2025 Genesis GV80 First Drive Review: It’s what’s inside that counts

FORT WORTH – The 2025 Genesis GV80 represents the fifth model year for the luxury SUV, and it’s getting its first major refresh. Though “major” is very much relative. This year’s updates mainly boil down to styling and some feature updates. What was done to the interior in particular has made it better than ever, even class-leading. Most of the rest, however, is the same as it ever was, which is still good, but we wish the mechanical bits had been given the same sort of sprucing up as the surface-level details.

The exterior changes are mighty light. The front grille mesh now has double bars to match the lights and fender accents. Those headlights have an array of small LEDs now instead of only a couple LEDs per unit. The front bumper gets a pseudo-skid plate garnish on the lower edge, and the rear bumper loses its exhaust cutouts, leaving vestigial mesh in place at each end, still with the vague shape of the Genesis grille. But the GV80 remains an elegant-looking SUV with its long arcing lines. And if you get up close, you can really appreciate the new, all-metal hood badge with the etched guilloche-style detailing.

2025 Genesis GV802025 Genesis GV80

The 2025 GV80 interior is a much bigger deal. The dash has been significantly revamped with a new 27-inch OLED screen encompassing both the instruments and infotainment. It’s silky-smooth and crisp, though the light beige graphics lack contrast and aren’t quite as easy to read at a glance as your typical light text and dials on a dark background. We appreciate that Hyundai has kept the redundant infotainment control setup featuring both touchscreen and rotary controller on the center console. The controller itself is new, however, with a more tactile and responsive knob replacing the original, iPod-like disk. Both it and the shifter dial also benefit from “crystal-like” surrounds that are convincing and add both expensive-feeling heft and a bit of nice flash. The touch buttons and display for the climate controls are a bit silly, but they’re livable, and the knobs for temperature setting are appreciated.

The steering wheel is new, too, with three spokes now instead of two. We’d call it more of a lateral move style-wise, but the interior designer noted that the new design allows for more ergonomic button placement. We’re not sure it’s that big a difference, but we have no complaints about said wheel buttons.

In addition to those crystal-like appointments, Genesis went above and beyond with interior color and materials selections. Brown or crème-colored leather seats pair with a distinctive pale forest green on the dash, doors and steering wheel (pictured above left). There’s also a blue dash/door/wheel option with white seats (pictured above right). If you’re not so adventurous, there’s a simple all-black and a dark gray with a dark, reddish brown. We strongly recommend the bolder two-tones, especially as there are two fascinating trim options to go with them. Our green/brown combo interior featured a hardened woven fabric made of threads sourced from recycled PET plastics and basalt. Yes, that basalt, as in a volcanic rock that’s been turned into thread and woven into a fabric. That’s freaking awesome. Similarly slick is the newspaper wood. It’s literally a composite wood made from stacks and stacks of newspaper, with the occasional thin piece of actual wood for structure. It’s then cut and sanded down to fit the trim pieces. Again, there are more conservative traditional materials such as gloss black plastic and natural finish wood, the latter of which is still beautiful, but our money would be on the new materials. They help make the GV80 feel like not only a true luxury machine, but a unique one, too.

The feature set has improved inside, too. At the top of the list is standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (finally), but there are other improvements throughout. The cabin’s glass is now laminated, and additional sound insulation has been placed throughout the SUV. There’s also available active noise canceling, and with all those features combined, the GV80 is impeccably quiet. The available Digital Key is compatible with Apple, Samsung and Google phones now, and the key can be shared via Apple’s iMessage. Related, there’s a fingerprint reader for additional authentication. The first owner of every GV80 gets Connected Services complimentary for as long as they own the car, which includes a WiFi hot spot, remote access, post-crash assistance and image capture from surround-view cameras. Finally, an optional Bang & Olufsen sound system boast 350 more watts of power over the previous Lexicon audio upgrade.

OK, so there’s one other feature, but it frankly falls into the gimmick category. Genesis has built upon the previous “Nature Sounds” ambient noise player by accompanying moody sounds with lighting and scents (that’s right, the GV80 is available with various perfume cartridges) to put you in a particular mood, from invigorated to relaxed. It’s not so different than the sights and scents show high-end Mercedes can put on, although Genesis does put it all together in a more curated fashion. Not that it needs to, of course – it’s gimmicky, but gimmicks can be fun. Obviously, your mileage, or mood, will vary.

We’ve of course spent an awful lot of time covering the 2025 GV80’s the interior because that really is where the changes have been focused. It’s also where this SUV truly shines. Mechanically, the previous options of turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder and twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 remain without changes to their output. They’re both paired solely with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

We were only able to sample the V6, and it remains seriously gutsy when you put your foot in it. And the steering, while rather dead-feeling, is weighty and accurate. Ours had the adaptive suspension, and it’s clearly tuned for softness, lending a somewhat floaty and roly feeling. Given that it doesn’t exactly hide its roughly 5,100 pounds (or around 4,800 for the four-cylinder), the GV80 isn’t the most athletic of the segment. The in-house eight-speed auto is smooth enough, but it’s neither as smooth nor as quick as those found in German luxury SUVs. This is one of the areas it would’ve been nice to see some more attention paid.

Genesis did note that the GV80 now features monoblock front brake calipers, as well as the ability to make slight steering corrections to compensate for crosswinds (the original version did that only by subtly applying the brakes). You’re unlikely to really notice those changes, though, nor the slight tweaks Genesis made to the various driver assist systems (though it didn’t actually specify what those tweaks were).

2025 Genesis GV80

On the upside, Genesis has hardly messed with pricing. Most starting points, including for the base four-cylinder trim, is unchanged at $59,050, while the trim with the biggest increase (2.5T Advanced) is only up by $1,400 to $66,950. That puts the Genesis at a few thousand less than a BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE, two of its key rivals. The V6 models start at $75,150, with the most expensive being the 3.5T Prestige at $80,650. And both those prices are the same as before. The BMW and Mercedes options offer the same kind of power for less, but you’ll be doing without many of the features Genesis includes on the base V6. Similarly equipped, and the BMW is within a few hundred of the Genesis, and the Mercedes ends up a few thousand more expensive.

While we would like to see some more refinement in the driving dynamics, the GV80 is dynamically no worse than before, which is a solid place to start. The new interior alone makes the GV80 one of the most compelling luxury options in the segment, while the price advantage seals the deal, making it one outstanding SUV that demands your attention.

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