When Elegance is a Necessity, Not a Stretch: Genesis GV80 Luxury SUV Review

Genesis Gv 80 Featured Image

You should start — and end — your day properly.

This has been a difficult story to write. This year my brothers and I were charged with cleaning out our childhood home after the death of our parents. 

A lifetime of archives, artifacts and memories were sorted, donated and packed away for future generations to peruse (or not). Furniture, tools and dishes were parsed out. Antiques and heirlooms were divided up. And, we had a funeral to plan.

It’s a job that takes us away from the adults we’ve become and pares us down to our humble childhood selves. Waves of emotion can be triggered by a single scent; smiles in a photo jolt us into an alternate place. While there are moments of elation, it’s all overwhelming. I need a massage and meditation just about hourly. 

So it was a welcome relief to end each exhausting day by slipping behind the wheel of the Genesis GV80 3.5T Prestige edition (starting price, about $59,000; our test model, about $72,000) plug into a downtempo playlist and drive back to my hotel. To stop and pick up dinner or to just head out of town for a cruise. Anything to regain control and add calm to my day. 

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The Rear Details Of The Genesis Gv 80 Are Elegant, Too

The rear details of the Genesis GV 80 luxury SUV are elegant, too. Photo: Scotty Reiss

How Do You Set the Standard for Your Day?

The next morning I’d get up and start again. I quickly realized that how I normally set the mood and ambition for the day was important. I didn’t have my usual routine, a cup of coffee and a walk with the dog. So, I had to carefully think not just about what I needed to accomplish but how I would go about it so the emotion didn’t derail me. 

The Genesis GV80 proved to be a great companion. Each day I would zip over to the nearby Starbucks for an early morning latte. I could have walked, but relaxing into the deep quilted leather seats, scrolling my fingers around the jewel-like infotainment controller, brushing them across the textured metal dials, holding the leather steering wheel in my hands to feel its deep lushness was the reminder of what I needed: to get through this and back to reality. It was important to start my day not being mired in the grimness of the tasks but with the view of the horizon.

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The Quilted Leather Even Adorns The Side Panels On The Center Console

The quilted leather even adorns the side panels on the center console of the Genesis GV 80. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Pedigree of Genesis Isn’t Just a Backstory, It’s a New Era of Luxury Leadership 

The more time I spent in the Genesis GV80 the more I appreciated this luxury SUV. Honestly, any carmaker can study the materials, technology and techniques that luxury carmakers employ. But it takes deeper introspection to think about the drivers and passengers, to consider the egos that will be reflected in this car and its status, the deeper creature comforts that will be appreciated and the intuitive features that will evoke emotion. “It’s like they know me!” 

It feels as if this car’s designers know you, and it’s because they do. They’ve collectively designed hundreds of different cars for luxury and popular car brands around the world. So, even if you’ve never driven a Hyundai, the parent company of Genesis, or a Kia, also part of the Hyundai family, you’ve probably driven a car designed by their design team. 

Hyundai spent the better part of the last decade assembling a dream team of automotive design and engineering talent. It started with the hiring of Peter Schreyer in 2008. At the time he was possibly the most famous car designer in the world, having carved Audi’s iconic design language into an indelible look and feel that still resonates today. That distinct and elegant look went on to define the silhouettes of Hyundai, Kia and now Genesis. Peter is more than a visionary designer, though. He’s also a leader who set greater design standards and discipline, then brought in top talent to elevate the South Korean car company to its desired place on the global stage. But a car company can’t really be a world-class car player with out a luxury label and a performance line (that’s the future here…stay tuned). So, several years ago Hyundai began playing in the luxury space with the first Genesis models. A few years later an offshoot began, with Genesis building its own model lineup, developing a distinct look and feel and of course, rolling out its own sales and service identity. 

