2021 Genesis GV80 Review

2021 Genesis GV80 - Genesis puts the big boys on notice with its new GV80 crossover.


It's first crossover, Genesis introduces the midsize GV80 for 2021. Rivals include the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz GLE. The GV80 comes standard with 5-passenger seating, but is also available in 7-passenger configuration thanks to an optional third-row bench seat. Mechanically similar to the Genesis G80 sedan, the GV80 is available only as a 4-door wagon.

The GV80 2.5T is offered with rear- and all-wheel drive and starts just under $50,000. The higher-performance 3.5T model commands and additional $10,000 and comes only with all-wheel drive. Both engines spin the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity, when properly equipped, is 6,000 pounds.

Trim levels include Standard, Advanced and Prestige. All are available with either a 300-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (2.5T) or a 375-horsepower turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (3.5T). Standard safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with brake intervention, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitor. Other standard features include heated front seats, 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 12-speaker audio system with standard support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto and power liftgate. Stepping up in trim gets you things like panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, rear sun shades, wireless device charger, Lexicon premium audio, leather upholstery, surround view camera, tri-zone climate control, heated second-row seats, head-up display, adaptive suspension, suede headliner, 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument cluster, soft-close doors and 22-inch wheels.

At nearly 5,000 pounds, the GV80 is fairly heavy -- even by crossover standards. Aa a result the base 300-horsepower turbo four feels a bit overmatched at times. Though it posts a respectable 0 to 60 MPH time of about 6.5 seconds, add a few passengers and some cargo and the engine can struggle to keep up with traffic. For the lead-foot set there's a sweet-and-powerful twin-turbo V6 that will put a smile on your face every time you stomp the go pedal. It's good for a 0 to 60 sprint of about 5.3 seconds and feels much more relaxed when driving around town in point-and-squirt traffic.

Both engines mate well to the buttery-smooth 8-speed automatic transmission. It provides near seamless upshifts and very prompt downshifts. Like most crossovers in this luxury set, the GV80 is a soft roader, with no low-range gearset. That said, the all-wheel-drive system works well to quickly move power to the wheels with the most traction.

The 4-cylinder is EPA rated at 21 MPG city and 25 MPG highway while the V6 gets 18/23 MPG ratings. Those numbers are basically in line with the competitive set, but both engines require premium-grade fuel for best performance. In routine suburban commuting expect to average about 22 MPG with the four and perhaps 19 MPG with the V6. The large 21.1-gallon fuel tank give the GV80 an impressive 500 miles of highway range.

2.5T models get a basic multi-link independent suspension with optional load leveling, while 3.5T comes with electronically adjustable shocks and an available limited-slip differential. That said, GV80 tries very hard to be a sport-crossover, but really comes off as a luxury crossover with sporting intentions. Much like the G80 upon which it is based, GV80 feels poised and confident to a point, then comes a bit undone as you turn the wick up on twisty roads. Mostly because steering response is a trifle slow at speed and there's just a touch too much body lean in quick transitions.

Conversely, GV80 a joy to drive around town and on the highway. The suspension has ample travel and good rebound control, providing a comfortable and quiet ride at all times. Even when the road grows rough, there's no impact harshness and a sophistication in the ride quality that comes with the luxury price point. On the highway, GV80 just gobbles up the miles and the lane centering cruise control helps ease the strain of long trips. One note, the available 22-inch wheels add a significant amount of impact harshness and tend to upset the overall character of the ride to the point that they should be avoided.

Interior noise levels are certainly class appropriate. Road and wind noise are nicely suppressed at all times. The 4-cylinder engine on the 2.5T has an unseemly growl that's a bit out of place, but at least it cruises quietly. No such problems with the V6. Third-row passengers might complain a bit about some road noise from the hatch area, but that might have been something specific to the vehicle tested.

Inside, the GV80 coddles with opulence and style. Materials are beyond reproach give the price point and the layout is both classic and modern -- especially in Prestige trim. Overall décor is decidedly upscale and the design is modern and flowing. Materials are class and price appropriate. Although, some touches, like the rotary shifter and awkward steering wheel, favor form over function. Still, you'd be hard pressed to find nicer materials in much more expensive competition.

The front seats have ample padding and support and are very comfortable on long trips. Head and leg room are generous. The driving position is near perfect and outward visibility excellent. Second-row passengers are treated like royalty with comfy seats and ample head and leg room. The cramped third-row seat is only offered in the 3.5T model, which is probably for the best as it's difficult to access lacks proper adult head and leg room. Available soft-close doors and rear window shades provide an upscale touch that helps impart a feeling of luxury.

On the tech and safety front, the GV80 comes loaded for battle. Just about every safety feature is offered and there are plenty of neat gadgets to keep passengers busy all day. But not all is golden. The rotary shifter is a bit awkward to use and placed immediately adjacent to a jog dial for the infotainment system. The jog dial makes sense as the touchscreen is a bit of a reach for the driver, but operation is far from intuitive and since it is so close to the similar shifter, there's a hesitancy each time you go to change the radio station. That's a shame because all of the other controls are perfectly placed and the overall operation of the infotainment system is quite good, even if the Android Auto/Apple Car Play integration isn't the best. One unique parlor trick is the available 3D digital instrument cluster. This feature mimics the look of traditional analog gauges to the point that you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference.

With a maximum capacity of 84 cubic feet, the GV80 sports a massive cargo hold. However, if you need to use the rear seat there's a scant 12 cubic feet of space. In 5-passenger models, GV80 offers 34 cubic feet of storage space behind the seats. The power liftgate opens wide and the load floor is flat. Interior storage is good with a deep cubby in the center console, large cup holders and a butterfly cover for the console bin. Plus, there are large map pockets and a deep glove box.

Bottom Line - As Genesis' first foray into the crossover game, the GV80 is amazing. Its flaws are few and strengths are plenty. Add in the competitive pricing and you have a recipe for success. If nothing else, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and the other luxury players will be forced to hold the line on prices moving forward. Buyers might want to avoid the taxed base engine -- especially when opting for all-wheel-drive.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.