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One Week With: 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium

Two fewer cylinders subtracts nothing

Arthur St. Antoinewriter, photographer The Manufacturerphotographer

Ah, now here's an interesting twist. Last fall, I spent a week driving the Genesis G80, the sedan considered the "entry-level" model in the new brand's premium lineup. Yet my test car was powered by the maker's top engine, a 420-horse, DOHC 5.0-liter V-8. Six months later, I've just spent another week at the helm of the brand's flagship, the 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium — except this one was powered not by the big V-8, which is optional, but by a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6. This immediately begged the obvious question: Was I stepping down while stepping up?

Despite the newly named "Genesis" division, if you're familiar with Hyundai's previous offerings you'll know these two cars. The G80 is an update of the retired Hyundai Genesis, while the G90 is an evolution of the Hyundai Equus. That is to say, in the G90 you're definitely stepping up in size; the car is more than 8 inches longer than the G80, with more rear-seat legroom and a bigger trunk. The G90 feels bigger, too — in a good way. With a roughly 6-inch greater wheelbase, the G90 glides over road imperfections with a poise the G80 can't match. It's not wallowy, mind you, but there's no mistaking the focus on comfort here.

It's worth noting that the Adaptive Control Suspension is sourced from Germany (Sachs/ZF); it provides independent damping of compression and rebound — meaning impacts can be absorbed while also reining-in any post-shock body motions. The driver has a choice of four vehicle modes, which also control steering, throttle, transmission, and stability-system response; in Sport, the suspension adds enough firmness to feel a bit more "bite" in the road, but you can't make the G90 ride hard. Call it "plush over performance," but the G90 never feels like a boat.

Given my previous experience with the twin-cam "Tao" V-8 — a very nice mill — I expected a letdown with the turbo six. Then I drove the G90 3.3T. And let me tell you, this all-new, twin-turbo, direct-injection "Lambda" six is a beauty. Turbo lag? There isn't any. Instead, easing on the throttle at a stoplight summons an almost immediate swell of torque; all 376 pound-feet are awake and pulling at just 1,300 rpm. By comparison, the V-8 doesn't reach its max torque of 383 pound-feet until 5,000 rpm.

What's more, the 3.3-liter six is nothing but smooth, its exhaust luxuriously hushed by those twin blowers. It feels and sounds expensive. Honestly, I didn't miss the V-8 for an instant (okay, it does sound better gunning to its redline but, really, the G90 isn't the kind of car most owners will flog with a whip). If I were shopping for a G90, I'd be hard-pressed to choose the V-8 over the turbo six. It costs less, gets better fuel numbers, and…it's just that good.

The turbo six's response is only enhanced by the fine 8-speed automatic that's found in every Genesis model. The "Shiftronic" feature allows manual gear selections, but I almost never used it. The G90 is an automobile for cruising, not for romping through the mountains. That's no criticism. Making a cruiser this good is no small feat. Another plus: If you live in a snowy clime, all-wheel drive is available with either engine (my test car was a rear-driver).

Genesis may be the "new" brand in the premium-sedan segment, but this flagship sedan is already at least on par with — and in some ways better than — the established makes. In addition to its poised powertrain and composed chassis, the G90 surrounds its occupants with almost every imaginable amenity — standard. I found myself cranking the 7.1-surround Lexicon audio system at every opportunity; on a live recording of "Lawyers, Guns, and Money," one of Warren Zevon's impassioned wails damn near cracked the windshield. A full complement of driver-assist systems is on board, from blind-spot detection to lane-keep assist, and they do an admirable job of providing helpful info without being intrusive. Particularly good is the central multi-view display, which is fed by four external cameras so you can see all around the car almost as if you were walking around it.

Significantly, during my week with the Genesis nothing leapt out to say "I'm not quite up to par yet!" The G90 is a machine without irritations. True, the cockpit lacks the sophistication and style of, say, the Audi A8, but the G90 wins you over anyway simply by doing its job so well. The materials are rich. The systems are well-executed. The fit and finish are superb. And then there's the sticker: $69,050. Everything included. You choose the paint color and the shade of interior. Done.

For years, Lexus has been the standard-bearer in this class, undercutting the German bluebloods with comparable luxuries and features for thousands less. But with the arrival of the G90, the LS 460 has just been served a dose of its own smack. The Genesis undercuts the price of a base LS 460 by more than $4,000. And the G90's sticker is all-inclusive. To build an equivalent Lexus, you'll have to spend more. Even then, the G90 is bigger (with significantly better front- and rear-seat legroom and shoulder room), delivers more low-end torque, and comes with a better basic warranty (60 months/60,000 miles versus 48/50,000). Arguably, the G90 might even drive…better.

An impressive piece of work, this big four-door. A turbo six may never have the "status" of a big V-8, but after driving the V-6-powered Genesis 3.3T for a week, I'd say any G90 is a definite step up.

2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium Specifications

PRICE $69,050/$69,050 (base/as-tested)
ENGINE 3.3L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6/365 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 376 lb-ft @ 1,300 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 17/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 204.9 x 75.4 x 58.9 in
WHEELBASE 124.4 in
WEIGHT 4,650 lb
0-60 MPH 5.6 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 155 mph (est)