TESTED: 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T V6 AWD Proves It Belongs

TESTED: 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T V6 AWD Proves It Belongs

New luxe SUV debuts at a strong fourth place in its class

  • Yes, the price helps, but the tech and comfort stand out too.
  • The GV80 is a thoroughly impressive SUV that gives the Germans a run for their money.
  • In our instrumented testing, the GV80 3.5T was neck and neck with the BMW X5 xDrive40i.

Recent models from the fledgling Genesis brand had us expecting big things from the all-new 2021 Genesis GV80 luxury crossover — especially the 3.5T model with its stout turbocharged V6 engine. That said, we're not sure we expected the new SUV to bring the fight to stalwarts like BMW and Land Rover quite so ... suddenly. After all, how well could this Korean upstart compete against the big dogs in its first year anyway?

Now that we've put a GV80 3.5T Advanced+ through Edmunds' full battery of closed-course and real-world tests, you can color us pleasantly surprised. Read on to see how the GV80 stacks up, and why.

Freshman phenom — or close to it, anyway

There's never been a more competitive time for vehicles in the midsize luxury SUV segment. And it just got a little more crowded near the top.

In its first year on the market, the brand-new 2021 Genesis GV80 earned a score of 7.9 out of 10 in our comprehensive rating process. That is very good.

Good enough, in fact, to tie the BMW X5 and the Land Rover Defender in Edmunds' midsize luxury SUV rankings. Yes, you read that correctly: A brand-new Genesis received the same overall score as two of the most desirable SUVs out there today. Only the Mercedes-Benz GLE and Porsche Cayenne scored higher.

But at Edmunds, we generally don't do ties since we're trying to help shoppers make decisions. Our tiebreaker vote awarded the GV80 fourth place, behind the X5 and ahead of the Defender.

The Genesis also topped big-name rivals such as the Audi Q8, the Maserati Levante and the Cadillac XT5 — no tiebreaker required.

The price is only part of it

Pricing is undoubtedly a big factor. The GV80 starts at $49,925 including destination fees, which is about $5,000 less than most luxury SUV competitors. And in the case of the X5, the GV80 is more affordable by an eye-popping $10,000 to start.

The Defender has a similar starting price, although its higher trims command prices in the $70,000-$80,000 range to start. At its most expensive, the GV80 with both the Advanced package and the Prestige package comes to $71,975 including destination.

But cost is not the only factor at play. In fact, the GV80 achieved its highest scores in the areas of Comfort and Technology. It earned an 8.5 out of 10 in both categories. We consider these fields to be critically important in the midsize luxury SUV class as they are undoubtedly major factors for most buyers in the final shopping phase.

2021 Genesis GV80.

2021 Genesis GV80.

So how'd it perform?

Performance matters, too, especially in this rarefied segment, and here again the newcomer impresses. At our test track, the top-of-the-line GV80 3.5T Advanced+ needed 5.7 seconds for the benchmark 0-60 sprint en route to a 14.0-second quarter-mile at 100.2 mph.

So what?

Well, we happen to have a 2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i in our long-term fleet, and like the GV80 3.5T Advanced+, it's all-wheel-drive and powered by a turbocharged six-cylinder engine, so we're talking direct rivals here. When we took the big Bimmer to our test track, it laid down a 5.5-second dash to 60 mph and a 13.9-second quarter-mile at — get this — 98.3 mph. In other words, while the BMW was barely quicker on both fronts, the Genesis actually gained on it after 60 mph and was going marginally faster by the end. We'll call that a wash, and a rather impressive one when you consider that our X5 cost $83,420 to the loaded GV80's $66,475.

Indeed, it's rare that we recommend one of the fanciest versions you can buy, but with the GV80 we'll make an exception. The V6 is the engine to get, it comes with a bevy of features in Advanced+ spec, and that price speaks for itself. If you insist on the very best Genesis has to offer, the Prestige package boasts even more opulent features, but it pushes the price a bit too high for our taste.

2021 Genesis GV80.

2021 Genesis GV80.

Edmunds says

Today's luxury SUVs are flush with lavish amenities and dazzling technologies that in some cases are the best the entire auto industry has to offer. But the Genesis GV80 is very much in the conversation with its esteemed competitors, which bodes well for the future of the brand as Genesis seeks to carve out a niche for itself. If you want to read our full review and rating, head over to the 2021 Genesis GV80 page for all the details.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article stated that the GV80 did not offer any variant starting in the $70,000 range. This has been corrected. The 3.5T AWD with the Prestige package is priced from $71,975.