The 2021 Genesis GV80 is the brand’s new entry in the mid-size luxury crossover segment. It’s incredible how quickly the Hyundai Motor Company has established itself as a leading automobile manufacturer. Much like Honda did with Acura in 1986, Toyota with Lexus, and Nissan with Infiniti in 1989, that lineup now includes the standalone luxury brand Genesis. As all three of the Japanese brands did over three decades ago, Genesis made its launch with the debut of luxury sedans.
However, unlike three decades ago, consumers are much more interested in crossovers and not so much sedans. So, it was only a matter of time before Genesis had to hop into the crossover segment. And just like other brands in the Hyundai Motor Company, Genesis isn’t holding back. This new GV80 isn’t looking to be some dressed-up Sante Fe. It rides on a unique Genesis RWD platform with optional AWD. Forget Lexus and Acura. One look at the GV80, and it’s clear that the company is aiming its sights even higher. For a fraction of the cost, maybe it’s Bentley that should be worried. There’s undoubtedly some of that ultra-high-end luxury styling in the GV80’s design.
Our vehicle is a 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5 T AWD Advanced + painted in Vik Black. Be sure to check out our video review as well!
Genesis calls the design language athletic elegance. It all starts up front with the massive crest grille. It’s no secret that the automotive industry has fallen in love with large grilles, and not every manufacturer does it well. But Genesis pulls off the look, and it will certainly catch your eye with the G-Matrix pattern found throughout the company’s design.
The LED headlights come in a stacked design that gives this GV80 a distinct Genesis look. I like the way Genesis extends the dual light design into the side of the vehicle. This setup provides the GV80 with a unique light signature that stands out, especially at night.
There’s a strong accent line that runs from the front of the GV80 deep into the side. It adds a squareness and edge to the design that gives the GV80 a regal appearance and hints at a bit of Bentley inspiration.
In this 3.5T Advanced plus trim, the 2021 Genesis GV80 comes with 20-inch wheels. 19-inch wheels are standard, and 22-inch wheels are available on the top-of-the-line 3.5T prestige trim.
The taillights also get the signature dual light design. The Genesis name is spelled out across the rear bumper with badging for the model and trim. The Genesis crest exhaust outlets add a touch of style.
Overall, the styling of the GV80 is refreshing in a segment filled with straight angry lines and overly aggressive designs. The Genesis GV80 lives up to its Athletic Elegance design language and takes its luxury intentions seriously.
In addition to locking and unlocking the vehicle, the key can start the GV80 remotely. However, our favorite feature is the remote parking assist that allows you to move the GV80 forwards and backward with buttons on the key.
The interior of the GV80 is a masterclass in luxurious restraint, sophistication, airiness, and simplicity. The leather, wood, and aluminum pieces are all combined to give this interior a luxury layout that rivals and, in some cases, surpasses what you will find in brands that have built luxury vehicles for decades. As a first outing, Genesis has hit a home run.
The center dash is dominated by Genesis’ wide and short 14.5-inch touchscreen. It’s beautiful to look at and extremely easy to use. The interface is sensitive to touch inputs, and the graphics are smooth and quick. There are buttons on the center console and a scroll wheel that also control the menu screen. Genesis does a great job of balancing physical buttons with touchscreens. Apple carplay and android auto come standard, and Apple Carplay at least looks excellent on this widescreen. There’s a Lexicon stereo system with an incredible 21 speakers, that sounds great. In terms of connectivity upfront, the GV80 has USB and 12 V ports and wireless phone charging.
You can view the gauge cluster from the driver’s seat that includes an analog speedometer and gas gauge and a digital gauge for the tach and menus. The GV80 comes with side view monitoring that displays a video image of the vehicle’s side when the turn signal is activated. The range-topping 3.5T prestige trim does come with a fully digital cluster with a 3D effect. However, this standard display is still good to look at and offers a touch of technology to the GV80’s interior.
