The Genesis GV80 Is Aging Like A Fine Wine

2023 Genesis GV80 Prestige 3.5T

Price: $92,200 CAD

Colour: Makalu Grey Matte

I drove the Genesis GV80 for the first time a few years ago. It was their new, and first, SUV. It felt as new as the company itself since the brand has only existed since 2017. I was underwhelmed by the driving experience and the looks at that time. I felt the power, while plentiful, was muted and the looks borrowed too heavily from the likes of the Bently Bentayga. Little has changed about the vehicle since and yet this time around, I’m far more smitten. The design seems to have matured, and I swear they tinkered with the power delivery a bit to flesh it out and make it feel more visceral. The looks have also improved without really changing. I’m not sure what’s going on here but I like it. I like it a lot.

Power & Performance

You get two engine choices in the 2023 Genesis GV80. The base model starts with a 2.5L 4 cylinder that delivers 300hp and 311 lb/ft of torque. This would be sufficient for everyday driving while keeping the fuel economy reasonable. Upper trims, including this 3.5T Prestige test model, come with a 3.5L twin turbo V6. This delivers 375hp and 391 lb/ft of torque. You definitely feel the power bump and it pulls pretty hard before topping out a little early. The power is sent to the AWD system through a buttery smooth 8-speed automatic transmission. You also get a fancy limited slip differential and adjustable suspension, both of which are controlled electronically. The total package is a refined yet still enjoyable driving experience.

As much as I enjoyed hammering around the in the GV80 and listening to the 3.5L twin turbo sing, there was one letdown. This thing is thirsty. I mostly drive it like my mother would so it received ample opportunity to deliver better fuel economy than it did. It’s rated at 12.9L/100km (18mpg) City or 10.4L/100km (22.6mpg) Highway but while I was driving it the vehicle couldn’t deliver better than 17.1L/100km (14mpg). That’s a big difference I can’t explain.

Exterior

I have criticized the GV80 for borrowing one too many design cues from the Bentley Bentayga. I’m not the only one to make the comparison. Since the exterior hasn’t changed for 2023 it must be my impression of it that has improved over time as I think it looks really good. This test model came with a color called Makalu Grey Matte which attracted a lot of attention and does wonders over the horrible green color Genesis was pushing a few years ago. The prestige trim also includes fantastic 22” rims, something Genesis does particularly well. While I wasn’t paying attention this has become a handsome little beast.

Interior

Any luxury vehicle lives or dies with the interior. The current car market has decided that the interior of all vehicles is the best battleground so if you’re going to win the war, you better get it right. Fortunately, Genesis delivers great interiors. They use good quality materials, interesting colors and texture choices without doing anything crazy. They’re nice cars to sit in.

In the 2023 Genesis GV80 you get the lovely 14.5” Genesis infotainment unit. It has so many bells and whistles I quickly get lost exploring the menus and functionality available to the driver. The native navigation is excellent and the screen it’s displayed on is crystal clear HD. You can have CarPlay and Android Auto but, incredibly, still wired functionality only. I’ll say no more.

You also get a 12.3” digital dash cluster that is as sharp as its infotainment cousin. The display is clear and easily readable. You can adjust the information to your preferences, whatever they may be. Also included is what has become a signature of Hyundai group cars, the blind spot cameras. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love these things. I still can’t believe other manufacturers aren’t all over this but it remains a largely Hyundai thing.

I owned a Toyota Sienna for many years. I loved that van and miss it to this day. It was my first encounter with window shades. In the case of the Sienna they were built into the sliding doors. I assumed my children would have them ripped out in the first fifteen minutes of playing with them but, incredibly, they lasted the entire time we owned the car. My time with them showed me how useful they were, particularly on long drives. The 2023 Genesis GV80 Prestige comes with very fancy powered window shades on the rear windows. Not only are they cool and fun to watch but they are also easy to use. You raise and lower them with the window buttons and I like the dual purpose. Better than a second set of switches.

I hate crappy interior plastics. You can’t really get away from them anymore but, believe it or not anyone born after 1990, you used to get wood trim in cars. It was pretty shabby and could have used a good sanding but it was still real wood. This started to disappear in the 80’s and by the time 90’s came around had been replaced by horrible looking plastic “faux wood” trim (see any Lexus of the time for what I’m on about). Genesis has done something very interesting with the GV80… you get real wood trim. They’ve also sanded and stained it (or however they color it) before putting it in the car. It’s wonderful. It replaces most of the piano black plastic we’d normally see in a vehicle interior and it’s lovely. I can’t speak to how long it would hold up but it handled the first few thousand kilometers just fine. Really great feature.

What material your headliner is made from doesn’t matter to most people. Most people probably never even notice what’s on the pillars and ceiling of their car but I’m not most people. The GV80 Prestige comes with “microsuede” as the headliner and it is fabulous. Yes, there will be challenges with cleaning it but that’s your detailer’s problem. Today, here and now, I’m simply basking in how soft and lovely it looks and feels. This is how you do it. 

Quality

The Genesis GV80 feels like a quality automobile. How it holds up long term is anyone’s guess but in initial quality, they did a great job. It’s not just what they used to make the car but how they bolted it all together. It feels tight and solid. When you open and close the doors they thud, they don’t rattle or wheeze. The vehicle itself feels planted and a little like a tank as you drive around. These are great characteristics for a luxury barge like the GV80.

CQI – 9. Lovely.

Value

At 90k (in the Prestige trim), the GV80 isn’t cheap. It’s also in a really competitive market. It’s priced right in line with the likes of Lexus’ RX models and Acura’s MDX. The Germans are way more expensive as they tend to start where this tops out. All of them are worth a drive but my preference of the lot is the RX as it’s a top shelf car. Keep in mind however that the RX is only available in 5-passenger and the GV80 can be specified (for an extra 5k) with a third row. This would push it into competition with the GX (from a size perspective) but they’re entirely different cars. Lots to consider.

Final Thoughts

I’m not too proud to admit when I’m wrong. I misjudged the GV80 when we first met a few years ago and I’m happy to report we’re fast friends now. This is a refined and classy vehicle that would deliver a satisfying driving experience day in and day out. If you feel the need to put your foot down it will respond to that as well. Genesis continues it’s relentless drive to become a real global contender in the luxury segment and the 2023 GV80 really shows what they can do.

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