first, the power delivery is less direct than I’d like. While this same 3.3-liter turbo V6 impresses in smaller cars like the G80 and the Kia Stinger, there is a distinct lag between throttle application and acceleration from both a stop and from cruise as if to pass on a two-lane. Perhaps the shift programming is geared (sorry) more toward the plush, refined feel one expects from a luxury car, but I’d prefer to, you know, go when I tell the car to go. That little extra beat before the call to the engine room is answered is annoying.

Further, there is a minor annoyance that’s felt through the steering wheel at times, mostly when turning at acute angles. The word that best describes it is “growling,” though nothing is audible. It’s a just a very faint grinding feel through the wheel. It’s as if the all-wheel-drive system is causing the tiniest bit of drag, and that drag is being transmitted to the steering wheel. It reminds me of the drag felt when one tries to drive a front-wheel drive performance car fitted with a very tight limited-slip differential. Again, it’s more a minor annoyance than any serious concern, but when the rest of the car drives this well, little things get amplified. I’d have to drive a rear-drive G90 to determine if it’s the AWD system.

[Get new and used Genesis G90 pricing here!]

I generally prefer a smaller car — I just don’t need the room that a big car gives, and I normally like tight driving dynamics. But the serene driving experience offered by the Genesis G90 makes me reconsider my position.

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn]

Join the conversation
2 of 57 comments
  • DougDolde DougDolde on Dec 07, 2018

    No kimchi for me

  • Bitkahuna Bitkahuna on Jan 26, 2019

    the 'growling' you experienced is lane assist because you got too close to the side lines. :) the other comments here about it being 2x cost what it should are laughable. genesis doesn't have the brand strength (nowhere close) of 'established' luxury brands, but the quality, refinement and features of the g90 are excellent and it's still prices 20k+ below what anything comparable costs. i thoroughly enjoy mine... no regrets.

  • Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.
  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.
  • Brett Woods 2023 Corvette base model.
  • Paul Taka Hi, where can I find 1982 Honda prelude junkyards in 50 states