2021 Genesis GV80 is all luxury

It's late to the SUV party, but it'll be worth the wait.


Mention the word Genesis, and if your first thought is Phil Collins and the ’80s British rock band rather than the luxury auto maker, you’re not alone.

While Genesis – the car company – has been around since 2017, its sales have been about as impressive as Segway scooters and Cheetos Lip Balm.

Despite building a line-up of terrific sedans – the zippy G70 is a true standout – the sad truth is that our love affair with tall-riding SUVs means that few of us are buying sedans these days.

Thankfully for South Korean-based Genesis, relief is in sight. This summer it’ll start offering its first SUV, the all-new GV80. You may have seen it in that quirky Super Bowl ad with celeb couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen extolling its virtues and talking-up Young Luxury.

I’m just back from Miami and the U.S. unveiling of this new three-row GV80 and I reckon it’s going to be a real disrupter in this booming sector of the market.

It’ll be going head to head in the $50,000 to $70,000 luxury sport-ute category with rivals like Lincoln’s new Aviator, the Lexus RX350 L, Audi’s Q7, Cadillac’s XT6, and Buick’s Enclave Avenir.

See it in the metal and it definitely turns heads. Up front there’s that huge shield-like grille, flanked by dramatic headlights with twin, horizontal blades of bright-white LEDs. The ‘twin-bar’ is carried through to vents on the front fenders, and to the distinctive tail lights.

And to add to the dynamic look, the GV80 has a windshield so raked-back it looks like it came off a sportscar. Add to that the swoopy roofline, the linebacker stance and the option of towering 22-inch alloys, and it puts the ‘sport’ in sport-utility.

Climb aboard and this is arguably where the GV80 really stands out. I’ve always loved the interiors of Genesis sedans – the G70, G80 and new flagship G90 – but this is just jaw-dropping.

Bentley was obviously a major inspiration here, with the acres of glove-soft, diamond-quilted leather, gorgeous wood veneers, and lovely detailing. The knurled finish around the shifter, temp controls and seat adjusters is pure Bentley.

Overall, the quality, the fit and finish, and attention to detail is a step above in this class.

Clambering around the cabin at the Miami launch showed that there’s no shortage of space inside, though that optional third row is best suited for young kids.

But opt for the middle row captain’s chairs and the GV80 is nothing less than a super-luxe, limo-like SUV.

And in addition to the GV’s dramatic styling and Bentley-like interior, it’ll come with some headlining new features. Top of the list is its active noise canceling system that works like a pair of Bose headphones to dramatically reduce noise inside the cabin.

Then there’s the real appeal of the GV80 being based on a new rear-wheel drive platform – most rivals are front-wheel drivers making them less fun to drive. Rear-drive will be standard with the GV80, with all-wheel drive as an option.

When it goes on sale buyers will have the choice of two turbocharged gasoline engines – a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. Both will be paired with an eight-speed automatic.

I have to say I was pretty impressed with this first Genesis SUV. Of course, I have yet to drive it. But my experiences with the G70 and G80 sedans have been extremely positive, and with this real focus on quietness and refinement, the GV80 has a strong chance of bringing in new customers.

And Genesis plans to follow-up this GV80 with a smaller $35,000-to-$45,000 GV70 crossover next year and an electric SUV after that.

Just like the Genesis band, the future of Genesis the auto maker definitely looks to be rockin’.

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