2025 Genesis GV80 First Drive: Being an Honored Guest Elevates the Luxury of This SUV

The feeling of an honored guest is an intentional art, and its perfected in the Genesis GV80. From the mood curator to a powerful drive, everything about this luxury makes you feel special.

Son-Nim Hospitality And Luxurious Elegance Await In The 2025 Genesis Gv80
Son-Nim hospitality and luxurious elegance await in the 2025 Genesis GV80, here in Uyani White. Credit: Kymri Wilt

You’ll Feel Like Royalty, as a Driver or Passenger. I Did.

Have you ever felt like a guest of honor simply by stepping inside your car? Whether you are in the driver’s seat, a passenger or relaxing in the second row, when you take a seat in the 2025 Genesis GV80, you are served with an elevated experience of comfort, convenience, and care, as if the car itself is your personal host and concierge.

The philosophy is called “Son-Nim,” or “honored guest”, and I certainly felt like one as I stepped into the the updated 2025 Genesis GV80, which is priced from about $58K to $79K. Everything made me feel special, including, and especially, my drive experience in the 2025 GV80.

Related: I went to Korea and Discovered the Soul of Korea’s Car Kings

The New Storr Green Color Surrounding The Genesis Gv80 Badge
The new Storr Green color surrounding the Genesis badge and double mesh grille of the 2025 GV80. Credit: Kymri Wilt

From Newcomer to Honored Host, the Transition of Genesis

Genesis, which emerged in 2015 as the first Korean luxury automobile to enter the US market, first exercised “son-nim” by offering customers an online shopping concierge and a white-glove sales valet to deliver a test drive or build and deliver a Genesis model to a buyer’s home.

Today, the idea of hospitality is more personal, with 35 standalone Genesis showrooms across the US, and Genesis House in New York City, which welcomes guests to experience the its distinctly Korean culture.

The 2025 model boasts some updates, from more jewel-like headlights to a “mood curator” that features a fragrance diffuser hidden in the glove box, to a biometric starter that can you can personalize with your fingerprint, making the Genesis GV80 more welcoming and delightful than ever.

Related: 2023 Genesis Electrified GV70 – A Stunning Electric SUV with Stats to Boot

Exterior Elegance Of The 2025 Gv80 Suv In Capri Blue
Exterior elegance of the 2025 GV80 SUV in Capri Blue. Credit: Kymri Wilt

The GV80‘s Engine Options Treat You Like a VIP, Too

For me, everything was new, as this was my first experience in a Genesis. And it was rewarding. While the 2025 model had a makeover (keep reading for more on that) the two available powertrains remain the same as in the current 2024 models—a 2.5L inline turbo 4 cylinder that generates 300 HP and a 3.5L V-6 Twin Turbo (which we drove) that generates 375 HP. And that’s a good thing.

My favorite place is always the driver’s seat, and there I felt completely at ease driving the GV80 – the handling, turning, acceleration, braking, and parking left nothing to be desired. Just as one might expect with Korean hospitality, the GV80 was attentive and ready to gently assist without my having to ask.

Related: The First Genesis Dealership, Genesis of Lafayette, Louisiana, Is Just Daring HBO To Make A Series About It

Distinctive Detail Of Mla Headlamps Against New Storr Green Glossy Finish
Distinctive detail of MLA headlamps against new Storr Green glossy finish. Credit: Genesis

Subtle New Changes Elevate the Genesis GV80

What has changed, ever so subtly, are a few exterior details that visually signal a bespoke, elevated experience. There’s nothing shallow here, the exterior design elements of the GV80 are deep, rich, and purposeful

The first visual that embodied the spirit of Genesis is the new color added for 2025, Storr Green. Inspired by the Scottish greens of the Isle of Skye, this distinctive new paint choice is available in both glossy and matte finishes. When I saw it, I was really drawn in by notes of mist-laden moss against the earthy cliffs, and sensed the fresh salty air of the Hebrides. I noticed subtle changes in color as the sky shifted from grey and overcast to crisp and sunny, just like the Scottish landscape. I won’t deny that for a moment, the color made my mouth water for an aged single malt whiskey.

All of the colors that Genesis selected are inspired by travel destinations and evoke nostalgia or wanderlust – Capri Blue of the Mediterranean island, Uyani White of the Bolivian Salt flats. Naturally, the entire palette resonates with the traveler’s spirit and had me wistful to re-visit or discover beautiful far-flung destinations.

