Behind the Wheel

2020 Genesis G90 Review: Perhaps the best luxury sedan alternative to the Germans

The Genesis G90 has gotten a fresh face and interior enhancementns for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

People generally buy big, expensive luxury sedans for one of two reasons. Either they want to show everyone else how they've made it, or they want to reward themselves for how they've made it. Or, both.

Whether you're a lawyer or a doctor or a publishing magnate, plunking down the cash (or, more likely, signing a lease) for a Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series shows that you are (or want to pretend like you are) at the top.

2020 Genesis G90 The Genesis G90 is a very large sedan that comfortably seats four adults.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

But if you're more concerned about your personal comfort rather than brand cachet and what everyone else at the country club thinks — or you want everyone else at the country club to think you're clever and responsible with your money (showing off is complicated) — you have more choice. Like the 2020 Genesis G90, which is perhaps the best luxury sedan alternative to the Germans available today.

Most importantly, the G90 has presence. It's absolutely massive, with a huge grille up front with a winged Genesis badge atop the hood. I still find the badge a little lacking in panache but it works well on this car, especially at night when an illuminated version of it is beamed onto the ground by the doors.

And the G90 has luxury in spades. Every safety feature is here, including Hyundai's excellent active lane-keeping assist feature that I've praised before. It allows you to take your hands off the wheel for 10-15 seconds at a time (on well-marked roads with good visibility) and the car can maintain your place in the center of the lane and even handle corners for you.

2020 Genesis G90 Rear-seat legroom is akin to business class seating on an airplane - perhaps better.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

There's also a particularly excellent 360-degree surround view camera so you can see everything going on around the car, which is roughly the size of a medium-size barge. Continuing the gargantuan theme, there's a 12.3-inch center-stack touch screen that is one of the best-looking I've seen on a car. And, perhaps more importantly, it's fast to respond and easy to navigate. It's basically a reskinned version of Hyundai's infotainment system, which isn't a bad thing but I might have hoped for something a little fancier.

Speaking of fancy, I have to spend a little time talking about the interior. The G90 is a flagship luxury sedan, and the inside is where those cars really shine. The 22-way power driver's seat deserves particular praise, with lovely quilted Nappa leather and a very interesting seating program.

The ergonomic seats in the Genesis are certified by the Aktion Gesunder Rücken — German for "Campaign for Healthier Backs" — an organization of back specialists and medical professionals that gives its seal of approval to back-friendly products after a rigorous evaluation. There's even a mode that will automatically adjust the driver's seat and steering wheel to the most ergonomic position for your height, weight, and inseam length. It was a modest change from my manually-adjusted position — tilted back a bit more and slightly further away than normal — but after an hour or so, I realized it actually was more comfortable, only now I wish I had this feature in every car as I can't quite replicate it exactly. Alas.

2020 Genesis G90 The seats in the most premium level of the G90 feature quilting. Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The engine is the same 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 as the G70 sports sedan I drove a few months ago, making 365 horsepower sent through an 8-speed automatic to an all-wheel drive system. It's not a head-snapping amount of oomph, but it more than gets the job done. If you're looking to zip along even faster, there's a V8 engine option that's totally unnecessary. But then, most of this car is unnecessary.

That's what flagship luxury sedans are all about. Do you need rear seats that recline and first-class levels of footroom? Not really. What about screens on the back of the seats and three zones of climate control and a CO2 sensor that notices if the cabin doesn't have enough oxygen and will bring in more fresh air to compensate? I guess not, though that CO2 sensor thing sounds pretty cool.

