With the 2022 Genesis GV70, the breakout premium brand has delivered yet another sport utility designed to take the fight to legacy marques like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.
Where the larger GV80 is available with a stowable third row of seats, this compact SUV is focused squarely on right-sized luxury. Its smaller dimensions also mean skipping the six-cylinder in favour of the turbo four does nothing to diminish the polish and performance of this award-winning entry.
With its Porsche-like proportions and a massive mesh grille, there will be no mistaking this for any of the handful of other offerings in the segment. Where the GV80 mixes sharp creases and edges with soft ones, here it’s all about the curves. If anything, this compact has much more in common with the refreshed G70 sedan as far as exterior accents, with a similar execution of the split lights front and rear.
Where the GV70’s styling goes awry is behind the back doors, with the chrome trim that follows up and along the side windows falling in front of the quarter glass rather than behind it. It’s an odd choice that draws far more attention than necessary to an otherwise inconsequential area of this (or any other) SUV. The sloped rear quarters of a sportback model like the Mercedes GLC-Class Coupe don’t look as peculiar as this.
It’s pure class inside, though, with elegant shapes to go with unique trimmings not found elsewhere in the segment. Take the aluminum panels that span the front and rear door panels, as well as the sides of the centre console; they’re finished with a design that almost looks like sound waves in both the Advanced and Advanced Plus trims, while the ones on the doors feature integrated ambient lighting elements.
User Friendliness: 8/10
Even the shape of the climate control panel and how the various buttons and knobs are integrated is unique, with form meeting function in a way that makes an awful lot of sense. Unfortunately, the console controls don’t follow suit, with a questionable combination of dials for both gear selection and infotainment duty. While this type of transmission control isn’t ideal to begin with, that it’s mere inches away from a similarly sized knob that controls the head unit is simply dumbfounding.
Surely this author isn’t alone in having accidentally engaged the wrong window switch without first glancing at the control panel. Now consider the potential safety implications that come with scrolling across the touchscreen instead of switching from reverse to drive in a three-point turn scenario or something similar.
That the head unit is a touchscreen makes the extra dial on the console that much more perplexing, although it’s mounted deep enough on the dashboard to require a stretch from either front seat to reach it. The 14.5-inch display is responsive and easy to operate via either method (swipe and tap or console dial), however, while both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto occupy the better part of the screen when active.
The very size and shape of the GV70 makes accessing either set of seats simple, with large doors front and back and a low step-in height. Likewise, the cargo area has a low liftover hidden behind a massive tailgate for optimal ease of use. The large entryways all around also make for outstanding outward visibility, with no notable blind-spots to contend with.
With similar dimensions to the conventionally shaped Mercedes GLC-Class, space inside the GV70 for both people and stuff is ample. Beyond being easily accessible, there’s 819 L behind the back seats, all of which is spread across a deep and wide cargo area. Stowing the 60/40-split folding bench yields 1,610 L in total, while towing capacity stands at the same 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) as the GLC-Class.
While the rear seats must be manipulated manually, levers just inside the tailgate allow them to be stowed from the cargo area. With them upright, there’s easily as much passenger room as any of its adversaries, with this 6-foot-3 author able to fit with all kinds of space to spare. Likewise, the front quarters of the cabin are ample, with the layout adding a sense of even more room than there is (and there’s plenty).
Beyond offering lots of room to stretch out inside, the seats are supremely comfortable and feature three-stage heat and ventilation settings up front in all but the base trim (heated front seats are standard). Skipping the cheapest trim also sees the seats finished in genuine leather upholstery, while the rear ones are heated, the steering wheel is heated and powered, and the climate control system is of the tri-zone variety.
The quietness of the cabin only enhances the sense of refinement found here, as does the overall substance of the ride. It’s characteristic of premium German vehicles – and Mercedes products in particular – to boast a unique plantedness, and Genesis has nailed that sensation. Similarly, there’s a firmness to the suspension that’s similar to what’s found in, say, an Audi Q5 or BMW X3, although it’s far from uncomfortable. Pressure cracks and potholes will be heard and felt through the stiffness of the steel springs, but the well-damped shocks will keep them from disrupting the drive.
Driving Feel: 8/10
Even with its V6-powered Sport and Sport Plus trims, the GV70 (thankfully) remains firmly rooted in the world of luxury rather than performance. It’s still responsive, but rather than emulating Mercedes’s AMG division or BMW’s M – even with their lite offerings – the GV70 is much more conventionally so.
Steering feel is good, with an electric motor mounted right to the rack providing the boost that makes it light at low speeds before firming up considerably. Never too heavy, it feels well suited to the size and overall demeanour of the GV70, as do the brakes. The only time the latter are problematic is when they’re set to automatic hold and used in conjunction with the engine’s ignition stop-start system. With the brakes fully applied without a foot on the pedal and the engine off while waiting at a traffic light, it takes a firm press of the accelerator to get the GV70 moving, at which point it surges forward rather quickly and awkwardly.
