Genesis GV80 brings crossover style to the upstart brand

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For Hyundai’s Genesis luxury division, the GV80 SUV unveiled Tuesday at a private media event in Seoul, South Korea, might as well be the brand’s launch vehicle.

The GV80, which goes on sale this month in its home market and is expected to hit American showrooms later this year, brings more than just sedan-on-stilts style to Genesis showrooms. The brand’s long-awaited first SUV will almost certainly overshadow the three sedans currently on offer.

The GV80 draws its styling cues from the edgy 2020 G90 sedan, albeit with some new elements.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

The large mesh-like grille is topped by the winged Genesis logo, a Bentley-like treatment, echoed in part by wheel designs that range in size from 19 to 22 inches. Two headlight strips flanking each side of the grille contain squared-off LED projectors, a whittled-down version of the G90’s quad headlight arrangement. Those strips are repeated on the front fenders and in the taillight design, and Genesis design chief Luc Donckerwolke said in a statement that the look will “become the most recognizable, unique signature of Genesis design.”

In other words, get used to the thin light strips on future Genesis models, which is scheduled to include more crossover SUVs.

The SUV’s side profile is upright, with big front and rear windows offset by tiny apertures for the available third row of seats. The GV80 is roughly as large as the BMW X5.

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

Inside, the low dash, wide control panel, and looming 14.5-inch widescreen recall the Lincoln Aviator. The digital instrument cluster may be a first for Genesis in North America, but the automaker offers an LCD in place of analog gauges in its home-market G70 sedan. The cluster contains a sensor that watches the driver’s eyes and adapts the screen slightly to deliver the illusion of a 3D display.

The two-spoke steering wheel could have come from a 1968 Ford Mustang, though of course it houses an airbag and various control switches. On the center console, knurled knobs handle gear changes and various drive modes. A touchpad recognizes handwriting inputs for the infotainment system.

Underhood the picture is a little cloudy. In South Korea, the SUV will launch with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6, an engine not likely to make it our way. Genesis promises a pair of turbocharged engines will come next, including a 2.5-liter turbo-4 and a new 3.5-liter turbo V-6. Power figures haven’t been announced, but the 3.5 will be exclusive to Genesis within the Hyundai group. Both engines will be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The GV80’s all-wheel-drive system will feature various traction control modes for mud, sand, and snow, and an electronic limited-slip rear differential will hustle power between the rear wheels. The suspension will make use of adaptive dampers, but it will not offer air springs.

Expected active safety tech such as automatic emergency braking, automatic lane changes, and adaptive cruise control are likely to be standard in the U.S.

It’s unclear if the GV80 will be a 2020 or 2021 model. That will depend on how soon it is released, but expect it as a 2021 model. Prices and complete specs for U.S. models will be announced closer to the GV80’s release some time this year.

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