The Genesis GV80 Is The Luxury SUV That Resets Expectations
Genesis has stepped up as a proper luxury brand, and its big SUV is fantastic.
Luxury three-row SUVs have been around for two decades, and though the trend of crossover coupes is getting more love these days, there's no shortage of premium marques' entries into the big SUV segment. Genesis has taken steps to rebuild itself as a proper luxury manufacturer, after a long run as what was barely a step above the Hyundai standard lineup. With a bold new design language, well-equipped models, and strong value for the money spent, Genesis isn't playing around.
Dropping the Genesis GV80 SUV into a crowded field against the likes of Acura, Lexus, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, the Korean company is fighting an uphill battle. The first look at a new Genesis definitely catches your eye, and the price point is great, but can the GV80 compete with the big players in the luxury SUV game?
The Vital Numbers
In standard spec, Genesis offers the GV80 with a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four that produces 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic and rear-wheel-drive. The next trim level adds a good slate of features, while also hooking up all-wheel-drive. If you want more juice under the hood, Genesis offers a potent 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, packing 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque, and equips its all-wheel-drive system.
Engine output figures are stated by Genesis when using premium unleaded, which you don't have to use, but expect less performance if you pump lower grade fuel into the GV80. On the topic of dinosaur juice, EPA figures claim 18/23/20 MPGs in the turbo V6 GV80, and a few ticks more if you opt for the boosted 4-cylinder.
Genesis starts the GV80's pricing at $48,900 for the 2.5T rear-wheel-drive model, and stepping up to the all-wheel-drive trim level bumps the figure up to $54,650. Upgrading to the 3.5T will cost you $59,650, which comes nicely equipped. My tester was the top-spec 3.5T Advanced+ trim level--which adds a panoramic moonroof, third row seat, massaging and ventilated seats, and a few other nice touches inside--painted a rich shade of Lima Red, which racked up a total MSRP of $67,095 after destination. That's not much more expensive than the most-equipped version of the 2022 Acura MDX that I recently reviewed.
A Stylish Daily Driver
Genesis crafted a damn good looking lineup with its new styling language, and the GV80 benefits from an impactful grill, cool slotted headlights and taillights, and sports some clean proportions. Inside the theme is definitely attractive, and Genesis did a great job tidying up a cabin that packs plenty of features. It's easily the best looking model in its class, and I commend Genesis for making a splash into this segment with something this bold.
Appearances aside, the Genesis GV80 drives like a proper luxury SUV should. The 3.5T is the engine you want, producing a more than sufficient 375 horsepower at the higher end of the rev range, but buttery torque plateaus from 1,300 - 4,500 RPM. Whether you're cruising around the city or taking a long run on the highway, the GV80's turbo V6 is smooth yet fast enough for anything you'd want a reasonably-priced luxury three-row SUV to do. Steering feel is light yet precise, and Genesis did a great job nailing a consistent feel during any input quickness and steering angle in the GV80. With all-wheel-drive and an electric limited-slip differential installed, the GV80 grips more confidently than I expected from a big three-row SUV too.
Ride quality in the GV80 is exceptional, thanks to an adaptive suspension that calms any city street bumps and allows the big Genesis to glide along highway expansion joints. Genesis' intelligent drive mode system scans the road ahead and adjusts the throttle response, suspension sharpness, and steering feel. Based on your inputs, the GV80 learns your behaviors over time while adjusting to road conditions, to provide a tailored driving experience. Like other premium SUVs, Genesis gives the GV80 a handful of drive modes, including a custom setting to help you set it up for any experience. You can also lock the rear differential in demanding conditions.
Interior refinement is nicely executed, and occupants front and rear are treated to comfortable seats with all the right support, and in the top-spec trim, front and second-row seats have heating, ventilation, and massage features. Third row seats are available on most trims, and standard on the Advanced+ model, and teenagers would be okay with the legroom provided. With plenty of space, the GV80 offers a panoramic sunroof to make the cabin seem even more cavernous.
Cargo volume is massive in the GV80, with an intelligent tailgate opening when your hands are full. Even with the third row seats up, you'll get plenty of storage, and with the second row seats folded down--with the press of a button in the rear cargo area--there's more room than you'll ever need. As you'd expect from a premium SUV, Genesis gives the GV80 a full slate of safety systems including forward collision alerts, lane-change oncoming assistance, rear cross-traffic avoidance, and a driver attention warning system, which helps the GV80 earn a spot as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
Luxurious Without Being Stuffy
Genesis gave the GV80 some bold lines outside, with a big grille and aggressive quad LED headlights staring you in the face. The upmarket theme carries into the cabin, where the GV80 boasts some plush leather seats, cool stitching and perforation patterns, and upper class trim materials around the entire interior. I appreciate the clean touchscreen layout for the HVAC controls, and think the GV80's fonts and interface themes are spot-on.
While not as not as refined as the obscenely cool Bentley Bentayga I reviewed last year, the GV80 costs a fraction of the price of that opulent powerhouse, and the stunning exterior easily passes the country club valet eye test. The GV80 features controls and switches that give it an advantage in class, and each knob and wheel has a great detent and feel. With a 12.3-inch 3D digital cluster and a 14.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, the tech is up to snuff too. Smart of Genesis to incorporate the blind spot camera display into the instrument cluster's right dial when you tap the turn indicator.
The GV80 I tested was equipped with a road active noise cancellation system, and I love how it eliminates all outside irritants, while allowing the 21-speaker, 1050 watt Lexicon audio system pump your favorite tunes throughout the cabin. Second-row passengers can reach a side-mounted pair of buttons on the front passenger seat to adjust it forward as needed and increase their legroom.
My only complaints are that Genesis should have given the GV80 a better looking set of wheels, considering how much attention was given to every other aspect of its appearance, and that the company's badge looks like a cheap take on the iconic Bentley and Aston Martin ones. These are tiny gripes from me, and don't truly take off any points for those details when I give the GV80 a complete evaluation.
These are side markers, and they look cool as hell.
This Premium SUV Should Get Your Attention
After years struggling to establish its identity as an upper-class division over Hyundai, Genesis has finally found its footing. The brand identity is only strengthening with the new design language, while loading its vehicles with features at a good price, and releasing a stream of new models over the past couple years is earning Genesis the respect it deserves.
With the GV80, Genesis proves that a fantastic luxury SUV doesn't have to cost a fortune. The GV80 is exceptional for the money, drives brilliantly, and against any competitors, including the new Acura MDX I just tested, I'd take the Genesis without hesitation. I can safely say the Genesis GV80 is the best sub-$100,000 SUV I have tested. As the first Genesis I have reviewed since 2017, the GV80 has me excited to check out the rest of the refreshed lineup.