Review update: 2021 Genesis G80 pushing German rivals

Perhaps the reason people have switched from sedans to crossover SUVs is because sedans became boring, and they all look similar.

The 2021 Genesis G80 doesn’t look like every other sedan. It has a shield grille that reads as bold and daring or overly ostentatious to different eyes. It’s just controversial enough to make it compelling, and it’s part of the reason the G80 is a cure for buyers moving to SUVs.

Reworked for 2021, the G80 isn’t entirely new. However, the new looks combined with a redesigned interior and some snazzy new technology make it feel different. Good thing it had good bones.

I spent a week with the 2021 Genesis G80 running errands, going to physical therapy (2020 was real fun), and delivering party favors for my daughter’s Zoom birthday party to determine where this luxury sedan hits and misses.

2021 Genesis G80

2021 Genesis G80

Hit: Just look at it, it’s gorgeous

The 2021 Genesis G80 is stunning inside and out. Pictures don’t do it justice. The car has presence in a way no BMW 5-Series does. I’ve never received a second look while driving a BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, or Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but people stared at the Genesis G80. That kind of thing happens in a mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette, not a mid-size luxury sedan. The fast roofline, large grille, and signature headlights and taillights all grab your attention and hold it.

2021 Genesis G80

2021 Genesis G80

Miss: This isn’t a BMW 5-Series

The BMW 5-Series might not get as many admiring looks as the G80, but the 5er still drives better. The G80’s suspension, while well tuned, isn’t as well sorted as the 5-Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Whether in Comfort mode or Sport mode, the G80 never feels as buttoned down as the German competition. The issue becomes more apparent in body roll when pushing the car around a clover leaf or when the body pogoes a couple times while crossing over a bridge. The G80’s suspension tuning is good, but not great, and it could use a bit more body control.

Hit: It’s the details

Genesis paid attention to detail with the smaller G70, but the latest G80 shows how the designers really sweated the details, some of which most people won’t even notice. The intricate design details on my tester’s 20-inch aluminum wheels, the knurled ends of the windshield wiper and turn signal stalks, and the brake calipers with Genesis script all show that the designers aimed to surprise and delight customers.

2021 Genesis G80

2021 Genesis G80

Miss: Sport mode ruins it

The G80’s Comfort, Sport, Eco, and Individual modes change the steering weight, suspension firmness, and powertrain calibration. Sport mode ruins the steering by dialing in too much artificial heft. However, those who want the Sport mode’s powertrain calibration can choose it in Individual mode without the ridiculous steering weight.

2021 Genesis G80

2021 Genesis G80

Hit: A smart digital instrument cluster design

Digital gauge clusters allow designers to tailor what information is shown with flexible layouts. Yet, designers are all over the map in how they implement this stuff. Genesis has taken a simple, clean approach to create an analog look without being confusing. It also has a neat optional 3D effect that at times appeared slightly fuzzy or out of focus when I was wearing glasses, but I still liked the effect. The 3D look can be turned off for a more common 2D effect. BMW’s digital gauge clusters can show too much information to gather the info you need at a glance, but the G80’s design solves that issue.

Miss: Pretty infotainment system isn’t easy to use

Genesis, Hyundai, and Kia have had stellar infotainment systems with easy-to-use touchscreens. The touchscreen remains in the G80, and it has a reasonably easy-to-use tile-based layout, but it now sits too far away from the driver to make it easy to operate while driving. Genesis addresses this issue by providing a circular touchpad with a silver scroll wheel on the center console. However, the wheel makes navigating the infotainment distracting while driving as it’s hard to turn and requires drivers to take their eyes off the road for too long. The system amounts to a poorly rendered version of Audi’s previous-generation MMI infotainment system that’s clunkier to use. Genesis went backward in the ease of use department.

My well equipped 2021 Genesis G80 tester had a BMW-like price of $69,075, but it featured every feature and option you might want. Bottom line, the new G80 looks like it might cost much more than its sticker price thanks to a beautiful design, a solid feel, and plenty of power. I just wish the suspension were better sorted so this car could truly take on rivals from Germany.

2021 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD Prestige

Base price: $48,725
Price as tested: $69,075
EPA fuel economy: 18/26/21
The hits: Stunning design inside and out, terrific digital gauge cluster, great details
The misses: Sport mode ruins steering, suspension isn’t at BMW’s level, made the infotainment system worse


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