Stylish new direction from a hip new brand. Imagine this: you're a new luxury automaker trying to establish yourself as a brand. What's the best strategy to earn some street cred among buyers? In today's market, there are two solutions: build a sport sedan or an SUV.

Genesis already tried the former approach, and while it worked to win over enthusiasts, the majority of the market was left unmoved. Those buyers weren't so interested in performance – they wanted practicality, style, and tech features wrapped in an SUV body. Those trending topics led to the all-new GV70, the second Genesis SUV to be introduced in the past year.

The first thing you'll notice is the style. The GV70 shoves the front wheels far out from the leading edges of the front doors and cuts the roof back sharply. It also takes inspiration from the old-school coke-bottle hips and all but eliminates front and rear overhangs. The result is a pert, muscular-looking SUV that looks impressively upscale.

With such slick styling, we'd wager the GV70 will make quite the splash on the luxury market – due in no small part to the $42,000 base price. Perhaps more so among luxury vehicles than anything else, style and price sell.

Quick moves from a dialed-in chassis. Recently Genesis has been revising its engine lineup to coalesce around two primary powertrains: a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6. The base engine makes 300 horsepower, while the upmarket engine puts out 375 horses. The bigger engine should do 0-60 mph in under five seconds. They both pair to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The GV70 sits on a platform adopted from the G70 sport sedan, which in turn is related to the Kia Stinger. We're not mad about the shared architecture, as Genesis has done a fine job tweaking and tuning the chassis. We found that the GV70 tackled corners with precise, accurate steering; it also limited body roll without resorting to overly stiff dampers.

Sportier moves can be had by ordering up the limited-slip differential with torque vectoring, but this SUV tracks well and true without it. Nothing about the GV70 is overtly sporty, but it feels composed and even willing on more technical roadways. Don't go racing Porsche Macans, though.

The one caveat here? The fuel economy isn't great. With the 2.5-liter engine, expect up to 22 mpg city, 28 highway, and 24 combined. The 3.5T model returns 19/25/21 mpg.

Well-crafted cabin. The good looks of the GV70 aren't limited to the exterior styling. Climbing behind the wheel and settling into the comfortable, 12-way driver's seat reveals the close attention to detail practiced by the design team. The flow of the dash is organic, and it extends out from the left corner with a subtle cant towards the driver.

The burled knobs and the delicate use of chrome trim are just enough decoration in a cabin that otherwise asserts itself through materials and design. It isn't flamboyant, but nor is it modest. It straddles a middle ground that can be definitively attributed to Genesis. It's a nice change from what we usually see from the German competition, which has come to define this segment.

Small, appreciative details abound. The passenger seat can be adjusted by the driver. The power side bolsters on the available 16-way seats change with the drive mode. The back seats can be adjusted for recline and also feature available heating elements. All the luxury trappings are here.

Back seat legroom measures out to about 37 inches, which is par for the compact SUV segment. Cargo space stands at 27 cubic feet behind the back seat, which expands to nearly 60 cubes once the split-folding rear seatbacks are dropped. Again, these numbers are right in line with its competition.

Technology and safety. Genesis doesn't play games about safety. With the GV70 they've introduced a new airbag that inflates between the two front seats, which intends to protect front occupants from hitting each other or the center console in the event of an accident. This new airbag joins the plethora of other airbags located throughout the cabin.

Standard active-safety tech includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, and automatic high beams. This is an impressive array of standard safety gear for a luxury automaker; most legacy premium brands are loathing to even make automatic emergency braking standard. We hope the competition takes notice.

As for infotainment technology, every GV70 gets a massive 14.5-inch horizontally-oriented touchscreen located atop the dash. It bundles the usual features: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and voice command. Pick your preference for navigating the system: voice, dial, steering-wheel controls, or touch are all on offer. All options work well, so choose what feels most natural to you. We're partial to the dial in the center console.

The screen is crisp and nicely rendered, but the native software features lots of menus and submenus. Learning it from scratch will take some practice sessions in the driveway for most owners, we imagine. It doesn't help that some features are hidden in odd places. Budget time to learn the system, or otherwise you'll never figure out how to turn on the massaging seats when you suddenly crave them.

Final thoughts. The GV70 is a standout first attempt at a small SUV. It nails the styling inside and out, and the powerful engines that are on offer are icing on the cake. Quality feels up to snuff, and the level of standard technology is impressive. We can't help but wonder how Genesis manages to price it at just $42,000 to start.

For those tired of the same three German brands dominating the luxury market, this Genesis is a bit of fresh air. It's new, novel, and unique. It invokes a sense of class and luxury, and does so without having a heritage to lean on. It's an impressive feat in this day and age – and underscores the competence of this segment newcomer.

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