Creating a new luxury brand from scratch takes time. Just ask Lexus how long it took before people stopped calling them fancy Toyotas. With products like the 2021 Genesis G80 sedan, the South Korean luxury brand is currently where Lexus was back in the 1990s, fighting to shake off preconceived perceptions. But after driving the G80 for a week, we believe Genesis is on the right trajectory to challenge the established luxury players, even the European ones.
The second-generation Genesis G80 entered the market at a poor time for sedans, when SUV sales dominated the market, competing with established mid-size options such as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The latter two recently received major updates, meaning that the G80 faces some stiff competition. But is the new entrant dead on arrival? Not even close. Genesis sent us a fully-loaded G80 3.5T with the twin-turbo V6 and the Prestige Package to sample for a week. Not only does the G80 match the Germans on luxury, it does so at a significantly lower price. Are we looking at the new face of luxury?
The 2021 Genesis G80 is an all-new arrival for this model year. Along with an imposing redesign that gives it a better chance of luring buyers away from the prolific Germans, the G80 is improved in many other ways. Its unibody structure now boasts six percent improved tensile strength over the last G80, while the platform as a whole is also 6% lighter than before.
At the lower end of the lineup, the Genesis G80 is powered by a more efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 300 horsepower, while a new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 produces more power than the outgoing 3.3-liter unit. However, the V8 has been dropped. The cabin is more luxurious than ever, provides more space for passengers, is quieter, and offers technology highlights such as a 14.5-inch infotainment display. As before, keen pricing for the Genesis G80 remains one of its key selling points.
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Not everyone will love the newest G80's enormous Crest grille, but it does a great job of endowing this mid-size sedan with some real presence. Employing the Genesis brand's 'Athletic Elegance' design philosophy, the G80 appears to have an Audi A7-like liftback design, but there's actually a traditional trunk lid back there. Details like the split headlights and lots of shiny chrome further help the G80 stand out from the crowd. As standard, the G80 gets LED exterior lighting, dual exhaust outlets, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Higher-spec models have 19- or 20-inch wheels as well as a power panoramic sunroof.
The Genesis G80 shares an almost identical height with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class but is 2.4 inches longer than its German foe. Dimensions for the Genesis include a 118.5-inch wheelbase, a length of 196.7 inches, a width of 75 inches, and a height of 57.7 inches. The curb weight ranges from 3,957 pounds to 4,497 lbs for a fully equipped 3.5T with all-wheel drive.
The Genesis G80 can be finished in a choice of nine colors, but only Alta White is included in the base G80 price. All other colors require an additional outlay of $500 and include Savile Silver, Black Forest Green, Tasman Blue, Uyuni White, Himalayan Gray, Vik Black, Gold Coast Silver, and Adriatic Blue. The bold styling of the G80 actually wears all of these colors quite well, be it the more stealthy black or the braver Tasman Blue of our test vehicle.
The Genesis G80's performance specs are excellent lower down in the range but its most powerful engine runs slightly behind the performance of pricier rivals. This year, the base Genesis G80 gets a four-cylinder engine displacing 2.5 liters but boosted by a turbocharger. Producing 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, power goes to the rear axle or all four wheels. In an independent review, this engine allowed the G80 to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a decent 5.7 seconds, ranking it above both the base versions of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class. For even more power, there is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine producing 375 hp and 391 lb-ft. This version will hit 60 in just over five seconds, so it's not quite as quick as the BMW 540i or Mercedes-Benz E450. Still, both G80s are fast enough to make light work of the daily commute. That said, there are much faster alternatives from Germany, but they'll all require you to part with a lot more money.
The latest Genesis has joined the downsizing trend. A new four-cylinder powerplant joins the range while the outgoing G80's V8 is no longer offered. The base 2.5-liter turbo-four is no slouch, delivering 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Since it produces more power than its German rivals, the base four-cylinder engine might sneakily be the ideal engine option in the G80. For prospective customers craving more power, the latest 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 generates 375 hp and 391 lb-ft. We found the V6's power delivery to be smooth and linear, but not aggressive. This engine sounds sonorous, but not shouty like an M or AMG product.
Both engines are paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. While stopping short of feeling truly sporty, both engines provide swift and athletic progress, while the eight-speeder works through its ratios quickly enough not to frustrate. The V6 is obviously more powerful and feels that way, but the turbo-four isn't that far behind. We hope Genesis adds a G80 Sport variant to compete with models like the Audi S6, BMW M550i, and Mercedes-AMG E53.
