2021 Genesis GV80 First Drive: The Flagship SUV Form Korea

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Hyundai's luxury brand Genesis has had a strong start of the year, despite the coronavirus outbreak, and delivered thought-provoking designs with its newest platform. Alongside the G80 flagship sedan, Genesis welcomes the high-end GV80 SUV, ready to tackle the likes of Mercedes Benz GLE, Audi Q7, and BMW's X5.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

The GV80 comes with upscale features slapped all around, both on the inside and outside. Let's have a look at the fully loaded 3.5T all-wheel-drive Prestige trim version.

A Lucky Start?

One could argue that Genesis went through a transformation like geniuses do in movies. Learning new languages overnight, solving seemingly impossible equations instantly, maybe waking up and suddenly mastering piano?

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

With no experience on the luxury SUV front, Genesis seems to have ticked every box in every category to make the GV80 a bestseller. Admittedly, Genesis GV80 isn't really a startup or overnight sensation. However, even if the brand worked its design on Hyundai's shoulders, it is still the first shot at a unibody chassis featuring RWD architecture.

An SUV Worth Being Noticed In:

Out of all the reasons for buying a luxury car, one is wanting to be seen driving. And when it comes to GV80, it is worth being seen at the wheel. The fresh look complimented by crisp lines and tasteful colorways appropriately boasts its "G-Matrix" patterned grille. The same contour grille is shown again between the exhausts and inside, teleported to the speaker grilles.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

When looking at it from an angle, the Genesis GV80 gives out other design cues and finishing touches, like the way wheel arches dare to cut the silhouette of the headlights and side vents. It's easy to complain about the existing crossover offer on the roads today. Yet, if more models would look like the GV80, those complaints would quickly vanish in thin air.

An Astonishing Cabin:

Genesis GV80 takes its brilliant design philosophy inside the cabin. Once you get in the car, the first element you notice is the floating center console separating the driver and front passenger seats. There you'll find the usual shenanigans, including gear selector, climate controls, a wireless charging pad, and a set of USB-A ports. A 14.5-inch touchscreen towers above the center console.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / James Lipman

On the Prestige trim, Genesis brought on wood inserts and leather-covered dash and interior panels. The crossover's insides are literally good enough to send shivers to the likes of Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE or BMW X5.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

Exclusive for the all-wheel-drive version of Prestige trim, GV80's Road Active Noise Cancellation puts an accelerometer to work on each wheel paired with a microphone on each door and silences out any tire, suspension, and engine sound.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / James Lipman

Driving Swiftly:

There are two power units available on the 2021 Genesis GV80. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine puts out 300hp and 311 lb-ft, while the twin-turbo makes you feel more at home via a 3.5-liter V6 with 375 hp and 391 lb-ft sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Even Genesis expects that the V6 will be the volume seller, as it provides adequate levels of power to move the crossover in the city and bring it up to highway speeds quickly when needed.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

Thanks to the high torque offering of the 3.5-liter engine (1,300 rpm to 4,500 rpm), the initial hesitation and gear hunting of the 8-speed automatic gearbox can be mitigated by some conscious throttle application. A manual mode allows you to switch via steering-wheel mounted paddles, but most buyers will likely ignore the system and let the computer shift for them.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

Easily one of the most comfortable cars in its class, the Genesis GV80 glides over smooth roads, showing off impressive stability and cabin silence worthy of a librarian. If you're one to push it on the corners, the GV80 gives out stability that's appropriate for its segment, yet every inch of the chassis and suspension setting lets you know this crossover is made for comfort.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

The 22-inch wheels found on the 3.5-liter Prestige take on small bumps without hassle, in part thanks to a front and rear multi-link suspension. However, a bit of discomfort happens with larger bumps or potholes.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

While there isn't really a chance the Genesis GV80 will follow a Jeep Wrangler through swamps, there is a terrain-management system included in the settings menu, featuring engine and suspension settings for sand, mud, and snow.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Genesis / DW Burnett

An artificial system learns the driver's behavior through smart cruise control, allowing for tighter acceleration and braking zones, diminishing the exaggerated gap to the car in front that regular cruise control systems leave.

High-end And Beautifully Sculpted:

Overall, the 2021 Genesis GV80 feels high-end and brings a calming sensation. The overall design is both unprecedented and spot-on, while every bit of the interior and ride quality screams comfort at the highest level for a crossover. Wood trims on the inside, and the road noise canceling system, pleasant touchscreen with a haptic feedback system, and a wide RPM torque engine puts out a beautiful driving experience with the Genesis GV80.

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