Launched as a 2021 model, the Genesis GV80 was the brand’s first foray into the luxury SUV market, and two years later, it’s still a winner. This repeat win says a lot about how impressive this SUV is. The GV80 gets an available third row and grafts a high-style exterior with a cabin that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bentley. All for a sum that has more than a few automakers on the other side of the pond squirming in their lederhosen. Genesis may be a relative newcomer, and chipping away at the established luxury players is a long game, but this Korean brand has the drive and hardware. After considering every single vehicle in this segment available for Canadians to buy, our jury of more than 20 automotive experts has voted the Genesis GV80 the Best Midsize Luxury SUV in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards.
It’s not easy making an SUV distinctive, let alone attractive, yet Genesis has arrived at a design language that manages both. The GV80’s flowing, cohesive lines are punctuated by the marque’s signature dual-layer headlights and taillights, and Genesis’ large honeycomb grille side steps brash for classy. The vehicle has style, presence, and looks expensive.
The wow-factor really kicks in when sliding into the cabin. The interior is a showpiece of design, fine materials, and exquisite craftsmanship. Every knob, button, and control operates with silken precision. Even the way the powered seats glide fore and aft might set a new benchmark for smoothness.
A hallmark of this Korean automaker has always been logical ergonomics. The GV80’s interface utilizes a round touch/trackpad for most functions, plus there’s an array of well-marked buttons along with lovely knurled metal rollers for audio volume and tuning. The wide 14.5-inch touchscreen is uber-crisp and we like the default display that shows a beautiful image of current weather conditions, blending into a subtle rendering of the navigation map. The available 12-speaker Lexicon audio system is stellar, and since “curated moods” are de rigueur now in premium vehicles, the GV80 offers a selection of ambient soundscapes that fill the cabin with such ear candy as vivid forest sounds, calm sea waves, a crackling fireplace, or the lively sounds of a bustling open-air café.
The GV80 is available with two powertrains. The comprehensively equipped 2.5T Advanced AWD runs with an impressively refined 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder making 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. Satisfying the urge for more is the 3.5T V6 that up the power to a robust 375 horses and 391 lb-ft. This one really hustles and the handling is pleasingly sporty. Both engines are hooked to a flawlessly smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
Genesis would like you to get arty with the GV80. With 10 exterior hues to choose from (three are matte finishes) and some truly wonderful interior colour combos (chestnut brown with smoky green Nappa leather, oh my), it’s not hard to create an individual version of Genesis’ flagship SUV.
The Genesis GV80 faced some tough competition. Runner-up vehicles in this category included the fabulously forward-looking BMW iX EV, the redesigned Lexus RX, the tough-yet-suave Land Rover Defender 90/110/130, and Porsche’s imminently capable and engaging Cayenne. Buyers in this segment are spoiled for choice, and there is a wide variety of excellent iron vying for your luxury midsize SUV dollar.
The Genesis GV80 stands out in many ways, however, showing true premium legitimacy in its design, on-road poise, and the marque’s obsession to every detail that, no matter how small, elevates this SUV to that intangible plane where it simply “feels” expensive, yet also warm and welcoming.
And here’s where the GV80 twists the knife into the competition. It’s not expensive. Granted, it’s not exactly giving away the top 3.5T Prestige AWD 3-Row at $91,500, but compared with heritage brands bearing iconic badges, this Genesis has a fire-sale price. Plus, that’s an all-in, no-haggle, no destination charge total. Factor in Genesis’ generous warranty and the promise of never having to step foot in a dealership, and you find all the elements that have us at AutoTrader naming the Genesis GV80 our 2023 Best Midsize Luxury SUV.