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Driving the 2021 Genesis GV80 Will Have You Wondering Why Their First SUV Didn’t Arrive Sooner

Words and photos by Atif Kazmi for Por Homme

Genesis has been meticulous about their approach. Their vision hasn’t just been about making luxury more attainable but it’s also been about meeting their customers where they may be. With the introduction of the 2021 Genesis GV80, the brand’s first-ever SUV, it seems the places they’ll be meeting them is now expanding to everything from road trips and to their kids’ little league games. We spent some time with the GV80 this past week as we looked to see if Genesis would continue its streak of delivering beautifully designed vehicles.

The 2021 Genesis GV80 has presence. It translates the brand’s latest design language, some of which we’ve seen show up in the G90 and the forthcoming G80 sedans. From my experience, the GV80 feels like the full breath of it. It’s built atop an all-new, Genesis-exclusive rear-wheel drive platform that uses quite a bit of aluminum to shed weight and increase performance. Power comes from your choice of the standard 2.5-liter Inline-4 turbo which churns out 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque or the optional 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 which delivers 375 horses and 391 lb-ft of torque. Both are mated to a smooth 8-speed transmission with all-wheel drive and Electronic Limited-Slip Differential (E-LSD) as options. The AWD system controls torque management across the front and rear to stay efficient and put the power right where it’s needed. For slippery conditions, the GV80’s systems are balancing torque to all four wheels and minimizing it at the front during steady speeds. The E-LSD also helps as it can distribute power between left and right wheels, helpful in a situation where one wheel’s off the ground or stuck. 

We didn’t run into any ditches during our time with the GV80 but we did get to experience a range of conditions, from rain to dry to light off-road paths. While the 3.5-liter packs more power, I was pleasantly surprised by just how well the turbocharged four-cylinder performed. But getting the 3.5T trim not only delivers more power but it also comes with AWD standard. That peace of mind is worth the additional $10,250. 

With what Genesis calls “Athletic Elegance” on full display, the GV80 balances refinement and agility. While the large crest grille and quad lamps up front garner so much of the attention, the G Matrix grille itself is inspired by the light reflecting off a diamond. The two-line design of the headlamps continues on the two the side as the GV80’s rearward leaning roofline comes into view as well. It’s that swooping, sporty design that gives it such a confident look. Top trims come with 22-inch wheels that pull in the G-Matrix pattern but the 19- and 20-inch options aren’t too shabby either. 

Step inside the 2021 Genesis GV80 and this all-new mid-size SUV strikes the balance between comfort and minimalist luxury with flawless execution. There’s plenty of white space which helps to shift the focus to the GV80’s floating center console and 14.5-inch display. For an SUV that tops out just short of $72K, there isn’t a detail that’s been overlooked. The turning of the shifter knob in the center stack is engaging and the controller for the screen features riveted detailing and a glass center. The contrast between the rich metals and natural wood finishing is just perfect. And where the Genesis infotainment system’s UI and experienced has lacked in the past, it’s leaped quite a bit and is quick and intuitive. The entire cabin is wrapped in leather it seems with the seats being offered with rich quilted detailing and the steering wheel getting a two-tone finish. 

The Genesis GV80 does have an optional third-row but you’ll be giving up cargo space in the process. Opting for those extra seats also means you won’t be able to get the GV80’s top-of-the-line Prestige trim. With that comes Ergo Motion massaging front seats that have a stretch function to periodically activate if you’ve been driving for a while. They also have posture control to let you know when you’re starting to slouch. Nappa leather seating and suede headliner and pillar trim add to the details and make the GV80’s interior one of the best in its segment. 

Tech doesn’t overwhelm the Genesis GV80 but it shows up right where you need it. The GV80’s cabin for example is one of the quietest on the market, thanks to Road Active Noise Cancellation, an optional feature Genesis has introduced which uses microphones to counter outside noise. Smart Cruise Control uses machine learning to adapt to your driving style and mirror it. Remote Parking Assist can help to get you in and out of tight spots, whether it’s from the cabin or by pressing a button on the key fob. 

The 2021 Genesis GV80 is the culmination of a four-year journey that saw the brand come into its own. Many folks have been wondering why the brand didn’t launch with an SUV and opted for sedans instead. We’re quick to forget that great things take time. With all the work Genesis has been putting in behind the scenes to evolve their dealer network, technology and overall design ethos, the Genesis GV80 isn’t late to the party, it’s right on time. 

See more of the 2021 Genesis GV80 in the gallery and head to your local Genesis showroom now to book a test drive. Pricing starts at $48,900.

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