Many thought the era of the large luxury SUV would die out years ago. It didn’t die; it simply changed. Now there are more options than ever for buyers looking to combine utility with luxury, and many offer great performance, efficiency, or even both. With all the outstanding options available, we introduce our 2013 guide to the Top 14 Luxury SUVs on the market today.
2013 Acura MDX
Among the three-rows, nearly everyone is looking up at the 2013 MDX. With so many downright opulent vehicles on this list, the Acura MDX combines technology and amenities with real-world value starting at $43,280 MSRP. Oh, did we mention it’s a blast to drive? The 3.7L V6 engine pumps out a playful 300 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft of torque, and adds 16/21 MPG for good measure. A six-speed transmission likes to be pushed hard and works well in tandem with an adjustable suspension for great driving both on and off-road. No expense is spared on the interior, either. A flurry of standard options make the Acura MDX a no-brainer if you’re a techy on a budget, and all materials are top-notch.
2013 Audi Q5
“Hotcakes” doesn’t even begin to describe the way that the Audi Q5 is selling these days. Nearly 3,100 people brought home a brand new 2013 Q5 in March alone, and with good reason: the compact luxury SUV is a textbook combination of design, comfort, performance and even efficiency. Starting at $35,900 MSRP, the 2013 Audi Q5 is powered by a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder with 211 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque, plus an excellent rating of 20/28 MPG. Moving up to the $43,900 3.0L V6 engine will get you 272 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft, and still strong economy at 18/26 MPG. All-wheel drive is standard and the Audi Q5 has better cargo space than most of the competition, so unless the style just isn’t your bag, there’s not much to dislike. Audi is offering everything that buyers are looking for, and it’s showing in their sales.
2013 BMW X3
No surprise to see the Bavarians on this list, and the BMW X3 comes to the table new and improved to re-establish itself as the top dog. A new 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine offers 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft of torque, plus a much improved 21/28 MPG rating – perfect figures for the urban explorer with a shopping list. Taking a step up will find you a 3.0L turbo six-cylinder engine with 306 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft, and a 19/26 MPG rating. The former starts at $38,850 while the latter will run about $44,000. You pretty much know what you’re getting with a BMW, and that formula carries over into the 2013 BMW X3. Excellent handling, top-notch materials and confusing iDrive info system define the driving experience. Some people enjoy iDrive and others can’t stand it, so take that into consideration if you are juggling your options. Otherwise, the sporty yet refined package in the 2013 X3 should be more than enough to push it toward the top of your list.
2013 Cadillac Escalade
One of the original players that helped usher in the mega-SUV trend in the early 2000s, the 2013 Cadillac Escalade remains a segment leader thanks to flashy design, impressive performance and a simply royal interior. While its looks could use a refresh, the Escalade still turns heads with its liberal use of chrome, and is certainly worthy of a pricetag that starts at $63,000 and can quickly jump to $82,000 for an AWD Platinum Edition. All models use the 6.2L V8 engine with 403 horsepower and 417 lb.-ft of torque, returning 14/18 MPG which keeps the 2013 Escalade competitive with the top of the leaderboard. Beware of its limited storage and cargo area, but the 2013 Cadillac Escalade is a seasoned veteran for a reason: it knows how to make you feel like a king.
2013 Infiniti EX
Short on practicality but long on performance, luxury and looks – you know, the important things – the 2013 Infiniti EX is one of the most impressive vehicles in its segment right now. Starting at about $36,900 MSRP, with the fully loaded AWD Journey model at $40,650, the 2013 EX pairs an excellent engine with beautiful design and fantastic interior quality. If you need a ton of space for cargo and passengers, save some time and read about another car. But if your interest is piqued by a 3.7L V6 engine with 325 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft of torque, plus solid 17/24 MPG figures, the 2013 EX may just be your next ride. The Infiniti EX handles on rails and boasts a very smooth seven-speed transmission, so you can have all the fun in the world and still enjoy the spoils of a beautiful interior with the latest tech at your fingertips. Others are better on legroom and cargo space, but none offer more value. Or thrills.
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Making the list as our most affordable entry, the 2014 Grand Cherokee starts life as a $28,795 MSRP base Loredo model. But don’t get it twisted. The new Grand Cherokee can compete with anyone in its class, armed with a fantastic new design and combination of off-road chops and luxurious ride that simply can’t be matched. Also available in Limited, Overland, Summit and SRT8 trims, the Grand Cherokee has a model for every need – and several wants. The classic Pentastar 3.6L V6 engine makes 290 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft of torque with 17/25 MPG, though the $62,995 SRT8 packs a 6.4L V8 with 470 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft of torque. Chew on that. Also fascinating is the decision to offer the new EcoDiesel engine in the 2014 Grand Cherokee, for better fuel mileage and high-profile integration of the new powerplant into the Chrysler lineup. Jeep is trying all kinds of new things here, and that only means good things for the customer.
2013 Land Rover Range Rover
Call your accountant, because you’re going to need him for this. The all-new 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is completely redesigned and back in action to stake its claim in a very crowded field. Engineers trimmed hundreds of pounds from the chassis to help efficiency, added power and responsiveness to the engine and made the ride more luxurious than ever. The result is a monumental SUV with a monumental price. Base models start at $82,650 MSRP with a 5.0L V8 engine good for 375 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft of torque, or it can be supercharged to 510 horsepower and 461 lb.-ft for about $99,100. Mileage comes to 14/20 and 13/19 MPG, respectively, but that’s hardly the point. The point is that design, which appears both more athletic and bold than its predecessor, and the outstanding interior packed with cutting edge technology. The 2013 Range Rover asks a lot of you, but it delivers in return.
