The new 2021 GV80 SUV is the latest vehicle from Genesis, a spinoff luxury brand from Hyundai. Packed with premium features and innovative technology, the GV80 is an intriguing rival to established midsize luxury SUVs. You might have also heard about it because that’s what Tiger Woods was driving when he crashed in Los Angeles last month.
Is the GV80 good enough to dethrone the best SUV? To find out, Edmunds’ experts lined it up against the top-ranked Mercedes-Benz GLE. The latest GLE is fully redesigned for 2020 and further enhances the model’s traditional strengths of strong performance, plush comfort and versatile utility.
Both of these midsize SUVs have a substantial amount of legroom all around. The GV80 has a little less headroom, however. Passengers over 6 feet tall will notice the difference. The GLE, by contrast, provides ample headroom in the first and second rows.
Both SUVs normally seat five people. You can opt for a third row in either vehicle to expand that capacity to seven. While Mercedes offers a third row on nearly any GLE trim level, Genesis restricts that option to the GV80’s pricey 3.5T Advanced + trim level.
Highlighted by open-pore wood trim and knurled metal switchgear, the GV80′s cabin easily meets the standards for a luxury SUV. Fit and finish is excellent, too. And yet the GLE’s craftsmanship is decidedly richer. Every inch of the cabin is covered in luxe materials, with virtually no hard plastics.
The GLE’s seats are comfortably shaped and feature numerous adjustments to coddle occupants on long road trips. The GV80 has cushy thrones of its own, but the driver seat doesn’t lower enough if you prefer a sportier position.
There are no complaints about the GV80′s ride comfort. It glides over ruts and bumps without disturbing the passengers. Models with the V6 engine are equipped with a camera that scans the road ahead, allowing the adaptive suspension dampers to prepare the SUV for upcoming road inconsistencies.
The GLE’s ride is a bit more nuanced. The standard suspension provides the stable, controlled ride typical for the class. But we’ve also sampled models with the optional air suspension, which feels too floaty and transmits impacts through the cabin. Stick with the regular suspension if you can.
Atop the GV80′s dashboard is a 14.5-inch touchscreen display that can also be controlled by a remote touchpad and scroll wheel. Unfortunately, neither interface is ideal; the touchpad interface is a bit difficult to use and the touchscreen is mounted too far from the driver.
Mercedes’ GLE doesn’t have these drawbacks. The 12.3-inch display screen’s user interface is easy to navigate and allows for a deep level of customization. The touchpad controller is also intuitive. The GLE’s comprehensive voice recognition system is the best Edmunds has tested, too.
Every Genesis GV80 comes with luxuries that include heated front seats, a navigation system and adaptive cruise control. Upper-tier trim levels are equipped with a surround-view camera, imitation suede headliner and an impressive 3D instrument cluster. The GV80 also offers ventilated second-row seats, which are invaluable on sweltering summer days.
The GLE’s standard features are more modest, but the collection of extras is jaw-dropping. You can add extravagances such as heated armrests, heated and cooled cupholders and an air fragrance system. There’s even an augmented reality display that gives the driver added navigation information through digital overlays on the image from the front-facing camera.
Mercedes’ GLE is one of the most impressive vehicles in its class, but you will have to pay for it. A bare-bones 2021 GLE 350 will set you back $55,800 including the destination charge, while a base 2021 GV80 starts at $49,945 with destination. The GV80 comes standard with a few driving aids that are optional on the GLE, but in its upper trims, the Genesis gets uncomfortably close in price to a similarly equipped Mercedes, so watch out if you want to add options.
But the GV80′s lower starting and mid-tier prices, combined with Genesis’ superior 5-year/60,000-mile basic and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, give it a significant lead on value.
EDMUNDS SAYS: The Mercedes-Benz GLE holds on to its title as Edmunds’ top-ranked midsize luxury SUV, but only barely. Unseating the king was always going to be a challenge. The reality is that the Genesis GV80 comes darn close, which is a testament to the newcomer’s overall ability.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.
Cameron Rogers is a News and Reviews Editor at Edmunds: Twitter: @_crogers.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class review
2021 Genesis GV80 review