I recently had an opportunity to visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, IN – one of my all-time favorite museums, stocked with history’s most coveted motorcars. There will be a full tour and interview with the museum’s curator coming soon, but I enjoy nothing more than spending a few hours communing with the Duesenbergs in their art deco showroom. A visit of that caliber deserved a car equal to the journey. Fortunately, the recently updated 2021 Genesis G90 was available and proved a worthy choice.
Sharp Elegant Style
If you didn’t know Genesis was Hyundai’s luxury marque and the G90 was built in Korea, you’d surely think it was British. Nearly every body panel was restyled for 2020 with blessings of elegance. Appearing big and bold, the front is dominated by a large version of the brand’s signature crest grille with chrome mesh and flanked by quad LED headlamps. It’s all very distinctive, as are the wrap-around taillamps that will be carried into the next generation G80 sedan and GV80 crossover. The long wheelbase, formal C-pillar, and 19” “G Matrix” spoked alloy wheels add gravitas to this very substantial sedan.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more opulent cabin. Nappa leather seats, sueded headliner, stitched dash coverings, and wide planks of matte wood are seriously legit, but those seats are heated and cooled, steering wheels warm hands, and the 17-speaker Lexicon audio system summons cherubs. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless phone charging aid connections. If all of this luxury is too much for you, you’ll hate the rear seats with ridiculous legroom and power sunshades.
Smooth Elegant Power
Moving all of this egregious luxury is effortless. Our big car has the base engine, or what we’ll call the “Duesenberg J” edition: A 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 delivering 365 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the all-wheel-drive system through a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. If you have the means for the “Duesenberg SJ” version of the G90, you’ll opt for the 420 horsepower 5.0-liter V8. I suspect you’ll be perfectly pleased with the smooth power of the V6 and will appreciate its efficient 17/25-MPG city/highway.
Driving five hours round-trip surfaced more of the G90’s talents. It’s adaptive suspension wafts down the highway, but adjustable drive modes range from Comfort to Sport, the latter with heavier steering, tighter suspension, and more responsive throttle…but you’d never call a car like this sporty. Even in Sport mode, there’s too much mush in the steering. It seems to wallow a bit. Protecting humans is a full suite of safety systems that include adaptive cruise, emergency auto braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection. The safe exit assist prevents passengers from stepping into moving traffic.
There was a time when Genesis built nice cars that were good for the money, but now it builds cars that are simply good. The G90 is not quite to the level of juggernaut techno-wonders like the Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7-Series, but proved wholly appropriate as a saturating luxury sedan with contemporary style that, like Auburn and Cord is their day, is an alternative choice for mainstream luxury competitors. Unlike some six-figure competitors like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series, and Lexus LS, the G90 starts at $72,950 and came to $75,695 as tested.
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2021 Genesis G90
Five-passenger, AWD Sedan
Powertrain: 3.3-liter TTV6, 8-spd
Output: 365hp/376 lb.-ft.
Suspension f/r: Elect Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 19”19” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Luxury
Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Ulsan, Korea
Base/As-tested price: $72,950/$75,695