About five years ago Genesis joined the luxury automotive scene and the brand continues to flourish. This growth includes the introduction of the first Genesis SUV — the GV80 — as well as design and feature updates across the board. When Genesis launched in late 2015 the G80 was one of the first models offered, and for 2021 this luxury sedan has been completely redone with new high-tech features, a luxurious interior, improved performance and standout styling.
“The core of our brand lies within the G80,” said William Lee, executive vice president and global head of the Genesis brand. “This segment represents where we started and we’re pleased that our newest offering achieves a perfect balance of discerning luxury and inspiring performance for our customers,” Lee noted.
Following the introduction of the flagship G90 last year, the G80 takes on many styling cues of the larger luxury sedan. Most notable is the large Crest Grille flanked by double-lined quad headlights — now a signature look for the brand. “The all-new G80 is the centerpiece of our lineup perfectly weighing athletic and elegant characteristics. This represents the clearest interpretation yet of the Genesis brand identity,” said SangYup Lee, senior vice president and head of global Genesis design. “Our goal is to offer unique, design-inspired experiences for our customers,” Lee also noted.
The quad-lamp motif continues to the sides of the G80 with running lights that are a visual continuation of a line that ends with wraparound LEDs at the rear. This sleek silhouette gives the G80 a sporty almost fastback look, countered by a “Parabolic Line” that flows over the hood and downward to the rear. The available 20-inch wheels complete the sporty proportions.
At the rear of the 2021 Genesis G80, quad taillights mirror the headlight style, while the Genesis emblem gets incorporated into the strip of chrome that stretches across the top of the trunk.
Genesis will offer the 2021 G80 with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a V6 powerplant, either available with rear- or all-wheel drive — all-wheel drive adds another $3,150 to the price. The G80 can be outfitted with two added packages: Advanced and Prestige.
The lineup starts with the G80 2.5T at a base price of $47,700. It may be the entry into the G80 line, but the long list of standard features for the 2.5T includes leatherette seat trim, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, a 12-speak premium audio system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, multiple USB ports, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, full LED headlights and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
Starting at $59,100, the G80 3.5T upgrades the 2.5T with heated and cooled front seats trimmed in leather, real wood trim, wireless device charging, a panoramic sunroof and 19-inch wheels — and, of course, the more powerful V6 engine.
Available on the G80 2.5T for an additional $4,600, the Advanced Package adds the panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, matte-finish wood trim, tri-zone climate control, a power trunk lid, a Lexicon 21-speaker premium audio system and 19-inch alloy wheels. Buyers can also opt for a Prestige package that also adds leather seat trim, a surround-view monitor, smart parking assist, rear collision avoidance, power door closers, a blind-spot monitor and a digital key. The Prestige Package is priced at $8,300.
For an additional $6,000 the G80 3.5T can be outfitted with the Prestige Package that matches the same package on the 2.5T but adds Nappa leather trim, a suede headliner, heated rear seats and steering wheel, a head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, forward attention warning and 20-inch alloy wheels.
The 2021 Genesis G80 has two new available engines: a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder unit producing 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque; those looking for a bit more performance can opt for a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 that ups output to 375 horsepower with 391 lb-ft of torque. Either engine gets teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters as well as multiple drive modes.
According to the U.S. EPA, the 2021 G80 achieves 23 mpg city / 32 mpg hwy / 26 mpg when combined with the rear-drive 2.5T powertrain. The more powerful 3.5T is rated at 19 mpg / 27 mpg / 22 mpg, respectively. The all-wheel-drive variants knock the numbers down by about 1 mpg. During our drive we were admittedly a bit too heavy with the right foot — the best mileage experienced with the 2.5T AWD G80 was 18 mpg.
The interior of the 2021 Genesis G80 has a sophisticated blend of luxury and technology. We spent our time in the G80 2.5T Prestige, which features a leather-trimmed steering wheel and big, comfortable seats with appreciable side bolsters for increased support. Soft-touch materials and open-pore wood trim throughout the G80 lend a high level of elegance.
Narrow air vents span the dashboard of the 2021 Genesis G80, giving occupants the impression of a wide cabin further enhanced by a 14.5-inch infotainment system display. Separate climate controls and button shortcuts to navigation and audio make the system easy to use. Actual buttons above the climate controls provide quick access to navigation and entertainment — the buttons are stylish but hard to read unless backlit with headlights on.
The default display of the 2021 Genesis G80 is unique in that it shows cabin temperature and what’s playing on the audio system. The background changes to reflect current weather and seamlessly integrates the GPS map on the right. Interface is by touchscreen, controller or voice.
In front of the driver sits a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster as well as a head-up display. The steering wheel of the 2021 Genesis G80 is all new, featuring minimal controls for a cleaner design. Able to show a multitude of information, the cluster has a blind-spot view that appears automatically when either turn signal is engaged.
The center console houses a stylish gearshift dial as well as an integrated controller for entertainment and other systems — volume and tuning controls are located here as well. Wood trim covers the center console and the dashboard. The chiseled look of these dials gets employed throughout the cabin, including steering wheel controls as well as the stalks for wipers and headlights.
The rear seat of the 2021 Genesis G80 feels incredibly expensive and expansive thanks to available heating and deeply sculpted seats in soft leather trim. Headroom and legroom are plentiful with easy access to rear-seat climate controls.
Heated seat controls, a rear sunshade and USB outlet reside in the fold-down armrest — convenient if there isn’t anyone sitting in the middle seat, otherwise these controls are inaccessible.
Genesis equips the new G80 with the latest high-tech safety features including forward collision avoidance, driver attention warning, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist and park distance warning. Also available is adaptive cruise control with machine learning, which is designed to adapt to each driver’s unique style.
Although we did not have the chance to test the G80 with the more powerful V6 engine, the turbocharged 4-cylinder unit should be more than adequate for most situations. The G80 2.5T feels quick off the line with plenty of power availability as well as decent low-end torque. However, when travelling at higher speeds the 2021 Genesis G80’s acceleration becomes labored, with the engine working too hard with little results. That said, the G80 is extremely quiet and smooth on road at high or low speeds, and there were several instances of traveling faster than realized.
The 2021 Genesis G80 rides on a new lighter platform with updated suspension for improved driving dynamics, and it shows when the road gets twisty. Not a small car, the G80 handles surprisingly well with excellent steering and a confident, well-balanced ride. Sport mode improves driving response, at the same time firming up seat bolsters in anticipation of more aggressive driving.
The G80 is available with remote smart parking assist, which is somewhat eerie. After activating the system and choosing parallel or perpendicular parking, the G80 slowly drives by parking spots; the system notifies when a suitable parking space has been discovered. At that time, the driver gets out of the car and holds a button on the remote. The car then car parks itself, including driving forward and reversing to line up perfectly, Once in the spot, the car puts itself into Park and shuts off. When returning to the car, the driver starts the G80 with the push of a button and it pulls out of the space — all via the remote.
The 2021 Genesis G80 brings a lot to the road for the price —a formula that has worked well for the brand during its short time in existence. The updated styling helps the 2021 Genesis G80 stand out in a very crowded luxury sedan market, and the interior has a premium aura that defies the car’s low starting price. With excellent comfort and two great performance options, the updated G80 should certainly give its European competitors pause.
Pros: Standout styling; luxurious interior; great handling.
Cons: Noisy four cylinder at high rpm; fuel economy lower than expected.
Bottom Line: With attractive styling and a long list of premium features, the 2021 Genesis G80 easily holds its own against much more expensive competitors.