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. This demo vehicle came with the former and it produces 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque (224 kW & 422 Nm). The V6 produces 375 hp & 390 lb-ft of torque (280 kW & 529 Nm). While this Advance 2.5T trim of the GV80 weighs just over 2 tonnes, the engine’s power is adequate to put it mildly. Speed and high performance are not what you’d use to describe the driving dynamics of the GV80. It’s more about luxury and comfort. This 2.5T engine gets the GV80 going off the line at a reasonable pace. The rpms don’t need to climb past 3,000 to overtake another vehicle on a highway at speed. And it is reasonably quiet. If you do require the need for speed, this is probably not the SUV to look at but there is the 3.5TT V6 if you still want a Genesis.
Furthermore, this 2.5T engine is reasonably economical. It is rated for 11.3 L/100km (20.8 MPG) in a city and 9.5 L/100km (24.8 MPG) on a highway. However, premium fuel is recommended.
Transmission – Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This is a quick shifting transmission with very smooth gear changes. There are steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and they are relatively quick to respond to driver inputs, but there is no dedicated manual mode. As soon as you pull on one of the paddles, the car will go into a manual transmission mode but if it doesn’t detect any other gear changes, it will quickly revert back to automatic transmission mode. This is normal in most cars but this one just does it more quickly which in certain situations, you don’t really want.
Braking – Stopping the big SUV are just regular brakes. It’s the 3.5L versions of the GV80 that get big 4-piston front brake calipers. But even without them on this 2.5L version, the GV80 has plenty of stopping power. As I said earlier, this is not a performance SUV so it doesn’t need brakes to match. Automatic emergency braking is a standard feature on the Genesis GV80.
Handling – With comfort in mind, the 2021 Genesis GV80 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.
The 2.5T versions of the GV80 do not have adaptive dampers or a limited slip differential in the rear. The 3.5TT Prestige version does receive the 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.
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 – Although this 2.5T Advanced trim of the 2021 Genesis GV80 does not have the adaptive suspension, the ride is still fabulous. Potholed roads, rough cracked roads, even gravel roads feel smooth inside the GV80. This means that daily commutes to work or long road trips with the family will have you feeling rested at the other end of your journey.
The front and rear seats further add to this comfort with the front seats providing multiple adjustments for both tall and short people. The 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 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, from looking at the size of the trunk area, I suspect that the 3rd row is extremely tight for an adult. It’s probably better suited for kids under the age of 14 or so.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Noise? What noise? The GV80 is dead silent. 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
Gadgets – This being a Hyundai product underneath, the 2021 Genesis GV80 provides a lot of value for your money; much more than the German rivals. Some gadgets that one would expect from a luxury SUV are standard like heated front & rear seats, heated steering wheel, leather wrapped dashboard, panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, power liftgate, and adaptive cruise control to name a few.
Move up to this Advance trim of the GV80 with the 2.5L engine and a head-up display, ventilated front seats, genuine leather seating, surround view cameras, and rear sun shades are included.
Opt for the top Prestige trim with the V6 engine and the GV80 comes fully loaded with extras such as a 3D driver display (it uses similar tech as the Nintendo 3DS so you don’t need glasses to see the 3D effect), the aforementioned 3-row seats, soft close doors, remote parking assist (which will move the car forwards or backwards without anyone in the driver’s seat via the remote), Napa leather upholstery, ventilated 2nd-row seats, and of course the twin-turbocharged V6 engine.
Just a couple of notes on some of the gadgets; the infotainment system is easy to use and looks beautiful. But the touchscreen can be a bit of a reach for some and the knurled rotary ring & touchpad on the center console is frustrating to use. Also, the highway driving assist feature is fantastic at not only keeping a set distance between a leading vehicle but also great at keeping the GV80 centered in a lane. As well, it does allow for a few minutes of hands-free driving on certain highways. However, it is not a semi-autonomous driving system.
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. Unlike in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. As I said earlier, my only minor complaint about the interior is the use of the rotary ring for the infotainment system. But thankfully it’s not the only way to control the system. To some this interior invokes a calming mood but to others, it may look a bit on the dull side when compared to the Mercedes GLE.
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.
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.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 starts at $64,500 CAD ($48,900 USD w/ RWD) with this Advance trim with the 2.5T engine is $70,000 CAD ($54,650 USD). A top spec Prestige trim of the Genesis GV80 costs $85,000 CAD ($65,650 USD). By comparison, the Mercedes GLE 350 starts at $70,000 CAD & the BMW X5 40i starts at $77,500 CAD. But in order for those vehicles to have the same features as a fully loaded GV80, their prices will have to climb all the way up to around $95,000 CAD.
So the 2021 Genesis GV80 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