2021 Genesis G80

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2021
The Car Connection
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2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
October 25, 2020

Buying tip

The turbo-4 may be worth a drive, but we’d tap the rear-drive 3.5T for its surge of twin-turbo V-6 power.

features & specs

2.5T AWD
2.5T RWD
3.5T AWD
MPG
22 city / 30 hwy
MPG
23 city / 32 hwy
MPG
18 city / 26 hwy
MSRP
$50,850
MSRP
$47,700
MSRP
$62,250

The 2021 Genesis G80 drops the mic with fastback style and fast-forward features.

What kind of car is the 2021 Genesis G80? What does it compare to?

The G80 is a mid-size luxury sedan that shares much with the recently introduced 2021 Genesis GV80 crossover SUV, including a gorgeous interior loaded with all the latest technology. 

It comes in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive form, with a turbo-4 or a twin-turbo V-6. The G80 compares to cars such as the Audi A7, Cadillac CT5, Volvo S90, Mercedes E-Class, and BMW 5-Series.

Review continues below

Is the 2021 Genesis G80 a good car?

It’s remarkably sophisticated, for a car brand that’s newer than most iPhones. We give it a TCC Rating of 7.4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Genesis G80?

What isn’t new? The G80 bristles with lithe looks, a stunning interior, performance-enhanced mechanicals, and the very latest in entertainment and safety technology.

We’re still bowled over by the G80’s artful shape. Bearing a shield-shaped grille, the G80 pulls back through sculpted shoulders with the stance of an archer. There’s some mild confusion—or, perhaps an ode to practicality—where the roof meets the trunk, and the bands of LED lighting on the nose and tail read a little ‘90s, but the G80 brandishes it all with brio. It sets phasers to stunning in the cockpit, where matte wood and lots of metallic trim elbow each other for space on a sweeping dash with a billboard of a high-resolution touchscreen on its cap. 

The rear-drive G80 offers all-wheel drive, no matter whether it’s fitted with a 300-horsepower turbo-4 or a 375-hp twin-turbo V-6. With 0-60 mph times of about five seconds, the latter 3.5T G80 doesn’t scorch the road as it might, since it weighs 4,497 pounds—but it pulls Mustang-like acceleration all the same through an expertly tuned 8-speed automatic. Ride quality with the optional adaptive dampers alternates from cushy to jittery, depending on the drive mode selected—we’d probably take the base suspension if it weren’t verboten with the V-6—but the G80’s steering has calmer feedback and oozes the same kind of panache as the G80’s body.

Drivers and outboard passengers get insanely cozy seats in the spendy versions of the G80, with quilted leather and with heating and cooling in front. The trunk’s on the small side but there are convenient cabin places to tuck away smartphones, Yeti cups and bottles, and a small fifth passenger who must sit on a narrow flat bench over a widely boxed transmission tunnel.

Safety scores aren’t in, but Genesis cars have excelled in crash tests, and the new G80 has standard automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control, with options for a head-up display and a surround-view camera system. All models come with a 14.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, power features, a power sunroof, and an infotainment controller that falls a step even behind clickwheel systems with a futzy, concave control disc. It’s a long reach to the screen, too. Options range from 21-speaker Lexicon audio to nappa leather.

How much does the 2021 Genesis G80 cost?

Base G80 sedans cost $48,725, while the most expensive version costs $63,275 without options.

Where is the Genesis G80 made?

In South Korea.

9

2021 Genesis G80

Styling

The 2021 G80 bristles with styling excitement.

Is the Genesis G80 a good-looking car?

The striking fastback design is all its own—and it’s gorgeous. We give it a 9 here, with two extra points for the interior and exterior.

The low-slung sedan wears the brand’s broad crest-shaped grille that first graced the G90 four-door. The lower half of the honeycomb grille stretches from end to end over the splitter. This face is bookended by distinctive LED headlights bisected by twin horizontal lines that flow over the front wheel down the body line to the rear taillights. The profile is where the G80 really distinguishes itself. A short front overhang and a long wheelbase dramatize the coupe-like curve of the roof into the trunk. With available 20-inch wheels, it looks like a cross between an Audi A7 and a Porsche Panamera, which are both hatchbacks. The 2021 G80 comes with a trunk. 

