2021 Genesis GV80 2.5 RWD

Check out our upcoming video review on our Queer4Cars YouTube Channel

Genesis GV80 left side
Full-size SUV styling with large easy access doors and plenty of cargo space is what the Genesis GV80 is all about.

Genesis has become known as a luxury brand with a lot of technology, great design, and all at a great price with an amazing warranty. As the SUV style market has become a major consumer desire for automobiles, much like the station wagon was back in the mid-20th century, it makes sense that Genesis now offer SUV’s where they had previously only offered sports and luxury sedans. They offer two models, the GV70 and the GV80. The SUV style market has become a major consumer product much like the station wagon was back in the mid-20th century.

Genesis History

Genesis GV80 left interior dash
The dash of the GV80 is very clean and simple.

A few years back Hyundai took the plunge and with its top of the line Genesis models to make a stand-alone brand. When Genesis was a Hyundai model, you could get a sporty coupe or a large luxury sedan. Once Genesis spun off as a standalone brand they offered three four-door sedan vehicles, a sports luxury sedan, an excusive luxury sedan, then a full-size luxury sedan, see our review from last year on the G90.

Genesis had SUV’s in the pipeline, launching the GV80 just over a year ago. What is different about the GV90 is that it is offered with two engine options, and two drivetrain options. The RWD 2.5 Turbo starting at $48900 or the RWD 3.5 Turbo at $59650. Prices go up to $65550 for the3.5 AWD which includes a 3rd row for 7 passenger seating, and can top $80K with all the bells and whistles.

Our Test Vehicle

Genesis GV80 left front low shot
The 20-inch tires and wheels give the GV80 a commanding presence.

Our review vehicle is the 2021 GV80 2.5 RWD in top of the line Prestige Trim has a sticker price of $58,595. That includes the Lima Red paint a $500 option, the $3900 Advanced and the $4,250 Prestige Packages. While the base model provides a lot of technology and comfort features, it is the added packages where you get the Panoramic Roof, ventilated seats, Lexicon® 21-apeaker audio system, wireless device charger, 20-inch wheels leather seating surfaces remote smart parking assist and more.

Exterior Design of the GV90

Genesis GV80 front grill
The grill of the GV80 is a major design feature of the front of the vehicle, and follows in line with other Genesis models.

The overall design of the GV90 is much like other SUV styled products from Kia and Hyundai, see our Sept 2019 review of the Kia Telluride. While we have briefly driven the Palisade, we have not reviewed one. This Genesis GV80 is larger then the GV70 which has a smaller stature and more sporty coupe-like SUV with a sloping roofline. 

While we have heard from some of our younger colleagues they were not fans of the GV80’s catfish grill, personally it fits well with the design language shown in other Genesis vehicles. I like how the daytime running lights and headlights are integrated into the front clip and how that design is carried to the taillights. The full length high stop light that runs along the top of the rear hatch, and is one unified light and not a bunch of little light dots,, and it stands out.

Genesis GV80 rear shot
The tail lights are styled similarly to the headlights on the GV80.

All four doors are large and easy to enter and exit from. While the GV80 is high off the ground. ( I did not see an option for a raise and lower feature on Genesis’s build configurator.) Thus it was a bit harder for a senior with limited mobility to get in and out of the SUV. The hatch is large and accessible from the key fob, both proximity and button, as well as a button in the base of the rear window wiper. Genesis likes to use a proximity sensor, as opposed to an under vehicle kick. Meaning just having the key fob in your pocket, and being near the rear hatch will open it. Once it has connected you hear an audible alert as well as see the lights flash. It will give you time to step away if you did not intend to open the hatch. Sometimes it worked, though more times than not, it did not activate the hatch. That hap-hazard aspect of the GV80 was just one of many things that did not connect the dots on this top-of-the-line SUV from a luxury brand, that I would have expected to work flawlessly each and every time.

Cargo Area

Genesis GV80 cargo area with six foot ladder
The cargo area configuration of the GV80 has multiple options and even fits a six-foot ladder with ease.

The GV80 2.5 RWD we were driving did not have the optional 3rd-row seating, a popular option in today’s SUV’s and crossovers. While you can get a 3rd row as an option in the 3.5T model. The cargo area is large and spacious, and it can be made bigger with the push of a button. The 60/40 fold down rear seats drop down effortlessly, from either a button on the left-hand side inside of the cargo area, or with a button on at the base of each of the rear seats themselves. Though it was not as easy to put the seat back into position. A manual lever needs to be engaged, the same lever that allows for the rear seats to recline. It was harder than it needed to be for this level of luxury SUV.

There are a number of tie-down straps and even a 12v outlet in the way back. Underneath the cargo area is a place for hiding small items and towards the front of the cargo area a full-size doughnut spare tire, jack and tools. I would imagine with the 3rd row seat option this would not be available, as it would be right where that seat would be mounted.

