The Premium Midsize SUV Benchmark
In only a few short years Genesis, the luxury division of Hyundai launched in 2017, released the excellent G70, G80 and G90 sedans. But if a car company is going to make it today, they need to be selling sport utility vehicles. The first foray for Genesis into the hottest automotive segment is the all-new 2021 GV80 SUV, which has been joined by the GV70, and soon the all-electric GV60, with a yet-to-be announced release date. Clean Fleet Report has a hunch Genesis has even more crossovers and SUVs on the horizon.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 is ready to take on other premium SUVs
Turbo Engine Choices
Clean Fleet Report drove the rear-wheel drive 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T RWD Prestige with the turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Running on unleaded premium, this 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque engine is standard on the GV80. The twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6, producing 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque, is optional.
All-wheel drive is an option, but on our model the rear wheels were driven by an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode, paddle shifters and driver-selectable drive modes.
The EPA has rated the GV80’s fuel economy at 21 mpg city/25 highway/23 combined. In 268 miles driving through Southern California, aided by the idle stop/start, we averaged 23.8 mpg. Where we did much better was on a 110-mile freeway run, in either Eco or Smart mode and with the smart cruise control set at 65 mph, achieving 31.5 mpg. It wasn’t easy, but cracking 30 mpg on the open road was a nice surprise in this size of car. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience using the dash gauge computer. Your numbers may differ.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The turbocharged four-cylinder balanced power and fuel economy
The turbocharged 2.5L, with peak torque coming on early at 1,650 rpm and pulling strong through 4,000 rpm, easily negotiated highway onramps and passing big rigs. The engine is smooth and quiet, with mild but noticeable turbo lag when accelerating from a stop.
To get the most performance there are driver selectable drive modes of Eco, Comfort, Smart and Sport. Eco is best used on long stretches of flat or gently sloping roads to squeeze-out every last drop of fuel, but in this setting the acceleration and air conditioning are reduced in favor of saving fuel. The Smart drive mode offers nearly the same efficiency as Eco, but with better acceleration and no reduction in the air conditioning function. The best performance comes in Sport, where it holds the transmission in each rev band a bit longer, sending more available torque to the wheels. Using the Sport mode delivered 0-60 times of 6.9 seconds.
The 4,707-pound 2021 Genesis GV80 never felt bulky, and had a very good driving feel where the electric power steering was not programmed to take away road feedback. The self-leveling rear suspension and an estimated 50/50 weight balance gave a planted feel, and that was without the optional electronically controlled suspension, which is standard on the GV80 with the 3.5L twin turbo.
It quickly became apparent the GV80 was easy to drive, but also was sportier than anticipated. The relaxed feel in-town and at highway speeds extended to maneuvering, which was solid and predictable thanks to the Michelin Primacy Tour 265/50 all-season tires mounted on 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The responsive steering delivered taught handing with little body roll when pushed on corners. In general, the GV80 is a comfortable riding and handling premium SUV. The 2.5T with either FWD or AWD has a tow rating of 6,000 pounds.
Stops were solid with good brake pedal feel. The power-assisted braking system consists of vented front and rear discs, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.
Announcing the arrival of something new
Luxury Exterior Design
The Genesis wing emblem sits proudly above a classy chrome grille that sparkles in the sunlight. The grille is bordered by quad, horizontal LED head and daytime running lights, which sit above air scoops and a narrow black grille in the lower fascia. Twin horizontal turn signals sit sleekly on the front fender, just before the doors.
The sides are smooth with chrome adorning a strip along the door bottoms, trimming the windows and on the roof rails. The machine-finished Metallic Gray wheels are especially attractive. The lightly raked roof has a power panoramic sunroof, rack rails, and a body-color shark fin antenna. The dual-level, horizontal LED tail lights wrap from the fender to the hands-free power lift gate. Below in the lower fascia are dual horizontal exhaust ports. Clean Fleet Report’s GV80 was painted in an elegant Saville Silver.
Carefully Crafted Interior
Genesis calls the open cabin feeling “luxury in space.” The GV80 Prestige seats five, with a power folding third row available only on the 3.5T V6 AWD model. The black-on-black front heated and ventilated leather seats had memory for the driver and 16-way power adjustments, which included lumbar, side bolsters and a cushion extender. The driver gets an Ergo Motion seat, which has seven power adjustable air cells to help reduce fatigue. The front passenger gets 12-way power adjustments including lumbar.
Soothing ambient lighting
The front seats were comfortable and supportive, and with the multiple power adjustments and the power tilt and telescoping steering column, finding a comfortable driving position was easy. The door pockets can hold up to medium-size bottles, but the large, deep padded center console has cup holders, and there are storage areas under the center console. The adjustable multi-color ambient LED lighting was soothing.
