Genesis is a luxury brand that has been around for less than a decade. But in that short time, it has given us three luxury sedans that provide more value and bang for your buck than the German rivals. Now, it has launched its first SUV; the 2021 Genesis GV80.
Engine – The Genesis GV80 is available with two engines. Entry level models are equipped with a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder while upper trims have a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6. The 2.5L engine produces 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque (224 kW & 422 Nm) while the twin-turbocharged V6 produces 375 hp & 390 lb-ft of torque (280 kW & 529 Nm). This demo vehicle had the V6 engine. From a stop, the V6 powertrain shoots the the GV80 to 100 km/h in around 5.7 seconds. Very brisk for something that tips the scales at 2,308 kg (5,088 lbs). The acceleration pushes you hard into the back of the seat. At highway speeds, it takes almost no effort for this engine to produce enough power to overtake another vehicle.
Fuel economy is not too bad either for a nearly 400 hp twin-turbo V6 engine. It is rated at 12.9 L/100km (18.2 MPG) in a city and 10.4 L/100km (22.6 MPG) on a highway. Thing is though, it’s pretty difficult to achieve the city fuel economy figures. As a result, my combined fuel economy rating was just 12.5 L/100km (18.8 MPG), well above the official rating of 11.8 L/100km (19.9 MPG).
Transmission – The GV80 is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. In the Comfort drive mode, it’s not the fastest to switch between the gears but, more importantly, the changes are almost seamless. Happily, the transmission reacts much more quickly when it’s in the Sport mode.
Braking – With the 3.5L V6 engine, the 2021 Genesis GV80 Prestige is equipped with large 4-piston front brake calipers. These provide a lot of stopping force but are not overly sensitive when driving around a city. Automatic emergency braking is a standard feature on the Genesis GV80.
Handling – With comfort in mind, the 2021 Genesis GV80 Prestige doesn’t feel particularly engaging to drive on a twisty and winding road. It does have a RWD biased platform but the German rivals provide more fun when the roads get twisty. This particular Prestige trim comes equipped with adaptive dampers and an e-LSD in the back. In Canada, the GV80 is only available with AWD while in the United States, it’s also available as a RWD SUV but only with the smaller 2.5L engine.
However, what all trim levels of the GV80 receive is a Terrain Mode – at least in Canada. In the United States, the GV80 does not have this extra off-road selection of drive modes because it infringes on patents held by Jaguar-Land Rover. But US versions of the GV80 do come equipped with a Snow mode and Hill Descent Control.
Ride Comfort – With the adaptive suspension, the 2021 Genesis GV80 Prestige is a comfortable SUV. Potholed roads, rough cracked roads, even gravel roads feel smooth inside the GV80. There’s only one other luxury SUV that can provide more comfort over rough roads; that is the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 with the E-Active Body control system.
The front and rear seats further add to this comfort with the front seats providing multiple adjustments for both tall and short people. This Prestige trim of the GV80 also comes equipped with front seats that can promote better blood circulation on longer journeys by slightly adjusting little airbags in the seat. It’s not a massaging feature but it adds to the luxury and comfort feel of the GV80.
Interior Space – Overall, the 2021 Genesis GV80 is a pretty large SUV. As such, front occupants have loads of space even if they are as tall as Yao Ming. It’s the rear, though, where you really want to be; in particular, behind the front passenger seat. Firstly, the rear seats can recline and slide forwards or backwards but if you want more legroom, there are two buttons on the side of the front passenger seat. These buttons can push the front seat and seatback forward for much more legroom in the back. Obviously, do not push those buttons if there’s someone sitting in that front seat… or maybe do push them if that person is being annoying on a long trip.
GV80s that are equipped with the V6 engine also have a 3rd row. However, those seats are strictly for children. It’s way too tight back there for even an average sized adult, never mind someone as tall as myself at 6’4″. With those 3rd row seats up, the Genesis GV80 has 328 L (11.5 cu-ft) of cargo capacity. Fold the seats down via power buttons in the trunk and the cargo capacity increases to 991 L (35 cu-ft). With the 2nd row folded, maximum cargo capacity is 2,379 L (84 cu-ft).
