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Genesis GV70 first drive: New money

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Genesis is the overachiever of automotive luxury brands.

In the five years since being spun off from parent Hyundai, Genesis has launched three sedans, heavily updated them with more distinctive styling, and moved on to SUVs. The brand’s first SUV, the Genesis GV80, launched last year, and now it’s being joined in the lineup by a smaller utility vehicle — the 2022 Genesis GV70.

The GV70 might be Genesis’ toughest launch yet. Shoppers in this corner of the market have plenty of choices, including established names like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and Volvo XC60, plus several other contenders. That’s the problem with being a newbie.

To make its new SUV stand out, Genesis equipped it with a solid array of tech — including a 14.5-inch touchscreen and advanced Highway Driving Assist driver aid — and took a page from parent Hyundai by emphasizing value.

At its $42,045 base price (including destination), the GV70 gets more standard features than most competitors, including all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, a hands-free power tailgate, and that big touchscreen. Our test car was the range-topping 3.5T AWD Sport Prestige, with a bigger engine, more tech features, and a $63,545 starting price.

Dashboard of the 2022 Genesis GV70.

Design and interior

One advantage of being new to the luxury car game is creative freedom. Where BMW and Mercedes have very rigid brand identities that can make their exterior and interior styling somewhat predictable, Genesis was able to do whatever it wanted with the GV70 and its other recent models.

The GV70 does carry over some familial design elements from those other Genesis models, including quad LED strips in the headlights and taillights and a massive grille. But it also has a unique appearance, thanks to a sleeker roofline that creates a more streamlined profile than the more-traditional looking Genesis GV80 SUV. Our 3.5T Sport Prestige test car also sported 21-inch wheels with an unusual spider-web design and giant exhaust outlets that looked like the business end of a jet engine.

The GV70 has one of the most imaginatively designed interiors we’ve seen in a long time.

Many luxury cars rely on the presence of leather and wood trim or a long list of convenience features to convey their status. Genesis does it with design. The GV70 has one of the most imaginatively designed interiors we’ve seen in a long time, and it instantly conveys that you’re in something special. The use of elliptical forms (inspired by the cross-section of airplane wings, per Genesis) and lack of clutter (even the air vents are hidden away) are matched by high-quality materials, including a glass infotainment controller. You do have to pay extra for leather upholstery, however.

The GV70 doesn’t lead in any interior-space measurements, but it’s not back-of-the-pack, either. Despite its sloping roof, the GV70 has the same rear headroom as a BMW X3 and the same front headroom as a Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. At 28.9 cubic feet with the rear seats in place and 56.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, cargo space is mid-pack for this market segment.

The 2022 Genesis GV70's touchscreen and HVAC controls.

Tech, infotainment, and driver-assist

The aforementioned 14.5-inch infotainment touchscreen — one of the largest in the industry — is standard, along with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, two USB ports for each row, wireless device charging, and fingerprint recognition. Buyers can also upgrade from the standard analog instrument cluster to a 12.3-inch digital setup and add a 12-inch head-up display.

Unlike some competitors, Genesis also offers novel tech features that don’t feel like gimmicks. The digital instrument cluster has a 3D effect that gives the images added definition, while the surround-view camera system normally used for parking can also send images to your phone, showing what’s around the car before you get in. Genesis also included a fingerprint reader that can start the car or call up cloud-stored driver profiles, and there’s a digital-key feature. Already offered by parent Hyundai, it lets you use a smartphone in place of a key fob, but only works with Android phones.

The GV70 also has a rear-occupant alert feature designed to prevent parents from leaving kids unattended in the back seat. This is a fairly common feature these days, but this version uses radar to detect the movement of limbs or even a child’s breathing, according to Genesis.

Unlike some competitors, Genesis offers novel tech features that don’t feel like gimmicks.

Standard driver-assist features include lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning, blind-spot and forward collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a driver-attention monitor, and Highway Driving Assist, which combines adaptive cruise control and automated lane centering. A Highway Driving Assist 2 version, which adds a lane-change function, navigation-based adaptive cruise control with auto-curve slowdown, and blind-spot monitoring, is available on higher trim levels.