The Genesis G80 knows exactly what it wants to deliver; it's more athletic than you'd expect, but it will leave the race track antics to the Germans. We love the G80's naturally-balanced steering, which doesn't feel overly assisted in any drive mode. Placing the car into its sport mode considerably tightens the steering rack, making the car feel more eager to leap into corners. It's no M5 when the roads get twisty, but the electronically-controlled suspension does a novel job keeping the car mostly flat and level. There's noticeable body roll if you push too hard, but the chassis is well-tuned to let the driver play with the car before it gets too out of shape. Anyone who's driven a Lexus GS 350 F-Sport will feel right at home in the G80 with its comfortable yet athletic demeanor.
When the roads are straight and boring, the G80 excels at delivering on its luxury promise. It's quiet, comfortable, and composed even when the roads aren't, keeping occupants cocooned from reality. We came away particularly impressed with the G80's Highway Driving Assist function, which manages the steering and adaptive cruise control in traffic. Though this Level 2 system isn't meant to be hands-free, it was able to take over during huge chunks of our bumper-to-bumper commute without us touching the steering wheel or pedals. So whether you are hustling the car on a curvy mountain road or letting it nearly drive itself in traffic, the G80 impresses.
Unsurprisingly, it's the 2.5T that uses the least fuel. In RWD guise, this model returns 23/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined, dropping to 22/30/25 mpg with AWD. That's not as good as the BMW 530i, which manages a combined 28 mpg with RWD and 27 mpg with AWD. The same pattern persists with the G80 3.5T. It returns an EPA-rated 19/27/22 mpg with RWD and 18/26/21 mpg with AWD, numbers that fall well short of the six-cylinder BMW 540i. Quite simply, the G80's economy figures aren't the best in this segment.
The 2.5T has a 17.2-gallon gas tank so will manage a combined cruising range of up to 447 miles, while the more powerful 3.5T's bigger 19.3-gallon tank will see it travel up to 422 miles between visits to the pumps.
Genesis has put a great deal of effort into the design and execution of the G80's exclusive interior. The brand obviously recognizes that were it to fall short in this area, many buyers in the luxury mid-size segment would simply go knocking on the doors of Audi or Mercedes-Benz. Fortunately, the G80's cabin is beautifully finished, uniquely styled so that it doesn't look like a carbon copy of other sedans' interiors, and blessed with numerous standard features. The mix of appealing leathers and woods, along with few physical knobs and switches, contributes to the cabin's serene atmosphere. All models enjoy features like 12-way power-adjustable front seats, an expansive 14.5-inch touchscreen display, driver attention warning, and parking distance warning. Upper trims are lavishly specified with features like a 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument cluster, Nappa leather, and three-zone climate control. Genesis can be proud of the G80's cabin.
Like most mid-size sedans, the Genesis G80 offers generous seating for five passengers. The front seats feel spacious, and feature an 'Ergo Motion' feature with three stretching modes and smart posture assist to alleviate back pain while driving. The rear seats provide 38.7 inches of legroom, which is very spacious for this segment. Even with a coupe-like roofline, rear headroom manages to be pretty comfortable as well with up to 38.1 inches without the sunroof. Sitting in the rear middle seat is a squeeze, but the other four seating positions are all comfortable.
The base Genesis G80 car gets leatherette seating upholstery in colors like Black, Anthracite/Beige, and Maroon Brown/Havana Brown. Like several other automakers, Genesis doesn't trust all its customers to make sensible color/spec choices themselves, so certain interior colors can only be paired with certain exterior colors. As an example, the Vik Black exterior is compatible with every interior color scheme, but the Alta White paint can only be combined with black leatherette. On this entry-level model, you also get Piano Black gloss trim, leatherette trim on the door panels and instrument panel, stainless steel door sill plates, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Speccing the 3.5T engine introduces more unique leather upholstery with additional interior treatments like Maroon Brown/Dark Blue with Eucalyptus inlays and Maroon Brown/Havana Brown with Olive Ash trim. When equipped with the Prestige Package, the 3.5T gains soft Nappa leather upholstery along with a microfiber suede headliner and pillars for an especially posh feel.
At 13.1 cubic feet, the Genesis G80 has exactly the same trunk volume as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. That means that there is plenty of room for the weekly shop and, if you pack carefully, luggage for four for a weekend away. While we appreciate the standard fitment of a power trunk lid, it's disappointing that the rear seats can't fold down to increase versatility.
