Chances are Tiger Woods wouldn’t be around today were it not for a Genesis GV80.
We all saw the photos, all read the reports. The golfing superstar was on his way to a video shoot in L.A. when he demolished the GV80 courtesy car he’d been given for the Genesis Invitational tournament.
Seems the SUV left the road at speed, hit a center median, careened off the road, slammed into a tree and rolled. Amazingly, he was extracted by firefighters, suffering only relatively minor leg injuries. And a very badly bruised ego.
I’m pretty sure this brand new Genesis, with its 10 airbags, its crumple zones, its raft of advanced driver-assistance systems and its high-strength steel body, saved Tiger’s hide.
Coincidentally, the day after the crash, the government-backed Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released the findings of its own crash test. It gave the GV80 its coveted Top Safety Pick after this sleek sporty ute aced all six IIHS crashworthiness tests.
So it was with a certain degree of confidence and general peace of mind that I clambered behind the wheel of our GV80 test car.
As you might know after all the Tiger Woods coverage, the GV80 is the first SUV offering from Hyundai’s premium brand. It’s a mid-size people-hauler with stickers ranging from $48,900 to $70,950.
I’m driving the the mid-range 2.5T Prestige — base price $48,900, or $58,595 very nicely loaded — with a silky-smooth 300-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder under the hood.
Interesting, for a press loaner, it’s rear-wheel drive, though naturally all-wheel drive is available as a somewhat pricy $5,750 option.
To me, what sets this brand new Genesis apart — in addition to its towering strength and IIHS-approved safety — is its head-turning style.
Just gaze at that gorgeous, swoopy waistline crease, the curvy, raised hood-line, the swept-back angle of the windshield and the quartet of pencil-thin LED lights at the front. Standing still, it looks like it’s doing a buck-fifty on the Autobahn.
OK, so that huge, shield-like, honeycomb grille sprawled across the nose initially takes some getting used to. But fact is, huge grilles are “in.” Yes, I’m talking about you Mr. Cadillac Escalade, or Mr. BMW X7, or pretty much every new Lexus or Audi.
Open the door and you could be stepping into a Bentley SUV. The fit, the finish, the quality and the craftsmanship are just exceptional.
Our Prestige-trimmed tester came with glove-soft Nappa leather seats, a suede headliner, lovely stitching, stunning matte-finish wood, and very Bentley-esque knurled-edge knobs.
Splash some cash with the options list and you can get two-tone diamond-quilted leather, a vast panorama sunroof, and an ear-bleeding 21-speaker Lexicon audio system.
And the entire cabin is wonderfully roomy, with stretch-out legroom in the back, impressive headroom and shoulder room, and acres of cargo space.
It also drives as good as it looks. Yes, there’s a 3.5-liter 375-hp twin-turbo V6 on offer in the flagship GV80 3.5T. But after a week with the 2.5-liter 300-hp version, it’s hard to imagine why you’d need the V6.
Hit the gas from standstill and it will rush away like a Learjet on takeoff and deliver plenty of turbocharged, mid-range thrust for speedy passing. At 75 on I-175, it’s serenely silent.
And with that super-stiff body, four-corner adaptive dampers, an electronic limited-slip differential, the GV corners like it’s running on invisible rails. Lovely, precise, nicely weighted steering, too.
This is one terrific first SUV effort for Genesis. Couple its sleek design, its quality and craftsmanship, and boatload of advanced technology with aggressive pricing and an amazing warranty, and it’s hard to resist.
Think of it as the new safe bet in the luxury SUV class. I’m sure Tiger would agree.
Test drive the 2021 GV80 at Courtesy Genesis of Tampa, Crown Genesis of St. Pete, Genesis of Clearwater, Brandon Genesis