By Derek Price
Motor Trend just handed its SUV of the Year crown to a vehicle most people have never heard of.
After driving it for a week, I see exactly why.
The 2022 Genesis GV70 — the newest SUV from Hyundai’s startup luxury brand — doesn’t have the name recognition of Mercedes-Benz, Lexus or BMW, but I bet that’s going to change rapidlly as more people drive it.
The GV70 is a home run for Genesis, perhaps even more so than the original LS was for Lexus. If Genesis has any chance of surviving, much less thriving, in the competitive and image-conscious market for luxury cars, it needs a showstopper like this.
Everything about it is what today’s market needs, starting with digital innovation.
The electronic aids on the GV70 are too long to list. More importantly, they’re better designed than any vehicle I’ve driven in years.
The entertainment system responds instantly, without the annoying lag that even really expensive cars sometimes suffer from. The semi-autonomous cruise control lives up to the hype, driving very much like a human even in stop-and-go traffic. The safety warnings are less annoying than in most cars, piping up only when there’s a legitimate risk drivers should notice. You can even pull backward and forward in parking spots by remote control.
Inside and out, the GV70 looks and feels like a cut above average cars.
The styling is snazzy. Headlights and taillights take on a distinctive horizontal shape, like the parallel lines in the pin striping of a classic suit. Inside, everything flows like one cohesive piece with the various digital screens, vent openings, calm lighting and trim materials working together to create a lounge-like atmosphere.
It even performs like a sporty SUV should. Handling is crisp and precise, and 300 horsepower on tap from its turbocharged, four-cylinder engine makes merging and passing effortless. It’s also reasonably efficient, earning a 28-mpg rating from the federal government.
Being firmly entrenched in the more-power-is-always-better camp, I rarely say this, but it’s true: the four-cylinder engine is plenty. You can get a V6 that makes 375 horsepower in your GV70, but it would be overkill. People who want overkill should buy Porsches.
I have to dig deep to come up with criticism, but here’s my best attempt:
This vehicle has no reputation to rely on. It’s a completely new SUV from an almost-new brand, so no one knows exactly how reliable it’s going to be.
Plus, as perfect as the interior design is, there’s one glaring flaw: the gear selector and digital screen controller are both rotary knobs on the center console. All week long I found myself confusing one controller for the other. They’re labeled clearly, but it takes time for muscle memory to know the difference between shifting into park and changing the radio station.
It’s easy to forgive those flaws when you see the price. The GV70 starts at $41,000, which is less than the average transaction price for a new vehicle in 2021, according to Kelley Blue Book. My tester rang up over $50,000, but it still outperforms and out-impresses established luxury SUVs that cost many thousands more.
I don’t always agree with Motor Trend’s picks, but this one is spot on. The GV70 has enough innovation, style, substance and value to be the best SUV on the market this year.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2022 Genesis GV70 AWD 2.5T Advanced ($41,000). Options: Premium paint ($500), Select Package ($4,000), Advanced Package ($4,150). Price as tested (including $1,045 destination charge): $50,695
Wheelbase: 113.2 in.
Length: 185.6 in.
Width: 75.2 in.
Height: 64.2 in.
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder (300 hp, 311 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 22 city, 28 highway
Why buy it?
The GV70 the most flawless new SUV to hit the luxury-car market in years. It feels ahead of its time.