For most automakers, differentiating their various vehicles from competitors’ offerings is no easy task. That’s likely true also for Hyundai’s luxury-focused Genesis division, which recently began shipping the new 2021 GV80 utility vehicle.
It has taken time for Genesis to gain traction as a label competing in the same bracket as established brands originating from Europe, Asia and North America. But as the model lineup evolves and expands, Genesis is steadily gaining acceptance.
Specifically, the midsize GV80 pals around with the BMW X5, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and the like. However, it appears obvious from a first glance that the Genesis design team has gone to great lengths to shape a vehicle that appears more hatchback than squared-off notchback, hence the sloping roofline. The GV80’s large mesh grille is similar to that of the G90 flagship sedan and will reportedly show up on future Genesis designs and redesigns.
The GV80’s body panels — including aluminum doors, hood and tailgate — is attached to a new platform that will also be used for the next G80 sedan.
Compared with the BMW X5 (the unofficial gold standard for vehicles in this class), the GV80 not coincidentally varies by no more than about an inch in length, width and in distance between the front and rear wheels. Whereas the X5 can accommodate five passengers, the GV80 allows the option of third-row seating for two additional folks (hopefully small in stature) to squeeze into.
Meanwhile, front-seaters gaze upon an attractive and uncluttered dashboard. The centrepiece is a narrow 14.5-inch touch-screen positioned on the dash top and next to the gauges. Below the touch-screen, a narrow band incorporating the air vents contributes to the streamlined effect, as does a large rotary dial that’s used in place of an actual gearshift lever on the extra-wide floor console.
Lastly, an extra-thick padded leather steering wheel is in keeping with the interior’s luxury-class leanings.
GV80 buyers can choose from two available engines, starting with a turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder that puts out 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V-6 delivering a maximum 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet. An eight-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for both powerplants. All-wheel-drive is standard.
Four-cylinder fuel economy is officially rated at 11.3 l/100 km in the city, 9.5 on the highway and 10.5 combined. That’s for the GV80 2.5T, while the 3.5T clocks in at 12.9/10.4/11.8. Note that premium fuel is required for both.
In Canada, the GV80 Select starts at $64,600, including destination charges. This is not a stripped-down price-leader model since it comes with dual-zone climate control, 12-way power-controlled and heated front seats (including power lumbar support), hands-free power liftgate and a panoramic sunroof. A heated leather steering wheel and a 12-speaker audio system are also included.
Tri-zone climate control, leather seat coverings, wireless phone charging, power-closing doors and surround-view camera monitor are either optional or standard in the Advanced or Prestige models, with the latter topping out at $85,000 (the 3.5T). This trim gets you active road-noise cancellation, quilted Nappa Leather upholstery, power-folding third-row seats and doors that automatically shut tight when being closed. Also standard with the Prestige is a system that can park the GV80 for you, whether you’re inside or outside the vehicle.
Regardless of which GV80 you select, a range of dynamic-safety technology is included, such as emergency braking, pedestrian/cyclist detection, lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic and driver-attention warning.
Although Genesis has its work cut out for it to catch up to the more established utility-class marques, the GV80 appears to be a solid first step in the right direction with a surfeit of style, content and performance in addition to competitive pricing.
What you should know: 2021 Genesis GV80
- Type: All-wheel-drive midsize utility vehicle
- Engines (h.p.): 2.5-litre I-4, turbocharged (300); 3.5-litre V-6, twin-turbocharged (375)
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Market position: Genesis is steadily developing a range of upscale models to compete with more established nameplates. A combination of crisp styling and solid engineering (backed by parent company Hyundai) should help the brand succeed.
- Points: A utility model is a first for Genesis and an important lineup addition. • Tidy interior keeps buttons and switches to a minimum. • Both engines deliver good horsepower and torque. • Base trim level is far from base and includes a full range of active-safety technology. • Available third-row seat is not suited for full-size passengers.
- Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); autonomous emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (std.); lane-departure warning (std.); pedestrian/cyclist detection (std.)
- L/100 km (city/hwy): 11.3/9.5 (2.5)
- Base price (incl. destination) $64,600
BMW X5 xDrive40i
- Base price: $77,900
- Coveted utility vehicle offers six- and eight-cylinder engines from 335 to 617 h.p.
- Base price: $55,300
- AWD is standard equipment. Supercharged-V-8 option makes 550 h.p.
- Base price: $58,000
- Recently updated model offered in regular and extended sizes. Hybrid available.
-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media