Overhauled and all the better
THE GOOD
  • Stylish inside and out
  • Smooth ride and handling
  • Lots of features for the price
THE BAD
  • Segment-topping fuel consumption
  • Some fiddly controls
  • Still working its way up the brand ladder
2021 Genesis G80 Review

It sometimes seems like the Genesis brand only just hit the market, but its G80 sedan has now moved into its second generation for 2021.

Overhauled from the ground up, the 2021 Genesis G80 better-looking, comes with a choice of two new engines, and serves up several new features. Two trims are available, both with all-wheel drive, starting with the 2.5T Advanced with its turbocharged four-cylinder for $66,000. I had the 3.5T Prestige, with a turbocharged V6 and a price tag of $76,000. Neither is available with options, and the price is no-haggle and includes delivery, with just taxes on top.

Styling: 9/10

I guess there’s something to context being everything, because while the oversized crest grille is one design element I don’t care for on the larger G90 sedan, I think it’s a good fit here, with more mesh softening the fascia below it, and the thin running lights butting up to it. What I love is that those slits of light continue into the chrome accents on the front fenders, and they flash with the turn signals. That’s the type of detail that really elevates a vehicle.

The pattern of light continues at the rear, which is deftly styled with a chrome accent on the trunk and exhaust tips that tuck up into the bumper. This thing’s a looker that turned a few heads on the street while I was driving it.

Safety: 8.5/10

The redesigned G80 hasn’t yet been crash-rated by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), although the latter awarded the 2020 version its highest Top Safety Pick+ designation.

Until then, I’m basing my score on the car’s list of standard safety assist features, which include adaptive cruise control – which gets information from the navigation system, and can automatically slow down when approaching a sharp curve – as well as blind-spot monitoring with collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, emergency front and rear braking, park distance warning, and lead vehicle alert. I don’t think too highly of that last one, which warns if you haven’t noticed that the car stopped ahead of you has moved. It’s too much of an incentive for drivers to check their phones instead of the windshield. It can be shut off, but those depending on it likely won’t.

Practicality: 8/10

The G80 sits between the smaller G70 and luxo-barge G90, and for many buyers it’ll be just right. The G90 is more of an executive’s car, heavy on rear-seat features for passengers being chauffeured around, while the G70 is built around the driving experience, and with a very cramped back seat. The G80 provides lots of space for those sitting in the back, but the driver still gets most of the features.

Given buyers’ overwhelming affection for sport-utilities, many will look to the all-new GV80 instead of the G80 sedan. Still, it’s definitely worth cross-shopping these two to see if the sedan fulfills your needs.

User Friendliness: 7.5/10

While Genesis has resisted the urge to put the vast majority of the G80’s functions deep within its infotainment screen, some features could be a bit easier to use. The climate system uses dials for temperature selection, which is good, but if you want to change the vent mode, you have to tap a tiny icon of where you want the air to blow. The centre touchscreen’s functions can be redundantly handled via a console-mounted controller, too. It’s fairly intuitive, but while it lets you trace letters or numbers on it to bring up contacts or navigation destinations, that system doesn’t work as well as some others I’ve used.

The steering wheel contains cross-cut thumb wheels that look and feel better than on cars costing three times as much. Unfortunately, they’re paired with cheap-looking plastic buttons that seem grabbed straight out of the Hyundai Elantra parts bin. And while everything else is straightforward, the cruise control buttons are needlessly complicated.

Features: 9/10

Giving you lots for the price has always been the Hyundai and Genesis way, and the G80 doesn’t disappoint. There aren’t any options, other than a handful of dealer accessories such as all-weather floor mats. The $76,000 asking price for this top trim includes such items as auto-dimming mirrors, a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, auto-defogging windshield, rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated seats in Nappa leather, 21-speaker stereo, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, heated power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and wireless charging.

There’s a smart-parking function where the car will park itself, but while that’s common these days, the G80 bumps that up a notch. Once the spot is located, you can get out and then, from the key fob, command the vehicle to do its thing all by itself. As with all these smart-park features, it’s faster to simply slot the vehicle into the space yourself, but there certainly is a wow factor to this empty-car autonomous method.