Genesis is pursuing what it calls athletic elegance in the G80, and the elegant part dazzles in the cabin. A lower dash along with thinner roof pillars and a slimmer rearview mirror should make for better sight lines and broader outward visibility. Buttons and controls are relegated to the steering wheel and band of climate controls, opening up the clean design of the dash bisected by a thin line of vents and textured open-pore wood trim. The wood trim carries over to the console, which features twin dials: the protruding one shifts gears and modes, while the other one is a recessed circular dial with a touchpad to control the 14.5-inch touchscreen mounted in the center of the dash.

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8

2021 Genesis G80

Performance

It’s turbocharged and electronically suspended, but the G80’s no slingshot.

The 2021 Genesis G80 has an Aston-like take on performance: It may not be the fastest or firmest, but it’s an urgent all-around hustler that oozes panache. With a couple extra points for the powertrain and one for its ride and handling, it’s an 8 here.

How fast is the Genesis G80?

In the U.S. the G80 is powered by either a 300-hp 2.5-liter turbo-4 making 311 pound-feet of torque or a 375-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that makes 391 lb-ft. 

Although most of our impressions come from a socially distanced test drive in a 3.5T AWD, we drove the 2.5T version just long enough to say that this is a luxury car with performance flair and you might as well go big under the hood.  

The V-6 is more potent than the outgoing model by 10 hp and 15 lb-ft, but it disguises its brisk acceleration well. Maybe too well: The V-6’s turbos lag a bit before the transmission locks in a low gear and belts out the strong off-the-line acceleration; it’s estimated at about five seconds to 60 mph. There’s lots of room for tweaking and tuning for a hotter performance model, though it’ll need several twists of the wastegate screw to overcome the loaded car’s 4,497-pound curb weight. The base car clocks in at 3,957 pounds, and while it’s perky enough, the delay in power delivery in all but its Sport mode—and the lack of any sort of engine braking—tell us it’s not the pick of the two for those who enjoy driving.

All G80s come with a very slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, and a set of drive modes that adjust its demeanor from eco to normal to sport drive styles.

Is the Genesis G80 AWD?

The G80 is rear-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is offered with either engine. It’s a simpler setup that can ship up to half of the torque from the engine, away from the rear wheels to the fronts, for better traction.

Like the new GV80 sport-utility vehicle that shares its running gear, the redesigned G80 sits on a revised rear-drive platform that rides lower than its predecessor. The use of more aluminum in the body shaves off 243 pounds from last year’s model, and the G80 does feel lighter on its feet—some of which may come from its lighter-weighted steering, a big departure from its prestigious competition. The G80’s a relaxed cruiser and the steering only firms up mildly while its shift points, throttle input, and ride grow considerably more agitated in Sport mode.

The G80 might be better off in its Comfort setting, where the ride quality’s a bit cushy but all else feels in fine fettle. The G80 suspension uses a multi-link setup front and rear, but higher-end versions add adaptive dampers and a camera that feeds data to those dampers as they continuously adjust their firmness. On Atlanta’s decently smooth freeways, the G80 juddered over some bigger pavement gaps and bounded around some north Georgia two-laners, but its big 20-inch wheels didn’t pound into the body structure too much, though. Clicking into Sport sent the revs higher, the noises grew noisier, and the suspension motions calmed to a light chop. The G80 2.5T Prestige that we drove briefly, on the other hand, didn’t have the adaptive dampers and rode very well over most surfaces, feeling like a good relatively firm compromise for most situations albeit too soft for performance driving.

Take those nitpicks in stride: the G80’s composure is still on the positive side of the performance scale. It’s a fabulous-looking car that drives very well.

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8

2021 Genesis G80

Comfort & Quality

The G80 buffs its quality act to a bright shine.

We’ve tested the new G80 in two of its more lavish forms, so versions with base seats and no wood trim will change these impressions. So far, the G80’s proven itself to be an inviting and soothing place to whittle down interstate miles and back-road bends. We give it an 8 for comfort, with points for excellent front and back seats and for its exceptional interior. 

By the numbers, the G80 sits 196.7 inches long, and rides on an 118.5-inch wheelbase.

The G80’s base seats come covered in synthetic leather, with heating and 12-way adjustment. We haven’t sampled those, but the upgraded front sport seats in higher trims—outfitted with nappa leather, an extendable leg rest, power side bolsters, and heating and cooling—are simply fantastic. We dialed in a perfect driving position, cranked up the seat heater, and resolved a lingering back problem while carving out spots in two-lane traffic. The tallest editor of our staff also found plenty of (power-extendable) thigh support in the driver’s seat. Power tilt and telescoping steering netted a perfect driving position. 

