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    Two Luxury SUVs With Unique Style

    By Philip Ruth–

    Blocky or sleek? Outdoorsy or urban-chic? SUVs have as many flavors as Baskin-Robbins, and so you can probably find one that suits your taste.

    The two we’ll examine here are just about polar opposites in terms of niche and purpose, and both are so satisfying to drive that you would likely live in harmony with either one. Deciding between them comes down to what you want to do with your new purchase, and how you want to look. Land Rover has a storied legacy of selling royalty-driven off-roaders, while Genesis is an upstart brand from budget-minded Hyundai. 

    I recently covered the Genesis GV80—the larger sibling to the $64,045 GV70 AWD 3.5T Sport Prestige featured here. Genesis has something interesting going with their style, as both were head-turners. This GV70 in its $500 Adriatic Blue paint contributed to an uncommonly pleasing and masculine presence. The GV80 got curious glances, while the GV70’s incoming attention was more focused and intense, akin to lust. 

    The Land Rover Defender 110 SE is on-brand, appearing utilitarian at first glance with many interesting shapes and design flourishes when your gaze lingers. There’s a pleasing heft to the doors and hatch, and the rear roof windows are a cool throwback touch, while the floating trim plate on the B-pillars is bracingly modern. The well-equipped 2021 tester was a hair less than $70,000. 

    The hot ticket for people parking parallel with regularity is the Defender 90, an arbitrary 20 down from the 110 tested. But with two fewer doors, it measures 180.4 inches versus the 110’s 197.6. That makes the Defender 90 shorter than a Civic or Corolla sedan, which much increases your chances of squeezing into a spot. The GV70 is also parkable at 185.6 inches. 

    The high-300-horsepower club is a fast place to be, and Genesis’s 375 and Defender’s 395 ratings translate into two-ton luxury SUVs that are consistently brisk, with muscle off the line and powerful bursts for passing. Mileage checks in at 21 for the GV70 and 19 for the Defender. 

    Inside, the environments are suitably special. The Defender’s 14-way, heated, and cooled memory seats position you as commander of your domain. The instrument panel is long and broad, a contrast to the cockpit-like shapes of most modern cars, and the big windows keep things bright, whether your safari is the sunny Castro or foggy Sunset District. 

    The Genesis leans more toward sports car as it feels more intimate. It has the brand’s signature horizontal monospoke wheel, and the dashboard behind it is gracefully curved and contoured. Sparky illuminated details light up the armrests and console, and there’s just enough shiny stuff to feel like it all belongs. 

    We discuss these different vehicles in the same breath partly because they’re close in price, and also because they’re both fun to drive. The Defender 110 was unexpectedly nimble, while the GV70’s ability to carve up curves could make sport sedans obsolete. Both are worth an enthusiastic test drive. 

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant with an automotive staging service.

    Published on December 2, 2021