After Hyundai established Genesis as an independent marque in 2017, it was easy to predict an eventual Genesis SUV. Brands sold in the United States can’t stay competitive without an SUV in their lineup.
The first Genesis SUV, named GV80, is here now, having arrived on our shores about two months ago. The G stands for Genesis and the V stands for versatility. Genesis uses an alphanumeric naming system for all of its vehicles.
Reaction to the GV80 has been widely positive, especially for the exterior design. SUVs are basically a box, and Genesis pulled off quite a feat by sculpting an authentic SUV abundant in skillful flourishes without going overboard. The gorgeous design announces that the GV80 is a luxury-level SUV.
Pricing is another attractant for the GV80. With a $1,025 destination charge included, the 2021 GV80 starts at $49,925. The top-tier model’s base price is $71,975 and fully loaded comes in just over $72,000. To see what a good deal that is, check out price tags on other luxury SUVs.
Genesis GV80 is a midsize SUV with seating for up to five passengers. A third row seat is optional. There are two engines available: a 300-horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and a 375-horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on every model.
Fuel economy isn’t a GV80 superlative. Its numbers fall about mid-range compared to other luxury midsize SUVs that are not hybrids. The four-cylinder engine with RWD is rated 21 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. AWD drops the combined mpg rating to 22. Ratings for the V6 are 18/23/20 mpg.
There are three GV80 trim levels: Standard (base), Advanced, and Prestige. I drove a 3.5T AWD Prestige model with delicious dark-green paint called Cardiff Green, which Genesis has named as GV80’s signature color.
Genesis gives every GV80 model a large number of standard features consistent with luxury status. Extra equipment distinguishing the Prestige trim includes 22-inch alloy wheels, electronic limited slip rear differential, active road-noise cancellation, power and ventilated second-row seats, 12.3-inch 3D digital cluster, power rear side window shades, and power door closure. That last item is also known as soft closing doors. It makes those heavy SUV doors easier to operate and eliminates jarring slamming sounds. Seems like a gratuitous add-on, but the power doors are an excellent feature.
The 22-inch wheels are designed to mimic the G-Matrix pattern of the GV80 grille, and they couldn’t be more attractive.
Comfort and tranquility levels inside the GV80 are so high it’s almost an autogenic experience. My serenity was interrupted, mildly, only by the infotainment system’s lukewarm friendliness. Its control center is a large rotary dial in the center console with some touchpad behavior in its DNA. I circumvented it by mostly using the helpful physical controls and touchscreen Genesis was smart enough to provide.
In defense of the infotainment system, the 14.5-inch display is fantastic and the control dial is visually lovely. To make matters better, there’s an even more beautiful rotary dial in the center console. It’s the gear changer, and it has a wonderful tactile quality.
Though the 3.5T engine isn’t a barnburner, it delivers ample power for the GV80. The vehicle seems bigger than it is when driving on curvy roads, but handles the turns deftly.
2021 GENESIS GV80 3.5T AWD PRESTIGE
Base price, including destination charge: $71,975
Price as driven: $72,375
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.