The back seat hasn’t been left behind. Genesis tailors swell outboard bucket seats in the rear; they’re deeply pocketed and have enough head room for tall passengers. A third person can sit on a flat seat section, over a boxed-out tunnel that doesn’t exactly look welcoming. Leave them at home, no one wants a fifth wheel on date night anyway.

Interior storage is fine, and the trunk’s usefully shaped though it’s on the small end, at 13.1 cubic feet.

A final word about quality. The Genesis G80 reeks of it. Even brown leather in a color that did it no favors was smoothly applied to the dash and doors, and stitched with winglike upticks. The door panel shape made it hard to grab when open, but like the Lexus LC the organic effect is worth it. Across the expanse of dash, the G80’s horizontal theme is executed expertly. The G80 has lots of bright plastic and metal switches, but it’s not enough to look gaudy or cheap. 

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2021 Genesis G80

Safety

The data isn’t in yet on the 2021 G80.

How safe is the Genesis G80?

No crash-test information has been published by either the IIHS or the NHTSA, but the G80 has performed very well in the past. We’ll update this score when data emerges.

On the hardware front the G80 bristles with safety technology. All models get automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and automatic high-beam LED headlights. G80 owners with an aversion to parking can get help remotely via the fob or while in the car. 

Options include a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, and rear automatic emergency braking, but some are exclusive to the 3.5T.

Outward vision is decent, but the low-riding G80 leaves some blind spots in its rear quarters—aided by optional blind-spot cameras that project that view into the available digital gauge display.

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8

2021 Genesis G80

Features

The Genesis G80 wraps drivers in leather, wood, and touchscreens, but befuddles them with infotainment.

The 2021 G80 has its luxury bona fides down pat. Genesis fits each one with lots of standard equipment, lets drivers dress up their car with some cutting-edge features, and covers it all with an excellent service and warranty package. The G80’s infotainment system needs a reboot, though, and it’s lost the value edge it once held. We give it an 8 for features.

The base $48,725 G80 has standard 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, 12-way power front seats with heating, synthetic leather upholstery, and a 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility—more on that in a moment. All-wheel-drive models start from $51,875. 

The infotainment system in the G80 has twin dials: the protruding one shifts gears and modes, while the other one is a recessed circular dial with a touchpad to control the 14.5-inch touchscreen mounted in the center of the dash. Most of the necessary info can be accessed through redundant steering wheel controls for the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The dial and tap action of the console gear is confusing and takes too many steps to reach critical views or functions—and it’s ergonomically the opposite of the more familiar clickwheel systems. The touchscreen can override that clumsy setup—but it’s a long reach from the driver seat, and fonts and icons have smaller touchpoints than in most dedicated touchscreen systems.

As for G80 options, well...want a paint color other than white? That’ll be $400. A $4,600 Advance package adds 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, matte wood trim, cooled front seats, 21-speaker Lexicon audio, a power decklid, and three-zone automatic climate control. A Prestige package costs $8,900 on rear-drive cars and adds leather upholstery, a surround-view camera system, remote park assist, more adjustment for the front seats, wireless smartphone charging, and heated rear seats and steering wheel. The latter two aren’t available on AWD cars, where the Prestige bundle costs $8,300.

Which Genesis G80 should I buy? How much is a fully loaded Genesis G80?

We answer those questions with the Genesis G80 3.5T. On the $60,125 3.5T, Genesis adds 19-inch wheels, the electronically controlled suspension, a panoramic sunroof, matte wood trim, leather upholstery, cooled front seats, wireless smartphone charging, 21-speaker Lexicon audio, and digital key services, which allow Android phones to unlock the car. The AWD 3.5T costs $63,275.

Packages include a $6,000 Prestige set with 20-inch wheels, nappa leather, the surround-view camera system and blind-spot cameras, remote park assist (“Smaht Pahk”), a head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and heated rear seats and steering wheel. For $5,400 AWD cars get all the same—except for the heated rear seats and steering wheel.

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4

2021 Genesis G80

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage isn’t the G80’s best feature.

Is the Genesis G80 good on gas?

It’s strictly average. With no plug-in or hybrid version, the best G80 for fuel economy is the turbo-4 with rear-wheel drive. It’s EPA-rated at 23 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined. With all-wheel drive, it dips to 22/30/25 mpg. The twin-turbo V-6 starts at 19/27/22 mpg in rear-drive form; with AWD, it’s 18/26/21 mpg.

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$47,700
MSRP based on 2.5T RWD
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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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