RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Luxury sales are booming right now. It seems like everybody wants to get their hands on an SUV from Lexus or Audi or Land Rover. And then of course, there's BMW and Mercedes. Two true benchmarks when it comes to luxury crossovers.
Today we're matching their X5 and GLE against a promising rookie.
The Genesis GV80. It has space, it has power, it has style. The big question is, does any of that mean luxury buyers will like it?
MARK TAKAHASHI: That's adorable. I don't like it.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: OK. Do you want to check it out first?
MARK TAKAHASHI: I'm a man of style and distinction with more culture than yogurt so no, I don't think I need to.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: OK this might be harder than I thought. Before we dive in click that Like button very luxuriously. And don't forget to hit subscribe so you can see all of our organic, grass-fed videos. To get a cash offer on the car in your driveway, yeah that one, go to edmunds.com/sellmycar. We want to buy your car, yeah that one.
Can we take a moment to appreciate what Genesis is offering from an aesthetic standpoint? In a class that can often feel stale the GV80 is definitely not. It has a bold face, flashy accents, and a duck-tail rear. And best of all, these long lines accentuate its length and that makes it look graceful on the road. Under the skin you get a standard turbocharged four cylinder engine or an optional twin turbo V6 like this one.
You also get two rows of seats standard. And if you opt for the very top trim, it comes with three rows. This is a seriously impressive debut but here's an important note, value is still a core component of the Genesis strategy. So for that reason we'll be viewing the GV80 through more of a value focused lens than we do with the X5 and the GLE. In our estimation, Genesis needs to prove it can deliver on that front before we consider this a true competitor to these members of luxury SUV royalty.
MARK TAKAHASHI: Number one baby! We named the GLE the Edmunds Top Luxury SUV in 2020, 2021, and as we're shooting this remains the best mid-sized luxury SUV you can get today. And we didn't need to use some imaginary curve like value to make that happen. From base models, to fully loaded, the GLE's sturdy construction and attention to detail are unparalleled in the class. You also get a ton of tech features, including the MBUX infotainment system, which remains our favorite. The base engine is a turbo 4 cylinder, but this one gets the turbo 6. Unlike that GV80, you can also get some high performance AMG versions with some big stonking V8s. I mean, if you're looking for excellence you start here and you end here.
What we have here is the BMW X5, but not just any BMW X5-- no, no, no, no, this is the Edmunds' long-term test X5. Over the course of the year, we've logged over 10,000 miles and the verdict, it's an impressive luxury SUV that sometimes gets bogged down by its own expectations. The X5 currently sits in fourth place in our midsize luxury SUV rankings. Like the GV80 and GLE, the X5 has an optional third row. Unlike those two, there's no four cylinder option. The standard engine is a 6 cylinder with snorting V8s available too.
Let's talk about interior quality and comfort starting with the two German standard bearers for the class. The Mercedes GLE has a wonderfully modern interior. Yes, it's suave and extremely plush leather and this wonderful, open pore wood that looks more like teak than brown walnut. Best of all, it's all wrapped together in such a thoughtful design. These large screens make a statement without being overpowering. And also, the interior looks very futuristic without looking gauche or gaudy. Overall, it just kind of makes you feel special. We talk a lot about value and the Genesis but believe it or not, the GLE feels fully worth its price based on the interior alone.
The X5 takes a slightly different approach. There's lots of leather and metal but the design is much more traditional. It's pretty reserved and pretty safe. But you do have the option for a Swarovski crystal shifter knob next to all this, I don't know I guess it looks like a Macassar ebony. But I'm not a fan of the super, hyper glossy lacquer that they used. So you got to go with your own there.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Now it's the GV80's turn and right off the bat there is a nice presentation in here. Genesis did not skimp on the materials as evidenced by all of this leather and lots of soft touch points and interesting materials. Now it's true that you will find a little bit more plastic in here than the BMW and Mercedes, but in general this is a really refined interior for the class. But more than that, it feels unique. The GV80 has a design language that's all it's own. So it's not trying to be a German. It's trying to be the best Genesis.
