Review: 2021 Genesis GV80 is as high-tech – and cushy – as it looks
When Hyundai announced it was spinning off its Genesis sedan into a full luxury brand, there were doubts about how realistic that goal could be. Now, with the release of the Genesis brand’s second vehicle – the midsized GV80 crossover – it’s clear that Hyundai can, in fact, do luxury and do it well.
At a glance
- Genesis is the spinoff luxury arm of Hyundai
- Five- or seven-seat configurations with two engine choices
- Smart drive quality and definite luxury appeal
- Infotainment can be clunky and voice controls are antiquated
The 2021 Genesis GV80 is a two- or three-row SUV aimed directly at the luxury market. And with competition like the Acura MDX, Lexus RX, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the GV80 has a lot to aim for. Having driven all of those and others in this market, we can say that the GV80 is definitely a contender.
Those familiar with the original Genesis sedan (that became the Genesis G90 when the brand spun off) will recognize the GV80’s look immediately. A shield-shaped grille, quad headlamps, and the sleek bodywork are now Genesis hallmarks. It’s a great look and becomes immediately eye-catching. And, whether by design or not, the Genesis winged logo on the front looks similar to a Bentley marque when seen from a distance.
On the inside, the 2021 Genesis GV80 sports a well-considered layout. The general design is similar to most Hyundai crossovers like the Santa Fe and Tucson, but with a far more luxurious range of materials choices. Seating is very comfortable, noise levels are on par with any other luxury make, and the controls layout and convenience factors are all in place.
Most GV80 models are a two-row, five-seat configuration, but the Advanced+ model (which we drove) adds a third row for a total of seven seats. We note that the third row is cramped and really only meant for occasional use, probably by children.
Going with the beautiful exterior design for the new GV80 is a hard focus on technology. Screen real estate is massive, with a 14.5-inch display at the center of the dashboard and another 8-inch display in the instrument cluster (which can be upgraded to become even larger). Navigation prompts are in near-3D, which isn’t just visually amazing, but also more intuitive than flat "turn right" arrows. The visualization shows you the nav point as you approach it, giving a heads up to things like needing to be in the left-most lane or keeping slightly right to merge.
Speaking of keeping heads up, the head-up display in the GV80 is well done and simple, keeping eyes focused ahead instead of on busy graphical displays. Speed, nav alerts, and safety prompts are all that’s shown there. Quick, simple, and useful.
On that point, we do wish that the infotainment was a little more user-friendly. Although even the base model has the large 14.5-inch screen and a 12-speaker audio system, the use of the infotainment is a little clunky at times. The touchpad-type interface is weird to use and takes a lot of time to get used to. Luckily, the screen is a touchscreen, so if you don’t mind leaning forward to use it, most menus become much simpler that way. Voice controls are the usual "say a word after a prompt" type that plagues us during this transitional time towards a more conversational voice interface.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 has three trim points (Standard, Advanced, Prestige), each of which can have either of two engines. The standard engine is a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 300 horsepower (223.7 kW) to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on this setup. Our test model had the upgraded engine, a 3.5-liter turbocharged six that outputs 375 HP (279.6 kW) to the same transmission with AWD as standard.
On the road, the GV80 has a smooth, confident feel. It’s not sporty per se, but is quiet and well mannered. Get-up and go from the 3.5L engine option is excellent, and the transmission is unobtrusive. The electronically-controlled suspension smooths a lot of the road, without leaving the driver detached from it.
Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) on the highway in the four-cylinder, RWD models. Adding AWD drops the combined rating by one, but the highway stays the same. Going to the six-cylinder model, fuel economy is rated at 23 mpg (10.2 l/100 km) on the highway. In our testing of the GV80 Advanced+ with AWD, we bested that 23 rating at just over 24 mpg (9.8 l/100 km).
Standard equipment on the GV80 is impressive, including heated front seats, simulated leather upholstery, navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation (automatic braking), lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring. A long list of upgrades come with each trim package after that, including real leather, a larger (12.3-inch) digital cluster, and soft-close doors.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 starts at US$48,900 before delivery, with our test model reaching $66,475 with delivery – including its $400 Savile Silver paint job. Worth noting is the best-in-class Genesis warranty of 5 years or 60,000 miles (96,561 km) on the vehicle and 10 years/100,000 miles (160,934 km) on the powertrain.
Product page: 2021 Genesis GV80