SUVs are a controlling force across the automotive landscape. This is particularly true of luxury SUVs, which accounted for 57 percent of luxury-vehicle earnings in 2017. Manufacturers continue to introduce new models to react to need, which was stimulated by relatively low gas prices and SUVs’ progressively carlike fuel market. An SUV also provides special advantages, including an elevated driving position, available all-wheel drive and a large, flexible cargo area. It is no wonder buyers are flocking to luxury SUVs regardless of the purchase price premium they control over upscale sedans.
Luxury SUVs are different in their non-premium counterparts in a number of areas. Most vehicles in these types boast upper-crust inside materials and build quality. The best examples provide pillow-soft suspensions that glide over even the most pockmarked streets. Powertrain options run the gamut from fuel-sipping plug hybrids to tremendously powerful 12-cylinder motors, with all manner of automatic transmissions available. And needless to say, there is the prestige that comes with having a vehicle that’s a clear cut over an everyday SUV.
Our listing of top-rated luxury SUVs is the result of countless hours of testing, driving and detailed evaluation. We take each car to a private test track, where we measure acceleration, braking and handling performance. We push it onto a 115-mile loop which tests how it functions on city streets, through twisty mountain curves, and in large – and – low-speed freeway conditions. Finally, our editors take a turn at the wheel and come to a consensus on an overall score for the car, relative to the competitive set.
We are aware that the hunt for the ideal luxury SUV can appear daunting as almost 50 are on sale now, which range from pint-size crossovers into leather-lined, truck-based behemoths. That is why we’ve whittled down the list to the nine best luxury SUVs based on our evaluation results. Without further ado, here is Edmunds’ listing of the best luxury SUVs available now.
A little crossover is the most cost-effective means to break into the luxury SUV segment. When compared with standard SUVs, these high tech crossovers are more customizable, have nicer interiors, offer more features, and are adorned with an illustrious badge, all in exchange for a higher sticker price. We’ve divided this section into two classes. The small footprint of subcompact crossovers means they mostly appeal to city dwellers or people who don’t often drive friends around town. Compacts are larger and more accommodating for rear-seat passengers, and they also typically have more upscale interiors. The next SUVs are our top-rated crossovers from the little luxury segment for many different reasons — some provide a larger-than-average cabin, as an instance, while others provide an unparalleled driving experience.
Even in the luxury class, the subcompact class is rife with vehicles built to a price, not a standard. The BMW X1 bucks that trend, boasting high quality interior materials, lively handling, and a strong yet fuel-efficient engine. In addition, we provide the BMW high marks for its sharp handling and well weighted steering feel. A bumpy ride and business chairs prevent it from scoring higher, however, the X1’s numerous strengths give it the edge over any other subcompact luxury SUV. If you’re looking for something a bit different, the automatically related X2 trades some of the X1’s practical benefits for a more stylish exterior and a higher cost. Read Full Review
2018 BMW X1 Review and Pricing
For some shoppers, practicality is the main component of a compact crossover, even one in the luxury class. With its comfy back seat and small cargo hold, it is clear the Porsche Macan has another goal in mind. Sporty suspension tuning with accessible adaptive dampers helps make the Macan the best-handling automobile in the course, even when riding on low-grip all-season tires. Engine options range from a fuel-efficient — yet still fairly quick — four-cylinder into a thundering twin-turbo V6 with 440 horsepower on tap. And even though the cabin is not terribly roomy, it’s trimmed in high quality substances which will make owners of other luxury compacts jealous. We enjoy this baby Porsche so much that when it was first introduced, we place money on the table and bought a 2015 Porsche Macan S for our long term test fleet. Read Full Review
While the Macan is the best example of a sporty compact luxury SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is the epitome of style and relaxation. Mercedes’ attention to detail is exemplified by the GLC’s exquisitely crafted cottage, which looks as though it was taken from a car which costs twice as much. Adults can fit comfortably into both seating rows, and the huge cargo area has no difficulty swallowing suitcases for weekend getaways. The GLC-Class isn’t practically cosseting passengers; it can be rather fun to drive, too. This is particularly true when you get one of those hot-rod AMG versions, which provide up to 469 horsepower. Or you could go the fuel-efficient route with the GLC 350e plug-in hybridvehicle, which earns a decent 25 mpg in combined driving. The GLC’s drawbacks include a relatively large price tag and a clumsy tech interface, but they do not detract from its overall excellence. Read Full Review
The Volvo XC60 has always been a competitive little crossover, but the former model was available for so long that it finally felt ancient contrary to modern rivals. The completely redesigned 2018 XC60 flips the script, reestablishing this Scandinavian SUV among the best vehicles in its class. The XC60 also sports Volvo’s famously comfortable front seats, which provide ventilation and heating together with a class-exclusive massaging purpose. The ride might be cushier and road and wind noise is evident, but these drawbacks should not deter prospective shoppers. Read Full Review
Obviously, midsize luxury crossover SUVs are more costly than their subcompact and compact stablemates. But they are not prohibitively costly, and growing families who want more passenger or freight room will appreciate the extra versatility. Materials and build quality have a tendency to be exceptional as well, and you will discover high-end attributes — such as ventilated seats or a synthetic-suede headliner — which are not available on smaller SUVs. Here are the 3 luxury midsize SUVs that best reflect the strengths of this class.
