First Drive: 2021 Genesis GV80 Puts Luxury SUVs Brands on Notice

This new model has impressive power, comfort, and tech

Genesis GV80 front review

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in October, 2020, we finished testing the Genesis GV80.

Read the complete Genesis GV80 road test.

Genesis is expanding its three sedan lineup to include a midsized SUV, significantly broadening the brand’s appeal in the process. Its new GV80 faces tough, established competition, including the Audi Q7, BMW X5, and Lexus RX.

Genesis took its time developing the GV80, creating a refined, richly appointed vehicle that we think will attract attention from shoppers right at launch.

It is primarily a two-row SUV, though a tight third-row is an option. There are two turbocharged engines offered: a four-cylinder and a V6. The full features list is generous for its price. But beyond bells and whistles, the GV80 shines with its presentation—it looks and feels luxurious.

We rented two early examples from Genesis for an extended period, giving us a chance to experience the two powertrains and two seating configurations before the GV80 went on sale.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our initial expert assessment of the new GV80 is available to you here. We since bought a V6 model to put through more than 50 tests at the CR Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls. CR members have access to the full road-test results.

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What we rented: 2021 Genesis GV80 Prestige and GV80 V6 Advance+
Powertrains: 300 hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
375 hp, 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 with an 8-speed automatic transmission; rear- and all-wheel drive
MSRP: $63,400, $65,050
Destination fee: $1,025
Total cost: $64,425 and $66,075

CR’s Take

The GV80 looks sharp, with classy styling elements adorning its upscale exterior. Open the front door, and the sumptuous, finely detailed cabin makes a big impression. It has embellishments where the competition often doesn’t bother, with textures and rich trim. It isn’t perfect; there are a couple puzzling controls, which we will address later.

On the road, the GV80 is smooth, quiet, and refined—just what one wants in a luxury SUV. Clearly, Genesis went all-in on the GV80. It looks distinctive and feels more expensive than it is. As a result, Genesis puts its competition on notice that it's a brand to watch. And for consumers, this is definitely a model to test-drive.

Below we cover the standout features we experienced, like the sumptuous front seats and dazzly 3D display, but there are many more that go beyond the scope of a first drive. This is quite an innovative, feature-rich vehicle. We’ll go deeper, of course, in our true road test, once we buy one to evaluate. 

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