2020 Gennesis G90 Seating for every passenger is abundantly comfortable. Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Your diminishing returns on an automobile purchase starts in earnest around $45,000, and by the time you get to the rarefied air of a $75,695 car like the Genesis G90, you're paying for many wildly unnecessary things. But that's the point. Even more the point, that's about $25k less than the competition in this segment and you'd never know it — more importantly, the Jones's down at the country club won't either. At least until they go to buy one.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Mercedes-Benz GLA was redesigned for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLA was completely redesigned for the 2021 model year, taking it from a mundane tuna can-like hatchback to a zippy, more traditional small SUV. Everything about it fits into the modern Mercedes SUV lineup. It's a mini Merc. It's formulaic and perfectly fine but it's just not that nice compared to what else you can get for around $40,000 (starting price is just over $36,000)

Mercedes sells the GLA in three variants with another on the way. There's the traditional GLA 250 and GLA 250 4MATIC, and the AMG GLA 35. A more high-performance version of the model, the AMG GLA 45 is coming soon. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available on most models. A variety of drive modes allow the driver to choose how much torque they want to allocate to what wheels and additional setup options for suspension and dynamics are available on pricier GLAs.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 The car's infotainment and driver information screens are housed together as one unit.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

As tested, the GLA 250 was powered by the standard 2.0-liter turbo-four that is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It delivers 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The SUV had trouble off the line during daily driving. The GLA's turbo lag added together with low-end gearing confusion to make the mundane drive from stop sign to stop sign in a neighborhood a comfortable creep followed by a robust burst of energy. Once out of the neighborhood and up to full speed on the highway, the powertrain performed far better, however, there was nothing elegant about it.

The model's steering is numb, which is typical for its class. It's steering circle isn't as tight as is optimal.

Any promise of a tranquil ride that you would think would be relatively standard with a Mercedes is not something the GLA possesses. However, for as much road noise that permeates the cabin, it's still less than the awful rattling the previous generation GLA allowed in. For that we can all be thankful.

The added height of the GLA gives the vehicle a more SUV-like seating position than its crossover predecessor. Ingress and egress is easy, as it should be with a model of these proportions. Head- and legroom for front passengers is fantastic for a vehicle of the GLA's size.

Seats in the GLA are not uncomfortable, and certainly not the worst that Mercedes offers.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes wins points for the GLA's tech, which is easy to use, responsive, and pleasing to the eye. The GLA comes standard with the Mercedes-Benz two screens, in one large housing. Its Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) operating system runs two 7.0-inch screens. The centrally located screen, which controls the infotainment system, reacts to touch and can also be operated by a touchpad controller on the center console. The list of standard equipment also includes four USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Buyers can upgrade their model to include a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, 12-speaker Burmester audio system, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, head-up display, and navigation.

Mercedes gives every GLA a reasonable amount of active safety features. The list includes a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, vehicle exit warning, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, and crosswind assist. To get the most desirable safety features, GLA buyers need to add on two packages, which drive up the price $2,800.

The SUV has ample space in the second row for adults.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The GLA's interior materials, cabin noise, and unrefined powertrain make it seem like a less-than premium SUV. The car's tech offerings give it a boost, but other models offer a longer list of standard and available safety technology.

Buyers who are savvy and looking to get the most bang for their buck will want to test drive similarly sized models like the 2020 Buick Encore GX, Jaguar E-Pace (it was refreshed for the 2021 model year with major changes), and Mazda CX-30 before committing to the GLA. They have interiors that are just as nice and offer price tags that are more wallet-friendly.

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The Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo collection features unique accents.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Nearly every aesthetic aspect of a Rolls-Royce can be customized. From traditional leather choices to intricate inlays, vapor blasted titanium, and million-stitch embroidery, the options for owners from the Bespoke side of the brand are nearly endless.

"The Bespoke Collective scaled new heights of greatness in 2020 – that they did so against the backdrop of numerous, unprecedented constraints and challenges makes their accomplishments even more impressive," said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. "Never before have we seen such levels of Bespoke detailing in each commission, demonstrating that Rolls-Royce clients around the world have sought solace in creativity – commissioning introspective items of luxury that will stand the test of time to become lasting and poignant legacies."

Here, AutomotiveMap takes a closer look at some of the most intricate designs that the luxury automaker crafted in 2020. Click here to see their hits list from 2019.

