DETROIT – Genesis did it backwards.
The luxury car maker introduced first rate luxury sedans when it entered the U.S. market in 2015.
The problem was the market was speedily shifting to crossovers. Although they never said it, but Genesis’ launch plan called for sedans before utility vehicles.
Since we are talking years of development and billions of dollars to make its luxury car lineup happen, we did not see a sport utility until the 2020 model year. But the GV80 has been worth the wait.
It was dominated by Genesis’ crest grille. There was a Parabolic line that ran along the side, accentuated by power lines above each wheel. The quad lamps, which flanked the grille, required sophisticated technology, that’s what Genesis wanted as its brand identification.
The bottom line was that the headlamps were distinctive, garnering attention wherever we went. The Genesis GV80 had a unique face that turned heads. The quad lamp look, it was repeated in the rear, will come to define Genesis.
It was a horizontal interior, clean with few buttons and switches and ones that were there were flush with the surface. There was an integrated controller on the console that was meant lessened the need of touching the screen, though it was touch.
At 14.5 inches, the floating infotainment screen atop the dash accented the interior width of the GV80. Genesis’ designers have managed to make this crossover different, which is quite a feat in the crossover clogged market.
In the press material it said, “The ornate center control unit on the center console covers an electronic, shift-by-wire transmission base with dial-style shift. Handwriting recognition through the Genesis Integrated Controller helps users set a destination or enter data without having to operate a keyboard on the navigation screen—simply by using handwritten letters on the writing recognition control system.”
The GV80 was bristling with technology. We had the GV80 2.5 RWD Prestige. That means it had a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that made 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque at 1,650 RPM. It had rear-wheel drive.
It also had an eight-speed transmission with paddle shifters. There was a rotary gear selector atop the center console.
This combination was smooth, provided plenty of oomph and it was quiet. We remoted start the GV80 once coming out of the gym and when we got into it, it was idling so quietly, we could not tell that the engine was running.
The Prestige package included leather seating surfaces, surround view, blind spot monitor, a heated second row that complemented the heated and cooled front row seats, remote smart parking assist, parking collision avoidance assist in the rear, power driver seat bolster and cushion extension and active motion seat.
What it did was inflate the side bladders to keep us firmly in place during twists and turns.
We had a panoramic roof, power hands free lift gate, keyless operation, Bluetooth, voice controls, satellite radio, streaming, really slick soft green ambient lighting, highway driving assist, lane following assist, rear side window screens, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel and driver attention warning. That was just some of creature comforts and safety equipment.
For $58,475 as tested, Genesis has served notice with the GV80 2.5T RWD that it is a competitor in the luxury crossover market.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.