This is definitely not Brooklyn anymore. My morning drive began in New York’s ultra-hip borough, inching through traffic at an agonizingly slow pace before breaking out of the city for a more leisurely drive north. Wandering through back-country Connecticut, I’ve taken a break at Glass House, the residential masterpiece of the legendary architect Philip Johnson. It’s an appropriate place to pause for a longer look at the new Genesis GV70 sport-utility vehicle.
If the Genesis name doesn’t ring a bell, no surprise. The spinoff of Hyundai is the American market’s newest luxury brand. That said, it’s gotten off to an auspicious start, the G70 sedan named North American Car of the Year in 2019. These days, passenger cars do little to move the sales needle, however. So, after debuting with three well-reviewed sedans, Genesis is finally getting in sync with the market. It launched the GV80 sedan a year ago. And now comes the GV70.
Like many of today’s new utility vehicles, the 2022 Genesis GV70 isn’t really designed for off-roading. Sure, it can handle some sand or gravel, but it’s more likely to deal with urban and suburban roads, which is precisely what I intended to put it through during my recent trip to the East Coast.
The Genesis name has gone through a decade-long evolution, initially appearing in the form of an upscale Hyundai sedan. It morphed into a standalone luxury brand five years ago, Genesis soon rolling out three new sedans. The G90, G80, and G70 models drew raves from reviewers like myself, butthe new brand’s timing was unfortunate, the U.S. market rapidly shifting from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. Not surprisingly, Genesis sales have been marginal, at best.
Until recently, that is. Demand has surged since the brand’s first SUV, the GV80, came to market last year. And now, it’s about to get a little brother. The compact GV70 crossover shares the same basic underpinnings as the G70 sedan, providing it with dynamic road manners. But it also shares many of the same high-line features as the bigger, more expensive Genesis utility vehicle. And it even introduces some intriguing new technologies, including the world’s first automotive fingerprint recognition system.
That’s just one of the many features offered on the smaller Genesis model , but perhaps the biggest attraction is its starting price of $42,450 — posing a serious challenge to more familiar compact crossovers like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
The price, of course, can go up quickly, depending upon which of the two trim levels — Standard and Sport — you opt for, as well as a broad checklist of options.
“Audacious” is the word that Genesis chief designer SangYup Lee used to describe the new GV70 when it made its virtual debut last autumn. It was more than just the usual hype. Sure, the new crossover-utility vehicle falls in line with the latest automotive design trend, an almost cartoonishly large version of the brand’s “Crest” grille. But the overall look of the front end is distinctive and handsome.
One of the CUV’s most notable design details, front and back, is the use of quad head and taillights. The distinctive lighting is a real eye-catcher and prompted several motorists to pull up alongside me as I maneuvered through New York traffic to ask about the new GV70.
There’s a fair amount of brightwork, surrounding both the grille and the side windows. Twin creases, including what Genesis dubs a “Parabolic Line” counter the coupe-like roofline. Meanwhile, the new ute adds a distinctive, triangular third piece of glass on either side of the cargo compartment.
The back end is clearly GV70’s most controversial detail, touching off a lengthy debate when I posted a close-up on my Facebook timeline. To my own eyes, it might suggest what Porsche could have come up with if it revived the old 928 as an SUV, rather than a sports car.
The two different trim levels, incidentally, are visually distinctive, the Sport getting a darkened grille surround, a more dynamic lower fascia and — for those who actually will try to spend a bit of time off-road, a front skid plate. It also substitutes two massive round tailpipes for the box-shaped exhaust pipes on the GV70 Standard.
The GV70’s cabin has “a lot of Korean influence,” Genesis designers suggest. What that translates into is “subtle,” but the cabin is a handsome affair also picking up on elements from the GV80. That includes key design cues, such as an instrument panel divided into two separate zones — emphasized by a two-tone color scheme — and more details, like the knurled control knob operating infotainment functions.
Both versions of the new SUV will feature a 14.5-inch reprogrammable gauge cluster, along with a 12.3-inch display that can present a variety of apps simultaneously, such as a navi map and audio information.
The instrument cluster adopts a horizontal, wraparound layout, with slim air vents and elliptical accents that, Genesis officials suggest, are intended to look like a wing’s cross-section. Seats are attractive and, more importantly, quite comfortably supportive, as I learned during a wandering, all-day route from the urban jungle of Brooklyn to the lush fields of mid-Connecticut. Ambient lighting and leather seating is standard on all models, incidentally.
The compact Genesis GV70 comes to the U.S. with the same turbocharged engine options as the bigger GV80, making for some serious performance, whichever package you choose.
That starts with a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes a solid 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. That’s no slouch. But, if you want to punch things up with the GV70 Sport model, your alternative is a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 that brings on a spritely, 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque.
Both packages are paired with an 8-speed automatic offering steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And all versions of the 2022 GV70 come to the U.S. market with a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. Under normal conditions, 100% of the torque goes to the rear wheels. If needed, up to 50% of that power can be redirected up front.
An optional electronically controlled limited-slip differential can, in turn, push up to 100% of that torque to either of the rear wheels. However, it is not designed to provide torque vectoring, which could help with aggressive maneuvers, such as driving through a tight corner. It’s something we’d like to see Genesis add in a future update.
Safety and Technology
Also, like the brand’s bigger SUV the 2022 Genesis GV70 is loaded with useful technologies — including what the automaker bills as the industry’s first fingerprint recognition system that allows you to start and operate the vehicle without bothering to bring along your key fob. Alternatively, you can use the Genesis app to open or lock, as well as run the SUV — though the process is easier with an Android phone than one running on Apple’s iOS operating system.
Even the “Standard” model offers plenty of gear for techies, both trim levels outfitted with that 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Like so many manufacturers, Genesis has switched to a fully 3D digital gauge cluster which uses cameras to monitor the position of your eyes, projecting images that give the cluster a realistic sense of depth. It is a truly impressive system, rivaled only by the 3D system offered on the new Mercedes S-Class.
Add to this, a 12-inch head-up display that projects arrows onto the road to help you pick the right place to make a turn, something that proved especially useful trying to navigate my way along the crowded and complicated streets of Brooklyn.
The infotainment system can store a number of different profiles, should you have more than one regular driver. That means you’ll have unique display and climate control settings, among other things. There is, of course, the now requisite Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and wireless smartphone charging, as well as a wireless hot spot.
The system provides two-way communications that allows for “dynamic voice recognition,” a fancy way of saying it understands plain English commands, although it’s not an Alexa-level voice assistant. It does keep the navigation system updated, not only for changing traffic conditions but also for detours and new construction. And it permits Genesis to revise the onboard infotainment system — but not other vehicle systems — using over-the-air updates.
One complaint: you have to go into the infotainment system settings to change the volume on the navigation system, a true annoyance when you’re rolling. Virtually every other vehicle these days lets you do this simply by adjusting the volume knob when the system is reading out turn-by-turn directions.
The list of smart safety technology is particularly impressive, starting with essentials like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist. Options add evasive steering assist, and a semi-autonomous highway driving assistant to help keep you centered in your lane and keep a safe distance from traffic. The GV70 also adds an airbag between front-row occupants to reduce the risk of head and torso injuries in a side impact.
When the Genesis G70 debuted during the 2019 model year it took reviewers by surprise. The compact sedan delivered the sort of driving dynamics you’d normally expect from a BMW 3 Series. So, there’s good reason to celebrate the fact that the new Genesis GV70 crossover shares the same basic underpinnings — including a front and rear multilink suspension — albeit with a bit more ground clearance.
I spent the day in a GV70 Sport edition also equipped with an optional adaptive damping system. The crossover was powered by the 375-hp twin-turbo V-6.
Starting out in Brooklyn, with the drive mode selector switched to comfort, the suspension soaked up all but the worst bumps and potholes on the borough’s well-worn roads. Out in the country, with the system now in sport, the suspension tightened up, allowing me to sweep through fast, tight corners with little effort. Steering was precise, with just the right amount of road feel and surprisingly little sense of understeer.
The powertrain was more than up to the job, meanwhile, responding smoothly to the movements of my right foot, the 8-speed automatic seeming to intuit the right gear to be in at any moment. At wide-open throttle, the V-6 also delivered a menacing roar. Under less aggressive driving, the cabin was pleasingly quiet, with only a modicum of road and wind noise.
The sophisticated infotainment system proved reasonably easy to master, though I had previously worked through the basics while driving the bigger GV80. If I had one complaint it was the inability to easily adjust the voice readout of directions from the navigation system. While most cars let you do that by adjusting the volume knob, the GV70 requires you to go into the system’s menu settings — something you’re not going to do while driving.
The Genesis brand has come a long way in a short time. In the five years since it debuted as a standalone brand it has rolled out five all-new models, and it’s already updating its earliest entries, including the G80 and G90 sedans. But, from a market perspective, the most important move is just getting underway with the launch of the GV80 and GV70 crossovers.
For first-time entries, they’re truly surprising. The GV80 proved that Genesis really could deliver a competitive alternative to the likes of Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes. And the new 2022 Genesis GV70 shows that was no fluke. Add the fact that you get a distinctive design, plenty of appealing features and a pair of solid powertrain options at a great price.
While Genesis may not — yet — have the cache of its more established rivals, it is clearly on the right path and the GV70 should help it gain even more momentum in a competitive marketplace.