ROAD TEST: 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T Prestige

By Shari Prymak

Although Genesis has a nice portfolio of luxury models under its belt, Hyundai’s luxury brand is still nowhere close to where it should be in terms of brand recognition. Often times driving one means having to explain to people what it is, which is not a good thing. The lack of awareness is largely due to the fact that Genesis originally launched with a lineup of sedans in a world that had already moved on to SUVs. Fortunately, Genesis rectified the situation with the GV80, which is the flagship model of their SUV line.

The GV80 might not have the well established reputation of its competitors, but it certainly has the on-road presence to get noticed. The design is quite striking, even rather stately, and bears certain resemblance to the high end SUVs such as the Bentley Bentayga. The interior is equally attractive and comes lined with top-notch materials with excellent attention to detail. Most of the surfaces come wrapped in fine leather, and the controls and switchgear make use of quality materials such as glass and knurled aluminum.

The GV80 manages to match its luxurious finishes with equally impressive technology. The infotainment system consists of a massive 14.5 inch touchscreen which is also controlled through an elegant-looking glass control wheel. Although a bit finicky to use, the screen is visually impressive and comes packed with useful features. The seat and climate settings are controlled through a nice-looking lower touch display which is rather easy to operate. Rear seat passengers have plenty of room to stretch, and receive their own comforts such as separate climate controls, sunshades, and even pop down mirrors. Higher trim levels include a small third row of seats for 7-passenger seating. Without the seats (or with them folded), the rear simply consists of a massive cargo area.

The base drivetrain is a turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder engine matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system. Although higher trim levels receive a turbocharged 3.5L V6 engine, I really don’t see the need. With 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, the 2.5T is surprisingly powerful and quite refined. The only issues are that the fuel economy is adequate at best, and the third row seats are not available with the turbo four. If you want 7-passenger seating, it is the V6-powered 3.5T trim levels or nothing. The other oversight is a lack of any hybrid or electric drivetrain option, which is something that more and more buyers are considering.

The GV80 starts at $64,500 for the 2.5T and $80,000 for the 7-passenger 3.5T. Fully equipped, the 3.5T Prestige model tops out at $85,000, which is right up there with the luxury elite such as the BMW X5, Volvo XC90, and Mercedes GLE. In additional to its lengthy features list and wonderfully luxurious driving experience, the major bonus the GV80 has going for it is an after sales experience second to none. All Genesis models include a class-leading 5 years or 100,000km comprehensive warranty which includes complimentary maintenance with at home valet and courtesy vehicle service.

In a relatively short period of time, Genesis has managed to build a unique luxury brand identity and design class –leading vehicles such as the GV80. Although it is an incredibly impressive SUV and does offer great value, I’m not entirely convinced that it is enough when near equally impressive luxury SUVs, such as the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 350, can be had for significantly less money. They might not have the perks of the Genesis after sales experience, but they are far better established models in their segment and come with proven track records. Even so, I’m convinced that a good number of SUV buyers will be totally won over by the GV80, and they should be very happy with their decision.