Genesis GV80 — Impressive luxury SUV photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(April 11, 2021) It took longer than expected for Genesis to add a SUV to its lineup. But the wait was worth it. The 2021 GV80 is a startlingly good mid-sized luxury ride that features a stylish exterior, a handsome interior, the latest in infotainment and safety technology, strong performance from its 3.5-liter V-6, and agile handling for a high-riding sport utility vehicle. It's exactly the flagship vehicle Genesis needed to be taken seriously as a luxury brand.

Genesis is a spinoff from Hyundai and is relatively new, officially entering the luxury market in November 2015 with the full-sized G90. It made a big splash in the U.S. late in 2016 with the addition of the mid-sized G80 sedan. And it solidified its luxury credentials with the compact G70 sedan in 2017, and in June 2018 ranking first in the vaunted J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. The GV80 only adds to Genesis' luxury credentials. photo

The GV80 can't be mistaken for anything else on the road with its horizontal quad headlamps flanking the Genesis crest grille. A character line sweeps up and over the front fender and flows down through the doors and over the rear flanks tying the design together. Horizontal quad taillights matching the front headlamps wrap into the rear hatch. It's a striking look that could easily be compared to and mistaken for such high-dollar SUVs as the Bentley Bentayga or the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. It actually competes against such nameplates as the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5 and the Acura MDX.

The GV80 comes in three flavors — Standard, Advanced and Prestige — with two engine choices.  Available are a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque and a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 making 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic. The 2.5-liter comes with either rear wheel or all-wheel drive and the V-6 comes standard with AWD.

While we did not drive the smaller engine we enjoyed our time with the V-6 and its 375 horsepower and found it very energetic for all driving situations. While it doesn't enter the ranks of a BMW M-tuned X5, we found it a perfect fit — just right driving performance with the extremely smooth-shifting 8-speed that was right there when downshifts or upshifts were needed. For comparison purposes the V6 moved the nearly 5,104-pound SUV in a measured 5.2 seconds from 0-to-60.

The ride was luxuriously smooth with the electronically controlled suspension that came standard with our Prestige edition test vehicle. At the same time our GV80 acquitted itself quite nicely on our usual rural paved road "test track" — again pretty much a perfect fit for what you would expect from a luxury SUV.

The interior is just as striking as the exterior. At a time when many carmakers are replacing switches and buttons with touch-sensitive controls, our GV80 vehicle uses silver-tone knurled knobs and select physical buttons with white accents, creating a light, bright space. The large rotary dial that controls the infotainment system lives in the center console and clicks with precision as it turns.

A wide 14.5-inch touchscreen can display calming nature scenes when it's not being asked to show eye-catching graphics from SiriusXM. And with materials such as the dark open-pore wood to the satin-metal trim to the leather that covers the stylish front seats, you might think you were in a Bentayga or a Cullinan.

We were impressed with how quiet the interior remained even under high speeds with muted road and wind noise. Genesis says the GV80 features the world's first application of Road Active Noise Cancellation (RANC) technology.

The seats proved extremely comfortable with 12-way power heated and ventilated front seats. And rear-seat passengers can enjoy plush heated seats and their won climate controls along with scads of legroom. A third row is available, but only on the Advanced Plus model, but way-back room is tight, meant for children.

On the safety front the GV80 is loaded with standard safety technology. How safe is the GV80? Ask Tiger Woods. He survived a crash in Los Angeles following the Genesis Invitation Golf Tournament in mid-February. Some law enforcement and rescue personnel said the outcome might have been more deadly in many other vehicles.

The GV80 is also useful for cargo hauling and towing weekend toys. Cargo capacity is 34.9 cubic feet with seats in place expanding to 84 cubic feet with seatbacks folded. Maximum towing with the V-6 engine is 6,000 pounds.

Not to be overlooked is the outstanding warranties carried by all Hyundai, Kia and Genesis vehicles — 5-year/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 10-year/100,000 mile drivetrain and 3 years or 36,000 miles of free maintenance.

We think the GV80 is one of the best new-car buys in the luxury ranks starting at $49,945 for the 2.5T model. Our well-equipped Prestige V-6 AWD model carried a base price of $60,695 including destination charge and an as-tested bottom line of $72,995 with the $5,200 Advance Package and the $6,600 Prestige Package. Package extras included 22-inch wheels, ventilated second-row seating, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and an outstanding 21-speaker Lexicon audio system.

2021 Genesis GV80


Base price: $49,945; as driven, $72.995
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6
Horsepower: 375 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 391 pound-feet @ 1,300 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/2/2
Wheelbase: 116.3 inches
Length: 194.7 inches
Curb weight: 5,104 pounds
Turning circle: 39.3 feet
Towing capacity: 6,000 pounds
Luggage capacity: 3.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 84 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 21.1 gallons (premium recommended)
EPA rating: 18 city, 23 highway, 20 combined
0-60: 5.2 seconds
Also consider: Audi Q, BMW X5, Acura MDX

The Good
• Good performance from V-6
• Quiet cabin
• Stylish inside and out
• Long-term warranties
• Excellent price for segment

The Bad
• Available third row seat small

The Ugly
• Below average fuel economy