And the team leading this effort? In addition to Peter, Albert Biermann joined from BMW to lead engineering; Luc Donckerwolke was hired from Volkswagen group where he worked on Lamborghini and VW; and to ensure that Genesis buyers get the premium experience that the brand intends, Mark Del Rosso, who had leadership roles at Audi, Bentley and Lexus, was brought on as the company’s North American president. Overseeing much of this is José Muñoz, Hyundai’s global COO and North American President and formerly a guiding hand behind the success of Nissan and Infiniti. This is truly a team that gives me confidence in the entire Genesis experience.

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A Puddle Lamp Lights Up The Pavement Next To The Driver'S Side Door In The Genesis Gv 80

A puddle lamp lights up the pavement next to the driver’s side door in the Genesis GV 80. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Distinct Look and Feel Are the Genesis Marque

While the Genesis GV80 at a glance has a familiar SUV silhouette, a closer look reveals distinctive details that set this car apart. I came to quickly recognize it in traffic as I passed another driver behind the wheel or saw or saw one in a parking lot. It starts with the slim wrap around head lights and tail lights that slash across the front and rear corners of the SUV; on the front the lights frame the wide diamond mesh grille and winged Genesis badge. 

The rear end of the Genesis GV80 has a demure, elegant look, more in line with other luxury SUVs for its absence of complexity: The lights frame the Genesis name, spelled out across the center of the tail gate. Two subtle spoilers are carved into the rear, above and below the rear window, for a very elegant effect. Nothing about this car screams “look at me!” but rather, it purrs with elegance. So, what’s it like to drive? 

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The Blind Spot Monitor In The Genesis Gv 80

The blind spot monitor in the Genesis GV 80 luxury SUV. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Elegance + Confidence on the Road

Confidence is the minimum acceptable performance in any car, but some cars offer more confidence than others. Put the GV80 in the second category.

The Prestige edition I test drove had it all: the 3.5L V6 twin turbo with 375 horsepower, Nappa leather seats and lots of driver assist technology. That meant I could really relax into the seats while I let the Genesis do the heavy work in traffic, but I could take the wheel and really enjoy winding country roads when I wanted to relax and let go. And when it’s time to let go, that’s exactly what the GV 80 does. One tap of the accelerator and it puts all its power into motion. It’s fun, and rewarding to not wait (or worry) that your car will get up to speed before traffic catches up to you.

A View Of The Genesis Gv 80'S Front Seat

A view of the Genesis GV 80’s front seat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Quilted Leather. Suede. Screens. Cameras. Premium Sound. All the Ahhhhhhs

You see luxury cars from the outside and wonder, “Are they all that on the inside, too?” In the Prestige edition we drove the answer is yes. Starting with the quilted Nappa leather seating and microsuede headliner that covers the ceiling, to the rear seats that are heated and cooled, to the rear seat vanity mirrors (are you starting to think I spent all my time in the rear seat? I *may* have escaped there to avoid the stress of the job at hand…), the GV 80 had it all. 

But front seat passengers have it even better, especially if they opt for all the premium add-ons like head up display and the Lexicon sound system, which I really appreciated. Surrounding yourself with a great sound track and letting the lilt and tempo wash away your stress is priceless. 

But it’s the infotainment scroller and controls that both in the front seat will love; the infotainment scroller is like holding a Rolex watch in your hand; its textured metal bezel surrounds a luminous crystal surface that glows and begs to be touched, as do the textured metal dials. The open pore wood balances the palette, connecting the leather, chrome and gloss black trim. The overall look and feel is elegant and refined. 

Rear Seat Passengers Can Use These Buttons To Move The Front Passenger Seat Forward Or Back

Rear seat passengers can use these buttons to move the front passenger seat forward or back. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Loved:

