2021 Genesis GV80

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2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
November 17, 2020

Buying tip

Opting for all-wheel drive on the 2.5T adds several more features; opting for the 3.5T adds AWD standard.

features & specs

2.5T AWD
2.5T RWD
3.5T AWD
MPG
21 city / 25 hwy
MPG
21 city / 25 hwy
MPG
18 city / 23 hwy
MSRP
$54,650
MSRP
$48,900
MSRP
$59,150

The gorgeous 2021 Genesis GV80 could pass for a six-figure SUV.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Genesis GV80? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Genesis GV80 is the first crossover SUV from Hyundai’s luxury brand. The handsome five-seat mid-size SUV with an optional third row competes with the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q8, and Jaguar F-Pace. 

Is the 2021 Genesis GV80 a good SUV?

Review continues below

Yes. The gorgeous design, wealth of standard comfort and safety features, sumptuous seats, and choice of two capable turbo engines earns a high TCC Rating of 7.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Genesis GV80?

Everything. The crossover SUV takes the best of the brand’s burgeoning design language to distinguish it with both muscle and sophistication. Inside it features all the luxury trimmings, and many of them are standard.

It feels as good as it looks, with plush heated front seats with at least 12-way adjustability. Synthetic leather on the base trim gets replaced with the real deal, and rear passengers aren’t forgotten with wide and roomy seats that can be heated and cooled. The middle seat is best used as an armrest. Cargo room is ample and the 40/20/40-split rear seats fold down for even more room. 

Built for comfort more than speed, the GV80 offers a choice of two turbo engines in rear-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive. The turbo-4 provides enough pep to coax the heavy SUV into spirited action, while the twin-turbo V-6 accelerates as quick as a sedan once you get past the initial turbo lag. It doesn’t adhere to the contours of the road as well as its rivals, with handling and ride quality that tends to the quiet and comfy side, especially in Prestige trims.  

The GV80 lacks official crash test results but the bounty of standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors help it avoid or mitigate crashes. 

Standard comfort features range from heated front seats to ambient lighting and 19-inch wheels. Peace of mind also comes standard with an exceptional warranty that includes complimentary scheduled service. Step up to nappa leather, heated and cooled seats front and rear, a stunning 21-speaker sound system, up to 22-inch wheels, a suede headliner and other options for the best in the Genesis goodie bin. 

How much does the 2021 Genesis GV80 cost?

With only three trims, two powertrains, and few options, the GV80 starts under $50,000 in base Standard trim with a 300-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo-4 (2.5T) and rear-wheel drive. It tops out just over $70,000 in top Prestige trim with a 375-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 (3.5T) that comes standard with all-wheel drive. It lacks a hybrid or performance model, and gets just average fuel economy. 

All-wheel drive is available on the 2.5T but adds a bunch of features. So if you were to get the 2.5T in Standard trim but opted for all-wheel drive, you’d get many of the features on the Advanced trim. We’d take the 2.5T AWD Advanced for $60,025 but if all-wheel drive isn’t necessary then we’d opt for the loaded 2.5T Prestige.

A 3.5T Advanced+ trim adds a third row that we’d skip.  

Where is the 2021 Genesis GV80 made?

The GV80 is manufactured in Ulsan, South Korea.

10

2021 Genesis GV80

Styling

Beauty, beheld. The GV80 is a ten.

Is the 2021 Genesis GV80 a good-looking car?

Yes. It might be the best-looking SUV on the market alongside the Range Rover Velar and Jaguar F-Pace. The athletic proportions outside and the attention to detail inside could easily pass for a six-figure luxury SUV. It’s a 10.

In a sea of crossover SUVs that either look too much alike or try too hard to stand out, the GV80 blends lessons learned from other automakers with Genesis’ nascent hallmark features. The huge crest-shaped grille that dominates the brand’s sedans like a face tattoo wears well on the broader canvas of the GV80. Quad LED headlights are bisected by twin daytime running lights that wrap around the side and stitch together the belt line to the rear taillights. The long nose and short overhangs suggest a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan, but the rear-end cuts like a wagon, dipping from the roof and rising from the chrome rocker panels around to the chrome-tipped twin tailpipes. The shape of the rear quarter windows reflect how the cut comes together.  

Inside, the muscular lines soften into a velvet lounge. The console glows with twin chrome dials that look better than they act, and the long low dash mirrors the long wide 14.5-inch touchscreen. A thin unbroken horizon of vents split the leather upholstery up top and wood trim separating the lower dash. The climate controls appear like normal temp dials with hard buttons for defoggers, but the center panel is a small and easy to use haptic screen.  

A knurled machine finish adorns all the switchgear, giving it a beautiful symmetry and a distinctly familiar texture to the fingertips. It’s subtle but consistent, and reflects the thoughtful attention to detail permeating the inside and outside of the GV80.