Individuals who desire their midsize luxury SUV with all the latest tech toys and innovative security equipment might start and end their search with the Audi Q7. Parking sensors, a rearview camera, and forward collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection are standard, and of course Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive. And features like a blind-spot monitor and a 360-degree parking camera can be found. On the infotainment front, the Audi Virtual Cockpit replaces the conventional gauges with a high-definition display capable of displaying maps via Google Earth. Even if you don’t purchase the Q7 loaded to the gills with electronic equipment, we believe you will be pleased with the supercharged V6’s rapid acceleration and the Q7’s superlative ride comfort. A tight cargo area and limited room for smaller items stop the Q7 from getting a perfect score. Read Full Review
There are lots of reasons why the Lexus RX is your best selling luxury SUV of all time. Its reasonable starting price, premium interior, smooth ride and plush seats are simply a couple of its strengths. Even though the conventional V6 from the RX 350 is perfectly adequate, the RX 450h’s hybrid power plant is considerably more fuel-efficient and really performs better, also. A new L version stretches the wheelbase and includes a third row of seats, further adding to the RX’s impressive value proposition. Although, that third row is only going to impress toddlers with its spaciousness. The RX’s most important weakness is that the unintuitive infotainment screen screen with its imprecise mouse like controller.
As the greater number in its name implies, the Volvo XC90 is the XC60’s big brother. Cabin layout is similar — a charge to the XC60’s impressively upscale design — though the XC90 is more spacious and offers a third seating row. Just like the other two midsizers here, the XC90’s third row is only going to appeal to kids or small adults, but it is wonderful to have the additional flexibility. Several powertrains are accessible, but we recommend bypassing the T5 version’s turbocharged four-cylinder; it simply does not produce enough power to move the XC90 with any jurisdiction. The turbocharged and supercharged T6 is a much better starting point, while the T8 plug-in hybrid will appeal to people who want more oomph (or HOV stickers).
Greatest Full-Size Luxury SUVs
For those who have a large family, often travel with friends, or require a vehicle that can tow your weekend watercraft, a full-size SUV is unquestionably the best way to go. With enough space to comfortably seat adults in all three rows and ample cargo storage, these burly property yachts can do just about anything. They are typically more expensive than their midsize counterparts (exotics like the Bentley Bentayga notwithstanding), a consequence of their larger size and increased use of superior materials. Here are both full size luxury SUVs that stand out above the crowd.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
Previously, we have believed the Lincoln Navigator to be only a slightly more upscale version of the Ford Expedition it is based on. That changed with the introduction of the redesigned 2018 Navigator, which has a premium individuality all its own and is currently one of our preferred full-size luxury SUVs. The Navigator can still leverage its truck-based roots to tow around 8,700 lbs, but it surpasses expectations in regards to passenger comfort. All occupants will appreciate a roomy cottage with fantastically supportive seats, while front passengers can lounge in Lincoln’s 30-way Perfect Position seats with massage. You’ll also find loads of space back to store equipment, especially if you purchase the Navigator L, a longer version with extra cargo space.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
It has been some time since we analyzed a GLS-Class (thus the absence of a score ), but we have had enough seat time with the large Mercedes over the years to understand that it belongs one of the prettiest luxury SUVs. Open the door and you will step into a tomb-silent cottage full of rich leather and real wood trim. Hard plastics are almost nonexistent, save for a few on the dated-looking centre stack. Many premium features can be found, from soft-closing doors to massaging front seats and a sublime air suspension. As expected in a full size SUV, there is adult-friendly distance in all three rows, yet the GLS feels much more pliable than its rivals on the street. The standard turbocharged V6 provides impressive acceleration in its own right, while those who worship at the altar of speed will be attracted to the explosive power of the AMG GLS 63’s twin-turbo V8. Most GLS versions get Benz’s excellent nine-speed automatic transmission, even though the AMG GLS 63 works with a sturdy seven-speed unit prepped for functionality duty.
Greatest 3-Row Luxury SUVs
Even though there are midsize SUVs that provide three rows of seats, third-row headroom and legroom dimensions are generally modest at best. If you plan on transporting larger children or adults in the next row, it is ideal to choose a full-size SUV. Some even give an extended-length alternative that increases the size of the cargo area, which is invaluable for families on road trips.