MARK TAKAHASHI: I don't like it.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Woah! Dude.
MARK TAKAHASHI: I noticed that when you got in.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: How long have you been back there?
MARK TAKAHASHI: Well I noticed you had to duck your head down to get in and you're not getting as much headroom up there.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: OK you do give up a little bit of head space if you're six feet or taller in the GV80, that's true.
MARK TAKAHASHI: And the controls, they look like a cheap plastic toy.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: We are generally down on the piano black in interiors and this does have a lot of it on the touch parts, you're right.
MARK TAKAHASHI: And is that an iPhone 3 on the dash?
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: OK I was getting to that, it's a little bit out of the way compared to the others but for the money--
MARK TAKAHASHI: It's kind of a deal breaker for me Ryan.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: I'm not trying to sell you a car, man. Do you know what I do here?
MARK TAKAHASHI: Do you have any idea who I think I am?
These SUVs are packed with technology, with some of those features being pretty innovative. Let's check them out. We're in the GLE's sweet spot, heated seats and a sunroof for standard but the piece de resistance is this dual screen setup. Each one measuring over 12 inches and providing excellent clarity. Navigation included, Apple Car play and Android Auto, check. It's easy to use, fun to look at, and there's also an optional augmented reality turn by turn overlay that shows you exactly where you should be turning in real time.
You can literally feel the stress leaving your body and little stress demons exiting this earthly plane. Safe passage you little stress demons you. We also like the standard suite of advanced safety features. And the driver assistance package plus includes adaptive cruise control so you can keep an established gap between you and the car in front. An evasive steering assist automatically swerves you away from impending accidents, if necessary.
Now let's test out the stereo system with some blatantly familiar, royalty free music. From the driver's seat, the high is really nice and clear and you get some powerful punch from the bass coming right through the floorboards. As far as staging goes, it's this nice surround but you still have the focus up front. Overall, I give this Burmester two thumbs up.
Now for the X5, different car, same story. You get twin 12.3 and screens and the picture again is fantastic. We really like the most recent version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system. It can be a little confusing to grasp at first, but if you're sophisticated like me it won't be any trouble. Some key differences in the X5, you get adaptive headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and new for 2021 wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. None of those come standard with the GLE.
We also like the way the voice commands work with the navigation system but not the silly juvenile gesture controls, which are more for new money plebs and Doge investors. Adaptive cruise control is standard this time and works like a charm, but we found both the lane departure warning and the hands-free assisted driving are a little half baked. Use them as a safety net, not as a crutch.
Well it appears as the only thing left to do is test the stereo. Que our generic and inoffensive audio. Overall, it doesn't quite sound as impressive as the Burmester in the Mercedes. Doesn't have that kicky and punchy bass, you know. (FIGHTING NOISES) And sounds just a little hollow and muddy, but if I didn't know about it I'd be pretty happy with it.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Here's the part where you pretend to be surprised. Despite the GV80's significantly lower starting price point, it has a great selection of standard technology features. First up, you get a 14.5 inch screen with navigation. Although, there's no street names on the map not quite sure what's up with that. In addition heated seats, power liftgate, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a 12 speaker sound system, all standard. And if you upgrade to all wheel drive these seats come ventilated too.
Now you do have to go all the way up to the 3.5TPrestige trim if you want to get a 12 inch driver information display and soft close doors and some other features. But all in all this is a great package. Continuing the theme the GV80 also come standard with driver assistance aides features like adaptive cruise control to help you maintain a set distance between you and the car in front and blind spot monitoring with steer assist, which can move you out of the way of a collision in some cases. Including both of those as standard equipment is definitely a step above the X5 and the GLE.
Mark, I actually think you'll enjoy this part. One of the things we've come to enjoy in Genesis models recently are these cool ambient sounds you can choose from like rain forest or crashing ocean waves, a fireplace, stuff like that.
MARK TAKAHASHI: Right I mean, I don't hate it but do you have one that sounds like a cash counter.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Anyway, on top of that, there's also an available 21 speaker sound system and because the GV80 has such good insulation it really shines when you're on the road. Here, check this out.
