Best Luxury SUVs for 2020
SUVs are a commanding force across the automotive landscape. This is especially true of luxury SUVs, which account for over 60% of luxury vehicle sales. Manufacturers continue to introduce models to respond to demand, which has been stimulated by relatively low gas prices and SUVs’ increasingly car-like fuel economy. An SUV also provides special benefits, including an elevated driving position, available all-wheel drive and a large, flexible cargo area. It’s no wonder buyers are flocking to luxury SUVs despite the price premium they command over upscale sedans.
Luxury SUVs are distinct from their non-premium counterparts in several areas. Most vehicles in these categories boast upper-crust interior materials and build quality. The best examples offer pillow-soft suspensions that glide over even the roughest roads. Powertrain options run the gamut from fuel-sipping plug-in hybrids to immensely powerful 12-cylinder engines, with all manner of automatic transmissions on offer. And of course, there’s the prestige that comes with owning a vehicle that is a clear cut above an everyday SUV.
Our list of top-rated luxury SUVs is the result of hundreds of hours of driving, testing and comprehensive evaluation. We take each vehicle to a private test track, where we measure acceleration, braking and handling performance. Next, we drive it on a 115-mile loop that tests how it performs on city streets, through twisty mountain curves, and in high- and low-speed freeway conditions. Finally, our editors take a turn at the wheel and come to a consensus on an overall rating for the vehicle relative to its competitive set.
We know that the search for the perfect luxury SUV can seem daunting. Nearly 50 are on sale today, ranging from pint-sized crossovers to leather-lined, truck-based behemoths. That’s why we’ve whittled down the list to the nine best luxury SUVs according to our test results. Without further ado, here is Edmunds’ list of the best luxury SUVs available today.
Best 3-Row Luxury SUVs
Although there are midsize SUVs that offer three rows of seating, third-row headroom and legroom measurements are typically modest at best. If you plan on transporting bigger kids or adults in the third row, full-size SUVs tend to be the best family luxury SUVs. Some even offer an extended-length option that increases the size of the cargo area, which is invaluable for families on road trips. Having said that, midsize three-row SUVs can be the best family luxury SUVs if you have little kids who don’t yet need a lot of passenger space.
Most midsize SUVs now offer three rows, and the Audi Q7 is one of the best. It doesn’t have an abundance of room in the back, but cargo room is decent and the seats fold completely flat if you need extra storage. A third row is standard on the Audi Q7; it’s optional on many other midsize SUVs.
The Aviator may share its platform with the Ford Explorer, but there’s nothing mundane about this luxury SUV’s style. Convincingly upscale inside and out, the Aviator just might be the most impressive American luxury SUV on the market. Whether you go with the plug-in hybrid variant or the standard spec, you’ll enjoy big-time acceleration and exemplary refinement. Just don’t expect a roomy third row — the kids will fit back there, but adults won’t be happy.
There’s a big jump in third-row room — and price — between midsize and full-size SUVs. The Mercedes GLS-Class is considerably more expensive than a comparable Audi Q7, but seven adults will have no problem fitting into the big Benz. There’s also plenty of room behind the third row, and cargo space increases from “sizable” to “gargantuan” as you fold down those seats.
As a full-size SUV, the Navigator is a seven-seater with a more commodious back seat than midsize crossovers. The third-row seat bottom is raised higher than in some other SUVs, so adults will enjoy a more natural seating position. Although the cargo area is already quite roomy for the class, Lincoln also offers a longer Navigator L with more cargo room than the standard version.
Most Affordable Luxury SUVs
The smallest SUVs are also the most affordable, but that doesn’t mean they offer the best value. While subcompacts have relatively low price tags, overall refinement may fall below the standard set by their lofty nameplates. With this in mind, we’ve chosen three smaller crossovers that offer good value in a compact wrapper.
At $36,195 to start, the X1 is one of the most affordable small luxury crossovers, but it’s also among the most desirable. Passenger and cargo room are best-in-class among subcompacts, and the X1 is pretty fun to drive, too. Standard features include a power tailgate, power front seats and driver-seat memory settings. The Convenience package is reasonably priced and adds a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, satellite radio and more. Add in metallic paint, and you can get a very well-equipped little crossover for less than $40,000. A great car at a great price, no matter how you slice it.
The XC40 is Volvo’s first attempt at an SUV in the subcompact class. With a low starting price and tons of features, it’s safe to say Volvo nailed the value proposition. The XC40, which starts at $34,695, counts LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and genuine leather upholstery among its standard features. (Most cars in this class come with simulated leather.) Being a Volvo, the XC40 also comes standard with lane departure warning and forward collision warning. If you want to buy a car without getting swept up in expensive option packages, the XC40 might be the small luxury crossover for you.
The compact 2020 Lexus NX 300’s base price of $37,745 is quite reasonable given its excellent list of standard features. LED headlights, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning come standard on every model. Perhaps more importantly, the NX 300’s high-quality interior materials stand in sharp contrast to its budget price. It’s not the least expensive Lexus in the lineup — that title belongs to the new UX 200 — but the NX is far superior.
Luxury SUV Features
While many luxury SUVs are well-equipped to begin with, they all offer myriad options and features for a somewhat custom feel. Look for frills such as leather upholstery, keyless entry and a sunroof for a true luxury experience. Heated and ventilated seats are must-haves for many shoppers but aren’t always available on smaller luxury SUVs. Modern safety features, including 360-degree parking cameras and blind-spot monitoring, are essential for easily placing large SUVs on the road.
Choosing the Right Luxury SUV for You
There are dozens of luxury SUVs spread over four size classes, so it can be difficult to figure out where to start. Subcompact and compact crossovers offer a strong value statement to city dwellers, empty nesters, and those who simply want something that stands out from a typical SUV. Small families who need a bit more passenger and cargo space will likely find an appropriate vehicle in the midsize class. Full-size SUVs are perfect for growing families or, again, individuals who just want to make a statement. No matter which class appeals to you the most, Edmunds has the tools to point you in the right direction in your search for the perfect luxury SUV.