2018 Audi Q7
There are not many midsize SUVs with three rows, but we believe that the Audi Q7 is the best of the bunch. It doesn’t have plenty of space in the trunk, but freight room is adequate and the seats fold completely flat if you need additional storage. A third row is standard on the Audi Q7; it is optional on a number of other midsize SUVs.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
There is a major jump in third-row space (and cost ) between midsize and midsize SUVs. The Mercedes GLS-Class is much more expensive than a similar Audi Q7, but seven adults will have no trouble fitting into the big Benz. There is also a lot of room behind the third row; cargo space rises from”large” into”gargantuan” as you fold those chairs.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
Like the Mercedes GLS-Class, the Navigator is a seven-seater with comfortable lodging for adult passengers The third-row seat bottom is raised higher than in some other SUVs, so adults will enjoy a more natural seating position. Even though the cargo area is currently very roomy for the course, Lincoln also provides a more Navigator L with more cargo space than the normal version.
Greatest Family Luxury SUVs
As a result of their boxy shapes and easy-to-load cargo holds, SUVs are more family-friendly than sedans. Nevertheless, some utility vehicles are better compared to household needs than others. We have chosen the following luxury crossovers based on the roominess of the rear seat, amount of inside storage space and access to advanced safety equipment.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
You will want as much distance as possible in a compact crossover, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class delivers. Backseat legroom and headroom are excellent for a car of this size, and there are quite a couple of storage places for children to keep their equipment. The big, square cargo area is always helpful, whether you are packing up for a family road trip or just making a run to Costco.
2018 Audi Q7
There are lots of luxury midsize SUVs acceptable for families, but our favorite is the Audi Q7. Seven seats are standard, but just children will discover the third row really comfy (common for midsize crossovers with three rows). More frequently, you will maintain the third row folded for the excess storage room. A lot of optional and standard advanced security features helps mitigate and prevent injuries in case of a collision.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
With its large third row, tons of cargo space and an extended-wheelbase alternative, the Lincoln Navigator is among the most versatile full-size SUVs. Its substantial tow rating means you can also tow the family boat or a few Jet Skis. Add in first-class lodging for second-row passengers, and you have a massive SUV ideal for serenely transporting households with a busy lifestyle.
Most Affordable Luxury SUVs
The smallest SUVs are also the cheapest, but it doesn’t mean they offer you the best value. While subcompacts have relatively low price tags, general refinement may fall below the standard set by their lofty nameplates. Bearing this in mind, we have chosen three smaller crossovers offering great value in a compact wrapper.
2018 BMW X1
At $34,895 to begin, the X1 is among the most inexpensive small luxury crossovers, but it is also among the most desired. Passenger and cargo space are best-in-class among subcompacts, and the X1 is quite fun to drive, too. Standard features include a power tailgate, power front seats and driver memory settings. The benefit package is reasonably priced at $2,500 and provides a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, satellite radio and more. Add in metallic paintand you may find a very well-equipped little crossover for less than $38,000. A great car at a fantastic price, however you slice it.
2019 Volvo XC40
The 2019 XC40 is Volvo’s first attempt at an SUV in the subcompact class. With a low starting price and a great deal of features, it is safe to say Volvo pinpointed the value proposition. The XC40, which begins at $34,195, counts LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android automobile performance, and genuine leather upholstery (most cars in this class include simulated leather) one of its standard features. Being a Volvo, each XC40 also includes lane departure warning and forward collision warning — security features you normally have to pay extra for. If you would like to buy a car without getting swept up in alternative packages, the XC40 could be the little luxury crossover for you.
2018 Lexus NX 300
The 2018 Lexus NX 300’s base price of $37,180 is quite reasonable given its excellent collection of standard features. LED headlights, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning come standard on each model. Maybe more importantly, the NX 300’s high quality inside materials stand in sharp contrast to its budget price in the Lexus lineup. Limited cargo space and an infuriating infotainment system mar the experience a little bit, but the NX is still worthy of the Lexus badge.
Luxury SUV Characteristics
While many luxury SUVs are well-equipped to start with, they offer myriad options and attributes to get a somewhat custom sense. Start looking for frills like leather upholstery, keyless entry and a sunroof for a real luxury experience. Heated and ventilated seats are just another must-have for many shoppers but are not always available on smaller luxury SUVs. Contemporary safety features, such as 360-degree parking cameras and blind-spot monitoring, are vital for easily placing big SUVs on the road.
Choosing the Ideal Luxury SUV for You
There are scores of luxury SUVs spread over four size classes, so it can be tricky to find out where to begin. Subcompact and compact crossovers offer a strong value statement to city dwellers, empty nesters, and people who simply want something which stands out from a normal SUV. Small families who need somewhat more passenger and cargo space will probably find an suitable vehicle in the midsize class. Full-size SUVs are fantastic for growing families , again, individuals who just want to make an impression. Whichever course appeals to you the most, Edmunds has the resources to steer you in the right direction in your search for the ideal luxury SUV.