There are several useful solutions for storing smaller items in the cabin, though. To the right of the gear selector, there are two conveniently positioned cupholders that can be covered when they aren't in use. Ahead of this is another covered storage area where your phone can be stored and charged. Pushing a button gently opens the center console storage compartment, which is well-sized and doubles as a soft center armrest when the lid is closed. There are also door pockets and those at the back can make use of a fold-down center armrest with cupholders.
The base Genesis G80 ships standard with dual-zone climate control, parking sensors at both ends of the body, a hands-free smart trunk with automatic opening, and adjustable ambient lighting. Both front seats are 12-way power-adjustable and have heating. There are many safety features that come as standard like lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, blind-spot assist, lane following assist, and smart cruise control. A surround-view camera is standard. By opting for one of the available packages, the G80 offers niceties like three-zone automatic climate control, ventilated front seats, a power panoramic sunroof, power sunshades for the windows at the back, power-closing doors, wireless device charging, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. The 3.5T Prestige is the most feature-packed derivative of all. It enjoys a head-up display and a 3D digital instrument cluster.
The infotainment in the 2021 G80 is all-new for Genesis, and it's clear that the company did it's homework when designing it. There is a ton of redundancy baked in, meaning you can control the system using the 14.5-inch touchscreen, the rotating controller with a glass touchpad, or using the voice control. We especially love how Genesis knurled all of the interior controls, giving them an ultra-premium feel. All of the stock infotainment goodies are intuitive to use, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard if you prefer. The base audio system features 12 speakers, but all trims above the base model gain an outstanding Lexicon premium audio system with 21 speakers. Genesis offers tremendous value in this segment, so items like built-in navigation come standard on all trims.
The 2021 Genesis G80 has a good quality and reliability rating of 81 out of 100 according to J.D. Power. Although it is still new to the market, there have been no early recalls that should cause shoppers any concern.
Even if something does go wrong in the future, the G80 is covered by one of the best warranty packages in the segment. The limited warranty runs for five years or 60,000 miles, surpassing the four-year/50,000-mile warranties of many rivals. Besides this, the G80 gets a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and seven years of anti-perforation coverage regardless of the mileage covered in that period.
Safety reviews of the Genesis G80 have yet to be published by local authorities, but all the signs are there that it will attain excellent ratings when it is tested. The previous-gen G80 was named a Top Safety Pick Plus by the IIHS last year, and with ever-improving safety standards, this bodes well for the new model. Added to this, the Genesis GV80 SUV - which shares a platform with the new G80 - attained a Top Safety Pick Plus rating by the IIHS this year, another indication that the G80 should be an exceedingly safe car.
An extensive safety specification is no longer a nice-to-have in a luxury sedan - it's a prerequisite. The G80 obliges with no less than ten airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, side airbags for both rows, and side-curtain airbags for both rows. Active safety systems include vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, and traction control.
Standard driver-safety aids encompass front/rear parking sensors, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, and lane following assist. All G80s also have a rearview camera, forward collision warning, and a driver attention warning system. Further up in the lineup, the G80 comes with a surround-view camera system, a blind-spot view monitor, remote parking assistance, rear parking collision-avoidance assist, forward attention warning, and a head-up display.
The previous-generation Genesis G80 was an outstanding value proposition in the midsize luxury sedan segment, but it was clear that it had room for improvement to reach the opulence of its European rivals. With this second-generation model, Genesis has made the leap to the point where the G80 not only matches its European competition, it recaptures some of the old-school luxury spirit that's been lost in favor of sporty handling and overabundant technology. The G80 reminds us a lot of the now-gone Lexus GS; it's a competent handler that offers balanced performance at a lower price point than the Europeans.
If we were in the market for a midsize luxury sedan, the G80 would be near the top of our shopping list. At the low end, the four-cylinder model delivers more power than all of its rivals from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes along with far more standard safety and luxury features. At the high-end, the G80 may not match the performance capabilities of its rivals, but to equip those cars with comparable features, you can spend upwards of $15,000 more. Not only is the 2021 Genesis G80 an outstanding luxury sedan, it's a bargain within its segment.
The most affordable Genesis G80 is the 2.5T which has an MSRP of $47,700 in the USA, excluding tax, licensing, and registration costs. This figure also excludes a destination charge of $1,045. Next is the 3.5T with pricing starting at $59,100 for this model.
