Saturday, April 13, 2024

Driving Force: The 10 best luxury SUVs on the market

For a long time, luxury SUVs — apart from Range Rover — didn’t really exist. But today, almost every premium car manufacturer offers one in its lineup, giving owners the best of all worlds: space, versatility, comfort, refinement, a great driving experience, and performance.

The best examples of luxury SUVs tick all the boxes and mean you never have to compromise, no matter your demands. Whether you want your family’s crest or your favorite constellation to be hand-sewn in LEDs into the headliner of your new Rolls-Royce Cullinan, you want the color of your favorite nail varnish as the exterior paint on your Bentley Bentayga, or you want to be able to start a party at the touch of a button with your Tesla Model X, the bar for personalization and sophistication continues to be raised. Here are the 10 best luxury SUVs, from a tech-filled electric toy to an Italian thoroughbred.

1
Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Named after the largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan is Rolls-Royce’s first SUV. As such, it brings together all the elements that make the British company’s sedans so special — namely, space, refinement, and class — but it adds some off-road capability and heaps of presence to the already appealing mix. With a 6.75-liter V12 under the bonnet, it’s very powerful, very quiet, and very fast, not to mention very comfortable. But what really sets it apart is the detail. Our favorite is the Starlight Headliner, which can be specified to display a chosen night’s sky in tiny LEDs housed within the roof lining. It can even display shooting stars.

2
Bentley Bentayga

Offered in a choice of two different lengths, the Bentayga is Bentley’s take on a sporty 4×4. No matter which version you choose, the Bentayga is ultra-luxurious and perfectly built. Bentley even scans the leather to check for imperfections before upholstering the car. And if you want a particular color that isn’t in the standard palette, Bentley will simply mix it for you. More impressive than all that, however, is the way the Bentayga drives. Considering its size and weight, it’s incredibly light on its feet, and it’s a surprisingly enjoyable car to drive quickly. That said, the looks won’t appeal to everyone.

3
Range Rover

The Range Rover has become synonymous with luxury 4x4s, and for good reason. Reliability issues aside, the Range Rover has always been a spacious, capable, and comfortable mode of transport over any terrain. The latest version looks more modern and feels more high-tech than any before it, and it’s set to become an instant hit. There’s plenty of space inside, and it feels very light and airy. Customers get a choice of engines and vehicle lengths, while standard equipment is generous, and there’s a huge range of optional extras with which to personalize the car. Whichever version or specification you choose will be quiet and smooth.

4
Lamborghini Urus

The Urus is not Lamborghini’s first SUV, but it’s already the biggest commercial success. Pairing typical Lamborghini styling and performance with the space and off-road capability of an SUV, it’s the ideal family supercar. And customers have lapped it up. But Lamborghini’s ability to make something striking and spacious is not a surprise. More surprising is the quality of the interior, much of which is borrowed from parent company Audi, and the car’s ability to handle corners. With even more performance-oriented versions on the horizon, the Urus success story looks bound to continue for years to come.

5
Aston Martin DBX

Quintessentially British brand Aston Martin may not be the first name that comes to mind when we talk about luxury SUVs, but the DBX is a stunning piece of kit. Powered by a V8 gasoline engine sourced from Mercedes-AMG, the DBX is fast on the road or on a track, and it’s comfortable, too. Even the most powerful DBX707 model rides smoothly, and it comes with even more aggressive bodywork and powerful brakes. The Aston isn’t perfect — the in-car entertainment technology feels outdated compared with that of its competitors — but it has more charm and performance than most of its close rivals.

6
Cadillac Escalade

Driver front 3/4 view of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade Luxury in Black Raven with mountains in the distance

Europeans might think their SUVs are spacious and luxurious, but they’ve got nothing on the Escalade. The big Caddy has loads of space and a classic wood-and-leather interior, as well as an imposing external design. For those behind the wheel, there’s a big V8 engine to enjoy — even if you choose not to buy the range-topping, high-performance Escalade-V — while those in the back get to relax in the massive seats. The latest version of the Escalade is the most technologically advanced so far, but it’s thirsty, and Cadillac’s build quality isn’t as good as that of European rivals.

7
Ferrari Purosangue

Ferrari doesn’t call the Purosangue an SUV — the Italian company says the five-door car is much more than that — but this is the Prancing Horse’s answer to the Lamborghini Urus. Powered by a huge 6.5-liter V12 motor, the Purosangue (which means “thoroughbred” in Italian) is fast enough to outrun most Porsche 911s, but it can still carry four people over rough terrain. In fact, Ferrari says the car is designed for use among the snowy Alpine peaks and on the gravel roads that crisscross the Tuscan hills. But with rear-hinged back doors, it’s also the first Ferrari that’s really capable of carrying the whole family in comfort and style.

8
Porsche Cayenne

Porsche’s flagship SUV is available in a choice of two different body shapes, with the practical SUV model joined by a fastback Coupe model. Neither car is especially sexy, but both are brilliant to drive, offering an incredible combination of agility and comfort. With V6 and V8 petrol engines, as well as some eco-friendly hybrid options, it’s also very fast in a straight line. The high-performance Turbo GT model does 0-to-60 mph in around 3 seconds. Add in Porsche’s impeccable build quality and the clean, easy-to-use in-car technology, and you’ve got one of the best luxury SUVs on the market.

9
Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Commonly known as the G-Wagen — an abbreviation of the German “Geländewagen” name, or overland vehicle — the G-Class began life as a military vehicle. But the boxy 4×4 has matured in recent years, becoming ever more luxurious without sacrificing its all-terrain capability. Today, it’s one of the most desirable luxury SUVs, dominating the road with its tough styling and massive wheels. Perhaps it isn’t the finest car to drive, but the latest-generation version is much better suited to on-road use than its predecessor, and it’s still available with an unapologetically powerful V8 gasoline engine, as well as a huge trunk.

10
Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X is instantly recognizable, and not just because of its striking “falcon wing” rear doors. Elon Musk’s electric car company is known for its pioneering technology, and the Model X is full of clever features. From the touchscreen on which you can draw to the Celebration Mode that plays loud music and “flaps” the doors, you won’t run out of toys. But the Model X does grown-up stuff, too, with seating for seven and luggage compartments at the front and rear. It also has plenty of range, covering up to 348 miles on a charge. And because it’s electric, you need never visit a gas station again.

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