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Article Highlights:

  • 2021 Genesis GV80 ($48,900 – $65,550)
  • One of AutoTrader’s “Best New Cars of 2021”
  • Winner of KBB’s 2021 Best Buy Awards
  • Pro: The GV80 is a long list of standard and available features. It also provides some stiff competition.
  • Con: Buyers might not be on board with this new luxury brand yet. Also has a small third row seat.
2021 Genesis GV80 overhead shot
2021 Genesis GV80 | Genesis

The GV80 is not a Mercedes-Benz. It’s not a Lexus either. It’s a Genesis, or more accurately, a Hyundai. But you probably won’t care once you spend 10 minutes in it. The GV80 exudes the same panache you would expect out of its Japanese and German rivals, but at a lower price point. However, the most interesting part is that the 2021 Genesis GV80 doesn’t necessarily rely on its price of entry to coerce buyers into thinking it’s better than it actually is.

In fact, it really is that good. So much so that you wouldn’t probably think twice if someone blindfolded you and took you on a five-minute ride. The last thing you would probably think is that you’re sitting in a Hyundai.

The 2021 Genesis GV80 might look a little familiar

Take one look at the 2021 Genesis GV80 and you will likely have to do a double-take. Not just because it’s actually quite stunning for a three-row SUV, but also because its front grille and front badge look somewhat familiar? Bentley Bentayga, anyone?

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like Genesis tried to make the GV80 a flat-out obvious copy of a Bentley Bentayga, but even if it did, we would have to forgive it. That’s because both the Bentayga and the GV80 share the same designer (Sangyup Lee). Pricey British automaker comparisons aside, I personally like the way the Genesis GV80 looks. It’s a far departure from anything that the South Korean brand used to – and currently – puts out, and that’s not a bad thing.

The large mesh grille works well with the front of the SUV thanks to its long hood and large proportions. From the side angle, the GV80 almost looks like a rear-wheel-drive car with its athletic stance that seemingly squats rearward. And the GV80’s rear end is simplistic yet elegant.

Step inside the GV80 and prepare to be impressed

2021 Genesis GV80 interior
2021 Genesis GV80 | Genesis

Taking a seat in the Genesis GV80, I kept thinking, “I can’t believe this is a Hyundai.” There’s that “H-word” again. But really, the GV80 is just that impressive. Almost everything is leather-wrapped and the whole design screams “Mercedes-Benz competitor.” Although the quality of the leather could be a little softer.

The GV80 interior is impressive nonetheless and it can be equipped with either two rows to fit five passengers or three rows for up to seven. The first row has a generous amount of room for the driver and passenger. The second row is spacious as well and the seats even slide fore and aft in addition to reclining. As for the third row, you might want to leave that for small children and animals as most average-sized adults will be cramped back there.

There are four different GV80 trim levels to pick from

2021 Genesis GV80 steering wheel
2021 Genesis GV80 | Genesis

For the 2021 model year, the Genesis GV80 comes in four different trim levels: 2.5T RWD, 2.5T AWD, 3.5T AWD, 3.5T AWD Advance +, and 3.5T AWD Prestige. My tester was the 3.5T Advance + with the only option being its Savile Silver paint job ($400).

The 2021 Genesis GV80 has many luxurious features

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80 |

The Genesis GV80 is a luxury SUV and the features that it offers are what make it a fierce rival in the segment. The base GV80 comes standard with heated 12-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, a hands-free power tailgate, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a power-adjustable steering wheel.

Climbing up the trim levels, the 2.5T Advance includes more desirable features like a panoramic moonroof, a wireless phone charger, ventilated seats, and a heated steering wheel. There’s even a Digital Key feature that allows you to open and start the GV80 from your phone. When opting for the higher trim levels, buyers will be treated to more amenities like a surround-view monitor, a live-feed blind-spot monitor, and a Remote Self-Parking assistant.

The third-row option is only available on the 3.5T Advance trim level, as is the ERGO front seat feature. And if you want everything on your GV80, then the 3.5T Prestige trim will give you active noise canceling, massaging seats, and an electronically controlled suspension with road preview.

A wide 14.5-inch infotainment display sits atop the dashboard and we’re thankful that it has a touchscreen. It’s a far reach, but it comes in handy when the center console-mounted dial becomes a hassle to use at times. However, there is a really cool touchpad in the middle of the dial that makes entering addresses in the navigation much easier.