  • The adjustable head rest that moves forward and back to accommodate a pony tail
  • The “3D Display” drivers information screen, a novel and fun feature that greets you when you get in the car or adjust the display
  • The touch sensitive climate control at the top of the angled command center; the entire thing is completely at your fingertips and easy to see 
  • The star button on the steering wheel that allows you to set a custom function: go right to your favorite radio station, voice memo, cancel navigation, privacy mode to not display my phone date or toggle between two different phones 
  • The infotainment dial; dial it with your finger, tap corners to for quick access to a setting, or spell out what you want by drawing it with your finger
  • The dual panel panoramic sunroof that opens from both sides 
  • Head up display that displays speed limit, speed and the position of vehicles ahead of you
  • Under floor storage in cargo area 
  • Buttons on the shoulder of the front passenger seat allows rear passengers to move the seat forward and back
  • Vanity mirrors for rear seat passengers 
  • Electric rear seats that fold flat or unfold and and recline; seats can also be raised or lowered from the cargo area 
  • Climate control, heated and cooled seats, 2 USB ports and a household outlet for rear seat passengers 
  • There is an option for a third row, which is great when you need it
Rear Seat Controls In The Genesis Gv 80

Rear seat controls in the Genesis GV 80. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What This Car Costs 

Genesis offers several versions of the GV80, each very nicely appointed with a choice of engines, AWD and upgrade packages available: 

  • The base model GV80 2.5L 4 cylinder turbo engine with 300 HP, with LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, hands free liftgate, leatherette seats, heated power front seats, 8” driver information screen and 14.5” infotainment screen, premium audio, dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, and driver assist and safety features including adaptive cruise control, forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, blind spot collision avoidance, safe exit assist, driver attention warning, automatic high beam headlights and rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, about $48,900; the AWD edition of the 4 cylinder has a starting price of $54,650
  • The 3.5L turbo model has a V6 375 horsepower engine and standard AWD, and adds a panoramic sun roof, 20” wheels, and wireless phone charging, among other features, for a starting price $59,650
  • The 3.5L Advanced edition adds leather seating, heated second row seats, surround view camera, remote ‘smart’ parking, a third row option, blind spot view monitor and head up display for $65,55
  • We tested the 3.5 L Advanced with the Prestige package which added 22” wheels, Nappa leather seats, micro sueded ceiling liner, 12.3” driver information screen, power side window shades, cooled second row seats and second row vanity mirrors, with an overall price tag of about $72,995 including $1,045 destination charge.
The Rear Seat In The Genesis Gv 80; Notice The Electric Seat Controls On The Side Of The Seat

The rear seat in the Genesis GV 80; notice the electric seat controls on the side of the seat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What you Need to Know

  • The command center’s metal dials can heat up when the car is parked in the sun and be very hot to the touch, so either park in the shade or give the interior a few minutes to cool down on hot days before diving into the infotainment controller 
  • To fully understand what is offered at each trim level, buyers may want to book an appointment with a Genesis Concierge; the brand’s shopping site was difficult to navigate to distinguish one trim level versus another and understand each trim’s full details
  • Estimated to get 18 MPG city, 23 highway
  • Premium fuel recommended but not required
  • 3 year complimentary maintenance, including service valet
  • 5 year/60,000 mile warranty 
  • 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty
The Panoramic Sun Roof In The Gv 80 Opens From Both Sides Giving Passengers A Choice, Open Or Closed.

The panoramic sunroof in the GV 80 opens from both sides giving passengers a choice, open or closed. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The GV80 can even Parallel Park Itself


@xoconniepetersParallel parking WHILE NOT IN THE CAR!!! Watch this! ##genesisgv80 ##genesis ##gv80 ##shedrivesnow ##parallelparking ##smahtpahk ##cartech♬ Send Me on My Way – Vibe Street

A Luxury Car Should Be a Haven

If you’re spending a lot of money on a car, it should provide everything you want. And this is a crowded field; consider GV 80’s competitors: Cadillac XT6, Lincoln Aviator, BMW X5 or X7, Audi Q5 or Q7, Mercedes Benz GLE or GLS, Volvo XC90, Lexus RX and Infiniti QX60 as vehicles to compare it with. On some of the well appointed lower trim levels, GV 80 will deliver similar features at a lower price. And with an all in price of $72,000, the GV 80 may simply win, hands down compared to some fully loaded models. Making elegance a welcome respite, and not a stretch at all. 

Disclosure: Genesis provided the GV 80 for this review; all opinions are my own. 

The Front End Of The Genesis Gv 80

The front end of the Genesis GV 80. Photo: Scotty Reiss

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss