Luxury vehicles have changed dramatically in recent years. A segment once reserved for the likes of Lincoln and Cadillac, they were long, heavy four-door cars with leather interiors, giant engines, and poor gas mileage. The idea was that if you could afford a luxury car, you could afford its horrendous fuel consumption.
Luxury cars aren’t the only vehicles that have changed face. SUVs were once basic, utilitarian trucks meant for getting off-road with as few frills as possible. They were also fitted with plus-sized engines that made gas stations feel like home base in a child’s game of tag.
The blend of these two vehicle types in recent years has brought some very interesting revelations. SUVs could now be comfortable and classy. Luxury vehicles were able to do more than just shuttle you back and forth from church to bingo.
In light of this change, we’ve put together our list of the Best Luxury SUVs for your reading pleasure. This collection of classy beasts will give you an idea of how much capability and posh you’ll get for (likely all of) your hard-earned cash.
Best Compact Luxury SUV: Porsche Macan S 2020
If we take into consideration that the S in SUV stands for Sport, it makes perfect sense that we would choose the 2020 Porsche Macan as our best compact luxury SUV. The Macan has a can-do attitude coupled with the performance you can only get from a company like Porsche. While it’s not the smallest in the compact segment or the least expensive, it has a lot to offer in a relatively small package.
Our favorite model of the Porsche Macan is the S package. This package comes with a 348 horsepower turbo V6 mated to Porsche’s fast-shifting PDK 7-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive gives the Macan the poise and on-road driving experience that you’d expect from a Porsche.
The starting price for a Macan S is around $60,000. While that might not seem overly unreasonable, optional upgrades will drive the price up rather quickly. The $3,000 premium package adds extra features like heated front and rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, and a 14-speaker Bose audio system. If you’re saving that scratch, you’ll still be getting standard features like touchscreen navigation, lane-departure warning, a power liftgate, and power seats.
The major downside for the Macan S is the price point and relatively poor EPA fuel economy rating. There are other compact luxury SUVs that will keep your wallet fuller but it will be difficult to find one that makes you happier.
Best Mid-Size Luxury SUV: 2020 Porsche Cayenne
The Porsche Cayenne has been available since 2003, and it has been one of the coolest, most advanced luxury SUVs ever since. The 2019 model year marked the third rendition of the mid-size Cayenne, and the 2020 model carries on its luxury-sport utility tradition.
Our preferred package for the Cayenne is the $68,000 base model, which makes plenty of power and can be optioned far above the entry-level features. Referring to the $68,000 base model as entry-level feels rather tongue-in-cheek, but you could easily equip your Cayenne to more than a $100,000 sticker price before you finish your first cup of complimentary sparkling water.
The Cayenne embodies everything we love about luxury SUVs. Adding a $6,500 premium package equips the Porsche so well that all but the most discerning customer will think it costs much more. The premium-optioned Cayenne comes with standard options like a large touchscreen display, and 19-inch wheels, as well as upgraded features like all-around heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, and the same 14-speaker Bose audio system offered in the Macan S.
Lower fuel economy and a higher price tag are the Porsche’s largest issues while comparing it to competitors, but the Cayenne’s powertrain won’t let you forget what that shield on the steering wheel represents. The 335-horsepower 3.0L V6, 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive system are quintessentially Porsche and provide a unique driving experience reserved for Stuttgart fans only. We think you’ll be able to overlook that extra stop at the gas pump every now and then.
Best Full-Size Luxury SUV: 2020 BMW X7 XDrive50i
BMW’s X7 is our choice for the best full-size luxury SUV and it’s for good reason. This sport utility vehicle comes with a third row, is full of features, and has tons of on-board storage, making it an excellent choice for getting the family from A to B in unparalleled comfort and style. The X7 is as capable as other full-size SUVs but far better equipped.
There are three trim levels available in the X7’s lineup: the XDrive40i, the XDrive50i, and the M50i. While the base model is very well-equipped and totally capable at $75,000, we like the XDrive50i despite its $90,000+ price tag. The XDrive50i is built with a 4.4L twin-turbo V8, making more than 450 horsepower, while the automatic 8-speed transmission runs you through the gears. The result is an insanely fast 0-to-60 in 4.1-seconds. We’re not sure why you’d need this three-row behemoth to be so fast, but we sure appreciate that it is.