The Genesis GV80 handles well despite its heft

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80 |

Considering it’s a three-row SUV, the Genesis GV80 is undoubtedly a large vehicle. However, you wouldn’t think so when driving it. Kelley Blue Book noted that its driving characteristics are much like a sport sedan, and we would have to agree. Its steering is nicely weighted during spirited driving but is comfortable in low-speed situations. There’s also not a ton of body roll as you would likely assume from such a large car.

Also, it’s supremely quiet inside the cabin at all speeds. Using a decibel meter, I recorded a whisper-like 70 decibels at cruising speeds both on the street and the highway. In case you’re wondering, that sound level is on par with luxury haulers like the Lexus LX 570. Additionally, the cabin is easily comfortable for any length of driving, even if you were to drive this thing across the country. Speaking of sound, I especially enjoyed the Lexicon 21-speaker sound system that belted out the highs and lows of every song with crisp clarity.

The 3.5-liter engine is a great choice

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80 | Genesis

When shopping for a 2021 Genesis GV80, you’ll have a choice between two engines: a turbocharged 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, and a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. The smaller engine is rated at 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, while the larger one puts out a respectable 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque.

That bump in horsepower between the two engines might not sound like much, but trust me, it’s worth it. When driving the twin-turbo 3.5-liter model, I noticed a slight lag when hammering on the throttle pedal. But when the boost builds up, the car slingshots with gusto. Admittedly, it’s a pretty fun SUV to drive spiritedly. The GV80 handles well and you can put it anywhere you want in just about any traffic scenario.

According to Car and Driver’s testing, the GV80 can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds with the V6 and 6.1 seconds with the turbo four-cylinder. We recommend the 3.5-liter model as its powerful and achieves an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The smaller engine can achieve an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

The GV80 is packed with safety features

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80 |

You might be familiar with a famous golfer that got into an accident in a 2021 Genesis GV80 this year. While he did sustain a lot of injuries, the golfer was fortunate to be alive, thanks to the multitude of safety features that the GV80 has. For starters, it has 10 airbags, including one in the center console area that separates the driver and passenger and keeps them from hitting each other in a crash. The GV80 also has an advanced driver system including driver-assist technologies that can minimize the impact of collisions.

Some notable features include the Smart Cruise Control system with Highway Driving Assist, which not only adjusts the vehicle speed and following distance from the car ahead but also adapts the steering and responsiveness based on the driver’s actions. To fortify these safety systems, Hyundai also installed a Forward Collision-Avoidance that can automatically bring the car to a stop if there’s an obstacle ahead in addition to a Lane Follow Assist feature that keeps the car between the lines.

There is also a whole of other safety features on the GV80 including Lane-Change Oncoming, Lane-Side, Junction Turning, Junction Crossing, Evasive Steering Torque Assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance-Assist. All of these are put in place to keep the car on the road, in its lane, and away from other cars and pedestrians via the GV80’s onboard cameras and sensors.

With all of the safety systems and technologies, it’s no wonder that the 2021 Genesis GV80 earned a “Top Safety Pick +” award from the IIHS. Additionally, the GV80 also earned a five-star safety rating from NHTSA. I think we can all agree that the GV80 is a pretty safe SUV.  

Genesis’ service program makes it easy to maintain a GV80

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80 |

Like all of Hyundai’s products, the Genesis GV80 is covered by a comprehensive five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and an unmatched 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. But what’s even better is that when you buy a Genesis, you will also have the luxury of a service valet and free maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles. That means when it comes time to service your GV80, you can schedule for it to be picked up at your home by a Genesis valet attendant. Now that’s service!

The 2021 Genesis GV80 offers an amazing blend of value and luxury

2021 Genesis GV80
2021 Genesis GV80 |

After looking at everything that the 2021 Genesis GV80 has to offer, it’s clear that Hyundai has made an amazing value proposition that’s luxurious to boot. The GV80’s plush interior, a large list of amenities, and strong host of safety features show that it shouldn’t be counted out as “a cheap Korean car.” Instead, I found that it’s quite the opposite.

And while the Genesis GV80 isn’t a Lexus or a Mercedes-Benz, it deserves to be taken seriously. Considering its low price of entry, it’s definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a luxury three-row SUV.

MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Genesis GV80 an expert rating of 8.4 out of 10

The MotorBiscuit editors gave the 2021 Genesis GV80 an overall score of 8.4 out of 10. While it’s definitely not perfect, the GV80 still receives high marks for its excellent value. For a low cost of entry, the GV80 welcomes buyers into the segment with a long list of luxury and safety features that can only be found in the upper trims of higher-priced rivals.