Although upscale luxury cars ostensibly represent the pinnacle of automotive engineering and are something many people aspire to own, I find them kind of tiresome to drive these days.
When a top-tier luxury mobile appears on my schedule, I often groan inwardly and sometimes find myself reluctant to drive it.
It seems car makers are building luxury models to be less driver-friendly than ever and too complicated for their own good. They’re so weighed down with electronic gizmos and comfort features that just sitting back and enjoying the experience has all but disappeared.
The very thing that car makers are trying to accomplish – an effortless, relaxing and reassuring driving experience – is often overshadowed by demanding, counterintuitive convenience features that seem to require constant monitoring.
Some makers – Acura and BMW, for example – are flat-out annoying, and when I do get my hands on one, my frustration level goes through the roof. If I never drive an Acura MDX again, for example, it’ll be OK with me.
So imagine my relief when I slid behind the wheel of the 2020 Genesis G90. At last – a true luxury car that’s actually a pleasure to drive.
One of four models in Genesis’s lineup, the G90 is the top of the line. This is the most expensive car the company makes and it’s loaded with engineering features … and the usual comfort and convenience goodies, of course.
Power is provided by a 5.0-litre V8 that develops 420 horsepower and is mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is an all-wheel-drive car and there are several settings for that system. In operation, it’s completely unobtrusive and unnoticeable – this drivetrain is as sophisticated and smooth-running as anything in the luxury car segment. And it’s almost 100 per cent silent.
And, yes, there is a plethora of safety and engineering features, including rear collision avoidance, blind-spot monitoring, navigation system, ventilated rear seats, an easily-understood touch screen display monitor and my personal favourite: multi-camera monitoring.
This thing has cameras everywhere. I had to parallel park and discovered a camera that somehow displayed the car from above, helping me avoid some boulders that someone had arrayed along the curb. Impressive.
Visually, this is a stunning automobile. Hyundai/Genesis stylists have built in a sense of prestige and luxury normally found in top-of-the-line models from Germany or the United Kingdom. This car holds its own with models from any of the top manufacturers and wouldn’t look out of place parked in front of Buckingham Palace. I could quibble about the choice of wheels but that’s just me.
Kudos for the interior of the car as well. It features beautiful leather upholstery, subtle wood trim, tasteful switch gear, heated and cooled seats, and a heated steering wheel.
But what I really liked about this car was that I could get along with it. There have been times when I’ve been testing luxury models and had to consult the owner’s manual just to figure out how to change radio stations or adjust the heating/air conditioning system.
Not so with the G90.
Yes, you can use the touch screen. But most of those controls are redundant and if they don’t work out, there’s usually a button or knob somewhere that accomplishes the same thing. You can even change radio stations or bands without having to go through a multi-step process.
The G90 strikes a nice balance between flat-out luxury and automotive common sense. The G90 matches anything else in the luxury market when it comes to comfort, performance and engineering finesse.
And Genesis has managed to make the car usable and easy to get along with. Other manufacturers could take note.
2020 Genesis G90
Engine: 5.0-litre V8
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 420 at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 383 foot pounds at 5,000 rpm
Base price: $89,750
Fuel economy: 14 litres/100 km city and 10 litres/100 km highway, with premium gas
Some alternatives: BMW 750i XDrive, Mercedes S class, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, Lincoln Continental, Cadillac CT6-V, Maserati Quattroporte
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).