On every paint color the exterior details are exquisite; the double mesh grille adds a bold touch of class, with larger air vents and distinctive micro lens array of headlamps. The Genesis badge now rests flush in the hood because elegance doesn’t need to be show-y. The rear design accentuates width, with a cleverly hidden muffler disguised as a “V” shaped design element. And the 22” wheels (on the Prestige trim we drove) are eye-catching, both while parked and in motion.

A Personal Fold-Down Vanity Mirror In The Rear Seat Of The 2025 Genesis Gv80
Checking the look is easy in the second row with a personal vanity mirror. Credit: Kymri Wilt

“Son-nim” Inside The Gv80, Where Every Seat Is a Seat Of Honor

When I arrived for my test drive I was transferred to the venue in a truly beautiful and distinctively luxurious GV80. My first experience in the 2025 model was that of a backseat passenger. The driver could have taken me anywhere, clear across Texas for all I cared. I was delightfully comfortable in a car that literally treated me as an honored guest when I sat down, and the driver didn’t have to lift a finger. Spacious legroom? Check. A place for my water bottle? Check. A USB port to charge my phone? Check. A sunshade for my passenger window? Check. How about a fold-down vanity mirror for passengers in the second row? Check.

With the push of a button I perfected the angle of my seat back recline so I that could enjoy the view through the panoramic sunroof, or even doze off if I so desired. Alas, just as I was about to drift into slumber, we’d arrived. That short drive was just a palette-teaser, an hors-douevre served at the beginning of a full course Michelin-starred meal that is the drive experience inside the cabin of the Genesis GV80. 

When my drive partner and I set off for our drive experience the following morning, I rode in the passenger’s seat for the first portion, again feeling like I had taken the seat of honor. Like the driver, I also had a heated/ventilated power seat with 4-way lumbar support, and individual climate controls at my fingertips.

As we meandered the single lane highways outside of Fort Worth, all of a sudden my drive partner swerved slightly and began apologizing profusely for not seeing the giant potholes in the road…what potholes? We rolled right over them and felt nay so much as a slight rumble. I was enjoying the passenger view out the window – had she not said anything, I’d have been none the wiser. We agreed we could relax about road conditions and simply allow the GV80’s Son-Nim hospitality treat us to a pleasant and comfortable journey, wherever the road took us.

Trusting The Smart Cruise Control And Highway Lane Assist Of The 2025 Gv80
Trusting the Smart Cruise Control and Highway Lane Assist of the 2025 GV80. Credit: Jana Askeland

Driving: The Genesis GV80’s Smart Cruise Control Reflects True Hospitality

As nice as the passenger’s seat is, there’s no place I’m happier than in the driver’s seat. With the 12” head up display, being in command was effortless.

This was most apparent and appreciated when I tested out my trust issues with the Genesis adaptive cruise control system, particularly Highway Driving Assist, which is their hands free driving system. I would normally reserve cruise control for straight freeway driving, but we were driving on winding rural highways. Using the functions on the steering wheel, which are easy to initiate by thumb, I reached a comfortable speed and engaged adaptive cruise control.

The system also has speed limit assist, which monitors the speed limit on the road. Lane follow and lane keep assist read the road and kept me in my lane, even on a single lane highway, and even on a curving highway. I could rest my legs and relax my hands while the GV80 quietly took over and hosted my drive.

Still, I had to maintain control of the car. The Driver and Forward Attention Warning system kept me from getting distracted looking at scenery; all that was required was my attention on the road ahead, and the GV80 did the rest. While initially I was nervous to relinquish control, I actually found that my stress was reduced and I could rely on the GV80 to keep me safe on the road. When I arrived at our destination, I let the GV80 park itself with Remote Smart Parking Assist, like a built in valet, because that last bit of stress is the last thing I want after a long drive. 

The Impressive 27-Inch Widescreen Oled Display Of The 2025 Gv80
The impressive 27-inch widescreen OLED display of the 2025 GV80. Credit: Kymri Wilt

The Star Attraction Is Not Out The Window, It’s In The Cabin Of The Gv80

The elegant and purposeful technology enhancements in the 2025 GV80 served to assist, rather than distract from, the drive experience. The most stunning design element boldly takes center stage sweeping across the dash – an impressive 27-inch widescreen HD display. A digital display rests in front of the driver, with navigation, audio, comfort and settings menu spanning across the center console, demanding attention and admiration. Unlike other brands where you have to upgrade for such a stunning centerpiece, this display is standard in every Genesis GV80 model.

