CHATHAM, Mass. – The 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige stands out in the growing mid-size luxury sport-utility universe. From its dominant, oversize grill to its distinctive downward sloping roofline, the Korean SUV appears larger, more substantial than its competition, but its dimensions put it squarely within the norm for the segment.

Fit, finish, styling, comfort, performance and technical features further solidify the GV80’s position as a true premium SUV.

The interior styling, which combines retro touches like a single-bar steering wheel, large, round dials and tufted, quilt-like leather surfaces (all top-grade materials expertly assembled), further marks the GV80 as something beyond the run-of-the-mill members of the luxury SUV lemmings.

Within these classic shapes are the most modern of technological features including a 12.3-inch customizable digital instrument cluster, a 14.5-inch multi-media touch screen for the infotainment and vehicle-features control (supplemented by dash buttons, a console-mounted dial and steering-wheel-mounted switchgear), comprehensive advanced driver-assist and safety systems (ADAS) and thorough heads-up display.

Dynamics up to premium standards

The twin turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine produces 375 horsepower and 391 pounds-feet of torque for superb real-world performance (Motor Trend recorded 0-60 miles per hour in six seconds). I never felt any lack of power or delay in response when I pressed the accelerator during my extended period of driving the GV80.

Thanks to a well sorted, electronically controlled suspension system, featuring “road preview” (which helps provide the occupants with optimal ride comfort by recognizing information about the road ahead in advance via the front camera mounted in the grill), the GV80 was both comfortable, without being mushy, and an excellent road vehicle. It might not have been quite as well planted as the superb Genesis G70 sport sedan I drove last year, but the GV80 more than held its own navigating twisty, hilly roads as well as those with poor surfaces.

Related post:
Genesis G70 Takes on the Luxury Sport Sedans

I also experienced no issues navigating during our largest snowstorms of the season (yes, multiple days of snow). A quick twist of the Drive Mode dial on the console put the all-wheel drive (AWD) into “Snow” mode and away we went. No problems even with several inches of wet, packable snow on the main roads and side streets. I always felt secure and in control.

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Fuel economy figures for the GV80 are good for a 195-inch mid-size SUV with lots of room for five persons and their stuff. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the vehicle at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 23 on the highway and 20 in its combined driving cycle. I saw 20 mpg during my spirited time with the GV80, a period when I did not think about seeking the best mileage numbers I could; I just drove to enjoy the SUV.

ADAS fit for a premium luxury SUV

“When it comes to safety, the GV80 is designed not only to offer protection to its occupants in the event of an accident, but also from accidents happening at all.,” said Albert Biermann, President, Head of Research & Development Division at Hyundai Motor Group (Genesis parent), about the extensive suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS).

The GV80 features the following advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS):

  • Smart Cruise Control with Machine Learning (SCC-ML):  Genesis calls this a world first, saying SCC-ML advances the science and engineering behind smart cruise control. It is an artificial intelligence-based navigation technology that helps enable GV80 to independently learn the driving characteristics of its drivers and implement autonomous driving characteristics like that of human drivers. 
  • Highway Driving Assist II (HDA II): This system, when used in conjunction with Lane Following Assist and Smart Cruise Control, is for highway use only and can help keep the GV80 centered in its lane while maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles ahead when the lane markings are clearly visible on the road.  
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA): This system can help bring the GV80 to a stop in certain situations where there is a risk of collision with an approaching vehicle on the left or right side of an intersection (and turns the digital dials in the instrument cluster into monitors for this system). The GV80 is also able to help detect potential collision risks if a pedestrian is near the vehicle while in motion. 
  • Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA): BCA is essentially a Blind Spot Monitor with active capabilities. BCA helps reduce the chance of potential impact with a moving vehicle; for example: upon departing a parallel parking spot.
  • Rear Cross-traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA): This system uses rear side radar to help detect and avoid impact with obstacles. 
  • Driver Attention Alert Warning (DAW): This system monitors the driver’s attention when driving, by analyzing driving patterns and behaviors, including intermittent steering and unnatural deceleration, through vehicle signals, such as steering angle and steering torque and vehicle position in traffic lane. A forward-looking camera monitors the driver and will generate pop-up messages and warning tones when fatigue or forward-looking neglect is detected.
  • Remote Smart Parking Assist: With a push of the button on the key fob, the GV80 can pull into or pull out of a parking spot while you are NOT IN THE VEHICLE. This feature, which works, can enable a driver to park in a spot without adequate room to open the driver’s door.
  • Rear-view and surround-view camera
  • Parking-collision-avoidance monitor
  • Lane keeping and lane-following assist
  • Rear cross-traffic monitor
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
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Interior amenities galore

Three-zone climate control, including the ability for the passenger to designate the direction of the airflow on their side of the GV80; heated and ventilated leather seats front and rear (with the fronts also electrically adjustable), and power rear-side-window sunshades help keep the GV80 cabin comfortable for all regardless of the weather outside.

Road Active Noise Cancellation (RANC) enhances the serenity of the cabin by reducing road noise during driving. Based on the science of digital signal processing, RANC overcomes the limitations of existing noise control technologies that rely on physical technology, such as materials and body structures, to quiet the cabin. RANC generates sound waves of opposite phases in 0.002 second by analyzing road noise in real time, dramatically reducing irregular, simultaneous road noise.

With RANC mitigating exterior noises, the 21-speaker Lexicon Premium Audio system can better produce the sounds from the standard navigation/infotainment package (AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Bluetooth streaming audio).

The bottom line

The Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige stands out from the highly competitive and crowded mid-size luxury SUV segment thanks to its bold styling and feature complement, but its pricing is well within the group’s parameters.

The four-cylinder, rear-wheel drive GV80 2.5T RWD provides the entry point for the model range at $48,900. Other four-cylinder variants are available in both rear and all-wheel drive.

The six-cylinder, top-of-the-range GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige with all the features menionted above (and a LOT more!) has a MSRP of $70,950 – not inexpensive, but highly competitive and in the world of premium luxury SUVs, especially ones which stand out from the crowd, good value.

Next week TBR Drives the 2021 Mazda 3.