2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD Prestige Review: It Is So Choice


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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