“Budget luxury” sounds too good to be true, but the 2021 Genesis GV80 proves it can be a reality.
If you want luxury, you can’t go long with Genesis in general, and you definitely can’t go wrong with the GV80 if you want an SUV. Genesis has consistently been knocking it out of the park with its vehicles, and I have no qualms recommending this vehicle to anyone in the market for a luxury SUV.
I drove the 3.5T Advanced trim, which is the second-highest of six trim levels and starts at $65,375. Our model didn’t come with the third row that can be added as an option. As tested, the Genesis GV80 we drove cost $65,775.
1. A Multi-Media System for the Modern Age
Even though our cars have featured touchscreens and multi-media systems for the last few years, some automakers struggle to craft a good one that’s responsive, intuitive, and aesthetically pleasing. Genesis, though, has created something incredible.
Genesis features a pad that allows you to scroll without lifting your hand, but if you’re more of a touchscreen person, you’ll find the large screen responsive to your finger. And yes, there are still knobs for things like climate control!
The best part, though? There’s a mini touchscreen for climate that allows you to easily toggle between the front and rear, so even your backseat passengers won’t have room to complain.
2. Luxury Feel Everywhere You Look
It may sound silly, but one of my favorite features about the GV80 was its steering wheel. It was thick and substantial, which lent it an incredibly luxurious, high-quality feel. The steering wheel is the one thing in your vehicle you’ll touch more than anything else, so I love when an automaker has really paid attention to what it’s like to hold that wheel in your hand.
But that isn’t the only part of the Genesis GV80 that’s endowed with luxury. The vertical stitching in the seats offers a refined look that feels great to the touch, and the metal-style controls for things like the windows or mirror adjustment take things over the top. You really get the feeling that Genesis didn’t skimp on a single element of this SUV, and it feels so good.
3. Go-Kart Handling in an SUV
Have you ever driven an SUV and felt like you were maneuvering a massive boat instead? If so, you know just how important a well-handling machine is; you don’t have to be a car enthusiast to appreciate being able to nail that tight turn into the grocery store parking lot or to avoid that kid darting out into the road in the school pickup line. The GV80 handles like a much smaller vehicle, which is important for those moments when you need to maneuver with ease.
Much of the pep from this handling came from the 3.5-liter turbo engine on the model we drove. That engine that will cost you about $10,000 more than the base 2.5-liter engine, and it runs from $60,175 to $71,795 depending on the trim.
4. The Best Tech Comes Standard
The best part about luxury is paying the base price and getting it all. Despite the fact that the Genesis GV80 has a few different trim levels, every trim comes well-equipped with tech and safety, so you don’t have to worry about how much money you have to shell out for those handy features you crave. In this luxury SUV, that means a 14.5-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, a power liftgate, power-folding side mirrors, adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving, emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and lane-departure warnings.
The different trim levels, then, upgrade the physical luxury and performance of the vehicle. You have an option of a 2.5-liter turbo or 3.5-liter twin turbo engine, and each engine type comes with three trims: standard, advanced, and prestige.
On the base, then, you can expect 19-inch wheels, automatic high beams, a 12-way driver’s seat, a 12-speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, and leatherette upholstery. Move up to the Advanced trim for $3,900, and you get the panoramic sunroof, rear window sunshades, a wireless charging pad, a heated steering wheel, a 21-speaker audio system, rear occupant alert, and digital key functionality.
If you go all-out and splurge on the $8,150 Prestige trim, you’ll get the whole deal: real Nappa leather seats, 22-inch wheels, 16-way moveable driver’s seat with air support, heated second-row seats, tri-zone climate control, a 360-degree camera, rear collision avoidance, remote smart parking, and a video feed of your blind spots when you activate the turn signal.
As you can tell, the best part about the GV80 is the fact that, no matter what trim you choose, you’re getting a good deal. If you’re not ready to splurge but still want something fancy, you can grab the 2.5T trim for $49,925. If you’re ready to go all-out, get the 3.5T Prestige for $71,795. Whatever you choose, you can rest assured knowing you’ll love it.
5. Ooh La La Looks
I’m not ashamed to say that visual aesthetics are one of the features I Iook for when I’m reviewing a new vehicle. Just like how gourmands claim we eat with our eyes first and our mouths second, I tend to make my first impressions of a vehicle based on how it looks and feels well before I ever take it out for a spin. We spend so much time in our cars that I’d hope mine tickles my fancy.
The Genesis GV80 has looks in spades, though its massive statement grille does leave some folks torn. If you can move past it, though, you’ll be rewarded with an otherwise incredible vehicle that turns heads as you drive by.
There’s A Reason Genesis Is Stealing Hearts Around the World
Two years ago, if I told you that you could have the top trim of Mercedes-level luxury for less than $75,000, you probably would have looked at me like I’d grown two heads — but that’s because Genesis hadn’t really taken off yet.
Now, the company has shown us that we don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to live the high life — and that has to be my favorite thing about Genesis. I had no qualms with the GV80 (and in fact, I was actually a little heartbroken to have to return it), and it was shocking that I wasn’t even driving the highest trim level.
If you haven’t already had your eye on Genesis, now’s the time to start looking, because this automaker is about to change everything you know about luxury vehicles.
Disclosure: Genesis provided this vehicle to A Girls Guide to Cars for the purposes of reviewing it. All opinions are my own.