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2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige Review – A New Luxury SUV With A Soft Side

We review the new Genesis GV80 and find a softer edge to this new SUV.

The Genesis brand makes some of our favorite luxury sports sedans. We recently had the chance to spend time in the new GV80 SUV and found that it has a softer side than many of its peers.

Genesis GV80 – What Is It? How Much Does It Cost?
The GV80 is a two-row SUV with optional third-row jumpseats on limited trims. The GV80 is built on a rear-drive platform and all-wheel drive is optional. The GV80 in rear-wheel drive and equipped with the smaller engine starts at $50K. By our count, there are nine options packages/trim levels from which to choose. We tested the top-of-the-line GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige priced at $72,375, including destination charges.

- Ample luxury
- Smooth, quiet ride
- No spare tire (On top trim tested)
- Overly-complex infotainment system
- Personality is neither sporty, nor utilitarian
- No plug-in or green trim available

Genesis GV80 – What Powers It, What Mileage Rating Does It Earn?
The GV80 line offers both four-cylinder and six-cylinder turbocharged engines from which to choose and they are coupled to a geared transmission. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has 300 HP, and the 3.5-liter engine has 375. Our tester had the more powerful engine. It offered satisfying acceleration and more than ample passing power. However, fuel economy is very low for 2021. Our tester had an EPA Combined Estimate of 20 MPG on Premium gasoline. Contrast that with a Lexus RX 450 H that offers 30 MPG using Regular fuel, and the upshot is that over ten years the Genesis will cost its owner $7,000 more in fuel. Not to mention have a 50% larger carbon footprint. By comparison to the Tesla Model X, the GV80 3.5T will cost its owner $15,000 more in energy over its first ten years of ownership.

Genesis GV80 – The Drive
The GV80 drives like a large, softly-sprung luxury wagon with a taller ride-height. Sport Mode helps wake up the engine a bit, but we didn’t feel like this was a vehicle we would drive assertively on a back-country road. This is a luxury cruiser, and a darn good one. Steering is soft around the edges, and we felt we needed to steer the vehicle to keep it in the lane on the highway. Unless we opted to use the driver-assist system which worked well.

Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige– Size, Infotainment, and Content
The GV80 is a luxury vehicle about the size of the Honda Passport, Ford Edge, and Chevy Blazer. Although many compare this vehicle to the BMW X5 due to its cargo space, it seems to us that the cabin space of the BMW X3 may be closer in size. The GV80 is large in all exterior dimensions for a five-passenger SUV, and it feels it when you park. However, inside we needed to move up the front seats to allow an adult rear passenger reasonable legroom. The cargo area is huge.

One of the missing items in our top of the line tester was a spare tire. We don’t understand how any vehicle called a sport utility vehicle can have no spare tire, nor run-flat tires for that matter. Genesis puts a spare in some trims of this model, but not the best and most expensive one. We recently tested the Toyota RAV4 Prime, Dodge SRT Hellcat Durango, Chevy Blazer RS, and Kia Seltos SX Turbo. All SUVs, all the very top trim in their lineup, and all had spares.

On the upside, the GV80 has all of the upscale content one should expect in a luxury vehicle. We found the Lexicon audio to be very good. The seats are comfortable and offer both heating and cooling. The heated steering wheel offers two temperature settings. We love how Genesis offers controls for the front seats on the inside of the upper seatback to allow the driver to move the passenger seat forward to make room in the back seat.

The head-up display in our GV80 Prestige was fantastic. It shows everything you would expect, but adds icons for the vehicles moving around yours. It works very well in practice. Oddly, the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps required a cord to work. We say odd because a 2021 Hyundai Elantra now has wireless connectivity at about 1/3 the price of this Genesis. Our plugged-in phone found no happy place in the cabin, and coffee was spilled on it during testing since one of the cupholders ended up being its only reasonable spot. In a vehicle so large and so new, this seemed like a big oversight.

Although I would consider myself an expert on infotainment systems and also a tech-geek, I found the new infotainment setup in this Genesis overly cumbersome. The remote mouse is unnecessary since one can touch the screen even while the vehicle is in motion. The main screen is huge, which is good, but it feels like it is crowded with icons, and the default view is a screen saver. Ironically, Hyundai and Kia have offered some of the best and most user-friendly infotainment systems we have ever tested. Why does the halo brand have one we like less?

Genesis GV80 – Ownership Experience
Genesis offers the best warranty and included maintenance package in America. Couple that with included roadside assistance and concierge service which comes for the vehicle when work is needed and you have an unmatched ownership experience. Tesla, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, and other brands have nothing equal to this package, and for us, it matters a lot.

Genesis GV80 – Conclusion
Genesis markets its vehicles with images and scenes of the owner riding in back. It seems very logical to us that the GV80 could be used as a limousine. While not what we would call sporty, and with very little of what we consider utility, the GV80 is a very comfortable luxury cruiser. Like all Genesis products, the GV80 offers the single-best warranty and included maintenance package in the entire industry. If you are a fan of the Genesis brand and were hoping for a large luxury 5-passenger “SUV,” your wait is over.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin