TEST DRIVE 2021 Genesis GV80 — Is it better than the BMW? What is X5?

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Every Genesis car I have driven has been a great experience. The G70 sedan was my first choice. It felt like a premium, sporty family car that rivaled the 3 Series. Next came the G80 sedan which was a more stylish and interesting option to the BMW 5 Series. The Genesis that I wanted to drive the most, from the moment I saw the press photos of it, was the Genesis GV80 SUV. It is the brand’s BMW X5-fighter.

The GV80 was the ideal vehicle for Genesis after I had driven a few Genesis cars. It is a midsize SUV that allows Genesis to maximize its strengths (comfort and style), but minimize its weaknesses (a slightly choppy ride, mediocre exterior appearances). After having driven the GV80 for a while, I was curious if it is good enough to compete with the G05 BMW X5 – one of my favourite modern SUVs.

It’s a Handsome Thing

Anyone who is currently designing Genesis vehicles is doing an excellent job. It’s mostly good. The G70 Shooting Brake is, admittedly, a little miss. The rest of the lineup, GV80 and all, looks great. The wheels on the Genesis GV80 2.5T advanced test car were not my favorite. I preferred the gorgeous wheels from my Genesis G80 sedan tester. The rest I liked, however.

BMW enthusiasts will be mad at me for not complaining as much about Genesis’ large grille. However, the truth is that the GV80’s grille is stronger than the ones on BMW’s 4 Series or M3/M4. It’s large, but the grille is still fun. Do you think it would be better if the grille was smaller? The GV80 does it better than many. It’s also flanked with a unique split headlight design, which looks great at night.

That same split light design makes its way to the back of the car as well, giving it taillights to match its headlights. It’s a bit unusual to see headlights and taillights that are essentially the same but it somehow works. I also like how Genesis ditched the rear handle on the tailgate, relegating it to a release button on the rear wiper, which really cleans up the look of the rear end. Neat touch.

Although the Genesis GV80 doesn’t have a groundbreaking design, it’s a striking and unique piece of art that will be admired wherever it’s taken. Everyone who saw the Genesis GV80 up close was impressed by its design and gave me their opinion. Even though its appearance is somewhat reserved, it’s quite different from other German SUVs.

It’s All About the Interior

First, let’s address the negative aspects. Genesis’ infotainment is not good. Although it isn’t terrible and it can be used (see Lexus), it’s too complicated. It’s flush with the console’s center console so it can be a little annoying. There are too many tiles on the screen to navigate through and the rotary controller makes it difficult to see the road. Although it isn’t terrible, it can be frustrating.

The rotary control unit is located ahead of the rotary selector, but it’s taller. It is frustrating that you have to reach over the gear selector in order to use the infotainment screen. This is where all the critics end.

Outside of the fussy infotainment, the Genesis GV80 cabin is nothing short of fabulous. Seats are excellent; comfy and supportive, with just the right combination of both for an SUV of its size. Everything you can see and touch, and even some things you can’t, is made from high end materials and it feels as expensive as it looks. Built quality is great, as the whole cabin felt strong throughout my week with it. I also just love the design; it’s fresh, it’s modern, and makes you feel like you’re sat in something very expensive. There’s a sense of occasion to the GV80’s cabin that makes every drive feel more special.

Genesis’ instrument panel is also something I love. The panel is a mix of analog and digital, yet it offers far greater customization and interaction than BMW Live Cockpit Professional. It’s analog, and like the G80 sedan’s, is one of my favorite dials. The dial is gorgeous, with its brushed metal trim, a white clock face and numbers, as well as a metal needle. It’s almost like a Swiss watch. It is a digital copy of the speedo. This annoyed me on the G80, but makes sense more on the GV80.

With the Advanced Package equipped, my Genesis GV80 test car had blind spot cameras built into the blind spot monitor system. With that, when you flick one of the turn signals on, the digital tachometer suddenly switches over to the corresponding camera’s view. So in your driver’s display, you can see your blind spot camera, in addition to the blind spot monitor light on the side mirrors. It’s very slick tech and extremely useful. I absolutely loved using it during my week with the car.

Ehh is the powertrain

A big Genesis with an impressive powertrain has yet to be driven by me. I have only been able to drive the four-cylinder model. It’s a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-pot with 300 HP and 311 lbft of torque. The GV80 has an 8-speed auto and all-wheel drive. It pulls well enough, despite being such a small four-cylinder engine in such an enormous vehicle. It never felt like I needed more power throughout my time with it. I was able to merge onto the highway and pass slow cars in the left lane. Not even when I just wanted to have some fun. It isn’t about power.

It’s however not an extremely charismatic engine. Although SUVs do not need to have charismatic engines, the BMW X5 base engine is a turbocharged 3.0 liter I6. This is much more fun than the GV80 four-pot. Genesis claims that there’s also a turbocharged V6 of 3.5-liters available, but I wasn’t able to get to try it. It is not comparable to BMW’s six-cylinder.

Gearshifts are good, though, from the eight-speed auto. Never did I feel like I wanted it to be in a different gear. Manual shifts were just a hair less responsive than the ZF unit in all BMWs but not slow enough to be frustrating. Still, it’s best to just leave it in “D” and forget about it.

The Genesis GV80’s powertrain will blend in with the rest of the vehicle. It will perform all your requests, but won’t make you very excited or be too interesting.

Athletic, but not X5-Athletic

You’d be surprised how agile the BMW X5 feels as an SUV if you drive it. Although it’s not as fast as a 3 Series, the X5 handles better than any SUV its size. Although the Genesis GV80 may not be on par with the X5, it is close. Genesis has learned from the greatest. Genesis’ steering is well-weighted and features a great front end response. The BMW X5 is a good car to compare the GV80 with in terms of driving experience, at around 7-10ths of the same level.

There’s a smoothness to the GV80 that I really like, though. It sort of glides around in a way that really charmed me. It doesn’t handle quite as well as the X5, nor does it ride quite as well, but it has a really nice balance that should satisfy most, if not all, customers.

However, I do think Genesis’ suspension calibration needs to be improved. The GV80 handles bumps and other road imperfections very well. The GV80 is premium and highly-riding, so I am aware of the GV80’s sharp, frequent bumps. Although it’s not terrible, cars such as the X5 feel more sorted. It’s probably because BMW and Genesis have decades of combined experience.

Can it Hang with the BMW X5?

It can, in short. Although the Genesis GV80 may not be perfect, it isn’t as fun to drive or polished as the X5. It is cheaper than the X5, has more tech for less money and features such as blind spot cameras. However, the GV80 is also more fun to sit in and look at. The X5 is a better choice than the GV80, and I would still buy it if I had the money. The Genesis is a great family SUV and I highly recommend it.

Publited Sat, 24 July 2021 at 16:23.36 +0000

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