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Apart from putting it in Sport mode, the cabin of the Genesis GV80 is as quiet as sitting in a church. Road, wind, and engine noises are almost non-existent even when driving at speed on a highway. The only engine noise you’ll hear is the “enhanced” engine sounds coming from the speakers when you put the SUV into Sport mode.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2021 Genesis GV80 starts at $64,500 CAD ($48,900 USD). This top spec Prestige trim will cost you $85,000 CAD ($65,550 USD). For the 2022 model year, all trim levels except for the 3.5 Advanced have gone up in pricing by $500 CAD. The 3.5 Advanced actually went down from $80,000 CAD to $77,000 CAD.
Gadgets – Although this Prestige trim is actually more expensive than the starting price of a Mercedes GLE 450, it comes fully loaded. It has the usual features that you’d expect from a luxury SUV such as heated & ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated & ventilated 2nd row seats, hands-free power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, head-up display, navigation, adaptive cruise control, surround view cameras, and soft Nappa leather to name a few.
A few unique features to this top spec trim include a 3D digital driver display. The 3D effect genuinely works but it makes the screen dimmer and the graphics more pixelated & fuzzy. I just left it in the regular 2D mode. There’s also soft-close doors, remote parking assist (which will move the car forwards or backwards without anyone in the driver’s seat via the remote), and highway driving assist which will allow for brief periods of hands-free highway driving. It’s not as sophisticated as Cadillac’s Super Cruise but it works well for what it is.
Interior Design – The interior of the Genesis GV80 looks elegant and minimalist. The controls for the climate and infotainment system are super simple to use with the climate controls utilizing a touchscreen with haptic feedback for some features. The air vents are discretely incorporated in the flowing lines of the dashboard to not draw attention.
My only complaint about the interior is the control for the infotainment system. The screen is a touchscreen but it can be a bit of a reach for some. To counter that, Genesis has incorporated a ring dial on the center console to control the infotainment. It’s very cumbersome to use and unintuitive. Thankfully they changed to a rotary knob for the Genesis GV70 so hopefully for future model years of the GV80, it will also receive the rotary knob.
Exterior Design – While the interior may be minimalist and calm, the exterior is the complete opposite. The front grille encompasses almost the entirety of the front bumper. You can’t miss it even if you’re blind in one eye. The headlights have horizontal lines for the daytime running lights and turn signals. These lines continue onto the side for the turn signals and around the back for the taillights. The exhaust pipe outlets are in the shape of the front grille so you’d better get used to seeing that shape if you plan on buying a GV80. Overall, the Genesis GV80 is striking to look at and in a way, it almost looks like the Bentley Benteyga, especially from the side profile.
Warranty – Compared to BMW & Mercedes-Benz vehicles, Genesis cars & SUVs have slightly better warranty periods and arguably a better service experience. Starting with the warranty, Genesis vehicles have a 5 year / 100,000 km new vehicle warranty. In the United States, this is 5 years / 60,000 miles. One interesting thing to note is that original owners have a 10 year / 100,000 miles powertrain warranty in the United States. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty information, click here.
As for the Genesis experience, you can test drive & buy a Genesis vehicle from your home. As well, you receive complimentary scheduled maintenance for 5 years (3 in the USA) and you can have your Genesis picked up and dropped back off at a location of your choosing while you receive another courtesy Genesis vehicle to drive around.
So the 2021 Genesis GV80 Prestige provides excellent bang for your buck and a very comfortable, luxurious driving experience. However, Genesis is not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of a luxurious and prestigious vehicle. The brand still has a long way to go before it’s mentioned in the same breath as Mercedes or BMW. But if they keep making vehicles like this GV80, it won’t be much longer until they reach the same level as the Germans.
Thank you to Genesis Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Genesis.com/ca