Standard features and interior comfort are the calling card for the BMW X7, and the XDrive50i is a prime example. Two 12.3-inch touchscreen monitors take care of infotainment, while onboard WiFi, luxurious leather seating, and a long panoramic sunroof keep the ride enjoyable. The Harmon Kardon 16-speaker sound system is a treat to listen to and Bluetooth, navigation, and plenty of onboard memory come standard, offering the best in today’s technology.
So what’s the downside? Really, our only complaint is the massive price tag and as far as that is concerned, we could’ve chosen a less expensive albeit worse-performing model. If there’s an area for improvement, we’ll say that the XDrive50i suffers from a little more body roll than we would like, but this is still a marvel of a vehicle.
Best Performance Luxury SUV: 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
The 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio may not be the most refined of SUVs, but it could very well be the coolest. This mid-size SUV is seriously powerful, setting blistering 0-to-60 times while handling as an Italian sports car should. Keep in mind, however, that this is no sports car. This is a five-seater SUV with all-wheel-drive that can get the entire family to Pizza Planet without a problem.
If you’ve got a penchant for speed, then the Stelvio is the luxury SUV for you. While the base model, entry-level Stelvio is fully capable, the Quadrifoglio is a racing machine with a license plate. Even sitting still, the Quadrifoglio’s hot-rod styling let you know there’s the heart of a beast under the hood. The 2.7L turbocharged V6 produces 505 horsepower and 443 pounds of torque. Placed in “race-mode,” the 8-speed automatic helps propel Quadrifoglio to 60 miles per hour in just under four seconds. That’s a truly impressive number for a vehicle weighing more than two tons. Just in case the driving experience wasn’t visceral enough for you, there’s even an option to replace the front seats with a set of Sparco racing seats.
If there’s one thing that the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is not known for, it would be reliability. This super high-strung automotive masterpiece falls victim to the curse that has hexed so many other Italian vehicles: excelling in styling and performance while also failing mechanically. What else could you want for $82,000?
Best Value Luxury SUV: 2020 Volvo XC40
The best value luxury SUV can be had from a reliable, dependable source. Swedish carmaker Volvo has produced some of the longest-running and safest vehicles to ever hit the road. The XC40 is their compact segment offering and with a starting price just below $34,000, it’s hard to compare its value to the competition.
The T5 package would be our go-to trim level even though it does bump up the sticker price to more than $42,000, but that’s still respectably low among luxury SUVs. The T5 comes with a peppy 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that produces around 250 horsepower while still getting decent fuel mileage. EPA ratings for city and highway are 23 and 31 miles, respectively, which isn’t bad considering this all-wheel-drive compact SUV can also tow 3,500 pounds.
The XC40 T5 comes fairly well-equipped, but most important is the fact that this little SUV is fun. The interior is quirky and interesting, mostly to entice Volvo’s younger targeted demographic. If you’re not afraid of a little color, the Volvo also comes with an orange option for the carpets and doors, accurately dubbed “Lava.” Standard features for the T5 XC40 include all the creature comforts you’ve come to expect at this price point: an advanced infotainment system, heated seats all-around, and all the safety features Volvo is known for.
There tons of great luxury SUVs on the market that didn’t make our list. Our choices edged the competition out in one way or another. There are a few vehicles that do deserve an honorable mention. The Audi Q7 is a great three-row SUV option, but the XDrive50i was the all-around performer that stands out in the segment. The BMW X5 is a less expensive option for a midsize SUV but couldn’t offer the type of driving experience that the Cayenne does. Finally, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is one of the nicest looking SUVs ever made, but the slightly higher price point and the heavier weight kept it from knocking the Quadrifoglio off its perch. Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Range Rover, and Infinti were also in the running with their luxury SUVs, but our list was a hard one to make it on.
While we covered a price range starting around $34,000 all the way up to almost $100,000, any of these vehicles have more plush and posh to offer than most people need. Driving one of these SUVs every day will show you how far both luxury and sport utility vehicles have come. Sure, there are cheaper options out there, but this isn’t a list of sensible SUVs. Even if your wallet wants to scream at you, once it’s sitting comfortably in a heated leather seat, it’ll probably understand.