The 5 Best Luxury SUVs (And 1 That Set a Record)
Luxury automakers are jumping on the SUV bandwagon and believe it or not they are throwing some heavy shots. The 5 best luxury SUVs combine extreme luxury, performance, and style, but come at a pretty heavy cost.
Over the last decade, we have seen the SUV segment swell into the dominating segment in the US. As depressing as this is for to me admit, it seems like most people firmly believe they need an SUV.
Okay, I will come clean, I too have one in the garage.
The market for SUVs is more competitive than ever, with luxury automakers throwing down the gauntlet. It turns out SUV’s aren’t all that bad. In fact, some of them are really good. After years of fighting the SUV pandemic, I’ve decided to finally throw in some real thought on the segment.
This came after spending an extended period of time with a rather nice Porsche Cayenne that I received courtesy of Park Place Porsche in Dallas. (You can check them out and ask for Wade).
My beef with SUVs has always been that they are gigantic and over the top nowadays. In fact, see my post: SUVs vs Crossovers, which explains my disdain for the SUV and how I feel it is connected to ballooning automobile loans and the antichrist.
Yet here we are talking about a list of my favorite SUVs. And that’s because I’d be dumb not give some input here. If people everywhere want an SUV than it’s my obligation to do my best to guide them to the right ones.
After all, with so many terrible options out there, it’s important to highlight the potential all SUVs have. But what exactly do I mean by potential? Well, the SUV is supposed to be a sport utility vehicle. The problem is most SUVs today have no sport or no utility.
But at least all are vehicles. So, at a minimum, you’re getting one-third of an SUV.
Top 5 Luxury SUVs:
- Audi Q7
- Jaguar F-Pace S
- BMW X5 M
- Bentley Bentayga
- Porsche Cayenne
There are far more sport luxury SUVs and crossovers out there, but I feel like these five really throw down the hammer on style, performance, and even a little practicality.
The Audi Q7
I’m biased I admit. I love Audi. They are just so pretty and clean looking and the interiors are just crisp. Like so crisp. The Q7 interior is like any other Audi, with high-quality material everywhere, plenty of space and unbelievable technology.
The Q7 comes in a few trims with a couple of motor choices, a turbocharged four-cylinder, and a supercharged V-6 and the rare TDI. Anyone who buys a full-size SUV with a four-cylinder motor is a total twat. That defeats every purpose of a full-size SUV so we will just assume anyone who does this has no real purpose for one.
That being said the supercharged 3.0 liter V6 puts out 333-hp and 325 ft-lb of torque. The dash from 0-60 happens in 5.5 seconds. 5.5 seconds with a third row and is the engine of choice here.
It’s been harped on, but the virtual cockpit is rivaled only by the most luxurious of manufacturers like Lamborghini.
Quattro all-wheel drive means this thing goes wherever you want it to and it pulls what you want it to also. In fact, the Q7 can tow a respectable 5,500 pounds. It hunkers down in turns like it’s a sport wagon and responds lightning quick to steering inputs.
Pricing starts at $50,875 and the $9,000 upgrade to the prestige trim will get you the delicious V6 and the coveted virtual cockpit.
Anyone who doesn’t think Jaguar has made a massive comeback is insane. Not only have quality problems been totally smashed they look amazing. I would argue Jaguar has some of the most distinctive and beautiful styling in the industry right now. They just look mean.
The F-Pace interior comes riddled with technology and is beautifully accented with color changing LED strips. High-quality material is everywhere including the suede roof liner that you didn’t know you loved till you saw it for the first time.
But looks speak for themselves lets talk performance. The F-Pace S is the trim you really want, with a 380-hp supercharged 3.0L V6 it will hit 0-60 in 5.1 seconds and comes standard with all-wheel drive.
The F-Pace has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds or 5,290 when properly equipped. There is a diesel option available as well making this an attractive purchase for those who need the utility but also want the sport.
The F-Pace is definitely made to hit the pavement but don’t be fooled, it’s a capable off-roader as well and even shares Land Rover’s “All Surface Progress Control”, which aids when taking this thing off the beaten path.
In fact, one of the cooler more unknown features is that the F-Pace comes with an optional “activity key” that’s actually a bracelet. Akin to a Fitbit it’s entirely waterproof and when worn disables the main key fob so you can actually leave it in the car.
It’s made for those crazy people who like to do things outdoors without risking or having the burden of carrying, a bulky key fob and is a genius design that doesn’t use a battery, but rather utilizes passive RFID technology to unlock and lock the car when you return.
Pricing for the F-Pace starts at $42,065 for the base and $59,775 for the “S”
BMW X5 M
Okay, I have to come clean. I don’t care for BMW, but dammit, they make some good cars every now and then (and even some pretty awesome motorcycles). When I think of BMW as a company I bypass almost all of their normal models. Including the beloved 3-series and even the flagship 7-series.
For me, the bread and butter of BMW is obviously it’s “M” outfit. The corporate boys in Munich give this rowdy bunch the green light on just about anything and man does it pay off. The real secret sauce of the M series cars is that BMW has a private test facility at the Holy Grail of race tracks, the Nürburgring.
