Since its introduction back in 2015, Genesis has had to work quickly to establish itself as a contender in the luxury market. Taking notes from its sister brands, Genesis began by offering luxurious sedans aimed at providing tremendous value. However, with the introduction of its first SUV, the 2021 Genesis GV80, the Korean carmaker brought a product to market that would end up being its most important. That’s because sales of the GV80 outpace its sedan siblings by a considerable margin.
The exact 2021 Genesis GV80 I’ve been testing over the last week features a twin-turbo engine, all-wheel drive, and the top Prestige package, which will cost you a cool $11,800 on its own. All in, this GV80’s $59,650 MSRP shoots up to an as-tested price of $73,510 once you factor in its many optional extras. However, after living with it for a week, it’s clear that the GV80 is shooting to kill.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 boasts sleek aesthetics with an undeniable presence.
Since the 2021 Genesis GV80 is a full-on luxury SUV, let’s start with one of its greatest strengths, its aesthetic. Out of the many cars I’ve driven throughout my career, few have gotten as much attention from passers-by as the GV80. From its enormous shield-shaped front grille, sloping roofline, and elegant lighting elements, the Genesis demands attention.
My particular tester featured Adriatic Blue paint with a tan and blue leather interior. As far as color combos go, this is a strong one. It’s also a massive step forward over some of the previous brown and green matchups that were frankly a little strange. Additionally, this interior finish isn’t available in any other Genesis, including the range-topping G90.
One of the most pronounced design elements lives in the GV80’s lighting elements. That’s because both the headlights and taillights are split into two LED strips that create the Genesis brand’s distinct look. You’ll also find the brand’s shield design motif throughout the bodywork, from the immense grille to the exhaust tips embedded into the rear bumper.
How powerful is the 2021 Genesis GV80?
Given its undeniable size, the 2021 Genesis GV80 needs a powerful engine to get it going. As standard, the GV80 is available with a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine pushing out 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. While these figures are respectable, consider that the GV80 has a curb weight of over 4,700 lb.
As a result, you’ll want the engine I’ve been testing, the larger twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. It produces 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. The most important figure here is that all of its available torque comes in at just 1,300 rpm, meaning the Genesis pulls surprisingly hard given its weight.
My tester also featured the optional all-wheel-drive system, which sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. While I certainly didn’t find myself needing the extra traction in sunny South Florida, the transmission managed to impress. While it certainly isn’t the fastest automatic out there, it is smooth above all else, exactly what you’d want from a luxury vehicle.
Speaking of luxury, the Genesis features an innovative adaptive suspension system to ensure a smooth ride. The system scans the road ahead and adjusts itself to counter harsh bumps before they even happen. As a result, the GV80 manages to be highly comfortable despite a lack of air suspension and 22-inch wheels on each corner. In my experience, this system is on par with what you’d get with a competitor from Mercedes-Benz.
Quilted leather covers a tech-filled cabin.
While the 2021 Genesis GV80 strikes you with its aesthetics, it wins you over with its interior. Despite its price point, the GV80 features a cabin befitting of a six-figure vehicle. The seats are covered in quilted leather with a diamond pattern. Additionally, you get heated and cooled seats in both the first and second rows. If that’s not enough, press a button in either the driver or passenger seat, and the GV80 will massage you as you drive along.
One of the most surprising aspects I noticed during my time with the GV80 is that its seats offer up adjustable side bolstering. As a result, you’ll be able to get comfortable, even if you’re battling with a few extra pounds. Combine them with the GV80’s refined ride quality, and you’ve got a product that feels luxurious inside and out.
To block out the rest of the world and deliver a whisper-quiet driving experience, the GV80 utilizes a system called road-noise active noise control. If you’ve ever used noise-canceling headphones, then you’re already familiar with this technology. Essentially, a small microphone picks up noise from outside the cabin and plays it back to eliminate unwanted noise. Aside from being the first vehicle to feature it, the GV80 nails its execution.
In front of the driver, you’ll also find a three-dimensional digital instrument cluster. Don’t worry; you can turn it off. Something I did almost immediately as it looks somewhat distorted unless you’re staring directly at it.
However, turn on your turn signal, and your instrument cluster gives you a clear view of your blind spot via a camera mounted in the side-view mirrors. While it may seem like a bit of a gimmick, the system works, and I missed it the second I got into my next tester.
Even at $73,510, the 2021 Genesis GV80 offers up excellent value.
While I realize it’s tough to call a 2021 Genesis GV80 costing over $70,000 great value, you’ll have to hear me out. Unlike some of its German rivals with lengthy options lists, the GV80’s extras are divided into two optional packages. When building a GV80, the first thing you need to pick is your engine and traction system. For me, I’d go with the larger 3.5-liter engine and rear-wheel drive.
From there, you can pick from the Advanced or Prestige packages. The former comes in at $5,200 and gets you leather seats, remote parking assist, and premium audio. However, to get the most out of the GV80, you’ll need the Prestige, which comes in at $11,800.
While this pack isn’t cheap, it offers up every optional extras you’d ever need. Gone are the standard 20-inch wheels and standard leather seats. Instead, you get Nappa leather, 22-inch wheels, and that aforementioned 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. In top form, the GV80 undercuts similarly-optioned rivals by six figures. Despite this, the GV80 brings enough to the table to compete with the best options out there. As a result, it doesn’t surprise me that it’s already the brand’s best-selling model.