What Is It?
In 2017 Genesis launched its first car in America — the G90. Since then Hyundai’s luxury brand offered a full line of sedans without a single SUV in the mix. All that changed with the introduction of the 2021 Genesis GV80. Featuring eye-catching exterior styling, an elegant interior and a range of powerful turbocharged engines, the GV80 gives the luxury SUV competition a run for the money — right out of the gate.
Genesis provided us with a 2021 GV80 3.5T V6 AWD painted in Cardiff Green. With a long list of standard features, the test GV80 included a top-level Prestige Package that adds Nappa leather trim, power door closers, active noise cancellation, a 12.3-inch 3D driver display and 22-inch alloy wheels for a total MSRP of $72,375. Competitors to the GV80 include the Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Jaguar F-PACE and Volvo XC90.
The GV80 possesses exterior styling that complements the Genesis lineup. Joining the G70, G80 and G90 sedans, the new SUV features the brand’s notably large Crest Grille with quad narrow headlights for a unique look. “The Quad Lamp graphic will become the most recognizable, unique signature of Genesis design, as the simplest of lines communicate a distinct identity,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Hyundai Motor Group Luc Donckerwolke.
The quad light motif of the 2021 Genesis GV80 continues at the rear of the vehicle, where wraparound LED taillights echo the lighting style up front. Another interesting design element — the dual exhaust outlets mimic the grille’s shape.
Under the Hood
The 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T sports a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine producing 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque, teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Engineers improved the V6’s responsiveness via a water-cooled intercooler, an additional low-temperature radiator as well as an electric water pump — a trio of componentry that reduces turbo lag by lowering intake air temperature.
According to the U.S. EPA, the 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T earns ratings of 18 mpg city / 23 mpg hwy / 20 mpg combined. During our time in the GV80 we didn’t see much better than 17 mpg. This number could be due to contributing factors revealed during the 200+ miles we put on the SUV in late December 2020 — a joyously heavy right foot coupled with some quality time dashing through the snow in the Cascade Mountains.
All V6 variants of the 2021 Genesis GV80 feature an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system that has the ability to send as much as 50 percent of torque to the front wheels. In normal conditions power is generally directed to the rear wheels. The GV80 we tested also had an electronic limited-slip differential that can distribute power to either of the rear wheels depending on traction needs.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 introduces a fresh interior styling to the brand that will eventually be adopted by the rest of the lineup. Narrow air vents span the dashboard to support the impression of a wide cabin, further enhanced by a 14-inch-wide split-screen infotainment display at the center. The SUV’s unique steering wheel has two-stage heating and a single horizontal spoke that spans from hand to hand, with integrated controls at the edges. Controls on the wheel as well as on the center console have a solid, machined look.
The large, wide display screen of the 2021 Genesis GV 80 really ties the cabin together, providing a useful, easy interface for the infotainment system. Features can be accessed via touchscreen, voice or a dial in the center console. We appreciate the calming, simple home screen that displays time, temperature and a map with a background that changes with the weather and time of day.
Apple CarPlay / Android Auto
The 2021 GV80’s widescreen display capitalizes on its expansive real estate — when running Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the app expands to fit the display with enough space left for information from the SUV’s systems such as weather or audio.
Both stylish and easy to use, the infotainment controls of the 2021 Genesis GV80 are within easy reach on the center console. The SUV has a dial for navigation and physical buttons, as well as user-friendly volume and tuning knobs. The gear selector matches the machined styling found on other buttons and switches throughout the vehicle. With the GV80’s shift-by-wire system less console space is required for transmission hardware, freeing up valuable storage below.
Both stylish and comfortable, the front seats of the 2021 Genesis GV80 are swathed in attractive diamond-pleated leather that enhances the SUV’s premium appearance. This pleated leather also trims the sides of the center console. Seat side bolsters offer decent support, and drivers will appreciate the extendable seat bottoms as well as heating and cooling. After several hours behind the wheel of the GV80 we experienced no fatigue or stiffness.
The GV80’s pleated leather surfaces continue into the second row, where seats are also heated and cooled. Second-row occupants will enjoy the SUV’s copious headroom and legroom, as well as rear-seat climate controls and power ports.
Although the 2021 Genesis GV80 is available in a three-row configuration, seating for five in two rows results in a larger rear cargo area that adds plenty of utility to this luxury SUV. Buttons in the cargo area easily fold the rear seats flat to accommodate larger items.
On the Road
From the start of our test drive, it didn’t take long for the GV80 to reveal its comfortable, engaging demeanor. The active noise cancellation creates a particularly quiet cabin, and the SUV’s ride is both smooth and solid. With almost 400 horsepower on tap, this luxury SUV possesses more than enough power for any situation — accelerating to highway speeds, passing slower cars on two-lane roads, or simply enjoying the Gs when launching from a stoplight.
In the Snow
The 2021 Genesis GV80 we tested came equipped with all-season tires — not ideal for snowy conditions. That said, the all-wheel-drive system performed admirably in the slick stuff. Whether navigating slush-covered highways or traversing deeper snow on side roads, the GV80 feels stable and confident.
Even though Genesis is a relatively new car company, the brand has quickly created its own distinctive niche among luxury automakers. Genesis needed a smooth entry into the competitive luxury SUV segment, and the GV80 appears up to the job. Priced considerably less than the competition yet possessing standout styling, a luxurious, high-tech interior and all the utility and performance expected of a luxury SUV, the 2021 Genesis GV80 emerges right from the gate as a strong contender.