Genesis GV70 2.5T review: A knockout punch
This Genesis GV70 blows the socks off me even in cheaper 2.5T specification. The standard for attainable luxury.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T review with The Road Beat
Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman
What is it?
The Genesis GV70, the entry-level luxury crossover/SUV from the South Korean luxury carmaker. It's 186" long, so it's neither intimidatingly gargantuan nor tiny on the outside. There is lots of competition in this realm, with many German and even entrants from Sweden and Japan to compete against; It's not like you're short for choice when choosing a luxury vehicle these days. However, I believe the GV70 (and I'm far from alone in this) to be the best of the bunch for all the core, essential reasons detailed below.
Nearly everything. No, I'm serious. This is a stupendous achievement and continues the success of Genesis basically nailing every car they put out.
Looking the part is every bit important as anything else when it comes to luxury goods. Do you think Tom Ford rose to the top of high-fashion for making ugly suits? Heck no. Anyways, the GV70 looks undeniably hot. Aesthetics can be subjective, but in the case of the GV70, they were subjectively unanimous in favor of this South Korean creation; This looks like an expensive vehicle. Maybe the wheels are excessively baroque, but even the big grille works. Gosh it's pretty in each sense of the word.
The GV70 indulges mightily when it comes to its cabin. Opulence, extravagance, whatever you want to call it, this is fit and fashioned from Fitzgerald and Gatsby when it comes to show. This Advanced package car has real leather, and it's great as expected, but in my experience, even their faux-leather offerings are higher quality and softer than many real leathers in competitors (if you decide to forgo genuine hide in yours). The swoops and curves all have a certain harmony to them and evoke design trends seen in Architectural Digest, plus fancy metal switches and gorgeous screens add to the appeal. There really isn't much inside that feels cheap and plasticky upon touch. Shoot, even the EIGHTY-THOUSAND DOLLAR Toyota Sequoia I'm currently testing has cheap, harsh plastics littered about. Not the GV70, though.
I could care less about any car's looks and interior if it drove like drivel, AKA akin to picking up after your dog, but this is where the GV70 shines brightest. The GV70 doesn't just drive well for a crossover/SUV, but drives well for anything. The steering? Meaty and weighted, requiring actual effort from the chunky leather wheel and also not completely devoid of feedback. These mannerisms create an enduring sense of purpose and confidence when the road becomes less straight. Some might prefer steering you can adjust solely with your pinky finger, so this might not be for you then. Instead, the GV70 goes for instinct, and that resembling of a sports car rather than a luxury people-mover.
Handling is inspiring for a vehicle in this class, being even more impressive and accessible than most sedans. Did you ever use to own an old BMW from the 90s and 2000s that drove insanely good? Yeah, that's what the GV70 recaptures for those that miss Bavaria of old. The chassis responds to the most minute details and adjustments from your hands, and the front bites hard and true with understeer only coming on when you frankly deserve it. Driven right, grip is always great, and the AWD provides lots of traction to counter plowing from the front end. Come in a little too hot and you can back off the throttle to induce some lovely rotation without sacrificing any composure. Seriously, this car drives so damn good, and it's not like they even sacrifice ride quality. If you want a toy car, it's best to look elsewhere, but if you want a vehicle that actually likes and urges to be driven, and you yourself enjoy driving, the GV70 is a knockout punch when its key rivals have all gone to an isolated and disconnected approach to the road.
Power comes from a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that avoids the annoying traits that usually come associated with four bangers. Instead, this power unit is smooth and resists sounding like a blender. Nice. And with 300 horsepower, 0-60 MPH takes just over five and a half seconds, or, fast enough for any modern human. If you want more pop, you can go up to the V6 model instead.
In line with other Genesis offerings, the GV70 represents stupendous value, starting at below $45,000. This model has the desirable Advanced packaged that brings fancy cameras, a panoramic sunroof, and a leather steering wheel and seats that help bring the price to just over $50,000. There is also even a pretty good semi-autonomous mode to help with highway driving. To get these features in one of ze Germans, you'll have to spend a bit more.
What can be improved
There are only a couple real issues with the GV70. The first of which is it doesn't get very good fuel economy. During my week with the GV70, I averaged only 22 MPG, which isn't quite what I would have hoped for in a four-cylinder vehicle. In the G80 sedan, this exact same 2.5-liter turbo engine returned a wonderful 27 MPG, but that number tumbled in this application. The 3.5-liter version that you can step up to in the GV70 only got 2-3 worse MPG overall, so at that point, I think you might as well go into the V6-powered car and have the extra 75 horsepower (the 2.5 has 300 horsepower, plenty potent, but the 3.5 ups that figure to 375 with its two additional cylinders). For comparison, a BMW X3 30i, which does have about 50 fewer horsepower, can average about 25 MPG with ease.
After that, the only other big knock comes in the form of interior space (or lack of). The front seats are totally comfortable, as a luxury vehicle should be, but the rear seats don't have abundant leg space, with other options offering more. This may actually be the main constraint to most potential buyers, so just be sure that the second row will work for you. If not? Did you know Genesis also produces the equally stupendous and big GV80 SUV? It's not even that much more. The rear seats here, though, are totally hospitable, and my adult friends lived with it, but it would have just been nice to have a little bit more space is all.
The infotainment and gear-rotator-knob-thing do take time to get accustomed with (and can also be mistaken for the knob meant to scroll through the center display), but you begin to learn reasonably quickly. The center display also has lots and lots of icons that resemble an unorganized iPhone home screen, but it is easy enough to use once you understand the quirks and where things are.
Check one out
The GV70 does cement its place as the de facto choice for entry and smaller luxury crossovers and SUVs. The price is right, and it comes well-equipped, the performance and driving characteristics are genre-defining, and the style and quality, inside and out, is unmatched. You'd honestly have to be crazy to not at least consider looking at the GV70. What Genesis is able to offer at this price point really is game-changing and the other brands will likely have had many board meetings already on how to replicate the qualities of this vehicle into their own. Even with the price advantage removed, the GV70 is still just the better driving vehicle of the bunch and its cabin is an absolute knockout. The gas mileage lacks, but hey, the missing couple MPGs are worth it. In fact, this 2.5T model is so good that it almost negates the superb 3.5T model entirely.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Advanced Package
As-tested price: About $51,000
Pros: Great value; Great to drive: Awesome interior
Cons: Fuel economy lacks