By on September 7, 2021

2021 Genesis GV80 AWD 3.5T Prestige

3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (375hp @ 5800 rpm, 391 lb-ft @ 1300 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

18 city / 23 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

22.4 city, 16.5 highway, 19.8 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $60,695 US / $80,130 CAN

As Tested: $72,995 US / $85,130 CAN

Prices include $1,045 destination charge in the United States and $130 for A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

As I’m sure many of you who’ve read my work here know, I’m not a full-time automotive journalist. I work in a sales career – my nights and weekends, when not occupied with my kids and their activities, are spent in my dungeon of a basement office, mashing out car reviews and other stuff. I literally take vacation from my day gig to go on the occasional new car launch for TTAC and other places. So, I don’t get to write about every car I drive – and occasionally, it takes me a while to publish on a car I’d driven months ago. Witness reviews publishing in June that have snow in the background (Ed. note: You’re not the only one. Ahem).

I’m mentioning this as it’s been about three months since I drove the 2021 Genesis GV80. It’s been a busy summer, to be certain, but I’ve had time. But every time I open a new Word doc and title it “2021 Genesis GV80 Review.docx,” I sit staring at a blinking cursor for what seems like hours before I pack it in and resolve to write another day.

My struggle comes from my complete lack of complaint about the GV80 – and my total concern that I come off to you, the Best & Brightest, as a Genesis shill. If a midsized premium SUV/wagon/crossover thing is what you need, I can think of no other vehicle that is better. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

The GV80 starts just under $50k – but that’s for the four-cylinder with just rear-wheel drive. I can’t see many people choosing a two-wheel-drive edition of an SUV, I’m afraid, so $55k gets you into an all-wheel-drive model. Adding the lovely 375hp twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 brings the price to just under $60k, which is where we start on this model. $5,200 adds the Advanced Package, bringing leather seats, surround-view and blind-spot monitoring, a heads-up display, heated rear outboard seats, three-zone climate control, and a massaging driver’s seat. This tester also has the $6,600 Prestige Package, which dumps the standard leather for Nappa leather, and adds active noise cancellation, power ventilated rear seats, 22” alloy wheels, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, and a 12.3” 3D digital instrument panel.

This Lima Red paint finish is a $500 option – weird name, though, as when I think of Lima I think of the bean which is typically green. I suppose Genesis planners who name the colors could be fans of the old show Glee, set not far from me in Lima, Ohio – with a school that uses red in their colors both in the show and in real life.

At a hair under $73,000 delivered for the full-boat Prestige trim, not all will have the means I’m certain. God knows I don’t. But in this market, I can think of but two worthy competitors that I’d seriously consider – and you might notice a bit of superficial mechanical similarity.

The first is one of the old guard – a weird phrase, I know, to refer to the market of midsized luxury SUVs that’s really only existed for a couple of decades. But if anything can lay claim to this moniker, the BMW X5 would be the one. It feels much smaller than it is when behind the wheel – it’s almost fun to drive. But that driving enjoyment comes at a price – ride quality on broken pavement, of which we have plenty. It’s not awful, but it’s not as plush as others in this price range.

The other would be the Lincoln Aviator. I’m not shy in recommending the Aviator to anyone who might ask – it’s a wonderful leather-lined beast that eats the miles effortlessly. It’s a bit dead feeling behind the wheel when the centerline turns twisty, but on the interstate or around town it’s hard to beat.

The Genesis GV80 straddles the line between Lincoln and BMW deftly. All three of these maintain a traditional longitudinal engine layout, which to me feels so much better balanced than a front-drive-focused transverse layout. The Genesis feels much more like a driver’s car than the Aviator while maintaining a quiet, composed ride on ugly roads better than the BMW.

Interior comfort is incredible – leg, shoulder, and headroom are plentiful front and rear. Cargo space is quite good. The materials throughout, from the quilted leather seats to the wood trim to the suede-like headliner, look and feel premium.

And it looks marvelous. Neighbors, so often nose down in their phones as they walk their dogs or drive past the house (don’t get me started), stopped and talked to the scary fat bearded guy alighting from the gorgeous GV80. Most other cars in my driveway get little notice, but the striking-yet-distinguished styling draws people in.

They think it’s righteous, dude.

[Images: © 2021 Chris Tonn]

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34 Comments on “2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige Review: It Is So Choice...”

  • avatar

    I’m sure they will get gobbled up as quickly as the Tellurides have been, but no one out there can tell me with a straight face that this is a clean design that will age well. It looks like they threw every design cliche on the wall and somehow made it work on one vehicle. And I can’t look at that front end head on without my eyes watering a little bit. Tone it down by about half and maybe then we can call it “nice” instead of “way over the top.”

    They did a far better job on the interior, save for the S-class steering wheel. (Flame suit on) – I think they do a better job when they try to morph other designs into their models than trying a clean sheet design, where oddities like the Veloster are born.

    • 0 avatar

      I totally agree. The style is a bit much. But you never know how these things will age. Maybe the GV80 will be considered a classic in 10 years.

      • 0 avatar

        The best designs tend to be the cleanest designs. A 10 year old Range Rover or Land Rover still looks elegant and stylish. I think we can put the Jaguar F-Pace in that category as well. Original 1990’s Jeep Grand Cherokee – check. I would even put that era’s Tahoes and Suburbans in that group as well. Simple, well worn designs that have a look that has stood the test of time.