Yes, it functions as a touchscreen, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be wiping smudgy fingerprints off after every drive. The magic happens with a sophisticated crystal-topped dial in the center console, at the driver’s fingertips, to move through the screens, toggle and select settings. Additionally, there are in-dash push button options, and a touch type dual zone climate control panel, giving you options. I quickly adapted to using the dial and loved the intuitive ease with which I was able to scroll through the menus.

Ambient Lighting Is Just One Feature Of The New Mood Curator In The Genesis Gv80
Ambient lighting is just one feature of the new Mood Curator in the Genesis GV80. Credit: Genesis

Mood Curation For Those Ever-changing Moods On The Road

The GV80’s attentiveness to emotion and sense is served up in a Mood Curator. Four different mood settings are built in to create an ambience in the cabin, with lighting, sound, scent, and even touch! 

  • Vitalty is energizing with colorful lighting and fast beat  music that makes you feel ready to go; 
  • Delight was my happy place, with bright tone lights and upbeat music that had me smiling and dancing in my seat;
  • For a more calming atmosphere, Care softens the lighting and music, and even adds a gentle massage to the driver, easing away all stress; 
  • Comfort also incorporates massage, with relaxing music and lighting, and is great for going the distance. 

I would be remiss not to mention the audio system behind the sound: the Bang & Olufsen premium 18 speaker surround sound, with intuitive touch base tone control and elegantly designed speakers, lending an even more refined feel and sound to the cabin of the GV80.

Surround Cameras Are Standard In The Safety Package Of Every Trim Of The 2025 Gv80
Surround cameras are standard in the Safety package of every trim of the 2025 GV80. Credit: Kymri Wilt

Luxury is “Standard” in the 2025 Genesis GV80

I have never seen a more comprehensive list of inclusions for the standard base model, but that’s in line with “Son-Nim” and Genesis anticipating your every need. To share all  the standard inclusions here would be exhaustive, so I’ve picked out my personal highlights:

  • 27-inch OLED display and navigation System
  • All the driver assistance: adaptive cruise control, speed limit assist, highway driving assist, forward collision-avoidance, lane keep and lane follow assist, driver attention warning, forward attention warning, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance, parking distance warning, safe exit assist
  • power front seats with 4-way power lumbar, heated front seats, integrated memory system w/ smart posture care, power tilt & telescoping steering wheel
  • Mood curator, ambient lighting, Bose premium audio
  • 40/20/40 2nd row folding seats and optional 3rd row
  • Fingerprint authentication system (yes! you can set up the system to recognize your fingerprint, then use it to start and drive the car)
  • Multi-link front & fear suspension with self-leveling rear suspension for a standard drive experience that’s elevated
The 2025 Genesis Gv80, Prestige Trim, In Seville Silve
The 2025 Genesis GV80, Prestige Trim, in Seville Silver. Credit: Kymri Wilt

Trims and Pricing for the 2025 GV80

  • The GV80 Standard trim starts at $57,800 for the 2.5T AWD, and also includes a full suite of safety features, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, leatherette seating, Mood Curator, digital phone-as-key and 19” wheels
  • The Advanced model starts at $65,600 (2.5T) and $73,800 (3.5T) abd adds leather seating, surround view mirror, and Bang & Olufsen Premium Audio, panoramic sunroof, power folding 3rd row is available only in this trim for the 3.5T.
  • The Prestige 2.5T model starts at $70,450 adds 22” wheels, 3-zone climate control, Ergo Motion Seats;  
  • The Prestige 3.5T model starts at $79,000 and adds Nappa leather seating with heated and ventilated rear seats, and a power second row. 
The 2025 Genesis Gv80 Brings “Son-Nim” Hospitality To The Drive Experience
The 2025 Genesis GV80 brings “Son-Nim” hospitality to the drive experience. Credit: Jana Askeland

As a “Son-Nim” Guest of Honor, the Honor Was Truly Mine

It was as much an honor to drive the Genesis GV80 as it was to be the honored guest in the passenger’s seat or being chauffeured. The elevated environment of the exquisitely designed cabin make you feel like royalty, and that about says it all. I’ve tried my best to put my “Son-Nim” into words, but you may just have to experience it for yourself. Genesis is more than a brand. It’s a culture, it’s an attitude. And it was an honor to drive.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Genesis for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

Based in Cardiff by the Sea, California, Kymri is a freelance travel photographer, writer, and videographer. Between travels, she... More about Kymri WIlt

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