Rear leg, head and shoulder room was generous, even for six footers. Classy up-market touches for the back seat passengers include sliding and reclining seats, side window shades, second row HVAC vents, vanity mirrors, two USB ports and a 115V/150W AC outlet. Storage space behind the rear seat was very good at 34.9 cubic feet, but improves significantly to 84.0 cubic feet when the 40/20/40 split-folding seat was in the full down position. There is a dual-level cargo floor and an underside storage tray.
Technology Lives Here
Sliding behind the wheel reveals a 14.5-inch split-screen high-definition LCD multi-information display sitting above a sleek dash. The clean GV80 Prestige cabin design has a rotary dial gear selector for the shift-by-wire transmission, top stitching on the soft and hard touch surfaces, brushed aluminum, wood grain, and piano black gloss trim. The deep-set analog tachometer and speedometer gauges are easy to read with white lettering on a black background. The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel has audio and telephone controls with the paddle shifters peeking out from behind.
All the tech you would expect
Operating the sound system was easy and met Clean Fleet Report’s minimum requirement for being driver-friendly as it had channel and volume wheels that were located on the center console. Our GV80 Prestige came with the 1,050-watt, Lexicon by Harmon surround sound audio system with Quantum Logic. What all this means is the woofers, tweeters and mid-range speakers that are part of the 21-speaker system sound great. SiriusXM satellite radio is included (three-month trial subscription) as is the AM/FM/MP3 HD radio, USB ports with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Aux-in jacks and Bluetooth streaming audio with voice recognition completed the system. The Genesis Connected Services and Digital Key offer multiple conveniences, including being able to start the GV80 remotely. To our surprise, a head-up display was not on the GV80 2.5T RWD Prestige, but is available on higher trim levels. Clean Fleet Report feels the head-up display should be standard on all cars at all trim levels as it is such an important safety factor to keep the driver’s eyes on the road.
Make sure to check out the Sounds of Nature, where you can listen to calming and soothing sounds of Snowy Village, Lively Forest, Calm Sea Waves, Rainy Day, Open Air Café, and Warm Fireplace. Ahhhh.
Adding to the interior comfort and convenience were rain sensing wipers, wireless phone charging, push button start, power windows with one-touch up/down, power door locks, power heated and folding outside mirrors, carpeted floor mats, auto dimming rearview mirror with a compass and Homelink, multiple beverage holders, 12-volt accessory outlets and 110V power inverter.
To learn more about the technology in the GV80, you can go here.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 comes with a long list of safety features including 10 air bags and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), including forward collision avoidance with evasive steering assist, pedestrian and cyclist avoidance assist, lane keeping and lane following assist, blind spot collision avoidance assist, back-up warning with rear cross traffic warning, electronic parking brake, hill start assist, surround view monitor, tire pressure monitoring system, tire mobility kit, automatic stop/start, and electronic stability control. One very cool feature is the Blind Spot View Monitor. When using the right or left turn signal, a camera comes on automatically, showing the rear view down the side of the GV80, depending on which direction is being turned.
The 2021 GV80 earned a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded it the Top Safety Pick. These are the highest ratings from each organization.
Pricing and Warranties
Room to haul
There are 10 different 2021 GV80 models to choose from, ranging in base price from $49,925 to $71,975. These prices, before any optional items, depend on the engine, drive system and trim level. Clean Fleet Report’s 2021 Genesis GV80 RWD 2.5T Prestige, with $8,550 in options, had a MSRP of $58,475. All prices include the $1,025 freight and handling fee.
The 2021 GV80 comes with these warranties:
Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
New Vehicle – Five years/60,000 miles
Maintenance – Three years/36,000 miles
Roadside Assistance – Five years/Unlimited miles
Anti-perforation – Seven years/Unlimited miles
Observations: 2021 Genesis GV80 RWD 2.5T Prestige
There is a fine line between premium and luxury, with many auto manufacturers touting their offerings as luxury when they really aren’t. Genesis can rightfully say the 2021 GV80 RWD 2.5T Prestige has earned the luxury badge.
Moving to the head of its class
The simple reason is it can compete against luxury midsize SUVs from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW, and beats them in several areas, not the least of which is costing $15,000 to $20,000 less. Heck, I had people comment they thought I was driving a Bentley. This is quite a compliment, but while some design cues are similar, that is where the comparison between the two ends as one has a base price of $177,000 and the Genesis begins at $48,900.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 in any of its ten different trim lines has clean, contemporary styling, an impressive interior with convenient and desirable seating and storage flexibility. The features list is long and deep, including a full safety suite, making the GV80 a true value proposition even in the luxury midsize SUV class. Having choices of front wheel and all-wheel drive, and the best warranty in the class, says to its competitors the GV80 is ready to rumble.
I have reviewed several crossovers and SUVs that directly, or closely compete, with the GV80. For me, this tops the list. It just may for you too.
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Story and photos by John Faulkner.
[See image gallery at cleanfleetreport.com] More of the Genesis story:
Road Test: 2019 Genesis G70
Road Test: 2018 Genesis G90
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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