Running a luxury brand without a compact crossover is akin to running an ice cream shop without vanilla. It’s the default model, the sales center, the profit driver. For years Genesis has made do without this crucial component, racking up sales in the shrinking sedan segment while biding time until the real hot metal arrived. That time has come. The 2022 Genesis GV70 is here, and it’s everything the upstart brand needs it to be.
To begin with, it’s cheaper than its rivals. Genesis may not be trying to position itself as the bargain option, but in early days it never hurts to undercut your opposition. Despite offering similar equipment and comparable power to the most popular versions of BMW’s X3 and Mercedes’ GLC, the GV70 costs thousands less.
You’d never know from the curb. Simply put, the GV70 is also among the best-looking cars in its class, up there with the Volvo XC60 in the fight for the design crown. Perhaps more impressive, it doesn’t merely look like a scaled-down GV80. There’s an athletic presence that’s absent in its larger sibling, from the slicked-back roof to the artillery-barrel exhausts on the Sport models. The core Genesis design themes—a large-crest grille, split lights, and a long defining character line—are all here, but the GV70 proves that the basic styling elements can support multiple distinct and attractive SUVs.
The theme continues inside. We’ve previously noted that the Genesis GV80 has one of the best interiors in any car under $100,000; the GV70 adapts the same style to a sportier, smaller, and cheaper canvas. What it lacks in grandeur it makes up for in clever detailing and thoughtful touches, from the fingerprint reader that can function as a keyless ignition to the intricate patterns in the ambient lighting. Color, too, is used to striking effect. Both the outside and inside of the GV70 can be optioned with hues far more adventurous than anything the Germans offer: Matte burgundy paint, dark green leather, blue sports seats. Stuff you’d never see in a largely bland segment.
Dynamically, the GV70 also provides a bit more spice than a standard GLC or Q5 can offer. The sweeping roads of upstate New York demonstrated the crossover’s ability to carry momentum, pivot sharply, and never be caught wrong-footed by its own weight. Up to 100 percent of the power can be sent to the rear axle, with an electronic diff distributing that power between the wheels. You can feel that rear bias most clearly under partial throttle through the corners, the mostly neutral GV70 ever-so-slightly adjustable on throttle. But where the same delicate composure made the GV80 a standout among its bloated brethren, the GV70 falls more closely in line with the athletic side of its segment… such as it is. Like the BMW X3 or Alfa Romeo Stelvio, it’s balanced and precise without being much fun. They share underpinnings, but a G70 with a hatch this is not. I’d imagine compact crossover shoppers aren’t expecting that anyway.
What they do expect is smooth, effortless pace. On that front the GV70 delivers handily. This application may be the best yet for the twin-turbo 3.5. A low-end 391 lb-ft dollop of torque and a quick-handed eight-speed automatic give you the smooth, effortless, drama-free passes that you’d expect from a big-engine Benz. Push hard and you’ll find that the engine is best kept away from redline, but 375 hp is more than enough to motivate a compact crossover. The 2.5-liter base engine was not available to test.
Perhaps it’s not quite such an athletic standout as its sedan sibling, but the GV70 is even better as a daily. That smooth powerband works well in city traffic, while Genesis Highway Driving Assist 2 is perhaps the most friendly and least annoying semi-autonomous driving assistance system from a mainstream automaker. The suspension, while not particularly a backroad standout, is superb on potholed city streets and in flowing freeway traffic. No amount of in-corner bumps or gaping ravines in the pavement can fully upset it; they are merely dispatched with a satisfying thunk, no doubt thanks to a body structure that Genesis says is 35 percent stiffer than that of the X3.
And allow us to reiterate: you truly cannot beat these Genesis interiors as places to spend time. The GV70 is not the best one the company has ever done, but it’s far ahead of the X3 or even GLC in terms of execution. Everything feels solid, high-quality, and intelligently placed. The massive infotainment screen is among the easiest to use, the stereo is great, and the seats are phenomenal massaging units. For $63,545 absolutely loaded up with 360 cameras, self-parking, premium audio, fingerprint ignition, a massage seat, a panoramic moonroof, and more, you really can’t do much better.
It’s almost suspicious. There have been times where cars have appeared to be great values, but a look below the beltline or under the hood revealed rampant cost-cutting, details missed, options skimped. I kept trying to find the same in the Genesis, poring over surfaces to see where the money was saved. Cheaper materials certainly exist, tucked away in back corners, but nothing worse than what you’d find in a Mercedes or Volvo. Surely, I thought as my drive back to Brooklyn neared the end, I’d find a detail the company had skimped on.
Then, without warning, the windows started to go up as I went into the tunnel. An alert flashed across the center screen, informing me that the climate control was going into recirculation mode. Later, I learned that the GV70 had detected potentially hazardous air quality and automatically battened down the hatches. That’s a feature you won’t find in the brochures— or anywhere else in the auto market, originally designed as it was for South Korea’s pollution season. It’s now available here and optional in the settings menu, a little sign that the company really is trying to do everything right.
As I left the tunnel, the air quality increased and the GV70 automatically returned the windows to their former fully open setting. My, what a breath of fresh air can do.
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