Test Drive: 2017 Genesis G90

Normally after an hour of sitting in traffic, I’m ready to go through the moon roof. But on this beautiful day in Los Angeles, total gridlock has become almost tolerable thanks to the magical seats in the 2017 Genesis G90. 

In fact, I’m actually rather relaxed. I spend another hour lost in Brentwood, neither an advanced GPS system nor my spawning-salmon-like sense of direction can seem to re-route me around an impassable Sunset Boulevard. (Thanks to a major storm and numerous downed trees, you can’t get there from here.) Now I’m running pretty late to a Tiger Woods press conference at Riviera Country Club. Even after my fourth lap around the same Brentwood neighborhood, I’m still pretty chill thanks to this soft, supple, ventilated throne I’m riding on. After a lengthy backtrack I finally make it the two-and-a-half miles of actual distance from Santa Monica, where I started, to the club parking lot — three hours later.

The recently launched Genesis brand is Hyundai’s luxury spin-off — a la Lexus to Toyota or Infiniti to Nissan. When Hyundai entered the U.S. market in the middle 1980s, it was with affordable, entry-level, small cars. Gradually the Korean company worked its way toward the higher end of the automotive spectrum with models like the Genesis and Equus. The G90 is the second car in the Genesis brand’s stable and is a full-sized luxury car built to rival the more venerable BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes-Benz S Class.

Like the Germans, the G90 comes with all the luxury accouterments we come to expect in high-end automobiles: a wide-screen navigation screen, a multimedia system, seven interior lighting mood lamps, as well as a 17-speaker Lexicon stereo that sounds better than front row at The Roxy. Have I mentioned the seats? The driver’s seat has 22 ways of adjustment as well as heating and ventilation. If you can’t get comfortable in this seat, you are just a person who refuses to be comfortable.

While the G90 is a big car to be sure, you hardly notice its beefy stature from the driver’s seat. Thanks to added rigidity and an adaptive suspension, it handles more like a car a full class size smaller. It’s still a sumptuous ride, but it's not a floating creampuff like your mom’s old Cadillac.

Where you do notice the G90’s size is in the back seat — and that’s a good thing. There is more than enough legroom for adult passengers, even if the driver is on the tall side.

The myriad of standard safety features include driver-attention alert, blind-spot detection, a multi-view camera, and a well-integrated heads-up display to help you get to your destination with less stress and in one piece. Thankfully, I never experienced the magical whiplash of the automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection system because, apparently, no one walks in L.A. (and also, I’m a pretty good driver).

But the car still has its share of quirks. The default GPS display aligns with the car’s direction, so the map is constantly shifting without giving an indication of which way is north, which makes ignoring the computer for a course deviation a challenge. The radio station is needlessly displayed within the heads-up-display, cluttering up the more vital information. And for some reason, an analog clock exists below the nav screen, which displays the time in digital. 

After the press conference, I took the G90 up the 405 and west through the Simi Valley to log some highway miles on my way to Rustic Canyon Golf Course. The 360-hp V-6 version I drove (a V-8 is also available) provides plenty of power to get up to speed. It will even shuffle a bit, making it a fun daily driver.

I hit more traffic on the way back to L.A. for a quick dinner before my flight back to New York. Thank god for these seats. I did mention the seats, right? [From $68,100; genesis.com]