Genesis GV80 SUV –
THE HOOK OF GENESIS
It was almost one year ago this week that Hyundai’s Genesis joined other luxury OEMs in its pursuit of the crossover customer. The timing’s notable, given that Hyundai’s luxury arm had been playing in the luxury segment with nothin’ but sedans for the last several years. And while I’ve written previously about the stutter-step rollout for Genesis, nothing speaks to a dysfunctional lineup quite like the lack of an SUV. (Porsche – PORSCHE! – has two.) Thankfully, Hyundai’s Genesis now has one, the GV80.
Introduced in Seoul, South Korea, and rolling into showrooms as this is written, the GV80 joins the G70 (think 3 Series), G80 (5 Series) and G90 (7 Series) in the Genesis lineup. The sedans have been well received, supplying a combination of quality, content and value seemingly just right for the economic angst in this young century. While the prestige brands are doing fine (thank you), among many consumers there seems to be less interest in perceived status, more affection for real value. That, of course, is how Acura, Infiniti and Lexus built their business models 30+ years ago, and would seem to be how Hyundai is building Genesis today.
In your first look at the GV80 you’ll be forgiven if thinking upscale European, as it’s easy to imagine a Jag-u-ar or Benz – hell, perhaps even Bentley! – logo affixed atop the GV80’s oversized ‘Crest’ grille. In profile the large crossover sits well back on its axles, letting you know from the git-go this is a rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive platform. Although its 116-inch wheelbase underpins an overall length of over 16 feet, its proportions are such that nothing overwhelms you. And while it doesn’t have the expansive greenhouse of various Land Rovers, neither is it as constricted as Range Rover’s Velar.
Inside, comfortable seats in front, Captain’s chairs in the second row and room for two in the third add up to an appropriate environment for a $65K window sticker. With a base price of under $50K, that additional $15K of spec provides a host of luxury-specific upgrades, including 20-inch rims, leather seating surfaces, surround view monitor, blind-spot monitor and Lexicon premium audio. And while you can opt for this Advanced trim without the 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6, if you’re already making the monthlies, we’d recommend the V6 over the already-responsive 2.5 liter turbo four. The GV80 comes with 5,000 pounds of curb weight, to which you’ll probably add your overfed friends.
Behind the wheel, you’ll enjoy an almost sublime environment. Opt, however, for the Sport driving mode and things become more visceral. No, this isn’t Polaris Slingshot visceral, but you’ll feel connected in a way that BMW would, in its heyday, connect you. The aforementioned Velar pulled this off with a similarly sized effort, and it’s a credit to the Genesis product team that the GV80 seems equally entertaining.
Coincidentally, the delivery of the GV80 overlapped with a hard-loaded Kia Telluride in the driveway. Topping out at just under $50K, the V6-equipped, all-wheel drive Telluride supplied more under-the-hood refinement than the GV’s turbocharged four, while the Genesis seemed more vault-like than Kia’s big 3-row. And while I didn’t grab my tape measure when considering either interior, that the Telluride was more spacious was confirmed by the spec sheet: Kia claims 178 cubic feet of interior volume for the Telluride, while Genesis gives you 140 cubic feet in its GV80.
For some consumers, the choice is more than a spec sheet. A significant number of buyers want their vehicles fully optioned, and if it means adding another 12 (or 24) payments to get them, it’s not a big deal. I’m a fan of the platform rather than the amenities, and if I could get the Genesis level of construction and refinement for roughly the same money as Kia’s Telluride or Hyundai’s comparable Palisade, I’d grab it in less time than it takes to do the demo drive.
If cross-shopping Acura or Infiniti with Genesis, know the Genesis dealer is more difficult to find, but well worth it when you finally find it. When looking at bang-for-your-buck, there’s really no comparison.