Those prices are tempting considering that in the US, the popular Mercedes E-Class begins at $54,250 and the cheapest BMW 5 Series goes for $54,200, but Genesis offers numerous upgrades that will inflate the price. For $3,150, both the 2.5T and 3.5T can be upgraded from RWD to AWD. There are several package upgrades as well, such as the Advanced Package ($4,600) and Prestige Package ($8,900) on the 2.5T RWD, while the 3.5T RWD is offered with the Prestige Package only ($6,000). There are minor differences in the prices of the packages if you opt for one of the AWD models.
The 2021 Genesis G80 range comprises two main models: the 2.5T and the 3.5T. Both share an eight-speed automatic transmission and RWD, with the option to upgrade to AWD. Whereas the 2.5-liter turbo-four has an output of 300 hp, the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 produces 375 hp and 391 lb-ft.
The 2.5T comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED exterior lighting, high beam assist, power-folding exterior mirrors, and acoustic laminated glass for the front side windows and the windshield. Inside, the cabin is finished in leatherette upholstery. The front seats are heated and offer 12-way power adjustment, while there is also dual-zone climate control, a 12-speaker sound system, and an especially wide 14.5-inch touchscreen display.
Moving up to the powerful 3.5T introduces larger 19-inch alloy wheels as well as a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, ventilated front seats, matte finish wood trim, and wireless charging.
Both the 2.5T and 3.5T can be upgraded with several packages that will add features like heated rear seats, a surround-view camera system, a heated steering wheel, and power-closing doors.
Overall, the G80 is brilliantly equipped and this will help it stave off competition from current and upcoming luxury sedans.
Genesis offers a number of comprehensive packages that can add desirable features to both the 2.5T and the 3.5T. For the 2.5T RWD, the Advanced Package costs $4,600. This will get you bigger 19-inch alloy wheels, the panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, three-zone climate control, the fantastic 21-speaker Lexicon sound system, and more. On this same model, the Prestige Package goes for $8,900 and includes everything from the Advanced plus leather upholstery, power-closing doors, wireless device charging, an Ergo Motion driver's seat, a surround-view monitor, and more.
The 3.5T RWD is only offered with the $6,000 Advanced Package. Adding this includes a massive features list with highlights like Nappa leather, a 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument cluster, 20-inch alloy wheels, a head-up display, and a lot more.
The AWD versions of both the 2.5T and 3.5T are available with similar package upgrades with minor differences in equipment and cost.
Optioning a 2021 G80 isn't too tricky, as Genesis doesn't offer a la carte options like some of its rivals. We think the base 2.5T is more than adequate, so we'd advise buyers to save some cash and opt for the smaller engine with the Advanced Package. This includes most of the features buyers will want at a reasonable $52,300 price. If you are considering a pricey German option like an Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, or Mercedes E-Class, those cars can easily reach the $70,000 price range and even crest $80,000 in their six-cylinder variants. A fully loaded G80 3.5T AWD with the Prestige Package caps out at $68,150, meaning the Genesis will undercut its European rivals across the board.
Is the G80 enough luxury wrapped in a sedan or is it worth spending extra on the larger G90? Starting at $72,950, the G90 is a bigger vehicle and offers either the same twin-turbo V6 or a 5.0-liter V8. The G90 does everything the G80 does but it's even quieter and does an even better job of isolating its occupants. If you intend on being driven around rather than doing the driving yourself, it's a no-brainer - the G90 simply offers more, including extensively power-adjustable rear seats and plenty of rear legroom. There is also a slightly larger trunk in the G90, although, like the G80, its rear seats also can't be folded flat. If you must have a V8 engine and you want the most serene driving experience on offer in a Genesis, the G90 is worth it. But the G80 offers a lot of the same for less money.
The smaller Genesis G70 is yet another accomplished sedan from the Korean company. Starting at $36,000, it's a smaller and lighter vehicle than the G80 which makes it much more agile and enjoyable to drive quickly. The same V6 engine is on offer in the G70, and it makes the smaller sedan faster in a straight line. On the downside, the G70 isn't as spacious for passengers and the trunk is smaller than the G80's. The latter also has a more luxurious interior and its 14.5-inch touchscreen display dwarfs the 10.25-inch screen in the G70. Both cars excel within their respective segments. Choose the G70 if you have a tighter budget or want to have more fun behind the wheel, but go for the G80 for a more opulent experience.
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Check out some informative Genesis G80 video reviews below.