Seating For Five

Genesis GV80 rear shot
In addition to a rear center arm rest, the center back folds down for carrying long items inside the cargo area.

Both rows of the GV80 provided attractively designed seats with plenty of cushion and support. The driver’s seat offered a power bolster and cushion extension.

The Front seats in our tester were equipped to for heating and cooling, and not just blowing air, actual, cooled from the AC. The driver’s seat in this tester had the Ergo motion seat, part of the prestige package. Which I found out as I was driving along I-95 after about an hour and a half. All of a sudden the seat did more than just inflate the back side bolsters, which it does upon switching the drive mode to Sport. It took some fiddling around to understand that you can indeed control the massaging function, again something that should be readily apparent. You have to scroll down through several menus on the center console screen to find it. The dash of the GV80 has clean lines, a nice change, but not up to what I would expect from the Genesis brand.

Genesis GV80 front seats
The front seats of the GV80 are heated and cooled. The right seat can be adjusted for reclining and fore and aft by the rear passenger with switches on the side of the seat.

While some SUV’s skimp on the rear seats, not in the GV80 they offer the same level of comfort as the first row, including the outboard seats are heated, but not cooled. Featuring a manual forward and aft adjustment as well as they manually recline to about 40 degrees. The fold down center armrest which completely folded down to offer a pass through to the rear cargo area, features a pop out cup holder. A nice option when you want to carry long items inside like skis, and still keep the two outboard seats set for passenger use. The rear passenger area has HVAC controls as well as two USB outlets and a 120-v plug outlet.

Power Plant

The 2.5 Liter Inline 4 Turbo GDI engine provides 300 Horsepower and 311 lb. ft. of torque. Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with drive mode select, Eco, Sport, Custom and Comfort modes. This vehicle requires premium fuel and we were averaging about 21-miles to the gallon of premium gasoline on a 500-plus mile trip that included highway as well as city streets and country road driving, most of the time with at least one if not two passengers in the vehicle.

Genesis GV80 2.5 L Turbo GDI Engine with cover removed
Genesis GV80 2.5 L Turbo GDI Engine with the cover removed

Drivability

GV80 fuel economy
The GV80 provided just over 21 miles pers gallon over a 500 mile trip on various road conditions with 2 or more passengers aboard.

The Genesis GV80 with the 2.5 T and rear-wheel drive will be a good choice for those who live in more temperate climate areas of the country and do not need the all-wheel-drive. Even with AWD, this is not an off roader, so don’t expect that when you choose this model.

Ride comfort, was fine, nothing exceptional. The GV80 rides more like an SUV or truck, than a luxury vehicle. I had expected a cushier suspension, as it was rough over potholes and poor quality pavement. Steering was solid, and when in Highway Driving Assist mode, not as defined as I would like it to have been.

As a highway cruiser with Genesis’s Smart Cruise Control and Highway Driving Assist II that comes standard on the GV80, those that spend a lot of time riding the interstates will find that useful. Driving in Eco Drive Mode will be something you will do on empty roads. You will want to engage the Sport Drive Mode if you are needing to react quickly to others on the road. I found the Engine Off function to be annoying, like on other cars, and while you could turn it off, it went back on when the ignition was cycled off and on. Something that gave me some pause, was once, when I needed to stop quickly, the engine turned off completely, and I had to wait a few seconds before it restarted so I could accelerate and move again.

Overall Impressions

GV80 rear console with HVAC controls and power outlets
GV80 rear console with HVAC controls and power outlets for two USB cords and a 120-volt plug.

After spending a week traveling in this vehicle, I am going to say it is worth opting for the upper trim level and more powerful engine options. The 2.5 RWD I tested, was not up to what I feel a Genesis should be. Especially after driving other similar SUV’s from the Hyundai and Kia brands. Genesis should be head and shoulders above those brands, and in my opinion this GV80 was just mediocre in comparison to its more mainstream brethren.

Would I buy this car? I would not, especially when the Telluride and Palisade are in the marketplace. Though both of those are hard to get, because they are such great vehicle, so this may be your only other option.

Genesis provide 3 year/36K mile Complimentary Maintenance, as well as Complementary Service Valet, and Genesis Connected Services, complimentary Map Care. The GV80 has a 5-year 60K mile New vehicle warranty, a 10-year, 100K mile powertrain warranty and a 7-year unlimited mile anti-perforation warranty.

William West Hopper at the National Press Club in Washington DC
William West Hopper opening a Washington Automotive Press Association Meeting at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

Mr. Hopper has been an automotive enthusiast since an early age. He has written and reviewed cars, as well as technical manuals since he was in college. You can find him on social sites like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. He served as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association, and has been a local, regional, and national leader in the US Mercedes-Benz Club. He lives in Washington DC, where you will find him as a VIP Tour Guide at the annual Washington DC Auto Show.


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