This pays dividends as the coveted M badges are stamped on some of the baddest cars of all time, the M3, the M2 and of course the M5.
Recently, the gang added the badge to the X5 and with it comes all of the sweet nectar that makes these cars so fun. Stuffed under the hood is a proper V8. A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. A 567-hp twin-turbo V8.
The X5 M comes standard with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. (The all-wheel drive is good, but Quattro is still the undefeated champ of AWD).
The ride is stiff and sure maybe the shifting is kind of annoying, but this is a badass SUV no way around it. It has a spacious cabin with plenty of storage and is nice enough to sleep in.
For those seeking utility, it also boasts 5,952 pounds of towing capacity. While the towing capacity is impressive, what’s more impressive is the 0-60 sprint of 3.8 seconds. That’s faster than a 911 Carrera 4S.
But you know the saying, with great power, comes great price tags and this is no exception coming in at the $102,000 mark.
What’s weird is that when I wrote this initially I never intended to include this car, but after I saw the BMW 0-60 time I slapped this in here to knock them off their high-horse.
The Bentayga is the luxury automakers first foray into the SUV segment. The thing is when they read the word sport they just stopped right there.
Don’t get me wrong there’s utility here, but with a starting price of $197,000 anyone other than the people at Ted Turner’s yacht club would shy away from taking this thing off-road.
I mean this car cost as much as my house when it’s optioned up. But you don’t give a shit because you’re a high roller and you’re ready to hear why you should buy this over that Certified Pre Owned Kia Sportage you have been eyeballing.
Well, let me tell you why. Under the bonnet (that’s how they say it in Bentley-Land) is a twin-turbo W-12 that makes 600-hp and 664-lb-ft of torque.
I mean, damn.
A 542-hp V8 is available and comes with 568 lb-ft of torque, but I doubt you care because you don’t want anyone at the country club to see you pulling up in your V8 Bentayga like some sort of pleb.
You already know it’s mated to an eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive, but did you know that the V8 version is actually considered to be the sportier of the two models? That’s right, the W12 is pretty badass, but its weight doesn’t exactly increase the car’s agility.
Car and Driver knocked down a 0-60 of 3.6 seconds. Suck on that BMW. A full-size SUV that hits 0-60 in 3.6 seconds is the pinnacle of mankind’s achievements. Interior looks like a $200,000 Bentley so you can bet it’s amazing and all the leather is hand knitted by virgins.
If I haven’t driven home how much this car brings the sport back to sport utility then I will remind you that the Bentley Bentayga set the SUV record at Pike’s Peak this year.
Did I mention it was bone stock when it set that record?
Porsche Cayenne – the winner
Okay, we’ve covered a lot of ground here today, but what is the best luxury SUV? The true overall winner in this segment is the Porsche Cayenne for so many reasons. First, it looks amazing. It looks like a Porsche and when you sit inside it feels like a Porsche.
Second, it drives like a Porsche.
And third, it’s within range of a Chevy Tahoe in terms of pricing. Starting at $66,750 the Porsche Cayenne offers a ton of sport and plenty of utility to your vehicle.
The base turbocharged V6 comes with a respectable 340-hp, but the S gets a twin-turbocharged 2.9L V6 that cranks out 440-hp. The E-Hybrid is in another ballpark and you can read more about it in this post: Best Hybrids for 2018.
The model you want is the S model with “Sport Chrono” which will hit 0-60 in around 4.4 seconds. All models come standard with an eight-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission. All new for this model year is the optional PSCB (Porsche Surface Coated Brakes) which consist of a cast-iron disc with 70 micrometers of tungsten-carbide coating.
I’m not making this shit up this is really what it says on their own website. Once the pads are bedded the braking system promises better performance over steel and a longer life.
The thing that makes the Cayenne unique is that it drives like every other Porsche. The steering is tight, the cabin feels sporty, the car responds well. It can go off-road just as well as it can perform on the track.
It has a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. This thing could tow a Rhinoceros without breaking a sweat. All of that tied up in a package that’s easy to commute in every day, fun to drive in all situations, and a breeze to pull into and out of parking garages and dirt roads alike.
It’s the real deal, all-in-one SUV and there isn’t anything else like it just yet.
The Best Luxury SUV – Wrap Up
There was a time in my life when I felt like SUV’s were sacrilege, but times have changed and there are some heavy hitters out there.
I would recommend any of these over a Durango or Tahoe any day of the week (especially that $200K Bentayga). The thing to always keep in mind is that just because you might need utility in a vehicle doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice sportiness.
Whatever your needs are, there is no need to sacrifice your wants to get them. All of the vehicles on this list prove that SUV’s can be so much more than domesticated busses.
The best luxury SUVs are fun to drive, useful every day, easy to live with, and obviously, luxurious too. We should demand more performance and utility blends like these from automakers until they become reasonably accessible to the masses.
If these cars aren’t your taste, but you still have a need for a small SUV or Crossover, check out my recommendations for the Best Crossovers of 2018 and I promise you will find something you love.