Review: The 2022 Genesis GV70 Tackles German Luxury Compact SUVs Head-On With Power, Performance, and Style
Small SUVs are where it's it at if you're an automaker looking to spike sales among entry-level buyers. This is especially true in the luxury segment, where big buck brands position compact sport-utility vehicles as the first step on the ladder of prestige for families looking to get into something more comfortable, faster, and with greater street presence than a traditional crossover.
The 2022 Genesis GV70 is the next logical step for a company that continues to build its SUV stock, following in the footsteps of the excellent mid-size GV80 in its quest to divert would-be buyers away from BMW, Audi, and Lexus. To fully get their attention, however, the GV70 has to prove it's not simply the equal of stalwarts like the X3 and the Q5, but actually better in all the ways that count when choosing a plush, quick, and stylish daily driver.
After spending a week behind the wheel of the latest Genesis, it's safe to say that the GV70 has gone above and beyond expectations and represents a true threat to the German and Japanese dominance in the land of small SUVs.
Quick And Competent
While most drivers are content to deploy their sport-utility vehicles as weekly warriors pulling duty at the supermarket, the school pick-up line, and the occasional jaunt outside the city, that hasn't stopped luxury automakers from emphasizing power and handling.
The 2022 Genesis GV70 is no exception to this rule, with even the base 2.5T AWD model boasting 300 hp from a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. My tester's 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6, however, seriously ups the ante with 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, managed by an eight-speed automatic gearbox and sent to all four wheels via the 3.5T AWD trim's standard all-wheel drive.
In practice this is more than enough power to motivate the reasonably-sized GV70 with a high degree of intent, easily keeping up with models like the Audi SQ5 and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 in a straight line, with only a tenth or two separating their respective rushes towards the 60-mph mark. Only the 382 (underrated) hp from the BMW X3 M40i puts significant distance between it and the GV70 with the hammer down.
On the street, the Genesis SUV's acceleration occasionally surprised me with its ferocity, and highway passing unrolled as a seemingly endless supply of torque eager to push past the long line of cars blocking the right lane.
The vehicle's eight-speed automatic transmission works best when driven in a leisurely manner, toiling tirelessly behind the scenes to match the V6's powerband with the requests made by your right foot. When set to one of its more aggressive drive modes (Sport or Sport+), the unit had a tendency to hold onto individual gears a little longer than I would have liked, forcing me to tap up or down with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters to bring the revs back to a comfortable level. There's also a bit of a throttle hang in store when driving aggressively, but that's increasingly common among modern performance machines trying to balance power and emissions.
The 3.5T AWD also makes available a novel latest suspension technology from Genesis that relies on a camera system to prepare its adjustable dampers for the state of the road ahead. Variations on this theme have been available in the luxury space for several years, but it's rare to find in a small SUV.
It's difficult to determine whether it makes a major difference in handling for a relatively heavy (4,500 lbs of curb weight) model like the GV70, which isn't intended to offer a direct connection with the road, but matched with its available electronic limited-slip differential the Genesis certainly didn't feel out of its element on tight two-lane asphalt, where it remained composed and just this side of fun when flogged.
It's also clear where the vehicle has taken lessons from the excellent rear-wheel drive G70 sport sedan, with which it shares major aspects of its platform.
As a driver, the 2022 Genesis GV70 outperforms a number of its more staid premium rivals, but even more impressive is just how special its cabin feels in comparison to the luxury status quo. Aim for the higher reaches of the 3.5T AWD's options sheet and you'll be treated to quilted Nappa leather and beautifully turned-out dash and door panel upholstery, with the further option of suede inserts. Even mid-tier models are decked out with far more detail and visual interest inside than the majority of compact luxury SUVs, proving once again that Genesis understands just how far beyond the current crop it has to go in order to turn heads with new customers.
The GV70's control set is also to be commended, with a pleasing mix of touch surfaces and hard buttons making up the climate controls and a useful rotary dial complimenting its wide dash-top touchscreen.
Unfortunate placement of the round shift controller just below the infotainment interface was my biggest complaint about the cockpit, as it's far too easy to switch screens when you really meant to drop the Genesis into reverse or drive.
Rear seat passengers might also have a few quibbles with the amount of space afforded to them, but you're more likely to be folding down the back seat to expand the GV70's cargo space, which hovers near middle of its class in terms of cubic feet.
It's the weakest part of the SUV's overall package, but the Genesis is still quite practical for couples or a single driver, and more than able to step in to haul four riders from time to time.
Priced To Sell, Sell, Sell
The Genesis GV70 happens to hold an important ace card, and that's its extroverted yet still classy exterior design. This is a trucklet that turns heads, and while it might not cut as imposing a figure as the larger GV80 it's still an overall attractive option among luxury crossovers that have become increasingly undistinguished over the years.
It's also available in a whole slew of vibrant and matte colors on top of the usual blacks, whites, and grays, and Genesis has made sure to offer intriguing cabin hues to go with its almost-candy paints.
Equally alluring is the hauler's pricing. Genesis has tagged the GV70 at just over $40k for the base model, and $52,000 for the V6 edition, and even with a full load of options the vehicle barely scrapes past the $60k mark. This is thousands of dollars less than almost any comparable sport-utility you can find, especially once you start adding packages to the build sheet. Link the GV70's outgoing personality, solid driving performance, and reasonable utility with its lower-than-expected pricing, and you've got a resounding first effort that is sure to make waves among compact luxury SUVs.