2021 Genesis GV80 Tries Forging Ahead on a Crowded Lux SUV Stage

by Bill P.

Genesis births a new flagship SUV, the GV80 to go head-to-head with SUVs from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo.

The all-new Genesis GV80 offers sleek European design cues outside and an innovative South Korean “whitespace” design inside. These days more brands are dropping affordable SUVs with luxury and premium perks. So the luxury SUV segment is even more competitive with new big-body whips from Genesis and Lincoln competing with classics from Acura and Lexus.

The 2021 Genesis GV80 goes on sale this summer starting at $48,900 for the 2.5T inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine in RWD or AWD. The GV80 2.5T is offered in three trim levels – Standard, Advanced, and Prestige. The GV80 3.5T twin-turbo V6, only available with all-wheel drive, offers four trims; Standard, Advanced, Advanced+ and Prestige.

Every GV80 SUV comes standard with class-leading active and passive safety technology, highly refined luxury interior appointments and driver-focused features.

GV80 2.5T RWD Standard $48,900
GV80 2.5T RWD ADVANCED $52,800
GV80 2.5T RWD PRESTIGE $57,050
GV80 2.5T AWD Standard $54,650
GV80 2.5T AWD ADVANCED $59,000
GV80 2.5T AWD PRESTIGE $63,400
GV80 3.5T AWD Standard $59,150
GV80 3.5T AWD ADVANCED $64,350
GV80 3.5T AWD ADVANCED+ $65,050
GV80 3.5T AWD PRESTIGE $70,950
2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80

The 2021 Genesis GV80 is a collaboration between Genesis Design Studios in the U.S., South Korea and Germany, and it shows in the design. The GV80 sits tall, stout and wide with cool quad LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, and a striking grille. The G Matrix pattern appears in light fixtures throughout the exterior, also appearing on available 22 inch wheels.

Lightweight aluminum trims the doors, hood and tailgate adding style and lightweight aerodynamics.

The base GV80 features 19 inch alloy wheels, available 20 and 22 inch alloy wheels, and a panoramic moon roof. The Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD, offers standard 20 inch alloy wheels, larger brakes in the front and electronically controlled suspension.

The cabin of the Genesis GV80 uses the South Korean concept of “luxury in space” to pay homage to the brand’s roots. “We were able to express a luxurious feel for the interior of GV80 through reductive design and channeling the Korean roots of the Genesis brand,” said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President, Head of Genesis Design. “The concept of the ‘beauty of white space’ is a hallmark of Korean design.”

2021 Genesis GV80 interior
2021 Genesis GV80 interior

The five-passenger Genesis GV80 offers standard 12-way leatherette front seats, heated with 4-way lumbar settings. Soft materials cover every surface, from the leather wrapped steering wheel and inside of the door handles to the quilted knee pads that line the lower sides of the console. Perforated leather covers the doors and piano gloss black trims the entire cabin. Ambient lighting is customizable. The number of hard buttons and switches was intentionally kept to a minimum for aesthetic purposes.

Heated and ventilated seats are available in the first two rows. One touch comfort control, adjustable from the front row, allows for limousine level relaxation in the second row seats. An active motion driver’s seat contains seven air cells customizable to reduce fatigue from long hours of driving.

The width of the interior of GV80 is emphasized through the design of sleek, thin air vents that run across the passenger compartment. Drivers have a standard 8 inch LCD cluster in the instrument cluster.

The Smart Posture Care System is standard on the base GV80 as well as a walk-in device for the front passenger seat.  The control unit on the center console covers an electronic, shift by wire transmission base with a dial shift.

A 14.5 inch, split screen infotainment display has controls for the Bluetooth, rearview camera, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Genesis Connected Services. Handwriting Recognition through the Genesis Integrated Controller allows users to enter data by using handwritten letters on the writing recognition control system. A 12-speaker audio system is standard on the GV80 2.5T.

2021 Genesis GV80 interior
2021 Genesis GV80 interior

Additional features dress up the GV80’s cabin even more, but it will bring the sticker price up to $52k for the GV80 2.5T. Advanced comfort features include a panoramic roof, matte finish wood trim, a manual rear sunshade, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charger, a digital key and a 21-speaker Lexicon Premium Audio System. The GV80 2.5T Prestige adds even more drip, like leather seats, surround view monitor, power cushion extensions and bolsters for the front seats, an active motion seat, a surround view monitor and 3-zone climate control.

The top-of-the-line Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige hits for over $70,000 – so it needs to be extra decked out. The Prestige model features all the bells and whistles from the 2.5T Prestige and a 3rd row. Features include a Heads-Up Display, Nappa leather seats, a suede headliner, a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, power ventilated 2nd row seats and power rear side sunshades.

For 2021 each turbocharged engine, 2.5 liter and 3. 5 liter, is paired with an 8 speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive models feature electronically controlled Limited Slip Differential at the rear axle.

Electronically controlled suspension with road preview, a Genesis first, helps provide passengers with optimal ride comfort by recognizing information on the road ahead in advance via the front camera.

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80

Safety features in the GV80 are pretty standard including familiar technology like the Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, that helps reduce the chance of potential impact with a moving vehicle. Rear Cross traffic Collision Avoidance Assist uses rear side radars to help detect and prevent impact with obstacles. Forward Collision Avoidance Assist can automatically bring GV80 to a stop if there is a risk of collision. Highway Driving Assist II helps assist the driver in a variety of situations including changing lanes and helping to merge.

The Driver Attention Alert Warning analyzes driving patterns and behaviors, including intermittent steering and unnatural deceleration, while a forward looking camera monitors the driver and generates pop up messages and warning tones when fatigue is determined.

While the 2021 GV80 specs talk a good game, the price is cause for hesitation. The top-of-the-line GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige costs a staggering $70k, which is pricier than some premium SUVs. It’s not so much that Genesis’s saucy new SUV doesn’t compete well with the luxury SUV segment. The problem is convincing buyers to cop a brand new flagship SUV over more popular SUVs from Land Rover, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. The brand-new Alfa Romeo Stelvio just dropped, but its unique look gives it notable fame. If a brand wants to jump in the luxury or premium SUV segment, the new whip has to be unique, very stylish, and do everything including nearly fly with innovative first-class technology.

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80

At this point there’s no demographic of driver in mind for this whip over its peers.  Once the GV80 drops this summer, we’ll find out more about the driver this SUV truly speaks to.