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Genesis Previews Much-Needed SUV Coming This Year

Genesis opened the new year with shadowy photos of its first SUV, the mid-size GV80, that will debut in full later in January. The fledgling luxury brand, launched four years back by Hyundai but still sold almost entirely in Hyundai showrooms, has been living with an all-sedan lineup in an SUV world, and the much-needed GV80 will let it compete for buyers against the likes of the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Related: What It Was Like to Own a 2019 Genesis G70 for a Year

Genesis offered few details beyond the photos, but more will come when the GV80 goes on sale in South Korea this month. Genesis says the SUV will roll out globally later in 2020, though it was not specified whether it would be as a 2020 or 2021 model when it hits U.S. dealers.

But we now know what it won’t be: The GV80 is not a dressed-up version of the new three-row Palisade and Telluride SUVs from Hyundai and its Kia corporate sibling. Genesis says the GV80 rides a new rear-drive platform specific to the luxury brand, with all-wheel drive optional, not the front- and all-wheel-drive underpinnings of those mainstream SUVs. It also appears significantly smaller than those behemoths, and Genesis says a third row will be just optional for the GV80, as it is in the GLE and X5.

The new GV80 platform could underpin the coming redesign of Genesis’ middle-child sedan, the mid-size G80. Powertrains for the GV80 were not revealed, but the current G80 sedan offers a slick twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 in its Sport model and also a 5.0-liter V-8, in addition to the standard non-turbo 3.8-liter V-6. We can only hope.

The photos show styling that follows the looks of the GV80 Concept that Genesis unveiled at the 2017 New York International Auto Show. If anything, it improves on — rather than waters down — the concept’s styling, and it also drops the futuristic fuel-cell powertrain. The GV80 photos show it gets a version of the big grille seen on the redesigned 2020 Genesis G90 flagship sedan. It gets a version of the slit-like, high-tech headlights from both the concept and the G90, which signal a new design signature for Genesis.

The interior looks great, with an elegant, unfussy design featuring wood trim and quilt-stitched leather. A wide screen sits high on the dashboard, and the center console appears to include a new-design multimedia controller for the screen as well as a rotary shifter. The interior should play well versus luxury rivals even if, like in other Genesis models, the touch points might not feel quite as luxurious.

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But if the new SUV also delivers similar value pricing versus its rivals, something delivered in Genesis’ sedans, the belated mid-size SUV will do a lot to cement Genesis as a luxury brand. Now if only Hyundai can sort out a dealer network for the luxury brand and come up with an entry for the hot market for luxury compact SUVs.

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