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Connoisseur's Choice in Luxury Living

Upscale SUV’s & Crossovers

Upscale SUV’s & Crossovers

Upscale SUV’s & Crossovers

By Tony Whitney


The premium SUV segment has been growing for some time now and there are no signs that it’s about to tail off. Statistics indicate that many auto buyers who own upscale sedans and sports cars also own an SUV and often their choice is one of the more luxurious products on the market. The result of all this interest is that automakers are constantly updating their wares to compete in a field that’s very profitable. Both automaker and dealer have to sell several subcompact cars to make the kind of money that comes from selling just one high-end SUV. We took a look at some of the most recent models in the luxury SUV field, but count on several more all-new models to choose from when 2014 rolls around.


2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRTSince Jeep is one of the automakers than can lay claim to having kick-started the whole SUV craze with its original Cherokee, this Chrysler division is highly active in the field and it’s latest and greatest is the new Grand Cherokee. This is Jeep’s flagship product and compared to earlier models, the automaker has dialed up interior ambiance substantially and this has made a huge difference. The latest Grand Cherokee boasts the best interior we’ve yet seen in a Jeep product, but apart from all this plushness, this is still a serious off-road vehicle which will go just about anywhere. Performance fans will love the SRT version which boasts a whopping 470-horsepower. On a less potent note, Jeep is reviving the Cherokee nameplate for a smaller, less expensive model and it looks like a worthwhile prospect for people who think the Grand Cherokee is a little large for their needs.


Mercedes Benz GLKMercedes-Benz has a refreshed GLK for 2013 and the model stands as its entry-level SUV/crossover. You have to place one of these alongside a larger M-Class SUV to see that it’s more compact, but compact it is, although it’s roomy and capable in every way. Although marketed partly as a crossover, the GLK is more off-road capable than most buyers will ever find out and we’ve been able to test this model in exceptionally demanding conditions. Otherwise, it’s very much a Mercedes with its prominent grille with three-pointed star and interior design that looks much like any other Mercedes-Benz product – which means very pleasing and easy to become familiar with. There’s also a diesel version available, which might be the best choice of all – especially when remembering that Mercedes-Benz was selling diesel-powered cars back in the 1930s and have very substantial know-how in this field.


Land Rover is one of the aristocrats of the SUV world and the British company has many decades of experience with SUVs, dating right back to 1948. The Range Rover Autobiography sits at the very pinnacle of the range and is a superbly-built (in aluminum) vehicle with remarkable performance from a supercharged V-8. Stately these SUVs may be, but they’re a match for the Jeeps when it comes to leaving the paved roads. There’s no doubt that you can take a Range Rover just about anywhere you could drive a wheeled vehicle, though sadly, not that many owners take advantage of this. This product is all-new and sets high standards – even for a Range Rover. It has to be the most elegant of all SUVs with its uncluttered exterior and lavishly trimmed cabin. Few SUVs grant an owner more prestige than a Range Rover.


2013 Porsche Cayenne GTSPorsche purists (“the only proper Porsche is a 911”) still turn their noses up at the Cayenne SUV, but it’s been a huge seller for the sports car builder by any standards and has helped Porsche become the dynamic and prosperous operation it is today. It’s a good looker and offers amazing performance in some versions – the Turbo S is especially praised for its racetrack-like acceleration and handling. Porsche also offers a diesel Cayenne, so this need not be an expensive vehicle to run. For buyers who want even greater economy there’s even a hybrid version, which makes the Cayenne one of few SUVs available with three separate powertrain options.


2014 Lincoln MKT Lincoln has been very successful marketing high-end SUVs and it gained a reputation that matches the benchmark products in this segment. Particularly intriguing is the company’s MKT, which is a very large and luxurious crossover. It has very distinctive looks and immense amounts of room in it. Power comes from a turbocharged V-6, so this is a fuel-thrifty product for its size. All-wheel drive is also available.




2014 Acura MDXAcura brought us an all-new MDX for 2013 and it’s certainly the best upscale SUV the automaker has ever done. Styling was extensively updated, so handsome looks come with the package. The interior is very well done and it can seat up to seven people. Another product with a turbocharged V-6, the MDX has been very popular in the past and should pick up even more enthusiastic buyers with the major workover. It outsells all other Acuras for good reason and from a price standpoint, it offers great value compared to most of its European rivals.


Infiniti QX60 For 2014, Infiniti is launching its all-new QX60 Hybrid and it promises to attract a lot of interest from people who want a luxury SUV but seek one with a green image. This model includes three-row seating and lots of cargo space. As with other Infinitis, the interior is excellent with great detailing and flawless fit and finish. The QX60 uses a 4-cylinder supercharged engine claimed to offer the performance experience of a good V-6. With its electric motor assist, the relatively small engine puts out 250-horsepower.



Volvo XC60Not to be outdone, Volvo is soon unveiling its production XC60 plug-in hybrid, based on earlier SUVs from the Swedish automaker. Plug-in hybrids seem to be gaining the inside track with many manufacturers and for good reason. Since the XC60 can be driven some 50-km on electricity alone, a normal commute could be tackled without re-charging or topping up with gas. And in the performance stakes, the XC60 has a power unit combo that puts out 350-horsepower, so it’s no slouch. Europe will get this Volvo first, but it should turn up on this side of the pond before too long.


Audi Q7 While we’re looking into the realm of SUVs that offer low running costs, Audi’s big Q7 with its 3.0-litre diesel option shouldn’t be overlooked. The Q7 has a reputation for being one of the most desirable premium SUVs on the market and there has always been a wide range of gasoline variants on offer. The diesel is new and boasts all the advantages of this type of powerplant – low running costs, long range, long engine life, low emissions and excellent torque for hauling a full load over mountain passes. As with other current diesel engines, you can forget about the days when these units were noisy, smelly and smokey. Today’s diesels are a refined as the best gasoline engines and no maker has more experience with selling diesels in North America than the VW/Audi Group.


Mitsubishi Outlander 2014While most buyers “think big” when they consider shopping the luxury SUV market, one of the hidden secrets of any range of vehicles is the fact that if the options list is fully exploited, you’ll end up with a set of wheels that is luxurious in everything but nameplate. This especially applies to the compact SUV segment – the top selling of all SUV markets in Canada. Take a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Subaru Crosstrek or something similar and you’ll end up with a surprisingly luxurious and exceptionally well-equipped SUV/crossover. Our most recent fully-optioned compact SUV experience was with the all-new Mitsubishi Outlander, which can be fitted out with leather seats, navigation system, premium Rockford Fosgate audio, proximity alerts, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, seven air bags and even a lane departure warning system. Many of these safety features are only available with upscale products. Thus equipped, your Outlander will have most of the more desirable features of something costing two or three times its price. All that’s missing is a “posh” nameplate, but you’ll have lots of money left over for some great road trips!

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