Finally, Genesis has unveiled what is likely to become its bread and butter: the midsize 2021 GV80, which is also the brand’s first SUV. The full wraps were taken off at an event in Korea, where it will go on sale this month before making its way to North America in the second half of the year.
This first of three planned SUVs is hugely significant not only through its mere existence—the others are the smaller GV70 and one that remains shrouded in secrecy—but also because it rides on a new, brand-specific platform that will be used for the next G80 midsize sedan. The rear-wheel-drive architecture also offers optional all-wheel drive.
We’ve been waiting to see the production vehicle since Genesis first showed the four-seat, fuel-cell-powered GV80 concept at the 2017 New York auto show; while the production model carries over much of the show property’s look, the one people can buy carries five passengers as standard (a third row is optional) and will feature conventional combustion engines. Among those powertrains is the first six-cylinder diesel for the brand, a Genesis-exclusive 274-hp 3.0-liter unit—although that is unlikely to come to the U.S. We will, however, get two turbocharged gasoline engines.
These include a modified version of the new, 290-hp and 311-lb-ft 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Smartstream engine used by Kia and Hyundai, the latter of whom installs it in the Sonata N Line. The other engine will be a new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 that appears poised to replace the 380-hp, 390-lb-ft 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6 in Genesis’s lineup. In the GV80, they will mate to an eight-speed conventional automatic transmission controlled via an electronic rotary gear selector in the center console.
The new GV80 SUV also has an electronically controlled suspension with an integrated road-preview function that uses forward-facing cameras and navigation information to scan the road ahead for bumps; once an imperfection is detected, the suspension primes to make it all but imperceptible to the occupants. All-wheel-drive versions will feature Multi-Terrain Control with sand, mud, and snow modes that work on the electronic limited-slip differential located at the rear axle.
The 2021 GV80 was designed collaboratively by studios in South Korea, the United States, and Germany under the direction of Hyundai Motor Group chief design officer Luc Donckerwolke. Aesthetically, the GV80 wears many of Genesis’s recently adopted signature design cues, including the crest grille stuffed with the so-called “G-Matrix” mesh pattern, quad strips of headlights, and a parabolic line that traces the body side. “The quad-lamp graphic will become the most recognizable, unique signature of Genesis design,” Donckerwolke said. “Two lines will come to define Genesis,” he said of the dual strips of LEDs that serve as head- and taillamps. (They’re echoed in the fender garnishes, as well.) The G-Matrix pattern can also be found on the optional 22-inch wheels; the regular wheels are 19-inchers.
Inside, you’ll find the expected open-pore wood and quilted leather, the latter of which carries over the G-Matrix pattern. The wide dash is marked by vents that appear to span its width and was designed to create a greater sense of space and impart a minimalist theme; the spare number of hard buttons and switches reinforce the clean and simple look. Soft materials cover every surface, from the inside of the door handles to the quilted knee pads that line the lower sides of the center console.
A 14.5-inch, split-screen-capable display sits atop the dashboard, and Korean-spec vehicles even get a 3D instrument cluster that might make it to the U.S. If you don’t like using a touchscreen keyboard to enter a destination or other information into the infotainment system, the GV80 has handwriting recognition via a touchpad.
While the body structure is made from high-strength steel, the doors, hood, and tailgate are fashioned from aluminum to lighten the load. The GV80 also introduces road-noise cancellation technology to the brand, and it will of course have a host of driver-assist technologies to offer buyers.