When the Nissan Leaf launched in 2010, it was revolutionary. It was one of the first mass-produced plug-in electric cars, and it defined the category for years—but to sit behind its wheel was to court compromise at every turn. At the time, the pitfalls of piloting a zero-emission vehicle included: scarce infrastructure, long charging times (eight hours from a 200-volt source), limited range (about 100 miles), pokey performance (zero to 60 in 10.8 seconds), and a bulbous (if oddly lovable?) profile.
Today, automakers are much closer to solving many of these issues—which became apparent as I put the 2023 Genesis GV60 through its paces in Austin, Texas, this month. (The company covered meals, travel, and accommodations, and set me loose in a Performance AWD model.)
The GV60 is available in two trims: The advanced AWD starts at $58,890, and the Performance AWD starts at $67,890. While tracing the curves of the Colorado River through winding Hill Country roads, the GV60 Performance AWD sat firmly planted through corners and accelerated with ease. It never felt wanting for power—but that didn’t stop me from hitting the bright-yellow "Boost" button, which unlocks a 10-second, 483 horsepower burst, and a zero to 60 time of four seconds flat. Fast and furious, indeed.
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As charging infrastructure has grown, the conversation surrounding an electric vehicle’s endurance and everyday utility has slightly pivoted from total range to charge time. Genesis says that this GV60 can log 235 miles when fully juiced, and that a 250kW (800V) rapid charger can take it from 10 percent to 80 percent in 18 minutes. The automaker also says that a five-minute charge can yield 60 miles of driving distance, which makes range anxiety feel a lot less scary.
Despite gusty winds and the brisk pace of the drive, the GV60’s cabin was remarkably quiet. This is partially due to the absence of an internal combustion engine, and partially due to fact that the vehicle is kitted out with active noise cancelling technology (just like your headphones).
As an interiors nerd, I also appreciated the thoughtfully placed cubby space beneath the floating center console—as well as the organization-oriented glovebox, which pulls out like a drawer instead of tilting and jostling its contents about.
You’ve probably never unlocked a car with your face before—and neither had I, before this month. That’s because the GV60 is the world’s first vehicle with Face Connect, which uses an exterior camera to scan your visage and provide access to the vehicle. As a surfer who’s hidden many a fob beneath rocks and bushes, it’s a life-changing feature. For everyone else, it’s a clever safeguard against misplaced keys. (You can also start the GV60 by touching a fingerprint scanner.)
And forgive me for burying the lede, but I’d be remiss not to mention the GV60’s single most Instagrammable feature: The shifter rotates to reveal a glowing crystal sphere when the vehicle is parked. It might be the cherry atop a liberally iced cake, but I can’t say it isn’t fun. Quoth the immortal Charles and Ray Eames: "Who would say that pleasure is not useful?"
Although the EV market was built on hatchbacks, sedans, and the occasional rarified supercar, today buyers are spoiled for choice. In recent months we’ve seen the launch of electric trucks, compact SUVs, and true luxury vehicles—and the field is only getting wider as automakers commit to electrifying their lineups in the coming years. Tesla (and its dramatic founder) may still dominate the headlines, but there’s no shortage of companies in the mix—and that’s good for both car buyers and the environment in the long haul.