Behind The Wheel

2021 Genesis GV80 — Traditional Luxury in the Crosshairs

2021 Genesis GV80Model tested: 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Advanced

Engine: 3.5-liter twin turbo V6

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters

Horsepower: 375

Torque: 391 lb.-ft.

EPA ratings: 18/city, 23/highway, 20/combined

Base price: $59,150

As tested: $64,350

Overview: The 2021 Genesis GV80 is the first crossover from Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis — and designers left nothing on the drawing board, building a true luxury vehicle with a more affordable price tag than its European and Japanese competitors. The GV80 is simply stunning and includes all the latest high-tech wizardry you can imagine. It features two different turbocharged powerplants — a 2.5-liter turbo-4 generating 300 horses and 311 pound-feet of torque, and Hyundai’s new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, delivering 375 ponies to the pavement and 391 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are married to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic sending power to all four wheels. Our test driver featured the 3.5-liter V6, and this review will focus on that vehicle.

Walkaround: The GV80 offers lots of unique details that distinguish it from the competition. In addition to the large pentagonal mesh grille, its classy double-streak headlights have become a trademark Genesis feature. The Genesis logo lights up the entrance on the ground when the doors are opened. The hood sits above the flared front fenders, suggesting aggressiveness and power. Looking rearward, the body tapers in slightly at the doors, showcasing a tasteful chrome strip before moving outward at the rear fender, where double-streak wraparound taillights finish off its muscular look.

2021 Genesis GV80Interior: Owners of more expensive Mercedes, BMWs and Lexus may find disappointment in their own vehicles after sitting in a GV80. The cabin design, features, technology and materials are unmatched. Small touches like haptic climate controls and knurled knobs scream attention to detail. The padded two-spoke steering wheel seems a bit different in this day and age, but three-spoke sportiness is not the hallmark of the brand — unabashed luxury is. The massive 14.5-inch touchscreen sits center of the dashboard. With some features, it controls slightly farther from the driver’s view than we like. However, the rotary control on the center console that works the touchscreen is, in our view, much safer than the touchy trackpads found in Lexus, Audi and Acura, among others. If the rotary control isn’t your thing, there’s also other options, including steering wheel controls and voice commands — along with actual physical buttons. The front seats are built for pure comfort. You won’t find stiff, high bolsters or firm cushions because this isn’t a sports sedan. Heated cushions, lumbar support and thigh extender are all standard. There’s also a smart posture feature that automatically selects your seating position once you’ve entered your height and weight into the system. It’s great for finding that perfect driving position. The back seat is less indulgent but boasts 39 inches of legroom. The middle seat is slightly uncomfortable but the outside seats will keep you comfortable on long rides. A third row is available on only the 3.5T Advanced Plus model, but we wouldn’t bother with it. Cargo room is a cavernous 84 cubic feet with all the seats folded.

Behind the wheel: With its rear-drive platform, some may think the GV80 would be a handling standout. While it does many things well, it doesn’t handle like a sports sedan. Get over it. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 delivers ample power, doing the 0-60 drill in 5.9 seconds — pretty impressive for a vehicle this size. However, some turbo lag is sometimes noticeable. Sport mode is the only drive mode of the five eliminating that.

Bottom line: The 2021 Genesis GV80 delivers all the style, features, technology and safety luxury buyers expect — at a price point that should scare the competition. How much did we like the GV80? So much so that we bought one.