Part of what sells a luxury car is the status that goes with the brand. When you mention your Mercedes to people, it elicits a different reaction than when you talk about your ... Toyota.
So how do you sell a Lexus ... back when no one had ever heard of one?
That was Toyota's challenge some 30 years ago when it launched its luxury car brand, which — initially — had zero status.
"What's a Lexus?" people wanted to know.
As it turned out, it was a car very similar to a Mercedes or BMW, except it cost tens of thousands of dollars less. It was also a great car; many consider it to have been a better car than the cars it targeted — and whose market share it ate into like a hungry piranha.
That first Lexus — the LS 400 — created the status Lexus needed to become a successful luxury car brand.
Hyundai has the same plan in mind.
Genesis is its new luxury division and — not yet having the status of Lexus — is offering its new G90 sedan for thousands less than a new LS 500 sedan and (history repeats) tens of thousands less than a new Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series sedan.
What It Is
The G90 is a full-size luxury sedan comparable to top-of-the-line sedans from Lexus (LS 500), Mercedes (S-Class) and BMW (7 Series) but far less pricey.
And much better warrantied.
You can get one with a V-8 engine for less than Lexus charges for an LS with a V-6 — and tens of thousands less than Mercedes charges for an S-Class with a V-8.
Prices begin at $69,350 for the premium trim with rear-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive is available and bumps the price to $71,850.
A top-of-the-line Ultimate with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine and all-wheel-drive costs $76,350.
Genesis is the new brand on the block.
Everything but the kitchen sink — for less than the price of a roughed-in kitchen.
It has legroom big enough for an NBA forward — 46.3 inches, which is half a foot more than the legroom in a Lexus LS 500 or Benz S.
Longest warranty coverage in the class.
What's Not So Good
It hasn't got the status ... yet.
It has a bit less trunk space than rivals.
The Genesis dealer network is not as extensive as that of established brands.
Under the Hood
The G90 comes standard with a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 engine that produces 365 horsepower; it's paired with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
Ultimate trims get a 5.0-liter V-8 engine and 420 horsepower.
This one can get to 60 mph in just five seconds — nearly as quick as a Mustang GT — despite a curb weight approaching 5,000 pounds.
Interestingly, the V-8's mileage — 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway for the rear-wheel-drive version — is nearly the same as the mileage delivered by the V-6, which delivers 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
On The Road
It's no accident that the winged Genesis badge looks very much like a Bentley badge. You're welcomed to each ride with a holographic projection of that badge on the pavement just ahead of the opened door.
And once you've closed that door — which snugs itself tight, automatically — you probably won't want to open it again for a while.
The G is a very powerful car, but not in a racy way. It can outrun almost anything — especially the V-8 Ultimate — but this car is all about not being in a hurry.
Or in a worry.
One thing that sets the G90 apart from its German and Japanese rivals is a more comprehensible control interface. There are buttons that operate without having to take your eyes off the road — as is often necessary with the touch-screen-only controls used in some other cars.
This includes the controls for the superb 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound system and a CD player — something many rivals no longer offer.
At the Curb
The G is a visually impressive car.
It glides along on a limousinelike 124.4-inch wheelbase — which allows for limousinelike accommodations inside, including by far the most legroom in the class
It's also a loaded car as it comes. All trims get an adaptive suspension, a 22-way driver's seat, power rear sunshades, automatically folding outside rearview mirrors, a head up display (HUD), three-zone climate control, heated rear seats and a 12.3-inch LCD touchscreen as part of the standard equipment suite.
Features such as these are available in rival sedans — but most cost extra.
Genesis may not yet have the status of Lexus or Benz or BMW, but it comes with much better warranty coverage: five years or 60,000 miles on the whole car, ten years or 100,000 miles on the drivetrain and free maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles.
That should ease your mind — and will probably help keep resale values high.
The Bottom Line
Your neighbors may not know what a Genesis is ... yet.
But when they find out, they'll be impressed!
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.