This small SUV is available with the same choice of motors as the GV80 as well as the stately G80 sedan. But unlike those offerings, it’s the four-cylinder that’s the right fit here, with the perkiness of the 2.5L a perfect match for the GV70’s size. (For what it’s worth, there’s nothing wrong with this engine elsewhere; however, the V6 is a more traditional match to their larger dimensions.)
Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a fully automated all-wheel drive system, this turbocharged four-cylinder leaves little to be desired in terms of everyday performance. Its 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque are both more than comparable versions of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, or Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, with the latter kicking in at just 1,300 rpm. That means there’s little time spent waiting for the GV70 to get moving, while the eight-speed transfers the torque to all four wheels in a hurry.
Get on the gas, even in eco mode, and there’s a sense of urgency that makes any thoughts of the six-cylinder obsolete. It’s only beyond about 4,000 rpm that the sound of two extra pistons will be missed, but the 2.5L never feels strained.
Fuel Economy: 7.5/10
In something of a backhanded compliment to the smaller motor, the 3.5L isn’t especially efficient, making this the de facto choice for fuel-conscious shoppers – although not by much. Officially, the four-cylinder is rated to burn 9.7 L/100 km, which is slightly worse than similar versions of the Q5 and X3, but quite a bit better than the 11.6 L/100 km the V6-powered GV70 is good for. In reality, however, this four-cylinder turned in an average of 10.5 L/100 km spread across some 590 km, most of which were racked up on the highway.
While testing was done in the wintertime, and the GV70 was wearing the requisite tires, it’s a shame such a new model wasn’t able to stay in the single digits – especially considering it runs on a recommended diet of premium-grade gas. With the all-electric GV60 on its way, here’s to hoping the electrified GV70 the brand announced late last year arrives sooner rather than later.
Another good reason to stick with the four-cylinder is price, with the V6 commanding a steep premium. While the Sport and Sport Plus versions ring in at $68,500 and $75,500 before tax, respectively, trims powered by the 2.5L range from $49,000 to $63,000. In the case of this GV70 Advanced Plus trim tested, its pre-tax selling price of $59,000 is a bargain next to its European peers that easily cost in the range of $65,000 or more with similar equipment.
While the base trim skips stuff like leather upholstery and a power sunroof, the list of standard equipment is extensive. There’s the massive 14.5-inch infotainment screen, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections – although the fact they aren’t wireless, and that the charging ports are USB-A instead of USB-C, is all a bit disappointing. There is, however, a wireless phone charger (sort of redundant without the corresponding infotainment connections), power-adjustable heated front seats, the brand’s smartphone-based connected services, and a hands-free power tailgate. There’s also fingerprint authentication that allows the vehicle to be started without a keyfob.
Moving up to the Advanced trim adds leather, ventilated front seats, a powered heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, and rear climate controls, among others, while the Advanced Plus trim gets an 18-speaker stereo, rear sunshades, and some extra advanced safety goodies. Then there’s the Prestige trim that gets Nappa leather and suede seating, and a remote parking system, among others.
All trims get a good suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance systems; forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, sensor-based blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and the brand’s highway driving assist. The latter chips in with some steering assistance while keeping the GV70 centred in its lane of travel and can even change lanes automatically when the signal is activated, although plenty of noticeable micro-corrections were applied during testing, and the system didn’t feel quite as smooth and refined as others on the market.
In the Advanced Plus trim, a surround-view monitoring system that provides a rotating augmented reality view of the vehicle on the infotainment screen is also included, as is a head-up display and camera-based blind-spot monitoring that shows either side of the vehicle in the instrument cluster when the corresponding signal is activated. Finally, the Prestige trim gets low-speed reverse automatic emergency braking.
The Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes GLC-Class are all fine choices – particularly for those looking to play it safe. What the 2022 Genesis GV70 manages to do is feel as luxurious and refined as any one of them while costing significantly less. It’s that combination that helped this small SUV take home not just the title as the Best Luxury 2-Row SUV in the 2022 AutoTrader.ca Awards, but also for the Best Overall SUV.
For the first time in this brand’s short history, it doesn’t feel like anything has been left behind with this latest offering. The GV70 manages to match its rivals stride for stride in its style and substance. Where past Genesis products have felt like they’re striving to be on the same level as established rivals, the GV70 simply is.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||300 hp @ 5,800 rpm|
|Peak Torque||311 lb-ft @ 1,300–4,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||10.7 / 8.4 / 9.7 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||819 / 1,610 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2022 Genesis GV70 2.5T Advanced Plus|
|Price as Tested||$59,100|