MARK TAKAHASHI: OK but that song sounds good anywhere.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Oh do you like Moonlight Sonata?
MARK TAKAHASHI: I thought we were in a Genesis, but you know what, none of this is important. I have a very expensive hair appointment to get to so let's get rolling.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: I'm not your driver dude. OK fine.
MARK TAKAHASHI: Now it's going to get these bad boys on the road, am I right? The best word to describe the GLE from behind the wheel is solid. This thing feels planted and grounded not quite heavy though because the steering is actually easy and light. It responds quickly to your commands as you navigate tight parking spaces or high speed turns. It's robust, you won't feel much body lean and the brakes are easy to control in small increments too.
With all of that out of the way, you can enjoy power under your foot. And it's got thrust with the 4 cylinder and the 6 cylinder is downright fast. Just watch out for thumping gearshifts, they sure are fun but they might get old after a year or two of scaring your in-laws half to death. Also, a word on suspensions, we actually like the standard steel suspension better than the optional air suspension, which feels too floaty.
Inside the X5 things are more complicated. Yeah it feels lighter on its feet and yes it's agile and sporty but there's a catch, learning all the many settings at your disposal to find the driving style you like. Switching to comfort is too soft and switching to sport is too firm. One of our editors prefers steering in comfort, damping in sport, engine in sport plus, and transmission in sport. Ryan over there likes steering in sport, damping in sport, engine and sport plus, and transmission in comfort.
Personally, I like comfort everything with the engine in sport plus. The point is, get it wrong and you'll wish you just got the Mercedes. On the other hand, this 6 cylinder is a treat. Lots of juicy power and still pretty good on gas. We've averaged 19.9 mpg over the course of our ownership. You don't notice many bumps and the outside noise is kept out of the cabin. It's a great road trip car, provided you pick the settings beforehand.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Quite simply, the driving experience in the GV80 is not its strong suit. The twin turbo charged V6 actually posted pretty impressive numbers on our test track but the braking figures are only average and the handling is unremarkable. What does stand out is the ride comfort. The GV80 has a fantastic suspension it's supple and cushy without feeling floaty. So think Lexus, but better. What's more, on V6 models Genesis includes a front facing camera that will read the road in front of it for imperfections and then prepare the suspension in real time to provide a smooth road over them.
And the most amazing thing about that sentence is that it actually works as it's intended. We also like the lack of creaking or rattles or shaking inside the cabin which adds to what is already a very quiet experience in the interior. Now according to our testing, the Germans are still better at this, but it's a strong showing from the newbie. So the GV80 may not be an athlete, but it's already got this luxury thing down.
MARK TAKAHASHI: You know after spending some time behind the wheel I have to say I don't hate it but you're missing one important thing.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: What's that?
MARK TAKAHASHI: How often I need to go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 5 seconds flat, which is like all the time so call me when you have more power.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: I'm not doing that also do you think I'm an engineer?
MARK TAKAHASHI: No.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Buying one of these luxury SUVs should feel like a reward. Whether it's a reward for that promotion or your new restaurant opening or just getting the kids off the books. If you're in the market for one of these, you're doing pretty well there champ. We think each one of these options can competently serve as that reward for you. It's just that we think the Mercedes GLE goes above and beyond in a number of areas.
Meanwhile, the X5 is tailor made for a certain segment of buyers. And the GV80 offers accessibility to this level of opulence that hasn't existed since, ever. That said, we'll be keeping a close eye on the GV80. Since its launch earlier this year demand has been high. But part of that may be due to the fact that supply has been historically low across the nation. We'll be watching to see whether Genesis eventually decides to turn to discounts to entice new buyers. Genesis has done well with this launch but its work on the GV80 is not quite done.
So Mark, now that we've gotten to see the GV80, can we agree it's a strong first effort?
MARK TAKAHASHI: Solid first effort. Find somewhere safe to park the Benz will ya?
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: I'm not a valet.
MARK TAKAHASHI: Not with that attitude.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: All right fine.
Thanks for watching. Don't forget to click like and subscribe. To learn more about the GV80 and its competition go to edmunds.com for all your car shopping needs.