Dusk in Tokyo

Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo interior

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The 'Dusk in Tokyo Collection' is comprised of a Phantom, Wraith, Dawn, and Cullinan that celebrate the life and culture of Japan's capital city. Each model features a z complex, multi-faceted white paint, eponymously named 'Dusk in Tokyo', that is reminiscent of high-rise glass and concrete buildings bathed in the warm light of early dusk. The paint contains aluminum and mica flakes that create subtle tones in low light.

The Black Leather interior, punctuated by Rose Gold Bespoke Audio grilles and on Phantom, the fascia's Rose Gold clock case, is meant as a contrast, just as the long shadows of the city's call buildings cast on the ground below them.

At the cars' face is the Spirit of Ecstasy, presented in Rose Gold for the first time in Japan, representing the setting of the sun.

The Steed Phantom Extended

Rolls-Royce Phantom Steed Extended

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This horse-themed Phantom features complex bespoke embroidery that embellishes the interior rear doors. The design was developed from a sketch presented to the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design Collective, by a Chinese client with a very clear vision.

Neon Nights Color Trilogy

Rolls-Royce Neon Nights Trilogy

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The new Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective collection featured a limited run of four of each color Dawn, Wraith, and Cullinan models. Each is colored with a hue inspired by the natural world. Read more about these models here.

Phantom 'Iridescent Opulence'

Rolls Royce Iridescent Opulemnce

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This Phantom includes artwork that originally debuted as a concept in 2017. It was created in partnership with a Swiss materials specialist with the result being a gallery that houses over 3,000 sustainably sourced iridescent tail feathers. These feathers have been hand-sewn in to the open pore fabric. A Mother of Pearl casing surrounds the clock at the heart of the Gallery while bespoke embroidery at the rear waterfall and silver inlays on the picnic tables complete the design.

Wraith 'Inspired by Earth'

Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Earth

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Earth gave the design team the inspiration for this solar system-themed Wraith. The one-of-a-kind model was showcased earlier this year here on AutomotiveMap.

Wraith Kryptos Collection

Rolls-Royce Wraith Kryptos Collection Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Wraith Kryptos Collection comes complete with its own cipher that is concealed in the cars' bespoke detailing. Just 50 models were commissioned as part of the series. AutomotiveMap took a closer look at the vehicles here earlier this year.

The Mahlangu Phantom

Rolls-Royce The Mahlangu Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A South African client commissioned the bespoke model to display a highly personal work of art from globally celebrated South African artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu. Dr Mahlangu, a national icon in Africa from the Ndebele region, was the first artist to create an artwork in this way and the motor car was named 'The Mahlangu Phantom' in her honor. Positioned front and centre in the Phantom's interior, the one-of-a-kind commission is a striking display.

Cullinan Spirt of Russia Collection

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Spirit of Russia

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Four Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUVs were created and dedicated to Russian mountains: Elbrus, Krasnaya Polyana, Golden Mountains, and Klyuchevskaya Sopka. The exteriors of the models are painted Iced Black Diamond, Iced Gunmetal Steel, Midnight Sapphire Blue and Premiere Silver - colors chosen because they are reminiscent of the frosty peaks. Inside each, a map of Russia is on the starlight headliner while mountain peaks are embroidered on the headrests. The engraved sill plates of each car bear an inscription naming the mountain region that inspired its design, as well as the height of the highest peak in each region.

Dawn Silver Bullet Collection

Rolls-Royce Dawn Silver Bullet Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Dawn Silver Bullet Collection features an ultra-metallic paint job and unique aero cowling. Click here to read more about the car.

Sportive Collection

Rolls-Royce Sportive Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A Collection of two Black Badge Dawns and nine Black Badge Wraiths were commissioned for the United Arab Emirates. The group features bold color combinations and technical fibers that intertwine to create vibrancy. Each has a hand-painted coastline. They also features woven-leather door panniers and engraved bespoke audio frets.

Arctic White and Hotspur Red Phantom

Rolls-Royce Hotspur Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

An Arctic White exterior paint job with a double pinstripe in Hotspur Red is just the beginning of this model. The red continues inside where the lambswool floor mats, privacy curtains, and luggage compartment are completed in the color. The 'Lakeshore Aurora' Gallery is designed and created by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective.

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