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2021 Genesis GV80 Revealed in North America: 5 Things You Need to Know

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Late Tuesday evening at a dedicated event in Miami, Genesis took the wraps off its GV80 SUV for the first time in North America.

The GV80 is the brand’s first production entry into the red-hot luxury SUV segment. It carries with it a lot of other first as well, not just for the young luxury brand lineup but the automotive world as a whole.

January has already featured a lot of the GV80, with the world debut happening in its home country of South Korea only a few weeks ago. This is the first time it’s appeared in North America, however. It’s a prime market for Genesis, and the brand used the event to trickle out a few key details unique to this side of the globe.

We were on the ground at the event, getting our first hands-on look at what’s a very important vehicle for Genesis. While it’s still some time before we get to drive it, here are the biggest takeaways from the event.

New Chassis and Engines, Foundation for Future Models

A whole new platform underpins the GV80, and it’s one exclusive to the brand to boot. It’s rear-drive, with all-wheel drive optional: in Canada, only all-wheel drive will be available.

Few automakers will develop a bespoke platform in this day and age, and Genesis is no different. GV80 is only a starting point, as a version of the platform will also do duty under the G80 sedan. Genesis staff told us to expect to see that later this year, confirming the origin of the brand is next in line for a refresh.

The 3.0-liter diesel found underhood in South Korea won’t be making the trip to these parts. Instead, North American buyers will have a choice between two turbocharged gas engines: a single-turbo 2.5-liter and a 3.5-liter twin-turbo unit. Genesis isn’t willing to talk numbers quite yet, but surveying the segment, circa 300 and 380 hp sounds about right.

GV80 Sets the Styling Tone for the Brand

If you like the looks of the new SUV then Genesis will be happy, because it represents where the brand is heading. We first got a taste with the refreshed 2020 G90, but this is a clean-sheet new vehicle. The diamond-shape grille, for example, will continue to be a Genesis signature. On the GV80 it’s mirrored in the exhaust outlets out back. This design symmetry is also carried through the thin head- and taillamps. Look at the SUV in profile and there’s a clear connection, with the side vent echoing the same two lines (and doubling as the turn repeaters).

“The Quad Lamp graphic will become the most recognizable, unique signature of Genesis design, as the simplest of lines communicate a distinct identity,” said Hyundai Motor Group chief of design Luc Donckerwolke. “Two lines will come to define Genesis.” Precious gems were a source of inspiration for the Belgian designer, specifically how they refract light: a pattern seen in the “G-Matrix” texture that pops up across the GV80.

A concave surface on the tail of the GV80 has an unlikely influence: the classic muscle cars of the ’60s.

The roof dips slightly as it meets the tailgate glass, but it avoids the crossover-coupe shape of others on the market. At 195 inches from end to end, it’s a hair longer than the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5, but narrower and lower than both. It has a decided cab-rearward stance, with a super-short front overhang.

GV80 will also feature up to 22-inch wheels, the largest available at its (yet unannounced) price point.

A Sharp Minimalist Interior

Genesis refers to the GV80 as a “mobile oasis”, focusing on simple, clean lines. Nearly every surface is of the soft-touch variety, be it leather, plastic or carpet. The dash architecture sticks to two main lines, one horizontal and one vertical. The horizontal portion of the dash is largely clear of buttons, with the vents integrated in one solid line bisecting it. A large 14.5-inch touchscreen perches atop it all: drivers and front-seat passengers can also interact with it via the Captive Control Pad (CCP), a rotary dial with touch and handwriting capability. There are also physical dials built into the center console—a very deliberate choice by the team.

“We have a term we like to repeat: mindful innovation. When you look at the instrument panel we still have buttons where necessary,” explained Richard Trevisan, brand director of Genesis Motors Canada. “Innovation is important, but we can’t just make it a high-tech car: we have to be mindful that you still have to have the pleasure of driving, and the full functionality. It’s to help you drive, not distract you.”

The Canadian team encouraged us to check out both the second and third rows at the reveal. As expected, the third row is best-suited to smaller people. We found it had enough legroom (at 5’10”, anyway), but that headroom was the limiting factor. Laser-cut speaker covers and soft-opening storage spaces improve the atmosphere in the way-back.

Moving up to the middle row and one should be able to stretch out. Or lean back, really: the GV80 middle row can recline up to 22 degrees, which is a class best. That, paired with the panoramic sunroof, lead the Korean team to nickname the second row “the star lounge.”

World-First Tech: Safety, Added Quiet, Machine Learning

The GV80 wouldn’t be a luxury car without oodles of tech. Genesis has stuffed the GV80 full of digital goodies, including the largest touch screen in its class (14.5 inches) and an available 18-speaker sound system. Like the G70, the GV80 will tuck two subwoofers directly underneath its front seats.

Importantly, all safety features will be standard across every GV80 model. That includes a highway driving assist, forward collision-avoidance, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert and rear-cross traffic alert. Also included is Smart Cruise Control with Machine Learning. This world first will learn from each individual driver, tailoring the cruise control to operate more like the driver themselves.

Every Genesis GV80 will arrive with 10 airbags, including a new airbag located between the front-row seats. This deploys in an accident to shield occupants from one another.

The other big world first for GV80 is Road Active Noise Cancellation. To counter outside noise, RANC deploys sound waves of the opposite frequencies as fast as 0.002 seconds to neutralize the tones.

It’s Heading to the Super Bowl

The GV80 will be heading to the big game on Sunday, with both Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. It’s the brand’s first Super Bowl ad, and in modern day fashion there are already teasers out there in the wild. You’ll have to wait until Sunday to see the whole thing, but Genesis heads told us this isn’t a one-off: Teigen and Legend will continue to do more with Genesis and the GV80 throughout the year.

Canadian pre-orders have been live since mid-January; US pre-orders should be live at the time of this publishing. GV80 deliveries will begin this summer.

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