Nothing beats the moment of discovery. Think about the exhilarating rush of hearing what’s now your favorite musical artist for the first time, or dining at a new restaurant that becomes your standby. It’s the precise moment you realize you’ve found something you didn’t know you wanted but now can’t live without. In the automotive world, the Genesis GV70 is just such a discovery. And that’s why it is the 2022 MotorTrend SUV of the Year.
With more than a dozen choices, compact luxury SUV buyers might see another option as superfluous, but they’ll reconsider after experiencing the 2022 GV70. The Genesis astounds in the way it achieves all-around excellence. Sharing much with a former Car of the Year winner, the G70 sedan, the GV70 SUV aces our six key criteria, a performance that led to a definitive win.
Read More: 2022 SUV of the Year Contenders | Finalists
The Genesis GV70 inspires us to once again make a case for trying a newer brand. Buyers who trust the traditional luxury automakers expect the experience of their products to match the reputation and popularity of the vaunted badges they wear. And honestly, sometimes that strategy works. The safe choice, however, isn’t always the best one. Buyers seeking an alternative to the familiar luxury routine should give Genesis a try the next time their three-year lease is up.
Advancement in Design
If these beautiful photos don’t convince you the GV70 nailed it in terms of design, wait until you see one in person. Sure, the GV70’s curves don’t have the same impact on phone screens or printed pages, but its look is unconventional and fresh, and the exterior design manages to deliver a distinctive and rich impression when taken as a whole or in detail. Passersby may not know what a Genesis is—yet—but when a GV70 rolls through their field of vision, they’ll know this one is something special.
In a luxury market saturated with familiar choices and aesthetics, Genesis took design risks, and most of those risks paid off. As an example, examine one of its unusual details: The hood has an overbite where tiny tabs extend it slightly over the more upright panel that sits above the grille. This form-over-function indulgence first noted by guest judge Gordon Dickie speaks to the refreshing design philosophy that makes the GV70 interesting to look at inside and out.
Without that spirit, the delightfully different GV70 might not sport an unusual downward-sloping character line that begins, against common practice, at the corner of the hood. It wouldn’t have the surprisingly effective angled, high-mounted rear brake light on the top edge of the rear glass. Like the arrow integrated into the FedEx logo, the creative shape of this light is a detail you can’t unsee. Step back a bit, and the broader design is made all the stronger by the smooth rear styling and the prominent hood.
Inside, the story is the same. This cabin could only have been crafted by a luxury brand thinking beyond the typical. “The design brings its own kind of luxury to the equation,” Mexico editor Miguel Cortina said. “Genesis isn’t trying to copy Europe or America or Japan—the GV70 does its own thing.”
The interior embraces a subtle ovaloid theme, supported by a diamond motif that extends from pedals to speaker grilles and even to the front map lights. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the enormous 14.5-inch touchscreen—operated by a rich-feeling rotating disc on the center console—is standard on every GV70. It’s a delight, though we hope Genesis will find a way in an upcoming model year to reduce its reflection on the front windshield at night.
The infotainment controller is sited near a gorgeous shift knob on the center console. Although we’re sure owners will become accustomed to the two discs’ completely different functions, there may be a learning curve before muscle memory kicks in. Regardless of what you touch, however, the cabin feels precisely assembled and carefully crafted. “The interior punches far above its price and segment,” senior editor Greg Fink said. “Every piece inside the vehicle feels high end. The GV70 feels special in all the best ways.”
“Its chassis is eager to play once the tarmac starts to bend, too,” Fink continued. Road test editor Chris Walton put a more emphatic point on how our entire judges’ roster felt driving the GV70 3.5T at the proving ground, on the test track, and on public roads: “Holy s***, this thing is awesome!”
As mentioned, the 2022 GV70 is based on the G70, a Car of the Year-winning sport sedan. The GV70 loses none of that car’s verve, which carries over part and parcel to the SUV. In many vehicles, dynamic excellence comes at the expense of comfort. Not here. The available 21-inch wheels make a style statement yet don’t cost a thing in ride quality, and the adaptive suspension is a masterfully tuned delight we hope Genesis sees fit to spread to the 2.5T version of the GV70.
Occasionally, we find a disconnect between the way a vehicle drives at its limit on the track and how it performs on the street. An SUV that’s fun when you really push it can be a drag in day-to-day driving. The GV70 is wieldy and comfortable for wherever your routine takes you, and sport sedan-like when you’re ready to cut loose.
Whether you choose the 2.5T or 3.5T engine, all GV70s have standard AWD and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four produces a robust 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 delivers 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque—and sounds phenomenal while doing so.
