The 2021 Genesis GV80 vaults the fledgling luxury brand beyond sedans into more popular territory as its first SUV. The GV80 competes in a crowded class represented by the Audi Q8, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, and Jaguar F-Pace. Luckily style, performance, leading technology with great value make for a head-turning contender.

2021 Genesis GV80 Review

Mechanically related to the Genesis G80 mid-size sedan, the five-seat crossover SUV strikes a stunning pose amid all the other luxury SUVs with a sporty profile that doesn’t quite live up to its billing behind the wheel. An available third row expands seating for seven, but ruins the cabin’s roomy feel. This swell looker comes loaded with creature comforts and standard safety features that other luxury automakers bundle as expensive options.

Rear-wheel drive undergirds the athletic proportions and comes with a 300-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo-4 making 311 pound-feet of torque. Once off the line, the 2.5T accelerates well despite its 4,500-pound weight, but the handling can’t overcome its size in more spirited driving. Available all-wheel drive can seem like an expensive upgrade relative to the competition, but it adds features from higher trim levels.

All-wheel drive comes standard with the more potent 375-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 that makes 391 lb-ft. The growl piped into the cabin of the 3.5T suggests sportiness, but a significant turbo lag interrupts what is otherwise a powerful engine. The extra weight and additional features tip the scales at about 4,850 pounds, and the connection with the road becomes even more removed, aided in part by a spokeless steering wheel with a lazy feel.

Either engine comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission and five drive modes that tweak throttle response, steering feel, and seat bolstering. The turbo engines are average when it comes to fuel economy, getting an EPA-rated 23 mpg combined in rear-wheel drive. All wheels knock it down a peg. It can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

2021 Genesis GV80 Review

The top Prestige trim instills the cabin with quiet calm due to an active noise control system that cancels out road and wind noise. The front power-adjustable seats can be programmed to move automatically for easier entrance and exit. Rear seat passengers are not forgotten, with an ample 39 inches of leg room for plenty of stretch-out space, especially if the middle seat is occupied with an armrest instead of a human. There’s plenty of cargo room behind the second row, unless the GV80 is optioned with the cramped third row only available with the 3.5T Advanced+ trim.

Official crash tests haven’t been completed, but the GV80 does its best to avoid or mitigate crashes with standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, and LED lights.

Other standard features such as a 14.5-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, 19-inch wheels, puddle lamps, and a dual-zone climate control screen complement a lovely 5-year/60,000-mile warranty with 3-year/36,000-mile complimentary scheduled service. While the infotainment system can be complex with a multitude of submenus, optional features like a 12.3-inch digital cluster, Nappa leather seats, and a phenomenal 21-speaker Lexicon audio system announce that the GV80 belongs in the luxury SUV class.

Genesis is still the new kid on the block but with knockouts like the GV80, has quickly become top dog in its class. With stunning looks, commendable driving manners, and topnotch technology with a great value proposition; it’s easy to see how the new Genesis GV80 is stellar. For those looking to try something new and step out of the current luxury flock, the GV80 is definitely worth a look.