Sunday, December 3, 2023
Reviews 2021 Genesis GV80 AWD Review: Shooting For The Stars

2021 Genesis GV80 AWD Review: Shooting For The Stars

The amount of planning and thinking that have gone into the new Genesis GV80 make it an SUV that must be considered

  • Base pricing for the Genesis GV80 starts at $64,500 in Canada, $48,900 in the US.

  • The GV80 is completely loaded, or absolutely bursting at the seams loaded.

  • Don’t be like everyone else…

If you’re in the market for a new premium luxury vehicle, odds are that SUVs are all over your shopping list. Assumingly, the German luxury brand offerings are vying for the top spot but I would recommend a brief pause. Read up on Genesis, build one online, and contact them for a road test. If you do so and give Genesis an opportunity, you very well might end up with a new 2021 GV80 in your garage.

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Genesis is on the move

Stepping outside of the box is something we all say we do but the fact is that we don’t. When it comes to luxury, and I understand, it’s “safer” to get an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz if mostly because that’s what everyone else does. Sometimes, taking a chance pays off huge dividends. Brands like Alfa Romeo and Genesis lie on the outskirts of the norm and I think there are huge gains to be made.

Genesis is on an offensive the likes I’ve never seen in my 20+ years as an auto critic. The mega-machine that is the Hyundai Motor Group is behind it and the intent is to render the product so overwhelmingly interesting that it cannot be overlooked based on brand alone.

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

These are far too many words to explain that the all-new 2021 Genesis GV80 has become a top contender in the segment.

Premium styling for all

Styling is always an important aspect of any vehicle. Not only does it need to say something about the brand but also do the same for the owner. Although there are definite hints of Bentley Bentayga in the GV80, it remains very unique with its signature crest grille, quad headlights which are mimics in the side markers, and taillamps. The GV80’s slick-backed roofline and generous proportions give the SUV a keen look despite its size.

What’s impressive about the GV80, and Genesis, is that no matter the price paid, the vehicle always looks ultra-high-end. With the sole exception of the wheels and badging, trims are indistinguishable from one another. And this approach is also repeated onboard.

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

It is within the Genesis GV80’s walls that occupants become reacquainted with luxury. Again, the base $64,500 Select gets the same amount of attention as does the $85,000, or quite nearly. Unless you were to line up both models side by side, as we did, you would think that the Select accidentally got a higher trim’s kit.

All models get a 14.5-inch display, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, heated seats all around, a power tailgate – most of these features are optional for the competition. Upper versions do get genuine woodgrain trim, a suede headliner, and Nappa leather but all are on the receiving end of quality materials, attention to detail, and a functionally attractive dashboard.

Good power, refined ride

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The Genesis GV80 can be fitted with either a turbocharged 2.5-litre 4-cylinder or a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6. With 300 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft. of torque, the 2.5T is plenty formidable for all driving situations. The 3.5T is mightier with its 375 horsepower and 391 lb.-ft. of torque but frankly, we’d not bother with the V6.

As you can see in the gallery and video, we had both versions to review. We, as you would have, guessed that the 3.5T would be the quicker of the two but we were curious about the Electronic Control Suspension with Road Preview. What we discovered is that the GV80 3.5T, although includes a brief layer of plushness at the top-most part of the dampers’ travel, isn’t as comfortable as expected. The issues are the 22-inch wheels and tires as well as the included 3rd-row seats. All told, the 3.5T tips the scale at between 400 and 500lbs more than the 2.5T GV80 because of these elements, and the V6 itself.

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

It is in large part why the 2.5T is the wiser option although Genesis Canada expects that the 3.5T will take the lion’s share of deliveries. Even so, my ideal GV80 is the 2.5T but with the electronic suspension and the 20-inch wheels. This configuration won’t increase sales but will undoubtedly be the best GV80. I think Genesis should chance it for the SUV’s mid-cycle refresh.

The SUV’s drivetrain components are nearly identical regardless of engine. Both get a seamless and ultra-smooth operation 8-speed automatic transmission and an AWD system with Terrain Mode Select. There are also various drive modes to impact various electronic drive controls.

A new benchmark?

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The 2021 Genesis GV80’s drive is on par with all other premium SUVs in its segment. The degree of refinement and comfort are remarkable and second to none. And within the segment, the Genesis slides in between the Audi Q7 and Q8, the BMW X3 and X5, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE. The Lexus RX and RX L could also apply here.

This is quite an impressive company to be in but the 2.5T Advanced, priced at $70,000, is in a league of its own. An extra $10,000 will add the 3.5T and it too is surprising. Finally, the all-in 3.5T Prestige, at $85,000, is nearly a bargain. Set up a road test with Genesis and experience for yourself. You’ll be starstruck.

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 Genesis GV80 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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