Mountain Wheels: Classy, speedy experience in the slightly exotic Genesis GV80
Vehicles and vehicle design seem to, for the most part, follow a linear path. But occasionally, you get something that’s very, very different and that makes automobiles interesting again.
Every time I set foot in the Genesis GV80, the midsize crossover SUV offering of Hyundai’s luxury brand, I swore I heard the car playing a strain of melody that sounded like “The Fez” by 1970s rockers Steely Dan.
And yes, that might have helped set the tone for the slightly notorious and so far seemingly unseen-in-Colorado automobile. In a Savile Silver paint job, it looked curiously like a combination of a DeLorean, a Grand Cherokee and a Porsche Cayenne, with the most bewildering external lighting scheme I have ever seen. Let us not mention the remote-control system that allows you to move the entire Genesis in and out of a parking spot.
I have not managed to so much as even look inside of a Genesis automobile since its 2017 debut, so the week I spent with a slightly road-hardened example of the model of SUV Tiger Woods had his near-fatal rollover accident in was indeed a slightly curious affair.
I first stepped aboard the GV80 and, besides its striking exterior and 20-inch wheels, I was overwhelmed by how magically different the vehicle’s layout and control suite is. Much like I remember Lincoln’s interiors also being absolutely alien in their futuristic pastiche, the screens and surfaces — and even an inexplicable round clicker-knob for the transmission — are all very bewildering on first glance.
I pressed a few buttons, and while I tried to mess with the cappuccino-colored navigation maps, I instead got a setting that plays the sounds of children laughing and romping loudly in crunchy snow. Over and over again.
So there’s the otherworldliness. Then, there’s the physical reality of the GV80, which is that it really is a considerably large, three-row luxury SUV with a 375-horsepower turbo-powered 3.5-liter V-6 and 391 pound-feet of torque. I was literally going 87 miles an hour about three seconds after I got into the vehicle, surprised by its very quick arrival.
But unlike Woods, I did not want to test what are apparently very effective air bags, so I slowed down — a lot. And I began to examine the various virtues among the curiosities and the way that Hyundai’s already quite style-forward modern design has been kicked up a few notches in the broader Genesis project.
In a way, it’s kind of like an Acura MDX-styled makeover of a Hyundai Palisade. GV80 is 195 inches long, 78 inches wide and weighs about 4,707 pounds. There’s also a 300-horsepower 2.5-liter version, but my Advanced-Plus model (priced at $66,475) got the whole power package.
Some hidden technology includes digital road noise canceling, smart cruise control with artificial intelligence (yikes) and 10 standard airbags, one of which is center-mounted between the driver and passenger.
My very, very silver GV80 took on a chrome-heavy look, with stenciled-in slots of lamps and a massive, European ultra-luxury-styled grille. It’s also got a very older-Porsche-inspired rear.
Inside, belying its perceived duty, the front passenger seat has full limo-mode switch, which squeezes it almost into the dash, allowing your ultra-VIP client oodles of leg room. The interior is notable for its lack of drama, though that is done in sort of a dramatic way. There’s a flat, entirely featureless dash, a long, single line of vents and a 14.5-inch-wide infotainment screen.
Until you notice the hard buttons above the digitized AC controls, your attempts to control that very vivid and data-rich screen are consumed by an input wheel that I could not really figure out. The round, crystallized gear shifter also needs your full attention to work correctly.
When it did, it contained what I think might be one of the best audio systems I’ve ever heard, a 21-speaker Lexicon setup. There’s also maybe 1,000 yards of light-brown leather throughout the cabin.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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