        This Genesis design is just a mish-mash of what someone thinks is current at this very second without an ounce of restraint. Maybe the mid-cycle refresh will clean things up a bit.

    • 0 avatar


      I’m sure it’s better in person but that exterior does not work for me. The grill is horrendous and the c-pillar looks like a cheap… Nissan?

      Interior looks beautiful, so there’s that!

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the steering wheel liked like a 70s full size car GM wheel. But everything else about the interior looks great and plushy.
      I’m not a fan of the front end, though. I think the Aviator has a slight edge over the GV80 but just barely. This is really like splitting hairs.

    • 0 avatar

      One may not like the design, but as auto designs go, it’s a relatively clean design.

      There are not lines going in every which direction a la the RX/RX-L, Hyundai’s own Palisade or the front of the upcoming new Sportage.

      The lines for the GV80 are pretty straight-forward/simple.

      Now, as for the dimensions of the lines/design elements, other Genesis models do it better.

  • avatar

    “And it looks marvelous”

    I think it looks “ok”. This isn’t really a class of beauty queens though.

  • avatar

    I agree that this looks really good.

    If you told 100 people on the street it was the newest Bentley and cost $250,000, I bet 90 of them would believe you.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree it’s very good looking my only complaint is the steering wheel.

      • 0 avatar

        My first reaction to the steering wheel was the same, but I think I could embrace it as unique. The grille, though, is too big and overdone. Would have loved to see some of the other elegance continued in the front grille.

        Only other blemish are the chrome side vent trim pieces. I understand that they were trying to convey the theme, but feel like it could have been done better- somehow.

        But these really are a handsome vehicle, otherwise. And distinctive is what this market segment buyer is often looking for.

        The GV70 is also nice in most angles, but I’m still held up on the C and D pillars there. Doesn’t flow as nice. Weird mishmash of port and elegant, leaving the looks neither sporty or elegant, in spite of what the interior and drivetrain deliver.

  • avatar

    It is distinctive looking and in a sea of look-a-like SUVs that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve seen quite a few of these around and they really are eye-catchers

  • avatar

    love the FBDO references. what a great movie.

  • avatar

    It appears the grille is slowly devouring it.

  • avatar

    “The Genesis feels much more like a driver’s car than the Aviator while maintaining a quiet, composed ride on ugly roads better than the BMW.”

    I very much doubt these big heavy land whales are “driver’s cars” in any way.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, these are big, heavy vehicles. They are not fun. We currently lease a CX-9. It’s not fun. The X5 we had before was not fun.

      Heaping fake praise on vehicles that aren’t fun and saying they are erodes your credibility.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s all relative.

        The CX-9 is more fun to drive than the Highlander and the X5 (particularly in M guise) is more dynamic than the GV80 or Aviator.

        • 0 avatar

          Yep it’s relative. My Honda pilot if more fun then a highlander which is more fun then a Chevy traverse. A Durango is more fun then the pilot and I assume there is a chain going down further. But then I’m a truck guy and could have fun even in my wallowing old Ramcharger. Some rental sedans I have had were less fun then my pilot (looking at you previous gen Altima).

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    It saved Tiger Woods’s life!

  • avatar

    I’ve never cared for the eye slit headlight look, but at least it’s distinctive. That chain link fence grill though…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like every angle but the front. The grill would look good if it only lived below the headlights, with a body-color piece above it that said “GENESIS”.

    And that beautiful interior is marred by the lazy tacked-on display. It wouldn’t be hard to blend the left and right edges of it into the dash.

    No matter – I’m not in the $80k market anyway.

  • avatar

    I would like a version of this vehicle that has a 300-mile electric powertrain and a bit more design restraint. The size and packaging are pretty much what we need for our long-trip car.

  • avatar

    @Chris Tonn,

    “My struggle comes from my complete lack of complaint about the GV80 – and my total concern that I come off to you, the Best & Brightest, as a Genesis shill.”

    Next time you find yourself in a quandary such as this, I recommend a careful examination of these figures:
    • Curb Weight
    • Fuel Economy

    [Bueller to Genesis: “You’re Still Here? It’s Over. Go Home.”]

  • avatar

    I like all the ingredients here, but I wish they’d make the rear end a bit less droopy looking. The roofline itself and the shape of the rear deck lid edge aid in this droopiness. But the interior looks beautiful, and I’d go with the Orvis-like green and brown.

    For stylish slightly smaller crossover see GV70, which I’ve now seen in person.

  • avatar

    As it turns out, the most in demand trim is the 3.5TT with the Prestige package.

    Chances are, we’ll see the 48V version of that motor in the GV80 which will help with city fuel economy.

  • avatar

    Such a great vehicle. Love the elegant and bespoke design inside and out. Very stunning

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This is one of the nicer crossovers despite the front grill which might look better in person. GM and Ford could learn something from the interior of this car which is much much better than either GM and Ford’s. Hyundai and Kia have really upped their game and have improved.

  • avatar

    I will take a Grand Cherokee, at least they can integrate the screen in the dash properly. It also has more power for the money in the SRT 392.

    • 0 avatar

      Integration into the dash means the nav screen being down/away from the line of sight.

      The tablet form factor also allows for a lower dash height – which makes for an airier cabin and a better view of the road (but can understand those who prefer the in-dash look).

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