I can vividly remember when the Hyundai brand first introduced what was pitted as their luxury sedan simply dubbed the Genesis many years back, which was quite intriguing to many mostly for all the good reasons. Since then, Hyundai has spawned the Genesis luxury brand and it finally brings SUVs to the table starting with the midsized GV80 that I had a week to check out and have walked away delightfully impressed.
The all-new 2021 Genesis GV80 is a vehicle that embodies many of the best efforts of the new luxury brand under the umbrella of Hyundai (and Kia). In some ways, the Genesis brand reminds me of when Lexus was first introduced bringing something fresh and full of welcomed luxury substance fresh off of the innovative minds at Toyota. The new GV80 does something similar with its unique head-turning style and the proper luxury appointments throughout its lavish cabin all for a valued price point.
Powering the new Genesis GV80 is a choice of a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque or my GV80 Prestige test vehicle’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. Both engine choices send power through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder GV80 2.5T can be had in rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive while the 3.5T V6 only gets all-wheel-drive.
Out on the road, the GV80 is quite adaptable to the road quality and handles itself well, in part thanks to it being a rear-wheel-drive biased vehicle. Having the turbocharged V6 power there’s a nice appreciation of the midrange where you’re never left wanting more power in most situations. The only downfall here is the fuel economy that comes up a bit short versus competition where my GV80 3.5T V6 AWD test vehicle gets the EPA-estimated 18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. I was disappointed to seldom see the 23 mpg figure on the highway and I was getting more like 22 mpg and averaging around 19 mpg as a combined figure with a 50/50 mix of highway and city driving.
On the plus side of performance, the GV80 handles well, and the large 22-inch wheels and tires don’t make the ride quality harsh as you would expect such a setup to do when you have relatively low-profile tires. The adaptive suspension system that has a road-preview system to help mitigate the impact of visually detected road imperfections tends to keep the ride composed and lessen the overall impact of potholes. I was pleased for the most part with the one exception of the rear suspension lofting around a bit more than I would like when going over deep or repetitive undulations in the road. Acceleration is strong with only a slight lag out of the hole. Hitting 60 mph from a standstill takes place in a respectable 5.3 seconds.
The cabin of the GV80 is exceptionally quiet and the growl of the turbo V6 engine is often welcomed to remind you of what the vehicle is doing apart from subtle howl sound from the tires. There are a plethora of active safety features that help ensure your driving experience keeps you out of trouble, such as the expansive blind-spot-collision-avoidance system combining several notifications of a vehicle being in your blind-spot – you have the rearview mirror indicators, an indicator in the color heads-up display, a live camera video feed of your blind spot displayed in the gauge cluster when signaling, and you have an audible warning if a vehicle is detected when signaling. I’m not at all complaining about the multiple alerts and warnings because they do work well, it’s just a lot to process at times.
Other active safety features include smart cruise control that adapts to your driving style, forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping and lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, safe exit assist, and rear occupant alert.
Inside of the GV80 in the top-level Prestige Package AWD 3.5T trim, there’s a luxury theme that carries throughout with soft touch surfaces just about everywhere with nicely accented colors to contrast the dashboard with the perforated leather seating surfaces, in addition to the uniquely quilt patterned door trim and dash tunnel trim. The Nappa leather seats are heated and ventilated up front along with the rear outboard seats. Oddly enough, only the driver’s seat gets a massage function, which is called an Ergo motion seat. I was reminded of such when my passenger asked how to turn on their seat massage after seeing me do so in my driver’s seat when the pop-up seat control displays on the wide 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. I almost felt bad because any other test vehicle I’ve driven that had massaging seats included both the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat. In addition to the rear outboard seats being ventilated and heated, they also have 6-way power adjustments, which adjusts through a 60/40-split like the seat backs for power-folding flat.
As far as the touchscreen goes and the overall interaction of the infotainment system in the GV80, there’s somewhat of a letdown for me considering the physical control interface using a unique touchpad and clickable scroll wheel are counterintuitive. While the large 12.3-inch screen can be interacted with through touch, the screen is mounted very far from reach. Here, you’re often forced to use the physical controls instead of reaching for the touchscreen that requires you to literally move your body forward several inches, which may be a slight distraction for the driver. If I was to highlight my biggest complaint about the new GV80, it would be the distance to reach for the touchscreen (maybe I’m nitpicking). Otherwise, the system is mostly intuitive if you only use the touchscreen and the few physical buttons just below the climate vents that have a neat uninterrupted visual flow throughout most of the dashboard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is included as well, which take advantage of the full widescreen to display the app icons and most apps popular apps.
The visual uniqueness of the interior carries through the digital gauge cluster, which has the option of displaying a 3D image through tracking of your eyes. The 3D imagery may not be for everyone as the system tends to revert to a normal 2D image if it cannot track the eyes of the driver. I will say, the 3D representation almost looks the part of a traditional analog set of gauges in a luxury vehicle but with special sharpness to their overall look. Very classy!
The cargo room is very good, which makes way for the option of equipping the GV80 with a power-folding third-row of seats via the Advanced+ trim. The power liftgate has a smart opening function that automatically opens upon detecting the key fob at the rear of the vehicle after a few seconds. Speaking of the keyfob, Genesis included the unique remote smart parking assist feature that allows you to stand outside of the vehicle and press and hold the keybob button while it parks itself in a parallel spot or a spot directly in front or behind the vehicle. I also like that the keyfob is smaller than most, especially considering the number of function buttons on it.
The new Genesis GV80 is an exceptional first attempt at luxury in the confides of a midsized rear-wheel-drive-based crossover. While there may be a few things missing in the complete expected formula of a full-on luxury SUV in the GV80, there’s always room to grow and get better. Considering the low price point when compared to the competition, the GV80 is an attractive buy that I would not mind spending my hard-earned money on. A new GV80 in its base form starts at $48,900. Moving to my loaded top-trim GV80 AWD 3.5T Prestige test vehicle, you’re looking at a price of $73,510 as it sits, which includes an inland and freight charge of $1,045. Way to go Genesis, keep THIS up!
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