- Genesis GV80 was supposed to be the value option in the midsize luxury SUV class
- Instead, buyers are springing for the top Prestige trim and paying handsomely
Hyundai's young luxury brand, Genesis, has struggled to gain a foothold since its launch in 2016. But in the 2021 Genesis GV80 midsize SUV, it may have a hit.
The GV80 carries a starting price of $49,945 including the destination fee. But in the first six months of 2021, buyers have been taking them home for an average purchase price well above that — $64,634, to be precise.
"The GV80 launched strong, commanding above MSRP transaction prices," said Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights for Edmunds.
Genesis has not needed discounts and incentives to attract GV80 buyers so far.
BMW has discounted its average X5 sale by 5.2% in 2021, while Mercedes has cut 3.5% off the price of the GLE.
By contrast, the GV80 is selling for 0.6% over the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) in 2021. That's a big win for Genesis.
"GV80 has delivered above our expectations," said Ted Mengiste, executive director of sales operations at Genesis Motor North America. "You always have assumptions and manage production to that, and all of it was blown away."
The variant in highest demand is the fully loaded GV80 3.5T Prestige, Mengiste said. Although this top-level trim costs about $22,000 more than the base GV80 model, it has been the volume seller thus far.
According to Mengiste, demand for the 3.5T Prestige accounted for 35% of all GV80 sales at one point. The second-highest volume belongs to the 2.5T Prestige, with a less powerful engine but similarly plush amenities, which has accounted for as much as 20% of GV80 sales.
Genesis had to restructure its production line, located in South Korea, because it wasn't building them fast enough.
"It's clear that people want the Prestige trim," Mengiste said. "Does it last? I'm knocking on wood, but I think it does."
If people are buying a GV80 at similar prices to the X5 and GLE, is the high cost ruining the whole point of an "affordable" luxury SUV in the first place?
It merits a close look. In our ratings, the 2021 GV80 earned a score of 8.0/10.0 in Value due to its impressive equipment, as well as its outstanding warranty coverage.
The $72,495 3.5T Prestige trim comes with lavish features such as premium leather upholstery, ventilated second-row seats and soft-close doors. Among its German competitors, as well as American and Japanese brands, such options are either unavailable or stuffed into pricey packages that quickly escalate in price.
Mengiste acknowledged that Genesis faces a difficult task ahead. The brand must take sales from other luxury brands, many of which have high brand loyalty. But Genesis will not judge the success of the GV80 solely on sales figures.
"You develop bad strategies if you go for numbers," he said. "We build the best product that customers will appreciate."
The array of features available in the top Genesis GV80 trims is genuinely impressive. Still, we expected a larger percentage of buyers to opt for the value-focused models that undercut other luxury SUVs on price. Until demand cools off — if it cools off, that is — expect to see minimal discounts on the GV80 compared to the generous offers currently available on its rivals.