2013 Lexus RX 350
A lot of new Lexus models haven’t adapted very well to the new Spindle Grille styling, but surprisingly, it may suit the new 2013 RX 350 better than even sedans like the ES or LS. The new RX 350 is extremely handsome, and maintains its trademark quality and luxury while shedding some of its soft reputation. The same 3.5L V6 engine with 270 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft of torque is in all models, returning 18/25 MPG in the FWD version and 18/24 MPG with AWD. Those trims runs $39,660 and $41,060 MSRP, respectively. The loaded RX 350 F Sport is actually best at 18/26 MPG for $47,350, but doesn’t offer a performance boost and the ride is compromised in favor of unnecessarily tight steering. Stick with the non-Sport RX 350, which absolutely glides across asphalt and surrounds you with delicious leather and easy-to-use technology. The 2013 Lexus RX 350 changed just enough to put it back on top of the segment.
2013 Lincoln MKT
Speaking of looks, the 2013 MKT has quite an obstacle to overcome right off the bat. That front end design isn’t likely to bring buyers into the dealership on its own, but underneath the controversial styling lies a very capable and comfortable SUV with great bang for your buck. The 2013 Lincoln MKT offers a re-tuned 3.7L V6 engine with 300 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft of torque for $45,285 MSRP, or a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 with 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft for $47,280. The models earn 17/25 and 16/23 MPG, respectively. Both engines are responsive and smooth, so base it on whether you need the extra power. Either way, the MKT delivers great interior space with three rows for passengers and excellent cargo room. This is a very competitive segment, and the Lincoln MKT gets off on the wrong foot with that look, but there’s real value here and Lincoln makes a strong case to be considered among the top brands when it comes to Luxury SUVs.
2013 Mercedes-Benz GL
The company that knows style and class does not disappoint when it comes to large rides, and the 2013 Mercedes- Benz GL-Class is a prime example. Three models are available, and they’re all expensive and they’re all impressive – rock solid handling combines with leading technology for a package that clears even the highest standards. All you need to do is choose. The GL350 BlueTEC sports a 3.0L turbodiesel V6 engine with 240 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft of torque, and the odd power figures add up when you consider 19/26 MPG. The GL450 uses a more conventional 4.6L turbo V8 with 362 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft for 14/19 MPG, and the monster GL550 tunes the engine to 429 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft with 13/18 MPG. The GL350 and GL450 are both around $63,000 while the GL550 jumps to $87,000 MSRP. You get what you pay for, though, and Mercedes hits another homer with the 2013 GL-Class.
2013 Porsche Cayenne
Built on an incredible platform that begs to be driven hard, the 2013 Porsche Cayenne comes in so many varieties that it may be difficult to narrow down. You can get up to 500 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft of torque, or as much as 29 MPG highway depending on the model. They’ll range from the $48,850 MSRP base to a new $55,750 diesel and top off with the $108,750 Turbo model. Mmm… Turbo. But if six digits is out of reach, fear not, because the Cayenne is the total package in any trim. AWD is standard, and the interior quality is unmatched. It will fit five passengers and make them all look very cool. Being a Porsche, now, add a few options and the price will skyrocket. But the 2013 Porsche Cayenne is the only vehicle here that is truly inspiring. That’s worth six digits in some households. Hopefully yours.
2013 Range Rover Evoque
There are harder jobs in the world than making people interested in a Range Rover, and the 2013 Evoque proves it. Introduced last year to attract younger buyers to the Land Rover family, the Range Rover Evoque is an extremely capable and attractive luxury SUV sets new standards in a number of categories. The problem is that it may be too cute for its own good, offering a two-door version that kind of ruins the point. But few can turn down that 2.0L turbo-four with 240 horsepower and an impressive 380 lb.-ft of torque. Even fewer can turn away from a Range Rover available for a $41,100 MSRP. Efficiency is solid, too, at 18/28 MPG. The steering and transmission form a dynamic duo, and if you don’t mind the compromised ride quality, the tight suspension will have you daydreaming of canyon runs. It isn’t perfect, but the 2013 Range Rover Evoque has its niche and is here to stay.
2013 Toyota Land Cruiser
You might not expect a world-class luxury SUV from the company that makes the Corolla, but that’s exactly what you get with the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser. Sixty years after its original debut, the Land Cruiser has evolved by leaps and bounds, to the point that its $78,000 MSRP is steep but understandable. Proven on trails and in boardrooms, the Land Cruiser is as refined and luxurious – and as large – as they come. Eight people will comfortably fit inside the massive, beautiful interior cabin stuffed to the gills with amenities and technology. A powerful 5.7L V8 engine, with 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft of torque, returns 13/18 MPG and makes the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser a must-see if you’re in the market.
2013 Volvo XC60
Providing an alternative to its zippy competitors, the 2013 Volvo XC60 focuses on moving you and your stuff from Point A to B safely and in style. And it does a fine job. The XC60 boasts five seats and plenty of cargo space, with an interior that is typical Swedish design and softly soothing thanks to excellent craftsmanship. Safety features are, of course, best in class. Those positives come at the sacrifice of performance, however. Starting around $34,000 MSRP, the base 3.2L six-cylinder is behind the class with 240 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft of torque, plus 19/25 MPG. At $40,000 the 3.0L turbo-six becomes available with 300 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft, and the $46,000 R-Design model packs 325 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft of torque into the same engine. Throttle response is excellent with the larger engine, but the fuel economy does lag behind others and the XC60 is not tuned for carving. Still, you can’t get much more comfortable or safe than the 2013 Volvo XC60. If that’s your target, this is the answer.