Review continues below

7

2021 Genesis GV80

Performance

The GV80 comes with two turbocharged engines and a firm but quiet ride.

While the GV80 lacks the performance variants of its German counterparts, it comes with two robust powertrains that should satisfy most drivers’ needs. The rear-wheel-drive SUV shares a platform with the G80 mid-size sedan, but it can’t fully overcome its prodigious dimensions when it comes to handling. It’s built for comfort, not for speed, but the acceleration and handling still impress for a vehicle this size. 

It’s a 7.

How fast is the Genesis GV80?

Like the G80 sedan, the GV80 SUV comes with either a standard 300-hp 2.5-liter turbo-4 making 311 pound-feet of torque or an available 375-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 391 lb-ft. Both come with an 8-speed automatic transmission with Comfort, Smart, Eco, Sport, and Custom modes that tweaks throttle response and, in the case of Sport mode, firms up the steering and the suspension.  

The 2.5T provides plenty of power once its moving but can be sluggish off the line, partly due to the turbocharger and partly due to the 4,850-pound weight with all-wheel drive. All but Prestige trims can be noisy under heavy throttle and disrupt that pristine calm that envelops the cabin. While the acceleration won’t tickle the redline of your soul, the paddle shifters accommodate just about every passing move and the rear-wheel bias and torque-rich engine provide a very satisfying lift. 

The twin-turbo V-6 is quieter and more refined, while also being more potent. Despite the twin-turbo, it lags for a beat before thrusting forward. If left in anything other than Sport mode at speed, the driver may want to drop a gear and juice the revs to eliminate any delay.

Is the Genesis GV80 4WD?

The GV80 comes standard with rear-wheel drive but available all-wheel drive not only sends up to half the torque to the front wheels it also adds more creature comforts inside. More on that later. 

The robust acceleration competes with German rivals, but the handling does not. There’s no shaking the weight when it leans into turns. Even though it’s not a performance SUV, the ride can tilt to the firm side, which can be at odds with the sublime finish of the cabin. Based on the engine capability and the sporty looks, a sportier version of the GV80 might be in the cards.  

The spokeless steering wheel houses an ovoid center pad, and feedback from the big wheel adjusts with the drive modes. Drivers expecting an intimate connection with the road should look elsewhere; the steering feel is more roundabout than direct. 

We’d take the efficiency of the 2.5T and its 20-inch wheels instead of the 22-inch rollers on the 3.5T Prestige.

Review continues below

9

2021 Genesis GV80

Comfort & Quality

Plush seats and a quiet ride envelope the GV80’s occupants.

The GV80 smooths out road trips into long stretches of calm quiet and deep comfort. Namaste. It earns a point each for how the front and back seats encourage a state of repose, for a near flawless fit and finish, and for ample cargo room. 

It’s a 9.

In most cases, the GV80 seats five with nearly 39 inches of rear leg room, but that middle passenger might feel more of the leg than the room. Still, it’s roomier back there than other luxury mid-size SUVs. The third-row option offered only on the GV80 3.5T Advanced+ trim is like the Lexus RX 450L, it’s best only for short trips with the shortest people. 

Otherwise, press the button or pull the latch on the side to fold down the 40/20/40 rear seats for a tall and deep cargo area that Genesis has yet to publicly measure. 

The main action is up front. The front seats nudge into Lincoln-like levels of comfort. Synthetic leather seats occupy the base models, as do 12-way power adjustable heated front seats with lumbar support. But the upper trims’ 16-way leather seats have adjustable side bolsters that tighten in Sport mode and a power cushion extender to maximize comfort. The circular lumbar support and bolster control on the seat side takes some getting used to. It has a Smart Posture Care system that will automatically adjust the seat and steering wheel position based on height and weight entered into your driver profile. There’s an adjustable easy seat access feature that retracts the steering wheel and moves the seat back when you get out, then resets it to the last setting when you get back in. This standard feature is typically optional on other luxury vehicles. 

Goodies on the Prestige trim include soft-close doors, nappa leather, power second row seats that are heated and cooled, and power rear window shades. 

The most noticeable thing in the GV80 Prestige might be the thing you least notice. An active noise control system uses the car’s sound system and microphone to cancel out road and wind noise with inverted sound waves. However it works, the GV80 Prestige might be one of the quietest SUVs, and it can be a zen machine when the “Sounds of Nature” app is activated.

Review continues below

2021 Genesis GV80

Safety

A bounty of standard safety features offsets a lack of official crash-test data.

How safe is the Genesis GV80?

Federal and independent crash-testing agencies have not posted the results from mashing metal of the GV80, so we can’t rate it. But the wealth of standard safety features and Genesis’ safety pedigree bodes well.

Every Genesis vehicle tested by the IIHS has earned a Top Safety Pick+ award, even if the sample size has been limited to its three sedans. The G80, which is the one Genesis vehicle crash tested by the NHTSA, earned five stars.

Even if the GV80 doesn’t follow suit, its driver assistance systems help it avoid crashes altogether. Every GV80 comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors with rear emergency braking, parking sensors, LED quad headlights and LED daytime running lights, and a driver attention warning. Many luxury automakers bundle most of these features in packages that cost up to $2,000.

Options include a surround-view camera system and a blind-spot monitor that projects what’s in the blind spot with a camera in the instrument cluster. Parking can be made easier with a remote self-parking feature, and automatic braking helps you do a better job of parking. 

These options are standard on the Prestige trim.

Review continues below

9

2021 Genesis GV80

Features

The GV80’s three loaded trim levels leave little room for options.

The 2021 GV80 comes loaded with standard features, including synthetic leather seats, 12-way power adjustable front seats that are heated, a 14.5-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, 19-inch wheels, puddle lamps, and a dual-zone climate control screen flanked with dials and buttons. 

It earns a point for that gear, another point for starting under $50,000, a point for additional equipment up the trim ladder, and a point for Genesis’ excellent 5-year/60,000-mile warranty with 3-year/36,000-mile complimentary scheduled service. 

It’s a 9. A simplified infotainment system would net it a perfect 10.

Alas, the infotainment setup is far from perfect. The temptation would be to use the shiny dial in the center console. But which shiny dial? One dial protrudes from the console to change gears with a twist or put into park with a push. The dial above it for infotainment has a similar twist and push function that’s easy to mistake. A warning appears on screen asking if you really want to “park” at 70 mph. 

The 14.5-inch stretched display can be divided into one main section for navigation and a smaller section for audio, for example. To negotiate between the split-screen display with the dial takes a while to learn, and longer to master. Genesis may have predicted this and supplemented the push-dial with a touchscreen; there too it falls short, or at least your finger might fall short based on how far away it is from the natural driver’s position. The five different ways to change a radio station—voice, steering wheel controls, touchscreen, dial, then the preferred method of a tuner/volume dial on top of the console—reflect the kitchen sink approach to infotainment. 

The dial is best when in “park” to adjust longer term settings, of which there are multitudes, or to easily zoom in on the map. 

The instrument cluster features an analog speedometer on the left and a digital center display with tachometer on the right. Even with the larger 12.3-inch all-digital display, the limited vehicle info for trip and active driver assist features feels like a missed opportunity. On the other hand, the available head-up display has excellent clarity and info. 

Which GV80 should I buy?

The base Standard model costs $49,925 (including $1,025 destination). Our preferred pick would be the $53,825 Advanced trim that adds a sunroof, wood trim, wireless smartphone charging, cooled seats, and heated steering wheel. 

Adding all-wheel drive costs anywhere between $5,750 and $6,350, depending on trim for the turbo-4. That’s three times the cost of competitors but Genesis bundles it with more content. For example, the Standard trim with all-wheel drive gets most of the upgrades of the Advanced trim with rear-wheel drive, and it costs $55,675. Accounting for the additional features, all-wheel drive is only $1,800 more. 

Or you could just jump up to the more powerful 3.5-liter turbo V-6 with standard all-wheel drive. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Genesis GV80?

Step into the 3.5T Prestige for $71,975. It comes with 22-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, an electronic limited slip rear differential for sharper handling, and active noise cancellation for an even quieter ride. A suede headliner graces the cabin, as do nappa leather seats, a 12.3-inch 3D digital cluster, power shutting doors, a phenomenal 21-speaker Lexicon audio system, and, in back, power rear seats that are cooled. Rear seat riders even get their own vanity mirrors.

Review continues below

4

2021 Genesis GV80

Fuel Economy

The 2021 GV80 gets average fuel economy for the class.

Is the 2021 Genesis GV80 good on gas?

It’s average. It lacks the fuel-saving mild-hybrid systems of some of its rivals, but also lacks the performance variants, too, so either turbocharged engine returns decent fuel economy. It’s a 4. 

The most efficient GV80 is the base model and the 2.5-liter turbo-4 with rear-wheel drive that nets an EPA-rated 21 mpg city, 25 highway, 23 combined. All-wheel drive only affects the combined rated to 22 mpg, same as the BMW X5. The turbo-4 in the Volvo XC90 gets 20/27/23 mpg with all-wheel drive but comes with an expensive plug-in option. 

The 3.5-liter turbo V-6 comes standard with all-wheel drive and a thirsty EPA rating of 18/23/20 mpg.

Review continues below

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$48,900
MSRP based on 2.5T RWD
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7.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 10
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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