The 2021 Genesis GV80 has been voted by our jury of more than 20 automotive experts from all over the country as the Best 3-Row Luxury SUV in the 2021 autoTRADER.ca Awards. This all-new SUV has won against a crop of seriously impressive three-row crossovers in its first year on the market by rising above all expectations.
This win might come as a bit of a surprise considering how new Genesis is to the luxury car game. Despite being the Korean automaker’s first SUV, it’s clear that the GV80 impressed our jury more than every other vehicle in this segment and delivered everything that’s expected in this class and more. It sets a new benchmark for not only its segment but for the automotive industry as a whole. Besides being innovative, stylish, and boasting excellent powertrains and driving dynamics, it breaks new ground for safety features as well.
The GV80 is considered a relative bargain compared to other three-row SUVs like the BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and the Cadillac Escalade, which can all reach $100,000 when fully equipped. In comparison, the GV80 starts at $64,500 and tops out at $85,000, which is pretty great considering the eye-catching style, impressive interior, and innovative technology it offers.
As big as it is, the GV80 manages to be attractive without appearing too brash. It looks classy and the design language is unique, with the two LED lines in the headlight etching a styling line that runs the length of the vehicle which continues into the taillights. The large grille features a mesh pattern that is also repeated throughout the exterior and interior.
The cabin is wonderful, with a lovely selection of leather and trim options. The layout is clean with minimal buttons. There is plenty of high-tech features, including a standard 14.5-inch infotainment screen and an optional 3D gauge cluster, which will surely impress even the most critical luxury SUV buyer.
There are many convenience features to appreciate in the GV80, too, such as the automatic ergo motion seat, which includes a massage function. Add in the automatically adjustable side bolsters, not to mention the heated and ventilated capabilities, and these are some seriously comfy seats. The rear seating is also spacious and comfortable, with window shades to keep the sun out.
In the past, Genesis vehicles have used a few buttons and switchgear controls that looked a little low-rent, but that’s no longer the case here. The gear selector is made up of a single piece of glass that looks classy and feels substantial in your hands, as does the rotary infotainment controller. The attention to detail in this SUV is impressive, adding to the quality feel of the GV80.
The GV80 offers two great engine choices. The 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in lower-trim models makes 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.5L twin-turbo V6 found in higher trim models makes 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. Both motors are paired to eight-speed automatic transmissions and all-wheel-drive. The AWD system features an electronic differential, helping to get the big GV80 out of sticky and slippery situations, and there are a few drive modes that help build confidence while driving the SUV through inclement weather and poor road conditions.
In terms of fuel efficiency, the GV80 is good for 10.8 L/100 km combined in the four-cylinder model, while the V6 returns 11.8 combined. That’s pretty good considering its power and size.
Among the key reasons this vehicle was voted as the winner by our jurors this year is the way it drives. While the ride is smooth, it’s aided by an electronic suspension system that uses a forward-facing camera to detect any irregularities ahead, like potholes and speed bumps. It will prepare the suspension and adjust for these jarring disruptions, ensuring a smooth, serene ride. Adding to that is an excellent active noise cancellation system that prevents unpleasant sounds of the road from entering the passenger compartment.
Helping to secure the win, the Genesis GV80 is loaded with a wide array of the latest safety and driver aids, even going so far as to introduce a segment-first centre air bag. The safety features include forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and rear cross-traffic alert. That forward collision system even works while passing through intersections, helping the driver out in situations where they can’t always see oncoming traffic. There’s also a highway driving assistance feature, which combines adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping to provide added confidence. The adaptive cruise control even learns from your driving style, adjusting parameters such as follow distance and rate of acceleration to make the vehicle’s reactions feel more familiar and natural.
Overall, the Genesis GV80 delivers an exemplary driving experience combined with tremendous value. Standing out in this segment is a hard thing to do, considering just how tough the competition is. The Mercedes-Benz GLE and Cadillac Escalade have been around for ages and are extremely popular choices in this segment; the BMW X7 and Lincoln Aviator are no slouches either. For the Genesis GV80 to come out of the gates and be so impressive with its first attempt at the SUV game is something truly worth rewarding.