2021 Genesis GV70 Review: The ($20,000) More Affordable Porsche Macan S?

My first drive of this 2021 Genesis GV70 was about a month ago, at an event for automotive media. The Genesis PR lead walked me through the GV70’s features before setting me free on some Maryland back roads. I took in as much behind the wheel as I could in twenty minutes, and returned to our event location impressed.

I let slip to the Genesis rep that my daily driver is a 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel before saying “…and the GV70 seems very Porsche-y in some ways.” He chuckled and replied “well, we benchmarked the Macan.”

That’s a lofty benchmark. Crossovers may be crossovers, but Porsche makes a damn good one if you care about composure and steering feel and chassis dynamics and so on. After spending a full week with the same Mauna Red over Ultramarine GV70, I think Genesis has hit their marks. It’s very, very good.

2021 Genesis GV70 3.5T wheel

What Is It?

This is a 2021 Genesis GV70 3.5T Sport Prestige. It’s the smaller crossover of their two-model lineup, and unlike the bigger GV80, it’s more driver-oriented, sharing a platform with the (also very good) Genesis G70 sedan. That means a rear-biased all-wheel drive system is standard, paired to a 300-horsepower 2.5 liter turbo four or, in my case, a 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged V6. Two more cylinders and another turbocharger up the shove to 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is an eight-speed torque-converter automatic, sourced in-house.

All V6-powered GV70 models include an adaptive suspension with “road preview” – a camera scans the road and adjusts the suspension’s damping based on what it sees. Brakes are upsized, too, with bigger rotors on both axles and four-piston front calipers.

Performance-wise, the Sport Prestige package adds the (strange, fabulous) 21-inch gray wheels and an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential.

2021 Genesis GV70 Ultramarine Blue interior

Inside, my particular GV70 had the “Ultramarine” navy blue interior with Sport-Prestige-exclusive Nappa leather and suede seat centers. Genesis is offering some amazing interior shades, and mercifully, they’re not limited to the top-tier model. Buyers of a GV70 2.5T can choose from a deep purple or forest green interior, among others.

The 2021 Genesis GV70 starts around $44,000, and my loaded 3.5T Sport Prestige example carried a MSRP of $63,000.

2021 Genesis GV70 Mauna Red

Translating “Porsche Vibes” to a Genesis Crossover

Enthusiasts hate on crossovers. They’re mom cars, they’re not cool, they mean you’ve given up on life so you can drive ten under the limit with your automatic headlights turned off at night. And to be fair, a lot of crossovers are slow, personality-free machines with the handling abilities of overcooked pasta. Sure, they get black wheels and “sport-inspired” touches but they’re not actually much fun.

Porsche is an exception, and they don’t force you to buy the most expensive model to get “a good one.” My Cayenne Diesel is more or less a base model – as the Diesels were – with a torquey-yet-slow Volkswagen TDI motor and non-adjustable everything else. It is wildly composed taking off-ramps at twice the posted speed, feels sturdy and well-built, and offers honest feedback through the controls.

Genesis took that sort of feel and translated it to the GV70 remarkably well.

You don’t need the V6 – I think the turbo four would be fine for a lot of buyers – but it’s a nice bonus. It’s way more fun when you work it toward the top of the tachometer, with peak power made at 5,800 rpm. The transmission does a good job of managing things on its own, paddles peek out from the steering wheel should you want more control. I wish the Genesis box would shift gears a bit quicker, though – the famed ZF8 does it faster and with less power interruption in the process.

2021 Genesis GV70 3.5T V6 engine

At higher revs, the 3.5T V6 makes a pretty good noise from the huge round dual exhaust exits in the back bumper. It’s about as good as a V6 can sound, with just a touch of coarseness at the tippy-top of the revs. Genesis offers some piped-in “engine sounds” that can, thankfully, be fully disabled.

Drive modes are different enough to be worth using. In Comfort, the GV70 relaxes a bit. It’s soft, but not wallowy or pillowy. Steering is light, but accurate. You can waft around and take in the cabin’s niceties as the suspension soaks up bad city streets. Should you take an off-ramp with gusto and forget to change drive modes first (oh, the horror!) the GV70 will take a slight set before handling it just fine.

Sport and Sport+ are, of course, what you want for “fun roads.” Steering becomes weighty, the shocks stiffen, and that road-preview suspension changes its plan of attack. Ride quality goes from “a touch soft” to appropriately firm, though it’s never harsh. The transmission works with you, holding gears through sweeping corners and popping off downshifts as you trail brake. The GV70 weighs about 4,500 pounds, but it feels relatively agile. Forward visibility is particularly good, with a low dash and sculpted hood helping identify the corners of the car.

Beyond the GV70’s driving manners, Genesis borrows from parent-company Hyundai for its infotainment and driver assistance suite, and both are some of the best. Heavy traffic never bothered me in the GV70. With the drive mode set back to Comfort, I pushed a single button on the steering wheel. Genesis’ Highway Driving Assist II was all too happy to handle the minutia of I-66 traffic, and could even manage lane changes (that’s the “II”) so long as I signaled. As in the larger GV80, music duties are handled by a superb Lexicon sound system.

2021 Genesis GV70 Ultramarine Blue interior

Considering the Competition

“Smedium”-sized luxury crossovers like the 2021 Genesis GV70 are popular, and for good reason. They’re large enough to be useful but small enough to drive like a big car instead of a small bus. Competition, then, is pretty fierce. Every manufacturer wants a piece of this pie, and many offer compelling models of their own.

That benchmarked Porsche Macan sits alongside its platform-mate Audi SQ5. BMW has the X3. Mercedes-Benz has the GLC. Acura has the RDX. Genesis takes a very valid seat at the table with the GV70 – but how can they set themselves apart from the others?

2021 Genesis GV70 Mauna Red

Their answer is twofold, as Genesis keeps performance at the forefront while offering plenty of value. None of these vehicles are “cheap,” per se, but Genesis is doing Macan things (equally equipped) for roughly $20,000 less. Not into the Porsche? The GV70 is still less expensive than an Audi SQ5 or BMW X3, similarly optioned.

And “value” doesn’t mean “cheap,” either – the GV70 looks and feels the part, both inside and out.

2021 Genesis GV70 Mauna Red

Final Thoughts

My qualms with the Genesis GV70 are small. The rotary dial shift knob, while beautifully backlit, is a bit short to easily grab and twist. I noticed a few small squeaks from trim pieces. I wish the temperature readout on the HVAC dials looked less like alarm clock LEDs.

Beyond those, though, the 2021 Genesis GV70 3.5T is a delight. It’s extremely competitive against its rivals, and I’d encourage you to have this one at the top of your test drive list.

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