The GV80 kicks off the first SUV models for the Genesis brand.
Ever since splitting from the Hyundai brand in 2017, the Genesis luxury marque has wowed us with a succession of three beautiful sedans. But sedans aren’t the significant sellers they once were, as SUVs have become the model of choice for most consumers. This year, we see the all-new Genesis GV80, the first of two long-promised SUVs. If you haven’t heard of Genesis before, the GV80 should change that and in a most impressive way.
Genesis offers the 2021 GV80 in 2.5 RWD ($48,900), 2.5T AWD ($54,650), 3.5T AWD ($59,650), and 3.5T Advanced + AWD ($65,550) trims, plus a $1,045 freight charge. The GV80 is a midsize rear-wheel-drive model with available all-wheel drive. This luxury SUV supplies room for five people or seven with the available third-row seat.
Genesis GV80: New for 2021
The 2021 Genesis GV80 is an all-new model. It shares its platform with the midsize G80 sedan.
Genesis needed to hit the mark with its first SUV and it has succeeded. One glance at its visage may have you insisting that this is a six-figure model, with a style definition rivaling the best of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Happily, Genesis achieved its styling goals for tens of thousands of dollars below the competition.
The now recognizable diamond-shaped grille dominants the front end, with quad headlights hemisected by dual daytime running lights. The long hood flows downward to the front end with pronounced body sculpting that’s at once muscular and elegant. Instead of decorative portholes, LED lights brighten the profile. Rocker panel carvings, bold character lines, and a high beltline project strength. From the rear, the wraparound taillamps sit within a concave panel that gives Range Rover a run for the money (and customers).
Inside, the GV80 truly shines with high-end materials found everywhere. The base model comes with imitation leather while the other trims use a variety of real hides, including Nappa leather. The front seats are wide, plush, and supportive, and include seven pressure points for gentle massaging. Heated and ventilated front seats are found on most models.
The rear passengers are not ignored as these seats tilt, slide, recline, heat, and cool. The middle position may be the least favored in the cabin, but it is hardly the penalty seat as found in some vehicles.
Safety & Tech
Genesis equips the GV80 with standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward collision-avoidance assist, and active lane control. Also, blind-spot monitoring with rear emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and parking sensors. A surround-view camera system is available and comes with blind-spot monitoring. This system captures images and displays them in the instrument panel. A self-parking feature is available.
The standard 14.5-inch display occupies a significant part of dashboard real estate, but it sits low enough to not block your forward vision. The screen is clear and crisp, but to access it you must use a dial controller and that involves a lengthy learning curve. Fortunately, voice commands, steering wheel controls, and touchscreen access are better options. We’re just wondering why Genesis made this so complicated.
A 12.3-inch digital instrument panel display is a winner with us as is the available head-up display. Wireless charging, smartphone integration, and a 12-speaker audio system come standard. A 21-speaker Lexicon audio system is available.
Genesis supplies two engine choices with the GV80. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. That’s more powerful than what some V8 engines offered earlier this century. The second choice is a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque.
Both engines work with an 8-speed automatic transmission and have five drive modes for the choosing: comfort, smart, eco, sport, and custom. Each mode adjusts throttle response and, with the Sport mode, supplies a firmer suspension and engaging steering. Only the base engine offers a choice between rear-and all-wheel-drive; the V6 works with all-wheel-drive only.
Our test model came fully equipped with the V6 and the Advanced Package. We’ve driven with the four-cylinder engine in other models and find the V6 is quieter, polished, and punchy. Where the four-cylinder might strain under nearly 5,000 pounds of mass and a full load of people, the V6 moves forward with authority. Its step-off acceleration is strong and there is plenty of power on tap when passing. Handling and ride comfort are comfort-tuned, especially further up the trim range. An available electronic limited-slip rear differential brings forth the best driving with noise cancellation technology elevating serenity.
The GV80 requires premium fuel and the V6 model averages 20 mpg. That’s about average for the segment. This SUV’s maximum tow rating is 6,000 pounds or just behind the BMW X5, Lincoln Aviator, and the Audi Q7.
While even the base model comes well equipped for $50,000, the sweet spot will cost you $10,000 more, bringing with it the V6 engine, all-wheel drive, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a panoramic sunroof.
In all, the GV80 makes a strong luxury and value statement for a very reasonable price. For an encore, the smaller and less costly GV70 SUV arrives this summer and will take on the likes of the Porsche Macan, Audi Q5, and the Cadillac XT5, giving Genesis a capable 1-2 punch in this segment.
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