Performance of Intended Function
Few vehicles are asked to do as much and to be as diverse of talent as a compact luxury SUV. The best in the segment are just as practical as they are captivating in design and performance. They need to impress with high-quality materials yet not cost so much that they’re out of reach for most luxury buyers. You’ve heard us rave about the GV70’s performance and design, but what might come as a surprise is how well the Genesis aces the practicality portion of our curriculum.
The GV70 has more rear-seat space than a number of competitors thanks to front seat backs that are carved out for more knee room. And the person sitting in the right rear seat may discover a feature they wish their SUV had: two buttons on the side of the front backrest they can use to adjust its recline angle and motor the whole seat forward and back.
Move to the cargo area to find latches that fold down the second row when your trip to the big box store is more fruitful than you’d anticipated. Leave those seats in place, and cargo room comes in at 28.9 cubic feet, more than almost every vehicle in the segment. If you want to stack things to the roof, a competitor with a boxier profile may be a better bet, but there’s no doubt the GV70 can happily handle most everyday hauling tasks.
As with Hyundai, its parent company, Genesis is making a name for itself by offering tons of features for the money. And indeed, the GV70 comes well equipped. Every GV70 down to the $42,045 base trim has AWD, adaptive cruise control, lane centering, blind-spot monitoring, and that 14.5-inch screen. Some trims offer Remote Smart Parking Assist, an innovative technology that can function as both a party trick and a genuine help for those with small or narrow parking spaces, as it can scooch this SUV into or out of a spot with no driver aboard. Easy.
Genesis has customers covered in ways you may not have even thought of, too. A five-year or 60,000-mile basic warranty is standard on every model, as is complimentary maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles. And Genesis ups the luxury experience by including three years or 36,000 miles of free Service Valet, whereby the dealership retrieves the car when service is needed, performs the work, and then drops it back off.
What really drives home the value proposition isn’t that the GV70 has cool features, a great driving experience, or an engaging design—it’s that they’re all available in one SUV. This isn’t just a bucket of features and some leather trim. It’s a cohesive package that feels carefully considered and compelling, at an attractive price. “How does Genesis make money on this vehicle?” asked head of editorial Ed Loh. “At $65,000 loaded, it competes with vehicles that cost $10,000 or $20,000 more.” As editorial operations director Mike Floyd said bluntly, “It simply smokes the competition on price and feature set.”
The GV70 is our SUV of the Year because it has no major weaknesses. It could see improvement in efficiency, though the 2.5T is relatively strong in this area. Aside from the likes of the electric Tesla Model Y, which starts at $10,000 more, the entry-level GV70 matches the efficiency of other gas-powered models in its class. The 2.5T earns up to 22/28 mpg city/highway, essentially mirroring the Volvo XC60 T5 and Alfa Romeo Stelvio AWD. Its city economy is just 1 mpg fewer than that of the 2022 Audi Q5 and 1 mpg more than the competition from BMW and Mercedes.
The GV70 3.5T, on the other hand, is more of a midpack performer, finishing ahead of the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 but behind the BMW X3 M40i. (Both are quicker than the GV70 3.5T, but they’re also at least $5,000 more to start.) We’ve heard rumors an electric GV70 is on the way, which could make for a superb line-topping performance model to go against models such as the well-rounded Lexus NX450h+ plug-in hybrid or Tesla Model Y.
Whether it’s passive or active safety, Genesis GV70 buyers should have peace of mind no matter what the road throws at them. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the GV70 as a Top Safety Pick+, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the two Genesis vehicles it’s tested so far its top overall rating.
In the GV70, we appreciate Genesis doesn’t make safety an extra-cost option, a frequent occurrence among luxury cars. Every GV70 includes eight airbags, lane centering, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency front and rear braking, adaptive cruise control, a temporary spare tire, hill start assist, high-beam assist, and Safe Exit Assist, which can lessen the chances the driver or passenger will open a door into the path of approaching traffic. If all that tech sounds intimidating, an easy-to-access control screen offers helpful animations and simple language to describe what these features do.
The Best Genesis Yet?
Satisfied with their existing automotive choices, luxury buyers sometimes stop shopping the competition. But if ever there were a time to try a new option, it’s now with the Genesis GV70. More so even than Genesis’ laudable previous efforts, this well-rounded SUV melds satisfying dynamics with huge value and a level of practicality rare among luxury vehicles. Among a segment already stuffed with intriguing options, the Genesis GV70 is nothing short of a revelation—and the only choice for the 2022 MotorTrend SUV of the Year honor.
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