Ultra-soft leather wraps the steering wheel. The end of the wheel stalks have a brushed aluminum pattern that will ensure you know you have purchased a luxury vehicle every time you activate the turn signals or adjust the wipers. There’s plenty of this aluminum diamond-shaped accenting for you to admire while sitting in the GV80.
The seats themselves are ultra-comfortable and come with heating and ventilation. 16-way power adjustments for the driver and 12-way power adjustments for the passenger, ensure finding the best seating position can certainly be done.
The Ergo Motion Driver’s Seat has seven air chambers that will inflate to add stability to your back and help increase posture. It’s not an actual massage function but can feel similar to a kneading massage. The seats will also adjust their ergonomics to the GV80s drive mode. Comfort will self-adjust the seat to make side support less pronounced. In contrast, Sport mode will firm up side bolstering for more stability during aggressive driving.
The GV80 Advanced + has LED interior lighting and a panoramic sunroof. At night the interior comes alive with colored ambient lighting.
The luxury continues into the second row with comfortable heated leather seats and climate controls. Connectivity options are two USB ports and a 115 V outlet that can be useful for charging laptops and other devices.
The center armrest folds down and has cupholders. The door has built-in sunshades, and as I mentioned, the material quality is just as good as the front row, with plenty of leather, wood, and aluminum trim. The second-row seats are adjustable and can recline for a better seating position.
Third-row seats are only available on 3.5 T Advanced trims. The space in the third row is quite tight for adults. Still, the third row’s material quality is surprisingly good, considering most third rows often receive very low-quality materials. There is a storage space for items, climate control vents, and brushed aluminum accents. We do wish Genesis would have included in the third-row access to at least one USB port.
Getting into the rear cargo area can be done via the powerlifting tailgate and offers good cargo space with the third-row seats folded down. Overall. We found the interior of the Genesis GV80 to be classic luxury with enough technology to keep things interesting.
Performance and Safety
The 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T comes with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes 375 horsepower and a healthy 391 lb-feet of torque. An 8-speed automatic and a rear-wheel-drive based AWD system get power to the ground.
Driving the GV80 puts its luxury goals on full display. It’s not looking to drag race sports cars. That doesn’t mean the GV80 with this 3.5-liter V6 is slow. It can run to 60 miles per hour well into the 5-second range, and while the 8-speed automatic isn’t lightning quick, it reacts with urgency when you call for additional power. The steering leans slightly on the heavy side and tightens up even more when you put the GV80 into sport mode.
As you should expect from Genesis, there are many standard and optional safety features and drivers’ aids. These include a smart cruise control system, and lane keep and follow assist. The highway driving assist 2 feature will maintain your lane and distance from the vehicle in front of you and even help change lanes.
The heads-up display is very bright, large, easy to read, and provides a ton of information. Road preview is another excellent feature that uses the GV80’s front camera to scan the road ahead and automatically adjust the suspension to prepare for any imperfections in the road. The top trim 3.5 T Prestige takes things a step further with noise cancellation for the interior.
With a total price under $67,000, our 2021 Genesis GV80 as equipped undercuts similar products from BMW Mercedes and Audi by thousands of dollars. When you factor in how much the GV80 cost and how much standard equipment you get for that cost, it’s hard not to argue this crossover is an absolute winner.
We love the luxury design of the GV80 and think it has a comfortable and stable ride that will certainly keep you relaxed during long trips.
The fuel economy could be better. At 23 miles combined city/highway, BMW and Mercedes have slightly better numbers. But it’s not bad for a 5,000 lb vehicle. Genesis’s 10 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is also a great addition to an already great crossover.
In its first outing in the luxury crossover landscape, Genesis is positioning itself as a top contender for anyone looking for luxury, style, and technology. With the upcoming Genesis compact GV70, which looks to be just as stunning as the GV80, Genesis is on a roll for a company born just a few years ago. We are undoubtedly excited to see what the future has in store for the brand.