A memorable entrance can forgive a multitude of sins, including lateness. Consider the Genesis GV70, which is the latest mid-size SUV to arrive in the crowded and competitive mid-size luxury SUV segment. With measurements, performance, and pricing that are within a decimal point or two of the competition, the GV70 stands out with a dazzling sense of style and a fastidious attention to the details that define luxury.
Mechanically, the GV70 borrows liberally from its G70 platform-mate. All four corners enjoy the same multilink setup, albeit with different tuning and the wheelbase it extended slightly to increase interior volume. Power is courtesy of either a 2.5-liter turbo-four or a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, both connect to an eight-speed automatic. While no rear-wheel-drive version is offered, the all-wheel-drive system has a rear-axle bias and is capable of sending 100 percent of the torque to the rear wheels should the need arise. An optional electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential can further help put the power to the pavement.
Our test drive was limited to the top-shelf 3.5T Sport Prestige trim. While we didn’t make use of the optional differential to swing the tail wide, we did find ourselves hammering through the extremely tight and twisty canyon roads just east of Malibu. Sport Plus drive mode increases steering effort, amps up the powertrain, and stiffens the adaptive dampers, giving the GV70 the impression of a credible performer. The 375-hp V-6 proved quite willing, but the chassis and all-season tires are happier coddling passengers than they are cornering at the limit.
Granted, not many GV70 owners will use their two-row SUV to carve canyons. Perhaps even fewer will take advantage of the GV70’s launch-control feature, which we find to be a curious addition to such a luxurious vehicle. It requires you to disable stability control and activate Sport or Sport Plus mode, but the GV70’s automatic transmission has a torque convertor, so it can’t engage in the high-rpm clutch dump shenanigans of a dual-clutch automatic. Perhaps frustrated shoppers will find it handy during the busy holiday season when there’s only one spot remaining at the far end of a parking lot. Use it and we’d estimate that the 300-hp four-cylinder will hit 60 in just less than 6.0 seconds; the six will dispatch with that mark right around 5.0 seconds. Towing capacity comes in at a low 3500 pounds, and the ground clearance measures 7.3 inches. As with the tow rating, the ground clearance will be enough for most casual adventures.
This is just as well because the GV70 is much happier tracing the gentle curves of the Pacific Coast Highway. Freed of high-g-force shenanigans and dialed back to Normal mode, the cabin is hushed and the V-6 purrs along. A congested stretch of road is a good opportunity to try out the smart cruise control. The system is clever enough to adjust acceleration response and following distance based on how the GV70 has been recently driven. Aggressive driving yields semi-aggressive reactions to traffic, so on its own the system selects the smallest gap between us and the car in front.
The exterior pulls off muscular and elegant and is perhaps the best rendition we’ve seen of the Genesis design language first introduced on the 2020 G90. The crosshatch theme of the prominent grille is echoed inside and out, with the pattern found in the knurling of the glass rotary shift knob, across the rear valance, and embossed in the wheel spokes. Sport models feature larger and more aggressive air intakes up front, while the rear exhaust pipes look big enough to conceal a watermelon or two. In what seems a flattering nod to the Porsche Macan, the hatch release is neatly integrated into the base of the rear wiper.
The interior carries on a similar theme, with lots of swoopy, flowing lines across the cabin. The tapered forms and bold use of brightwork remind us of peak ’60s American car design. And while most competitors offer only a few interior color choices, the GV70 has seven, including a rather alluring two-tone blue and green color scheme. Genesis also offers 13 exterior paints.
As much as we enjoyed the interior design and materials, the eternal battle between form and function has not reached a peace. The curve of the door panel intersects awkwardly with the armrest, leaving your elbow unhappy. And while the aforementioned shift knob is a tactile delight, it sits just ahead of the identically sized infotainment control wheel. More than once we conflated the two dials, accidentally switching radio stations instead of shifting into Drive. Rear-seat space is a little tight in legroom, but the cargo area is slightly larger than some competitors.
Minor ergonomic gripes aside, the GV70 nails the phone-mirroring and infotainment tests that every modern car has to face. Cloud-connected services make real-time navigation routing and dynamic voice recognition possible. Our GV70 had no problems with our spoken request to open or close the windows, though it refused to budge the sunroof in either direction. Genesis also provides owners the ability to store things such as seating positions and radio stations to individual profiles, but even though these are also stored in the cloud, they can’t yet be transferred from one Genesis to another a la BMW. Over-the-air updates will likely expand these capabilities in the future. An industry-first fingerprint reader located on the dash can be used in place of a key. It can also summon driver profiles and activate the valet mode.
In typical upstart style, the GV70’s $42,045 base price undercuts key competitors like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 while offering more standard features. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a 3.5T starts at $53,645 and is equipped to do battle with the equally powerful but more expensive Mercedes-Benz GLC43 and Audi SQ5. While the swank duds and solid performance will certainly get it noticed, Genesis knows that a solid value is what will help the new brand find buyers.
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