by Frank A. Aukofer

Following closely in the tire tracks of its all-new 2021 G80 sedan, the never-before Genesis GV80 crossover sport utility vehicle makes its impressive debut as a 2021 model.

Genesis is just five years old as the luxury brand from South Korea’s Hyundai. It’s a similar venture to Toyota’s luxury Lexus and Honda’s Acura brands. Genesis has delivered three classy premium sedans in its brief lifetime: G70, G80, and G90.

The GV80 is equally impressive with luxury interiors, a choice of power plants and performance levels, solid handling with tactile steering feedback, long-distance comfort, and silent running on the road. The 2.5T comes with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. 

The 3.5T, also with the eight-speed automatic, comes with all-wheel drive and is powered by a twin-turbo V6 engine that delivers 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. 

The 2.5T and 3.5T come in three trim levels: Standard, Advanced, and Prestige. Driven for this review were the 2.5T Prestige trim with all-wheel drive, which added $6,350 and brought the price to $64,425, and a 3.5T Advanced model with all-wheel drive and a price tag of $65,375. 

There’s also a 3.5T Advanced version with provisions to add an optional third-row seat. But given the GV80’s passenger space of 109 cubic feet, on the cusp between a compact and midsize sedan, it’s not likely that the third row would be helpful for anyone other than children or a few of the seven dwarfs.

The Standard 2.5T with rear drive has a starting price of $49,925.  Advanced and Prestige models are priced at $53,825 and $58,075, respectively. All prices include the $1,025 destination charge.

Both the 2.5T and 3.5T are luxury crossovers with interiors and equipment to match, designed to compete with the Mercedes-Benz GLE Class and the BMW X5, both of which have rear-drive standard with all-wheel drive optional like the GV80. But it likely also will compete well against front- and all-wheel drivers like the Acura RDX and Lexus RX.

Likely almost any customer would be satisfied with either the 2.5T or 3.5T models, though the preference here would be for the velvety V6 engine with the twin turbos. Moreover, if you do the math and pick the mid-level 3.5T Advanced, it’s only $950 more than the loaded all-wheel-drive 2.5T Prestige four-banger.

Both versions feature beautifully designed interiors with quality materials and craftsmanship, including indirect lighting, burl wood, and metal trim, as well as a 14.5-inch center touch screen set up vertically.

But the Prestige trim adds an electronically controlled suspension system, head-up display, active road noise cancellation, three-zone automatic climate control, heated second-row seats, and a power driver’s seat with bolster adjustment and cushion extension.

That’s in addition to the Advanced equipment, which includes a surround-view monitor, blind-spot warning, parking rear collision avoidance, quilted and perforated Nappa leather upholstery, and premium audio. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, with good bolstering to hold the torso around fast curves. There’s also an optional massage function. 

All Genesis GV80 versions come with modern safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise with a semi-autonomous driving mode. The last system learns the owner’s driving habits and can mimic their driving style.

The lane-keeping assist, unfortunately, is very aggressive. On a stretch of highway with narrow lanes because of construction, it took hold of the steering wheel and bounced the GV80 side-to-side as if it were a ping-pong ball in a chute, all the while sounding the warning alarm. It was less intrusive in wider lanes.

Another negative: although the capacious cargo area has a small hideaway storage area under the floor, it forces the spare wheel and tire forward, where it looks challenging to retrieve. Best to call roadside assistance if you get a flat.

Next up for Genesis will be the 2022 GV70 crossover, smaller than the GV80 and competing in the compact luxury class. Like the GV80, it will use the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. Both will have eight-speed automatic transmissions.

With the same power as the GV80 in a smaller, lighter package, the GV70 likely exhibit strong acceleration and handling performance attributes. Likely there’ll be lower prices as well.

Specifications

  • Model: 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T Prestige AWD four-door crossover sport utility vehicle. 
  • Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 300 hp, 311 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 3 inches. 
  • Height: 5 feet 8 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 109/35 Cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,742 pounds
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 21/25/22 mpg. Premium fuel recommended.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $58,075.
  • Price as tested: $64,425.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson