2021 Genesis GV80 first drive review: Splashy, sumptuous and special SUV

Have you ever ever come throughout a kind of fantastical information tales of anyone who randomly wakes up with the flexibility to play piano? You realize, an individual whose fingers all of a sudden and magically grasp classical sonatas, having by no means a lot as stumbled via Chopsticks beforehand? I’ve at all times been suspicious of these accounts, however this 2021 Genesis GV80 is making me rethink. Why? As a result of with precisely zero expertise constructing true luxurious SUVs, this Korean upstart appears to have nailed the transient proper out of the field. It is a harmonious, absolutely realized midsize crossover with its personal attraction — one able to rub shoulders with Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz on the entrance of the pack.

Admittedly, the Genesis is not an in a single day sensation, not to mention some type of unknown startup. The model is constructed on Hyundai’s appreciable shoulders, and Hyundai has been fielding convincing Genesis sedans for years, in addition to some awfully good mass-market sport utilities. However this GV80 is not simply Genesis’ first SUV, it is the father or mother firm’s first unibody crossover constructed on rear-wheel-drive structure, too. However simply because Genesis is belatedly arriving to the ball does not imply it is content material to be a wallflower.

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Quite the opposite, all it’s good to do is take one take a look at the GV80’s large, Superman-shield-shaped grille or its distinctive double-hashmark lighting to know that this SUV is not seeking to slip within the aspect door and mingle unnoticed. The highest-shelf Status trim seen right here rides on large 22-inch Michelin Primacy Tour all-season rubber, and the remainder of the automobile’s particulars and proportions actually go well with being fitted with outsized wheels. Even lesser trims begin out on still-large 19 inchers. For higher or for worse, the 2021 Genesis GV80 is a critically unsubtle piece of design, and even when it isn’t your factor, there’s little doubt that it appears costly and that it has severe curb presence.

Whether or not you employ the standard fob or the obtainable digital, sharable telephone key to open the door, you may discover that the GV80’s gravitas carries over to its cabin. The cockpit is swathed in all method of upscale supplies and finishes, together with substantial planks of matte-finish wooden and knurled switchgear that appears and feels premium. Status trims like this one ladle on plenty of additional niceties, together with a suede-like headliner and really trick 3D-effect all-digital gauge cluster (the latter is an business first).

Then there’s the 14.5-inch widescreen infotainment system with its excessive decision and glowing graphics. It is perched atop the sprint like a billboard, however due to its ultra-long span and the mild curvature of the gauge binnacle, this show would not appear to be a tacked-on afterthought. Manipulated by way of touchscreen or a big jog wheel with built-in directional click on ring (not not like iPods of yore) and a middle handwriting recognition pad, the GV80’s infotainment system is new and {powerful}, but it is surprisingly simple to get accustomed to its tile-based structure. 

Fortunately, there’s loads of room inside, too. The 194.7-inch-long GV80 rides atop a 116.3-inch wheelbase, which affords ample head-, shoulder- and legroom in each the primary and (slidable and reclinable) second row. Sure, a power-folding third row is offered, however solely on a single upper-midrange trim with the bigger engine. With the best way this plus-two setup eats into cargo area whereas solely providing tight seating lodging, I would advocate sticking with a two-row mannequin. 

For these conserving observe, cargo area behind the non-compulsory third row is a modest 11.6 cubic toes. Area behind the second row is a extra substantial 33.9 cubes, and when you fold all of the seats behind the entrance row, you are taking a look at 84 cubic toes, a determine that edges out the Mercedes GLE-Class and trounces the BMW X5.

The cabin is a particular place with its personal sense of favor and lo tech. That two-spoke rugby-ball wheel is controversial, although.

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Should you’re in search of one other good motive to skip the third row, do that: You possibly can’t get my choose of the GV80’s vary, the Status mannequin. I seldom advocate splurging on a prime trim, nevertheless it’s price doing right here for the added creature comforts, together with Genesis’ novel Ergo Movement massaging entrance seats that may measure occupants to make posture suggestions. The latter are clad in higher-quality, quilted Nappa leather-based and are cozy sufficient that you just would possibly resolve to lounge in your driveway, simply to get the prospect to take heed to the high-fidelity, 21-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio. What’s extra, choose highline fashions are additionally handled to an adaptive multilink suspension entrance and rear that features a road-reading digital camera to optimize the dampers for any floor prematurely — with these heavy 22-inch steamrollers at every nook, you may need no matter tech help you will get to clean out the experience.

Professional tip: When ordered in additional uncommon coloration combos like Maroon Brown with Smokey Inexperienced leather-based, the GV80’s cabin feels premium and sometimes extra luxurious than what’s provided by comparable German and Japanese rivals such because the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Lexus RX. The truth is, this Genesis compares properly in opposition to less-popular class picks just like the Lincoln Aviator and Volvo XC90, each of that are maybe higher recognized for his or her beautiful interiors than they’re for the rest.

All of that is to say that not solely is the GV80 luxurious and exactly assembled, it appears and feels each authentic and particular, in addition to appreciably high-tech. If there are any false notes, they’re small crimes of omission — Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t provided wirelessly, and you’ll’t get a Wi-Fi hotspot or rear-seat leisure. That two-spoke rugby-ball steering wheel is a little bit of an odd throwback, too, however at the very least it is distinct.

The GV80’s 14.5-inch infotainment system is snappy and have wealthy, with each touchscreen and jog-dial interfaces.

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Should you’re in search of a fire-breathing sport utility with extra of an emphasis on the previous than the latter, the GV80 isn’t your experience — at the very least not proper now. At launch, there will probably be two engines obtainable: a turbocharged, 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, each yoked to an obedient eight-speed computerized transmission. The I4 is offered in each rear- and all-wheel-drive codecs, and it places out 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Whereas my transient drive time within the I4 suggests it is as much as the job, it is the V6 powertrain I’ve spent probably the most time with, so it is the mix I will deal with for this assessment. 

That is simply as properly, as a result of with a automobile that is as daring and brash as this, selecting the burliest powertrain solely appears becoming. Plus, the GV80 isn’t any light-weight — a base RWD 2.5T is over 4,500 kilos, and an all-mod-cons 3.5T with obligatory AWD like this one ideas the scales at round 5,000 kilos. The V6 has 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, sufficient to sling this sled to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. 

That point will not throw a scare right into a BMW X5 sDrive40i proprietor, not to mention an X5 M pilot, however that is simply wonderful. The GV80 handles sharply and the suspension setup is on the agency aspect no matter drive mode setting, however this Genesis is not a hot-rod wagon on stilts like a Mercedes-AMG GLE63. The GV80 feels {powerful}, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a coddle-me-first, thrill-me-second proposition. From its muted growl at full throttle to its supple, direct steering and easy-to-modulate brakes, the GV80 is a zen cocoon. It is a automobile that is aware of and embraces its mission for balanced, complete luxurious, and it is unexpectedly glorious for precisely that motive.

The GV80 affords a 3rd row, however this SUV is at its greatest in a five-seat configuration.

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None of that is to say that GV80’s massive six feels lazy. Sure, it is tremendous quiet on the within owing to lively road-noise cancellation tech, laminated glass and every kind of sound-deadening supplies. However the V6 sounds higher on the skin, and extra importantly, it is obtained the facility to underscore these appears. The truth is, it is price noting that whereas each powertrains are rated to tow 6,000 kilos, the twin-turbo setup helps the three.5-liter’s torque peak kick in earlier and dangle round longer (1,300 to 4,500 rpm) than the less-expensive four-cylinder (1,650 to 4,000 rpm), which ought to assist be an much more efficient towing accomplice. For my cash, it might be nice if Genesis have been finally to supply an even-more-powerful V8 or hybrid mannequin to match the Germans — the chassis is as much as it.

That stated, if there’s an Achilles heel with the GV80’s efficiency, it is gasoline financial system. After all, that is an issue shared by each mannequin on this class — at the very least these with out hybrid help. An entry-level RWD 2.5T rings up at 25 miles per gallon metropolis, 21 freeway and 23 mixed. A loaded AWD 3.5T like this Status is rated at 23 mpg metropolis, 18 freeway and 20 mixed. These are unimpressive figures — particularly on premium gasoline — however they’re wholly aggressive for this class.

Should you’re in search of extra pleasing numbers, I would recommend testing pricing. The GV80 vary begins at below $50,000 delivered for a 2.5T RWD — selecting up proper the place Hyundai’s glorious Palisade Calligraphy SUV leaves off. Sure, the Lexus RX is barely cheaper for starters, nevertheless it’s additionally smaller, much less {powerful} and fewer luxurious. The Germans? They’re all costlier. Simply over $60Okay will get you right into a base 3.5T AWD.

At round $72,000, the loaded GV80 Status is not low-cost, however this Korean-built SUV is each a powerful worth and glorious total.

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On the different finish of the vary, my choose, the loaded-up Status with all-wheel drive and the large engine rings up simply shy of $72,000 (together with $1,025 supply). To make sure, that is some huge cash, nevertheless it’s far, far cheaper than a comparable European. Apart from, I believe I even choose the best way the GV80 feels total.

Regardless of which trim you go for, there is a full suite of superior driver help techniques within the combine. Ahead collision with auto-brake, lane-departure warning and blind-spot help are customary, as is a driver monitor. The Status trim comes bundled with with Freeway Driving Help II, which incorporates lane centering, signal recognition and even automated lane modifications, in addition to Remote Smart Park Assist, which permits drivers to park in tight spots whereas standing outdoors their automobile. These options are additionally obtainable as a part of two driving help packages on lesser fashions.

It is 100% true that Hyundai miscalculated the place the market was going when it selected to launch its new premium Genesis model with three sedans, simply as customers have been leaping the passenger-car ship in favor of SUVs. However at the very least Genesis was sensible sufficient to appreciate that when you’re gonna be late to the utility-vehicle celebration, you have to come exhausting with swag and substance. The automaker’s first stab on the style has each, and whereas it is from an in a single day sensation, this 2021 Genesis GV80 has the products to shock luxurious consumers — and various automobile firms — with its all-around excellence.

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Chris Paukert