After a decidedly bumpy takeoff, Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury brand, is finally gaining altitude. The company’s cars have always been solid efforts, racking up quality and reliability awards while conquesting buyers from traditional premium marques on the strength of being good value for the money. But that’s also been Genesis’ big problem: It’s only been offering cars. While the world’s major markets have been tilting ever more precipitously toward SUVs, Genesis has only had a bunch of sedans in its showrooms, and their sales haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, even pre-pandemic. That conundrum should finally change later this year with the arrival of the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV seen here, the brand’s most promising and most important new model.
Roadshow’s own Craig Cole scoredin Genesis’ homeland in January, but back then, we didn’t have much in the way of North American engine or equipment specs. While we still won’t get to drive a US model for some time, we now have a much fuller picture of the GV80 after Genesis lent us a preproduction model in Detroit to poke around for a day.
Unfortunately, thanks to COVID-19, the GV80’s first sales been. That said, our day spent checking out this model suggests it’ll be a genuinely formidable three-row luxury SUV. It’ll take a thorough steer to know for sure, but lower-end GV80 trims should give product planners at Acura and Buick absolute fits, and high-end GV80s appear to have the power, posh, tech and value to challenge luxury powerhouses like Audi, , Mercedes-Benz and Lexus with all they can handle, too.
While its brash appearance won’t be to everyone’s tastes, the GV80 looks suitably upscale. And packing everything from a NFC sharable digital key to an industry-first 3D digital gauge cluster and a novel augmented-reality-equipped navigation system, the GV80 promises both the cabin smarts and the opulent fit and finish levels to take on the segment’s very best. Audi Q7, BMW X5,and , look sharp.
Available in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive guises, the 2021 Genesis GV80 will be powered by a 2.5-liter turbo I4 or a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, both offering more-than-class-competitive output figures. The four-cylinder will deliver an estimated 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, trouncing not only the 2.0T figures for the Q7 and GLE, but also beating much-larger, naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6s from the popular Acura MDX and. Splurging on the AWD-only 3.5-liter six nets a heady 375 hp and 381 lb-ft, numbers that outpoint comparable Audi, BMW and Mercedes models. With peak torque swell available from 1,300 rpm, this drivetrain combination sounds both powerful and eminently tractable.
Despite the GV80’s luxury emphasis, because it’s a three-row SUV, this crossover is likely to be a school-run and family road-trip specialist, too. As such, it’s a good thing the range will come with a battery of advanced safety features, including available remote parking (““) and a Level 2 partially automated drive system with driver-summonable lane changes. A litany of sanity savers, including massaging seats, active road noise cancellation and a 21-speaker Lexicon audio system will also be tempting option-list items.
Priced from $49,925 including $1,025 destination fee for a RWD 2.5T, well-equipped GV80s will likely live in the low $60,000 range. Splurge for an all-boxes-checked 3.5T Prestige, and you’re staring at a bottom line of over $72,000. That’s a thick wedge of cash, but when spec’d like-for-like against rivals, the 2021 Genesis GV80 is still priced like a challenger luxury model and not a member of the Euro-Japanese establishment.
Despite its smart pricing, make no mistake: Unlike most of the larger luxury models that have come out of Korea, the GV80 doesn’t look like it’ll be content living as a “value-priced alternative” to the premium establishment. No, this brutish SUV aims to delivery no-excuses, asterisk-free modern luxury.