The 2021 Genesis GV80 AWD Prestige has style, form and posh

Every now and then, there’s a vehicle that sparks a keen interest from auto journalists, everywhere. The Genesis GV80 is one of those. The reason? Simple. It’s the first luxury SUV released under the Genesis moniker and is clearly aimed at taking on the competition, especially those from Germany.

From a first glance, you can see that the GV80 makes a bold statement with its strong body lines and massive, grandiose, front grill. The design team at Genesis has done a brilliant job of giving the GV80 a rather masculine curb appeal while keeping it elegant at the same time. This vehicle easily fits in at any country club or 5-star hotel Valet’s front parking (in fact, that happened to us with our time in the GV80 – the valet insisted parking it up front).

Its LED headlights look stunning, the 22-inch wheels are stellar and the way things wrap-up in the rear of the vehicle all look extremely upscale.

Our test model was powered by the potent, 3.5-liter V6 equipped with twin turbos. It’s good for 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft. of torque. It brings the GV80 from zero-to-sixty in around 5.3 seconds. There is also a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder available that puts out 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft. of torque that’s good for a zero-to-sixty time of 6.1 seconds.

Both engine choices can be had in either the rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configuration with a Terrain Mode Select feature. There’s only one transmission option and that is the very smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic. Additionally, you’ll get a few different drive modes that helps you get the driving experience of your choice. Our favorite, obviously, was the sport mode.

Like all Genesis vehicles, the GV80 comes with a 10-year / 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

You’ll find EPA ratings of 21 miles per gallon in the city and up to 25mpg on the highway with the four cylinder while the V6 comes in at 18 and 23 mpg respectively. On our extended drive with the GV80, we did find that the 23mpg rating is rather accurate with real-world driving.

If you’re looking for what is easily one of the most luxurious interiors in any SUV, then you have to check out the GV80. From its Nappa leather seating surfaces, to the stitched leather and extensive use of quality materials – everything in here feels expensive.

The front seating comfort is good but not the best we’ve parked ourselves in. On our extended drive time in the GV80, we found the seat bottoms to be a bit too stiff and not quite as cushy as some of the competition has to offer. The driver in our test vehicle has the option to have a massage and adjustable thigh bolster, the passenger gets left out in the cold. We’re not sure why Genesis wouldn’t put identical front seats in a fully optioned GV80.

A rear passenger in this GV80 is not a bad place to be. You’ll find ample leg room for most any passengers up to about 6’4” tall and each second row seat does recline. There’s a middle arm rest that also has a pop-out cup-holder. In the middle console, you’ll find two USB ports, an AC power outlet and climate controls. Additionally, both outboard rear seats are power adjustable (on the Prestige package) and are heated/ventilated as well.

Perhaps the first thing most folks see when they sit inside any modern car is the vehicle’s infotainment screen. Thanks to the minimalism on the GV80’s dash, its 14.5-inch widescreen is rather pronounced.

Thanks to an intuitive interface of touchscreen and a center console dial, you’ll find that it’s smartphone-like interface is amongst the best of its kind. This system is fife with all kinds of information and apps, including weather, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, on-board navigation and audio support of both Bluetooth and USB. Finally, you’ll find a section of “the sounds of nature” – which plays through its audio system various scenes of nature. Such as rain falling, snow, calm sea water etc. While I can’t think of any scenario where I’d personally use that outside of a spa, some folks may really enjoy it.

Our Prestige test model did feature the Lexicon 21 speaker audio system. This custom-designed system by Panasonic does have good audio playback, however, pales in comparison to the likes of the Mark Levinson systems found in Lexus or our current benchmark of new car audio, the Bowers & Wilkens found in new Volvos. While the mids and highs are pronounced and smooth, the lack of an impressive bass response leaves something to be desired.

Driver aids come aplenty with the Prestige package. Drive and safety aids include, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, forward collision avoidance, driver attention warning, blind spot monitoring and avoidance assist, rain sensing wipers, parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane keeping assist, a heads-up display on the windshield, land following assist and highway driving assist II.

On the road, perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is what the GV80 lacks. Road noise. It’s almost non-existent and a very welcomed experience in a luxury SUV. The 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbo has little hesitation in propelling you up to speed and you can feel its torque kick in rather quickly.

While it doesn’t do the best job we’ve seen smoothing out extremely bumpy roads, it’s still rather good compared to many vehicles out there. We love how it feels like a much smaller vehicle when it comes to the feeling while driving it. It has very little body roll, a decent turning radius and is a great freeway cruiser.

There was minimal brake fade, even under more aggressive driving and the steering wheel had a rather nice, weighted feel, to it in sport mode.

There’s no doubt that Genesis has knocked the ball out of the park with its SUV debut and its competition has plenty of reasons to worry. While the V6 is a hoot to drive and has the available third row, the 2.5-liter is likely the sweet spot for the GV80. It has the advantage of having plenty of power with a bit better fuel consumption and a bit lower on price.

If you’re in the market for a German or even some of the traditional Japanese luxury brands, you’ll do well to test-drive a GV80 and we’re confident you’ll find that it offers a lot for the money that most of its competitors can’t.

  • Car Coach Rating:
  • Performance: 9
  • Handling: 9
  • Safety: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Design: 9
  • Quality: 9
  • Value: 9
  • Seating Comfort: 7
  • Visibility: 9
  • Technology: 10
  • Car Coach Total: 90
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