There’s a pecking order in the luxury-car business. Excluding niche companies that sell ultra-high-end vehicles, European brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo generally reign supreme. Then come the Japanese, who are a rung or two above America’s Cadillac and Lincoln. This hierarchy is well established but under siege. South Korean upstart Genesis is on the warpath and its 2022 GV70 is poised to depose segment leaders and usurp the small luxury SUV throne.
That sounds a bit hyperbolic, but after driving the Sport Prestige-trim GV70 I’m convinced it’s the segment leader, or at the very least one of the best offerings in its class.
Sharing the same basic underpinnings with the excellent G70 sedan, the GV70 SUV is dressed to impress. With that shield-shaped grille, quad lamp assemblies at both ends and sweeping body lines, this SUV looks upscale without necessarily resembling any of its rivals — well, unless you consider the Porsche Macan a competitor, then there’s definitely a resemblance.
The GV70’s bodywork is distinctive and athletic, but its cabin is what really wows. At least in top-of-the-range Sport Prestige form, this interior sets a new standard. The seats are trimmed with sumptuous Nappa leather and suede, there are stunning carbon-fiber accents that feature a unique woven pattern that looks like nothing else in the automotive world, and then there’s the crystalline control knob for the infotainment system, which feels as good as it looks (even if it’s similar in size and mounted too closely to the rotary gear selector so you constantly grab one instead of the other).
This interior features a subtle oval theme that’s fresh and modern. A large, curving piece of brightwork spans most of the dashboard, encircling the climate and lighting controls. The door handles are surrounded by oval-shaped bezels and many other accents are similarly rounded.
There’s no other way to put it: This luxury SUV’s interior is stunning.
Further setting the GV70’s cabin apart from other luxury SUVs is its bright color palette. Aside from boring beige and black, you can also get Ultramarine Blue, which looks like the deep ocean. Havana Brown and Pine Grove Green are as distinctive as they are eye-catching, but for those with even bolder tastes, a bright crimson called Sevilla Red is also offered and it’s seriously eye-catching.
Overall, this Genesis’ interior is warmer and more welcoming than what you get in many German vehicles and it’s less robotic than the stuff Japanese companies offer these days. Basically, Genesis has figured out how to push boundaries without going overboard.
Standard equipment includes a broad and narrow 14.5-inch display that elegantly pops up from the dashboard, though it isn’t so tall it obstructs forward visibility. Normally, you navigate the GV70’s speedy and intuitive infotainment system with a console-mounted control dial, but the panel is also a touchscreen. Yeah, it can be a bit of a reach, especially while driving, but it’s nice to have both input options. Naturally, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard fare, and you also get a wireless charging plate and a nine-speaker audio system, though an array with 18 sound emitters is available.
The GV70’s styling is distinctive and attractive.
Included in every GV70 is a nifty fingerprint reader on the dashboard. It lets you access driver profiles, start the vehicle without a key and provides valet mode access. Digital key functionality is available, too. This feature currently only works with Android handsets, though I’m told support for Apple devices is under development. Similar to Lincoln’s Phone As A Key, this feature allows you to lock or unlock the vehicle, load driver profiles or share a virtual key with other people, all from the convenience of your mobile device.
Other no-extra-charge amenities include blind-spot monitoring, automatic high beams and rear parking sensors. Heated front chairs, a 12-way power driver’s seat and keyless entry with pushbutton start are standard, too, as is Highway Driving Assist — Genesis’ name for adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and lane centering. Depending on model, Highway Driving Assist II is also available. It includes the aforementioned functionality plus lane-change assist. In testing, Highway Driving Assist II works seamlessly. It does an excellent job keeping the GV70 in the center of its lane and attentively adjusts the speed to match that of the vehicle ahead. The system is particularly useful in heavy congestion, gently stopping the GV70 when things grind to a halt and automatically starting it again once traffic starts moving.
Speaking of driving, two engines are offered in the GV70. A 2.5-liter turbo-four serves base duty and is good for 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The optional unit is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that cranks out a stout 375 hp and 391 lb-ft. This engine delivers strong acceleration and is plenty refined, but it doesn’t feel particularly special.
It’s too easy to confuse the infotainment control dial for the rotary shifter because they’re mounted near each other on the center console.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard in the GV70 and it’s totally seamless about 90% of the time, though occasionally you’ll feel — and hear — upshifts at lower speeds. Enhancing traction in a variety of conditions, all-wheel drive is standard equipment.
With that V6 under the hood, expect 19 mpg city and 25 mpg on highway drives. Combined, the GV70 should return 21 mpg. The four-cylinder engine is more efficient, but not by much.
The steering is nicely weighted and unusually crisp for an SUV, though the GV70’s ride is a bit too firm for my taste, even in comfort mode. This stiffness doesn’t beat you up, but neither does it provide much of a handling benefit. Nonetheless, this Genesis drives well, even if it feels a bit larger than it actually is and it never encourages you to do irresponsible things. Dynamically, this SUV is competent but not outstanding..
You could do a lot worse than the Genesis GV70.
All this excellence will cost you, though not as much as you might expect. An entry-level 2022 Genesis GV70 starts right around $42,000 including $1,045 in delivery fees, undercutting the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 by a couple grand each. Naturally, the Sport Prestige model I’m evaluating here is a bit steeper, but still, it checks out for right around 64 grand, which, honestly, seems like a bargain given how luxurious this SUV looks and feels. If you’re still not convinced to give the GV70 a try, all Genesis models come with free scheduled maintenance and at-home pick-up for 3 years or 36,000 miles. This little perk should make living with one of these vehicles a nearly seamless experience
With an opulent interior, avant-garde design and competent dynamics, the 2022 Genesis GV70 is an outstanding vehicle. Put it at the top of your shopping list if you’re in the market for a small luxury SUV, it won’t disappoint.
Editors’ note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.