The 2021 GV80 is arguably the most important vehicle in the Genesis lineup, especially considering America’s seemingly insatiable appetite for SUVs. It is a model that faces stiff competition, particularly from European car manufacturers. But the good news for Genesis is that the GV80 is, in a word, brilliant.
- Smooth and powerful quattro turbo engine
- Great craftsmanship of the interior
- Excellent infotainment and safety technology
I do not like
- The digital instrument cluster should be standard
- The I4 engine doesn’t sound that good
My GV80 test has the base engine: a 2.5-liter turbo in-line four, which delivers a healthy 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The GV80 uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and while rear-wheel drive is standard, this one has all-wheel drive. In the US market, this AWD system includes an electronic limited slip rear differential, which helps with power delivery and handling. The all-wheel drive 2.5T GV80 is estimated by the EPA to return 21 miles per gallon in the city, 25mpg on the highway, and 22mpg combined. In a week of testing, I saw 21.8mpg.
The ride of the GV80 is well controlled and there is a noticeable difference between the different suspension settings. In its standard setting, the GV80 pleasantly pampers passengers while driving on broken pavements or motorway expansion joints. However, as cool as it is, the GV80 lacks the cloud-driving feel you get from the sophisticated air suspension of German SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GLE.
The 2.5T is so good that I wonder why you would ever need the optional V6. Acceleration from the turbocharged engine is brisk and smooth, although it doesn’t sound as good in action. Thankfully, the 2.5T is perfectly quiet at cruising speeds, and thanks to the GV80’s excellent soundproofing, it’s also very quiet in the city.
A highlight of the GV80 is its interior. The materials are all top notch; the things you touch seem substantial and expensive. The trims are all beautifully detailed, and the entire cabin reminds you that the Genesis GV80 isn’t just another stencil SUV. My tester’s heated and cooled front seats offer plenty of adjustability and support, both of which are great on longer trips.
As for ergonomics, it’s easy to get comfortable in the GV80. Even at 6 feet, 4 inches tall, I have no issues with head or leg room and can sit in the second row seats behind my driving position with no issues. There’s enough room in the rear for an SUV’s average value of groceries and luggage, and the third and second row seats fold down to increase storage.
When it comes to infotainment and safety technology, Genesis doesn’t skimp on the GV80. The central 14.5-inch infotainment screen is very large, but it’s not particularly tall, which means it doesn’t block outward visibility. The display is also crisp and bright and is a touchscreen, which makes it easy to use. There is also a redundant clicky-wheel control on the center console if you prefer to go that route. It works quite well, but I generally find myself touching the screen or using voice commands via Apple CarPlay. By the way, both CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, although Genesis’s native infotainment system works flawlessly.
The higher spec GV80s have a full digital instrument cluster, but my tester has an analog speedometer and fuel gauge on the left with a digital tachometer on the right. This setup is perfectly fine, but this semi-digital situation seems like a strange place to cut costs.
The GV80 is equipped with a ton of fantastic security technologies. Adaptive Cruise Control uses machine learning to suit your driving style. You can also get the GV80 with Genesis Highway Driving Assist II technology, which combines adaptive cruising with lane centering and lane changing functionality. It’s a simple to use and discreet technology that never gets in the way. Genesis also offers intelligent remote parking assistance, where you press and hold a button on the key fob and the vehicle parks itself. I always use it to make getting in and out of my tight underground parking lot easier.
My mid-level GV80 2.5T Advanced tester with all-wheel drive comes in at a reasonable price of $ 60,425 including a $ 1,025 destination fee. A similarly equipped Mercedes-Benz GLE350 4Matic would cost around $ 65,000, while a BMW X5 – with an inline six-cylinder engine – would cost $ 70,000. Whichever way you affect it, the GV80 is great value for money.
But value isn’t the only reason to consider the GV80. This SUV is a really impressive first effort for Genesis and gives me high hopes for the next compact GV70. If Genesis continues with this impressive tear, European automakers should be very worried indeed.