Genesis has taken the luxury world by storm, fielding class-leading entries in both the sport-sedan segment as well as the red-hot midsize SUV slice of the market. The time has come, however, for the Korean automaker to shrink down its style-first formula onto a somewhat smaller family package that’s more accessible in terms of price. It’s all part a bid to lure in entry-level premium shoppers seeking their first automotive reward after that latest promotion or quarterly bonus.
Enter the 2022 Genesis GV70, a compact hauler that bears the banner into an entirely new battleground for the brand. Despite having a leg-up thanks to sharing much of its platform with the fun-to-drive G70 four-door, there are always risks associated with taking a successful formula and repurposing it at something of a discount compared to other models in the lineup.
With badges as legendary as Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Jaguar having faltered in shrinking their offerings in the past, I set out to discover whether newcomer Genesis has been able to learn from the mistakes of others and continue its strong run at the luxury establishment in GV70 form.
There have been three primary pillars on which Genesis has based its ongoing assault at automotive upper reaches: design, detail and value.
The 2022 GV70 continues to demonstrate the brand’s unswerving dedication to standing out from the rest of the SUV pack, incorporating many of the cues found when examining its larger GV80 sibling. This is especially noticeable up front, where a commanding grille and cheetah-scratch headlights form a compellingly aggressive, but not over-the-top, visual identity for the vehicle.
This image is successfully stretched across the GV70’s flank, but while overall attractive in presentation, when seen in profile or from the rear quarter there are more than a few hints of inspiration drawn from other crossovers. This is coupled with prominently bulging plastic cutouts for the vehicle’s exhaust tips that somewhat mar its otherwise cohesive sheet metal.
Open the driver’s door, however, and you’ll be instantly introduced to that second Genesis calling card. The GV70 perfectly demonstrates the company’s exceptional push past the leading edge of its German and Japanese rivals in terms of cabin design, creating a cockpit that feels both modern and posh without any of the multi-screen sterility or featureless onyx that has become such a staple in premium machines.
It’s a combination of technology, including a widescreen infotainment display and a pleasingly tactile climate control pod on the dash, and technique, quilted leather stitching on the seats, mirrored by carbon fiber-like diamond pattern inlays on the console and door handles. Not all of these niceties are available with every trim level, and some require additional options packages, but when ordered correctly the end result is impressive. You get an actual color palette to choose from, too, as my tester’s red-on-red scheme was bolstered by a palette of greens, blues and purples on the order sheet.
One can’t expect perfection within the GV70’s passenger compartment, of course. The somewhat tricky recessed infotainment dial found in the larger GV80 has been replaced by an easier-to-use dial that is unfortunately positioned just above the transmission’s also-rotary gear selector, which caused no end of confusion during my drive. In addition, rear seat legroom is a little tight, although not as spare as the Genesis’s cargo space, which relies heavily on the vertical to make its sub-29-cubic-foot measure.
On the more whimsical side, I was also surprised by something called Smart Posture Assist, which announced its presence with a message on the center screen and a firm kneading of my posterior glutes after roughly one hour of straight driving. Think of it as an ambush massage for your butt, and you’ve got the picture (although I’m sure that the owner’s manual uses more flowery language to describe its charms). I tried not to take offense at the SUV side-eyeing my slouch.
All That and Muscles, Too
My GV70 came in the 3.5T AWD trim, which adds the top-tier 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 to the build sheet. With 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque on tap, the Genesis returns a sub-five second sprint to 60 mph, but more importantly it provides confident acceleration and passing despite its 4,500 lbs of curb weight. “Effortless” is the word that best describes the big six’s pull at full throttle, although most of the time I rarely had to dip past 50% on the pedal thanks to the well-selected ratios managed by the vehicle’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
Thanks to all-wheel drive (standard at all trim levels), traction remained constant in the GV70 even on cold Montreal roads, which were particularly slippery due to an early fall cold snap. The vehicle’s chassis (and its adaptive suspension system, which incorporates terrain-observing forward cameras) is certainly willing to entertain should you feel as frisky as the autumn air, but I found myself more appreciative of its calm and controlled character on an extended road trip that included several hilly passes through the heart of leaf peeper country.
A Pleasant Price Tag Surprise
Although the base GV70’s turbocharged four-cylinder drivetrain is roughly $10,000 cheaper, even at a starting price of $52,600, the 3.5T AWD will still save you thousands versus comparable rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class or the Audi Q5. The SUV marches these more established models nearly lock-step in terms of performance while overshooting the mark in terms of interior execution and feature set.
More for less is rarely encountered in the luxury space, but Genesis has made that its final promise for those who would take a chance on an automaker that is determined to outfox its foes and funnel new friends into its showrooms. The GV70 puts the squeeze on an already crowded corner of the sport-utility space, and for a significant percentage of first-time buyers, the lure of a full-fare premium experience at a bargain price will be too hard to resist.
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