The Japanese have a strong hold in the expensive sedan market, mainly thanks to their popular Lexus brand. Now the Korean maker Genesis is taking them on, so we have two examples of each for a luxury car showdown.
Since Lexus was on the market first, it is only fair to cover it first. This LS 500 is considered the flagship of all Lexus vehicles, and the price reflects it. The admission fee starts at $75K. This one has the F-Sport option that provides Eco, Comfort, Normal, Custom, Sport and Sport+ drive modes, among other items too long to list. It adds a whopping $9K to the tab. This does not include other goodies we get such as sunroof, adjustable suspension, stereo, navigation, brighter headlights, safety gear and more. The total tab comes to $101K!
Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 turbo, cranking 416 horsepower, hooked to a 10-speed transmission. Fuel economy is listed at 19/30 mpg. The cabin quality of materials and workmanship is first rate. Most controls are easy to operate, but the finger touch pad for the infotainment system is not. At this time, no spare tire is offered as the vehicle drives on run-flat tires.
We took this car on a 400-mile road trip with passengers. The engine is strong, pulling this heavy beast with ease. Cabin room is plentiful, so bring your friends. Cornering ability is very good if placed in the Sport+ mode. Fuel economy on the highway was 27 mpg, very impressive for such a large car. The ride comfort was mixed. Yes, the suspension did a great job giving a soft impact, but those run-flat tires are too stiff and can ruin the experience on rough pavement. Rubber like this has no place on a luxury car and needs to go!
Next is the Genesis G90. This has some different features over the LS 500. First is the price tag. Order the 3.3-liter, 365-horsepower V6, and the cost is $69K. We got the 5.0 V8 version cranking 420 horsepower, so the entry fee rises to $76K. Secondly, and more important, while the G90 has about everything the LS 500 has, these items are included in the price, as there are no options. So the final cost was the same as the start at $76K! Now that is a bargain.
Getting into the cabin is a pleasure. Swarms of fancy napa leather trim are everywhere. We also get sunroof, navigation, great stereo, XM radio, all power equipment and many other items. A computer control has Comfort, Eco, Sport and Custom drive modes. All controls are easy to reach and operate.
Those who want a large car with all the luxury, gadgets and smooth ride will be happy with this car. It just glides over rough pavement, and the solid build quality provides confidence. Everyone who took a ride was impressed. Many were shocked to learn this vehicle is actually made by Hyundai in their Korean plant.
Choosing between these excellent cars is difficult. The Lexus has image and reliability, if a bit costly. The Genesis drives just as impressive, costs about $20K less and has a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. Take your pick.
Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.