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Genesis GV80
Launching a new brand is never easy, especially if you’re doing so with three sedans in a market fixated with SUVs. Even with rave reviews, Genesis has flown under the radar with luxury buyers. But the new GV80, the first utility vehicle from the high-line Hyundai spin-off, should garner the attention it deserves.

The boast from brand boss Mark Del Rosso that it will “start a new journey for Genesis” is anything but idle. The GV80 features bold styling, lavish appointments and a pair of solid powertrain options, all aimed at established competition like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, but with aggressive pricing that key opponents can’t ignore.

The “crest grille” is a bit over the top, but GV80’s narrow quad headlamps, coupe-like roof and flared wheel arches give the SUV an elegantly athletic appearance that won’t get lost in a sea of look-alike utility vehicles. The cabin is lavished in quilted leather, open-pore wood and such subtler details as machine-knurled knobs. The front seats are capacious and comfortable, and you can opt for second-row captain’s chairs, as well as a third row.

Among its useful technology is a Digital Key function that operates without a key fob by smartphone app and can be shared with other drivers. The SmartPark function allows you to exit when dealing with a tight parking spot and have the car roll in or out on its own.

Genesis offers two powertrain packages: A turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four in the 2.5T model makes 300 hp and 311 pound-feet. The upgraded GV80 3.5T gets a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that punches the numbers to 375 hp and 391 pound-feet, enough to hit 60 in about 6 seconds. Both engines share an 8-speed automatic; and the 2.5T is available in either rear or all-wheel-drive configurations. AWD is standard on the 3.5T.

GV80’s a big beast, stretching 194.7 inches nose-to-tail and weighing about 5,700 pounds with the 3.5-liter V-6. But put it in Sport Mode and it holds its own on the tight curves. Switch back to Comfort and it soaks up the deep potholes.

Since spinning off from Hyundai in 2017, Genesis has routinely topped quality and reliability charts, even winning North American Car of the Year with its G70 sedan. Now, with the 2021 GV80, Genesis deserves serious notice from SUV-crazed buyers—especially with a starting price of $48,900. A fully loaded Genesis GV80 3.5T will just top $70,000, well below competing European and Asian alternatives.

Wheels

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