Luxury. Prestige. Opulence. Lavish. These are some of the words that can be used to describe a vehicle like the Mercedes-Benz S-class. For decades now, it has been the benchmark for all other luxury cars to measure themselves against. But in the last 10 years, a new player has joined the market from Korea. The Genesis G90 is aiming to compete against the established luxury brands such as BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.
Both cars are big sedans and as such, they need powerful engines. The 2023 Mercedes-Benz S-class is available with two engines. The S500 has a 3.0L inline 6 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and it produces 429 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The other option is a 4.0L bi-turbo V8 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system in the S580. This engine produces 496 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. With this V8 engine, the Mercedes S-class accelerates with ferocity despite its 2+ ton weight. 0-100 km/h takes just 4.4 seconds.
The 2023 Genesis G90 does not have two engine options like the S-class but it’s one and only engine can hold its own. It is a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. This engine produces 409 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. It’s more comparable with the engine in the Mercedes S500 with similar power and performance.
The V6 in the G90 is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and power is sent to all four wheels. Both the inline-6 and the V8 in the S-class are paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission, and they too send all of their power to all four wheels.
Both luxury cars are equipped with air suspension and adaptive dampers that can scan the road ahead and adjust the damping accordingly for a smoother ride. They are both also available with rear wheel steering that allows the rear wheels to turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels, which provides better maneuverability at slow speeds.
In the past, the Mercedes S-class was available as a short wheelbase or a long wheelbase. For the 2023 model year, it’s only available in the long wheelbase version. What that means is more legroom in the back seats. You can option the car with power adjustable rear seats and if you sit behind the front passenger seat, you can make that seat move forward. This allows for more legroom in the back seat and it can also recline for a more comfortable passenger experience. Additionally, these rear seats can be heated, ventilated, and massaging. There’s also a power footrest that can be deployed, there are power sunshades, and little tables that fold out like on an airplane. All of the rear seat functions are controlled by a little tablet that is in the center console.
By comparison, the Genesis G90 is also available in one wheelbase and it is similar to the long wheelbase version of the Mercedes S-class. That means that there is a lot of legroom in the back seats even if you are an above average height adult. Like the Mercedes, the G90 has power operated rear seats with a heating and ventilating function, however, they are not massaging. At least not for the Canadian market. In the United States, these back seats do have a massage feature. There are also power footrests, power sunshades, and power doors. Yes, you can close the doors by just pushing a button on the center console. Speaking of which, the rear seat functions are controlled by the touchscreen on the center console but it is not detachable like in the Mercedes.
The front seats in both cars are just as comfortable as the rear seats. They both come equipped with heated, ventilated, & massaging front seats and multiple seat adjustments such as lumbar, side bolsters, and thigh extensions. The design of the rest of the interiors, however, couldn’t be any different between the two cars.
The Mercedes-Benz S-class is all about screens. The infotainment touchscreen in the center measures 12.8” diagonally while the driver display measures 12.3” diagonally. There are very few physical buttons in the S-Class as most of the vehicle functions are controlled through the touchscreen or by voice commands. The Mercedes also has multiple trim piece options including black & silver blended stainless steel, walnut wood, piano black, and open pore wood.
The Genesis G90 also incorporates a lot of vehicle functions in the infotainment system but it has physical controls for the more commonly used items such as the climate temperature or the heated & ventilated seat controls. Both the driver displays and the infotainment touchscreen measure 12.3” in the G90 and there’s a smaller touchscreen just below the main screen for all of the climate control functions. The Genesis doesn’t have as many trim options as the Mercedes but the forged carbon, open pore wood, and brushed aluminum trim looks and feels premium.
Head Turning Looks
The two cars couldn’t be any more different on the outside as well but they both exude a look of luxury. The S-class has a curvaceous design with smooth flowing lines from the front to the back. The trademark three-pointed star emblem sits atop the hood and both the headlamps and taillights are full LED.
The Genesis G90 has two distinct design cues. One is the shield shape that is in the grille, the tailpipes, and a little bit in the wheels. The other design that is very prominent are the double lines that extend from the headlights to the side turn signals and wrap around the back.
These are not cheap cars. As flagship vehicles, they demand flagship prices. Of the two, the 2023 Genesis G90 is the least expensive. It starts at $115,000 and there aren’t too many options that you can add onto it. It’s already very well equipped. The Mercedes S500 starts at $143,000 with the S580 costing $155,800. With the Mercedes-Benz, you can also add a lot of packages and options which will raise the price by quite a bit.
So, in the end, if you are on a bit of a budget, the Genesis G90 ticks off all the important luxury boxes. It’s quiet, smooth, comfortable, and packed with the right features. The Mercedes-Benz S-class on the other hand is still the benchmark for luxury vehicles. It is at the forefront of technology with this car usually being the first to be equipped with the latest gadgets.