During our test drive, Highway Driving Assist provided smooth automated acceleration and deceleration, but we still found some highway curves that were too sharp for the system to keep up with. That’s a testament to the limited capability of these systems in general, not Genesis’ tech in particular, however. Genesis also claims adaptive cruise control can use machine learning to copy a person’s driving style, but we didn’t spend enough time with the GV70 to test that out.

Interior of the 2022 Genesis GV70.

Driving experience

The 2022 Genesis GV70 launches with two powertrain options. The base 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, while the optional 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 makes 375 hp and 391 lb.-ft. Both engines are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and, unlike some competitors, the GV70 gets standard all-wheel drive.

Output of both engines is respectable for a luxury SUV in this price range, and our 3.5-liter test car felt downright quick. However, power was applied a bit unevenly in most driving modes, with a bit of initial turbo lag. Switch the GV70 into Sport+ mode, however, and that stops being a problem because the transmission holds gears much longer, keeping the engine at its boiling point.

The GV70 lacked the natural agility of some of its rivals.

That would normally be a good thing for enthusiastic driving, but the rest of the GV70 simply wasn’t on the same wavelength. While it’s possible to dial up the aggression of the engine and transmission, the handling or steering don’t sharpen up to match. We also weren’t fans of the heavily-synthesized exhaust note, which was loud but not especially pleasant to listen to.

Dial back the aggression, and things get better. The steering wasn’t a good match for sporty driving but felt fine at a more sedate pace. The GV70 lacked the natural agility of some of its rivals, but that doesn’t really matter when you’re just cruising along. However, the driving experience also fell short of true luxury, thanks to a firm ride, high levels of cabin noise, and a less-solid feeling than some rivals. We think it would have been better to pick either a luxurious or sporty character and go all-in on that rather than trying to do both.

Gas mileage and safety

With the base four-cylinder engine, the GV70 gets fuel-economy ratings of 24 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway) with 18-inch and 19-inch wheels, or 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway) with 21-inch wheels. With the V6 engine, the GV70 is rated at 21 mpg combined (19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway).

If you want a more efficient luxury SUV, note that the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lincoln Corsair, and Volvo XC60 are available with plug-in hybrid powertrains. The Lexus NX is available as a hybrid but without the plug.

Crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aren’t available yet. That’s not unusual for new models.

Like parent Hyundai, Genesis offers more generous warranty coverage than competitors. You get a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty, plus three years or 36,000 miles of complimentary scheduled maintenance.

How DT would configure this car

To get the most tech, you need to go for the top 3.5T AWD Sport Prestige trim level, as it’s the only way to add the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.0-inch head-up display. If you can do without those features, the Sport Advanced trim level (starting at $58,645) still gets the digital key, surround-view camera system, Highway Driving Assist 2, and navigation-based adaptive cruise control. It’s worth noting that even the base 2.5T AWD Standard trim level offers a decent array of standard driver-assist features, plus fingerprint recognition and an infotainment system capable of over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

The 2022 Genesis GV70's taillights

Our take

The 2022 Genesis GV70 proves that effort is more important than experience. This is Genesis’ first small SUV, but distinctive design elements and a strong tech game immediately make it a contender against more established players.

The GV70’s exterior and interior not only look fresh and new but also clearly convey that this is a luxury vehicle. Establishing a strong brand identity through styling is something Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti have struggled to do for decades, and the need to maintain that identity has led to increasingly predictable designs from the German luxury automakers.

Despite their inflated prices, most luxury vehicles don’t come with the array of standard driver-assist features you can now get on many cars from mainstream brands. Genesis bucks that trend, offering a list of features matched only by the Volvo XC60.

The GV70 is also good at being an SUV. It offers a respectable amount of passenger and cargo space, has standard all-wheel drive, and its everyday road manners will keep everyone happy. We also found the infotainment system to be among the easiest to use in the business, thanks in part to the standard rotary controller with pinch-and-zoom capability.

Driving dynamics are a weak spot, however. Genesis tried to make the GV70 sporty, but it couldn’t match the Acura RDX, BMW X3, or Porsche Macan in that area. The ride quality and level of cabin noise needed to achieve that semi-sporty feel also made the Genesis feel less than luxurious at times. That’s a minor flaw in what is otherwise a very well-executed vehicle, though.

Should you get one?

Yes. With the GV70, Genesis is keeping the established luxury-car players honest.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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