Genesis debuts its first-ever SUV, the GV80

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While Hyundai’s luxury Genesis brand has received kudos for making genuinely competitive luxury sedans at attention-getting price points, Genesis dealers have been more interested in getting the vehicles that consumers favor these days—crossovers and SUVs. Those dealers can breathe a little easier now that Genesis has finally introduced its first utility vehicle, the midsize GV80 SUV, to join the three sedans currently in Hyundai showrooms.

At launch, the Genesis SUV, which shares a platform with the G80 sedan, will initially be available in its home market of South Korea. No North American specs have been released, but we can expect it to arrive soon at our shores to compete with the likes of the BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Lincoln Aviator in the midsize luxury SUV segment. To expand across the many niches of that market, the GV80 will be available in both two-row and three-row seating configurations.

While the GV80 comes with appropriately luxurious materials and cosseting surfaces, much of the emphasis in the new SUV is on technology. A large, 14.5-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system augments the fully digital instrument panel. The navigation system incorporates augmented reality, and the Genesis Integrated Controller—Genesis’ take on German automakers’ all-in-one controls—has a handwriting recognition system that allows you to write out destinations or phone numbers which the car will then implement. That’s impressive, but it’s unclear whether it has any practical advantages over voice recognition. Hopefully the system will be disabled when the SUV is moving, since I’m pretty sure we don’t want people writing while driving.

front three-quarter in motion

Genesis claims that another of the GV80’s tech features is a world-first: Road Active Noise Cancellation (RANC). The system analyzes road noise and, every two-thousandth of a second, generates a sound wave exactly 180 degrees out of phase, so the two sounds cancel each other out. (If you enjoy the insulating effects of noise-canceling headphones, this is a similar system to your pair of Bose or Beats.) To further purify the cabin of unwanted sensory intruders, cabin air quality is continuously monitored, with filters activated when needed.

The GV80’s active motion driver’s seat is also said to be a first-ever, with seven variable air bladders that reduce fatigue on long drives. Heating and ventilated seats are available for the front two rows, and Genesis says that the second-row seats give “limousine-level relaxation.” A modern suite of driver assist features is joined by a monitor that alerts drivers when they appear to be drowsy or inattentive.

The GV80 at the reveal had rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel-drive models will also be offered. The launch SUV was powered by a 3.0-liter, 278-horsepower turbodiesel six-cylinder. That engine, however, is likely just for the domestic Korean market. When the GV80 arrives in North America, you can expect at least a couple of powerplant options, probably Hyundai’s 304-hp 2.5-liter turbo four and its turbocharged 3.5-liter six with 380 hp. When equipped with all-wheel drive, American-market GV80s will have an electronically controlled limited-slip differential on the rear axle.

Sales begin this month in Korea, with other markets soon to follow.

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