The 2021 Genesis GV80 is the newest model from the newest luxury brand, a midsize crossover with a grand grille, a plush interior and more than a whiff of Bentley in its proportions and detailing. As Genesis is to Hyundai what Lexus is to Toyota, it would seem logical that the GV80 is just a tarted up Palisade, but that actually isn't the case. Instead, it shares its rear-wheel-drive platform with the also-new G80 sedan, which graces the GV80 with more elegant long-hood/short-overhang proportions and should in theory grant it superior driving dynamics. It also makes the GV80 a more convincing answer to comparably laid out luxury SUVs, including the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Lincoln Aviator, and quite frankly makes it harder to dismiss.
And after our first brief taste of the 2021 GV80, it would be a mistake to dismiss it. Although Genesis is a new brand, Hyundai has been churning out dependable, high-quality cars for years. People dismissed Lexus in the beginning, too. The GV80 isn't just festooned with the requisite amount of leather and fancy features, it's cabin is uniquely designed, slathered in rich details and comes standard with an abundance of technology that's actually user friendly. Space inside is less than you'll find in bigger, pricier luxury SUVs (BMW X7, Mercedes GLS), as well as big non-luxury crossovers like the Palisade, but it should be more than enough for those also considering the similarly sized X5, GLE, Aviator or perhaps the smaller Lexus RX.
Our only drive of the GV80 was extremely brief as the car was unlicensed, but it at least demonstrated a supple ride with just a hint of pitch when turning into a corner like you get in big, plush luxury cars. It's a tad Mercedes or Range Rover-like. We look forward to driving it further, be it the standard 2.5-liter turbo-four or 3.5-liter turbo-V6, to see how it stacks up to the high-caliber competition. We already know it'll be cheaper with a comprehensive array of extra ownership benefits, but that level of extra enticement is probably necessary from the newest model from the newest luxury brand.
What's new for 2021?
The GV80 is an all-new model.
What's the interior and in-car technology like?
The GV80 cabin is just as impressive in person as it is in pictures. It's tastefully unique and genuinely luxurious. We've only been in the top-of-the-line Prestige trim level, so keep in mind the diamond-quilted leather seats, fancy digital gauges and sumptuous multi-tone color schemes aren't in every model. We don't expect a huge drop-off with lower trims, but we also don't know for sure at this point.
We do know, however, that the high-quality switch gear unique to Genesis is common throughout the lineup, most notably the various knobs with a knurled finish similar to what you get in a Bentley. True, most are knurled plastic (admittedly nice plastic), but the rotary shifter surround is the real metal deal. Also common throughout is the immense 14.5-inch dashtop touchscreen with supporting center console controller that basically acts like an old iPod thumbwheel. This combination of new-and-old Apple-style control interfaces sure seemed to make sense in our brief, static sampling – touch is great for many functions, but the wheel makes scrolling through songs, contacts or radio stations much easier. We also like that Genesis maintains physical controls for volume, tuning and various menu shortcuts.
As for what it all controls, the feature content is immense but the layout is simple. If there was any area where the GV80 is clearly related to a Hyundai it's here, and it's a good thing. Though a tad fancier in appearance (a defused image of nighttime Seoul sits in the backround of menus, for instance), its functionality is just as excellent as what you get in the top-of-the-line Palisade or Sonata. Actually, it's just a bit better due to its two extra inches of screen width.
How big is it?
The GV80 is just a hair longer than the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90, while falling 4 inches short of a Lincoln Aviator. It's shorter in height than all of them, however, which combines with some clever design elements to make the GV80 look especially long and sleek.
Despite the lower roof, the cabin doesn't suffer for headroom. There's plenty of it in rows one and two. Second-row legroom isn't as great as you might expect in a three-row crossover, but that's typical of RWD-based models, including the X5 and GLE. The seats are quite cushy and deeply contoured, though, and recline to a luxurious degree. They can be heated and ventilated, too.
The third-row seats are exclusively paired with the V6 engine and either the Advance+ or Prestige packages. This means the three-row GV80 starts at more than $65,050. This certainly limits its appeal, but it's also not the most usable third-row. Legroom is actually perfectly usable (you don't even have to slide the second-row forward for an adult to fit), but headroom is tight and it's difficult to reach. The third-rows of the XC90 and Aviator are much better – they're also standard.
We don't have cargo capacity figures, but we do know there is a scarcity of space behind the raised third row. It can hold the same number of suitcases as the Cadillac XT6, so fewer than all other three-row SUVs we've tested. We would expect that five-passenger, two-row GV80s would have extra cargo volume behind its second row, or at least substantial under-floor storage.
What's the performance and fuel economy?
We don't have full specs for the GV80 at this time, so this section will be updated as we know more. The engine specs we list below are those of the also-new Genesis G80 sedan, which shares a platform and engine options. If output is different, it wouldn't be by much.
The GV80 will come standard with a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four. Its output is officially still TBA for the GV80, but in the G80 it produces 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard and the optional all-wheel-system brings with it a limited-slip differential. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic.
The upgrade engine is a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 that produces 375 hp and 391 lb-ft in the G80. It will be exclusively paired to all-wheel drive.
What's it like to drive?
We have yet to take the GV80 on a full drive. The available electronically controlled suspension, which can adapt to road surfaces in advance like those offered by Mercedes and others, at least hinted at an elevated degree of sophistication during our brief test drive.
We will update this once we get more substantial experiences behind the wheel.
What features are available and what's the price?
Although we don't know a lot about the GV80's specs, we do know its price and a lot of its feature content. We also know it'll arrive sometime in the fall of 2020.
Assuming the same $1,025 destination charge as other Genesis cars, the GV80 starts at $49,925 for the rear-drive 2.5T base model. All-wheel drive kicks that up to $54,650 – a much larger upcharge than usual due to it coming with extra equipment (more on that below). The 3.5T V6, which comes only with all-wheel drive, starts at $59,150.
Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, a full suite of driver assistance features (see Safety section below), a handsfree power liftgate, five-passenger seating, heated eight-way power front seats, leatherette upholstery, integrated navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the 14.5-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Beyond that, things get confusing. There are Advance and Prestige packages, but their content differs depending on engine and drivetrain. Sometimes a feature is added in the Advance package, sometimes it's in the Prestige. Again, confusing.
Regardless of how they're added, however, this extra content includes 20- or 22-inch wheels, a surround-view parking camera, a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, an enhanced driver seat (power cushion extender and adjustable side bolsters that can change based on driving mode), a heated steering wheel, matte wood trim, a near-field communication digital key, wireless smartphone charging and a 21-speaker Lexicon sound system.
The 3.5T Prestige is unique, however. Its exclusive upgrades include an electronic limited-slip differential, Nappa leather seating, ventilated second-row seats, power rear side sunshades, power soft-closing doors, and an enhanced digital gauge cluster. We're also pretty sure this is how you get the very Bentley green-brown interior, below.
What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?
Every GV80 comes with the latest and greatest in Hyundai Group's substantial safety system arsenal. The standard forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking not only detects pedestrians, but traffic coming from the left and right at intersections. Lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and a driver inattention warning system are all standard, as is an advanced adaptive cruise control system with automated lane changes, highway steering assist and a unique AI-based system that apparently learns the driver's driving characteristics and adapts its automated driving to be similar. We're very curious to test that.
Optional systems include Hyundai's Smart Park assist, a surround-view parking camera and an enhanced blind-spot warning system with cameras that send images from each side of the car into the digital instrument cluster. The latter is an enhanced version of Autoblog's 2020 Tech of the Year.
The GV80 has not been crash tested by a third party.