The Hyundai Palisade is an outstanding luxury SUV, but can it keep up with its more expensive and more luxurious cousin, the Genesis GV80?
A little over 30 years ago, Toyota launched the Lexus brand to stunning success and today Hyundai is doing everything in its power to replicate those results with its premium brand Genesis. In 2008, Hyundai introduced the Genesis, a luxury sedan built to be the flagship of the brand, but in 2016 the company decided to spin-off the name as an entirely different premium brand with its own lineup.
During that same time, Hyundai worked tirelessly to improve and upgrade its entire catalog which brings us to our comparison today. Here in 2021, Hyundai has grown into a company that sports not only one of the best bargain luxury SUVs on the market in the 2021 Hyundai Palisade, but one that also offers the 2021 Genesis GV80 for customers wanting even more. We wanted to find out if the extra luxury in the Genesis is worth its higher price tag.
As large SUVs go, these are pretty different considering that they’re from the same parent company. The 2021 Genesis GV80 is a 5-seat vehicle in almost every guise with a couple of extra chairs in a third row available only to those willing to pay $65,000 or more for the option. The 2021 Hyundai Palisade comes standard with three rows regardless of trim level.
The Palisade also comes with a single engine choice in a V6 that makes 291 horsepower. Those ponies power either the front wheels or all four whereas the GV80 powers either the rear or all four. Of course, the Genesis is available with two different motors, both more potent than the Hyundai. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder makes 300 horsepower and a twin-turbocharged V6 makes 375 horsepower. Both feed power through an 8-speed automatic.
Pricing is clearly set up to avoid cannibalizing sales as the top-of-the-line Palisade Caligraphy is priced at $47,750 while the base model of the GV80, the 2.5T Rear-Wheel-Drive, comes in at $48,800. Of course on the far ends of the scale, the GV80 can climb up over $75,000 with ease, which is nearly enough to buy not only the Palisade Caligraphy, but then also to pick up a base Palisade for $31,775.
Driving dynamics are quite different too because where the Palisade is remarkably quiet, comfortable, and surefooted, the GV80 is far more athletic than one might expect. They’re both surprising in their own right too. A base 2021 Genesis GV80 is thoroughly engaging, even playful at times and while the 2021 Hyundai Palisade isn’t particularly slow, it’ll feel like driving in peanut butter after the Genesis.
What’s most special about the Palisade is the ride quality though. The GV80 is built to be luxurious and quiet, so it won’t wow us there. What did is that the Palisade is nearly as good and frankly, on long road trips, most passengers would probably prefer it. That’s because it soaks up bumps incredibly well and doesn’t have to suffer from the same sizing constraints as the more taut GV80. Overall though, the GV80 is the car you want to drive while the Palisade is the car you want to ride in.
Riding in either vehicle is nice, but the clear victory goes to the 2021 Hyundai Palisade because it’s simply more comfortable. The GV80 isn’t uncomfortable by any means, but it’s a bit more rigid and while the second-row seats are more luxurious, there’s less room to stretch out. Space is of itself a luxury and the added length of the Palisade pays off in big ways. Fit and finish in both SUVs is outstanding.
In terms of the quality of the interior, both are good, but the GV80 is certainly a step above the Palisade. While the aesthetic of the design is something that could be debated, the high quality of the switches and knobs in the Genesis is not. They’re solid and well-made as is the general layout of the cabin. It feels much like a high-tech command center for the driver and when you step into the Palisade it’s clear that things aren’t as expensive.
That’s not to knock the Hyundai too much though. Let’s remember that giant gap in overall pricing and that even the Caligraphy edition of the Palisade isn’t getting a whole new center control stack to go against the GV80. For what it is, it still outclasses almost anything else on the market. It’s well laid out, has excellent safety features, and is likely the hands-down winner if your budget is $45,000.
The 2021 Hyundai Palisade comes in three different trims, the Caligraphy is the top of the line while below it you’ll find the SEL and then the base SE. The 2021 Genesis GV80 comes in six different configurations broken into two categories based on your engine choice. Once you’ve selected between the 2.5-liter and the 3.5-liter, customers will decide between Base, Advanced, or Prestige in terms of trim.
In terms of price overlap, the Palisade Caligraphy comes with a slew of excellent options and features including all-wheel-drive, a 12-speaker Harmon & Kardon premium audio system, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, heated and ventilated seats in the first two rows, and a vast array of outstanding safety features.
Meanwhile, the GV80 Base comes standard with rear-wheel-drive, heated front seats, remote start, a 12-speaker audio system (wonder where they got that), and a stunning 14.5-inch infotainment screen. 19-inch wheels, 12-way power front seats, and a power tailgate are all standard as well.
Both vehicles come with an outstanding 10 year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty that simply puts other manufacturers to shame. Both get adaptive cruise control, but the GV80 can be had with what Genesis is calling “Smart Adaptive Cruise Control” which uses machine learning to emulate your personal driving style into the cruise control behavior.
It’s high time another company with a focus on high-quality products introduced a lineup like this in America and we’re happy to see that it’s Hyundai. The company’s progress over the last decade has been incredible to watch and it makes this choice all the more difficult to make since both the 2021 Genesis GV80 and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade are outright winners in their respective categories. When stacked up next to each other through and if forced to shell out money of our own, we’d have to choose the Palisade. It offers nearly everything that the base GV80 does for less money. Still, if money were no object it’s clear that Genesis has built a truly remarkable and worthy luxury SUV in the GV80.