Where the GV80 really shines is in ride quality and quietness.
The Genesis brand has delivered a phenomenal line of upscale sedans that are well deserving of the accolades they’ve received. Sedans however, are not where the money is right now, so Genesis has turned their sights to the red-hot SUV market. It’s a market where there is no shortage of sales growth, but there is also a lot more competition so Genesis’ first entry, the GV80, a luxury mid-sized SUV, really needs to make a big splash. After hearing a lot of great things about the GV80 3.5T, we eagerly accepted a week with the mid-range 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T Advanced.
Genesis did a really good job on the styling of the GV80; the rear end and side profile are perfectly proportioned and exude elegance – a trait not common in this segment, while still carrying a muscular stance. The front end is a lot more polarizing and while the massive chrome diamond pattern grille is a little overpowering it is flanked by quad LED headlamps. It all flows quite well and as a result, the GV80 carries a big presence on the road, garnering more looks than anything else in the segment.
The interior of the GV80 has been its most talked-about element, and even though the 2.5T Advanced trim like our tester does have all the top end materials and gadgets such as the Nappa quilted leather, 3D digital gauges and microfiber suede headlining, it does still feel very upscale. You still get plenty of soft leather just about everywhere including the top half of the door panels, center console armrest, the dash and steering wheel. The knurled finished switch gear, a big panoramic roof, and a generally very clean minimalistic layout lend more credibility to the GV80’s status as a true luxury competitor.
The space itself is well planned, with lots of storage and controls that easily fall to hand. The center console serves many functions. from the rotary dial gear selector, to a control knob for the infotainment, separate volume and tuner controls, plus the typical cupholders and storage; it’s a busy-high touch area of the interior. Unfortunately, ours came finished in a matte silver aluminium-like material that seems to retain finger prints and dirt; a darker finish here would do wonders to the overall presentation of the interior.
The seats, even though they are not the 16-way ‘Ergo-Seat’ only available in the top of the line 3.5T Prestige, are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment. Heated and ventilated in the front and heated in the rear, these are seats worthy of a proper luxury SUV. Cargo hasn’t been forgotten about either; the split rear bench folds perfectly flat with the push of a button to make loading up the GV80 less of a chore.
Technology is largely managed through a 14.5-inch touchscreen mounted atop the dashboard, it powers the navigation system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a decent sound system as well. The system is very intuitive to use and quickly became one of my favorites for its simplicity and slick looks. Wireless charging is on board along with a heads-up display, an excellent quality around view camera, and a blind-spot view camera.
The blind-spot view is a somewhat uncommon feature that projects a view of your blind spot onto the gauge cluster when you activate your signal. It’s a handy safety feature, but in the 2.5T Advanced trim only the right side of the gauge cluster has the digital screen, so regardless of whether you’re moving left or right, the right side screen gets the camera, which takes a bit of getting used to.
There’s a full suite of standard electronic safety aids including Lane Follow Assist which when activated takes over steering of the vehicle to keep you centered in your lane. Of course, there’s adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, forward-collision warning with auto brake, etc. Bottom line; if you’re looking for a family SUV with a complete suite of the latest safety tech, the GV80 has you covered even if you don’t spring for the top of the line model.
Speaking of which, our mid-range tester came with the 2.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder. It generates a healthy 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft. of torque from 1,300 to 4,500RPM. That power is fed to the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The 2.5T provides adequate power to move the heavy SUV around without feeling strained. It feels quite quick around town thanks to the low-end access to peak torque.
It’s also a very refined mill, and unless you’re paying close attention it’s easy to mistake the four cylinder’s refinement for that of a larger six cylinder. My single biggest issue with it is the throttle. At low speeds the throttle is nearly dead and takes quite a bit of motion before the engine responds, and when it does it tends to over-respond with a burst of power. This makes it difficult to be truly smooth pulling away from a light softly, or just easing around in a parking lot. Hopefully, it’s an issue some software updates will address.
The all-wheel-drive system performed well on slippery roads and the selectable terrain modes, which include a snow mode, help to make the most of the system. Personally, I felt no need as the GV80 feels like a true luxury SUV, not a sport-luxury SUV like many of its competitors, so it’s comfortable above all else here, and frankly that’s perfectly appropriate. That said, if you’re looking for an SUV to carve corners with, there are better choices.
Where the GV80 really shines is in ride quality and quietness; imperfections in our winter worn roads are barely felt in the cabin, and the space is quiet enough to hear a pin drop. It’s very Lexus-like in its ability to isolate its occupants from the outside world. Speaking on comfort alone, the GV80 scores higher with me than its German rivals such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE.
Fuel economy for the four cylinder is rated at a favorable 10.5L/100km for average driving patterns, which is great for a luxury SUV of this stature. In real-world winter conditions we observed 11.5L/100km with mixed driving, though I am confident that number could be improved in warmer weather and with fewer short-run local trips.
The GV80 starts at $64,500 for a 2.5T Select AWD, which comes extremely well equipped for the price point with luxury features such as the panoramic roof, heated seats all around, heated steering wheel, LED head and taillamps, the large touchscreen, rear automatic leveling suspension and more. Our tester, the 2.5T Advanced comes in at $70,000 and includes more features like a heads-up display, genuine leather seating, around view and blind spot view cameras, ventilated front seats and a host of other nice-to-haves. Stepping up to a comparable 3.5T in Advanced trim will cost an additional $10,000, but you do get another long list of additional toys.
The GV80, generally, will cost you a few thousand more than a comparable Japanese luxury SUV like an Acura MDX or a Lexus RX 350L, but expect to pay $10-15,000 less than a similarly equipped model from the Germans. It’s a perfect middle ground, and rather than focusing on tying to be all things, the GV80, refreshingly, focuses on being a big soft luxurious family cruiser. I think Genesis really hit the mark with the GV80 and the established players in the segment have a very serious new contender.