The stereo also contains a selection of “Sounds of Nature” settings. If your favourite music isn’t doing it for you, you can switch over to waves, rain, a fireplace, open-air café, or even the very strange “snowy day,” where you hear someone walking through the snow.

Power: 8/10

The last-generation G80 came with a 3.8L V6 that made 311 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque. This time around there are two new choices, both turbocharged, and both mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and with all-wheel drive. The 2.5T trim uses a 2.5L four-cylinder, making 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque.

My 3.5T carried a 3.5L V6, creating 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. The smaller engine will be enough for most drivers, but if your wallet’s good with it, the V6 is a nice step up. Acceleration is stronger than you might expect in a car this big, and the V6 is luxury-smooth and very quiet – unless, of course, you go into the centre screen and crank up the piped-in engine sound.

Comfort: 8.5/10

The G80’s seats are as good as they look, with 12-way adjustment, and heat and cooling functions. There isn’t a massage function per se, but it does have a driver’s “ergo motion” seat, containing inflatable cells that do their stuff depending on the drive mode; for example, the sport setting gives you firmer bolsters. It can also be set to “stretch” mode that comes on periodically to loosen up your spine on longer drives.

The doors open wide for easy in-or-out, and there’s no need to slam them. Push them until they touch, and then the soft-close feature shuts them the rest of the way. The rear seats are heated and supportive, although very tall passengers may find that the car’s swoopy profile steals a bit of headroom back there.

Driving Feel: 8.5/10

In one of those oxymorons of the automotive world, the stiffer a car is, the smoother it rides, since bumps don’t rattle into the cabin as easily. The G80’s all-new structure is stiffer than before, and combined with its new suspension, it’s a delightful ride for its smooth comfort. The all-wheel drive system continually monitors traction and how you’re driving, sending power to the axle where it’s needed.

Despite its size, the G80 feels agile, responding immediately to driver input. It doesn’t have the ultra-sharp canyon-carving chops of the G70, but that’s not the point here. Instead, you get a luxury ride, but you can still take it confidently through the twisties and with a smile on your face.

Fuel Economy: 7/10

The new V6 engine is powerful, but its fuel numbers are pretty much at the top of the segment – and not in a good way. The 3.5T is officially rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 12.9 L/100 km in the city, 9.0 on the highway, and 11.2 L/100 km in combined driving. In my time with it, I averaged 12.3 L/100 km.

Most of its V6-powered, all-wheel luxury competitors do better, ranging from a combined 9.5 L/100 km for the BMW 540i, to 11.1 L/100 km for the Lexus LS 500. Within the Genesis stable, opting for the 2.5T gets you a rated average of 9.5 L/100 km in combined driving.

Value: 8.5/10

Value is relative at this price point, of course, but against a couple of its six-cylinder competitors, it more than holds its own at its $76,000 price tag. BMW’s 540i starts at $71,600, but to add most of the G80’s features it’ll be $84,850. And the Mercedes-Benz E 450 starts at $72,300, but equipped similarly to the G80, it’s $88,300. When cross-shopping, remember to add any competitor’s delivery fee to its sticker – usually about $1,500 to $2,000 or more – which is included in the G80’s all-in price.

The Verdict

It’s hard to fault the 2021 Genesis G80 on its looks, its comfort, how it drives, and what you get for the money. It does, however, have two marks against it: it’s a car competing in a market ruled by sport-utilities; and its logo doesn’t yet have the cachet of the big-name brands in the luxury segment. Don’t let that stop you. If you’re in a city where the Genesis concierge service is available, which brings a car to your door to test-drive, take the company up on it. I really think you’ll likely be impressed.

Overhauled and all the better 1/20/2021 6:30:00 AM

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 3.5L   Model Tested 2021 Genesis G80 3.5T Prestige
Engine Cylinders V6   Base Price $76,000
Peak Horsepower 375 hp @ 5,800 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 391 lb-ft @ 1,300 rpm   Destination Fee Included
Fuel Economy 12.9 / 9.0 / 11.2 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $76,100
Cargo Space 361 L  
Optional Equipment
None