Land Rover may make several appearances in this list, but plenty of other brands have an offering in this premium segment
29 January 2018

Luxury SUVs are a staple of premium car makers' line-ups, with at least one from every major player. It's a segment in great demand; real off-road ability is common, as is the upmost in luxury, space and refinement. 

1. Range Rover Sport

The Range Rover range may be growing, but the Range Rover Sport is still among the best - it's one of the most versatile luxury SUVs on the market and lives up to the word 'luxury' like few others.

It's not quite as spacious as it could be, and it isn't the lightest car out there, but the Range Rover Sport more than makes up for it with its breadth of talent. Shame that the options for the TDV6 engine are limited.

In fact, so large is its list of talents that none of our testers would change a thing.

2. Land Rover Discovery

The second podium for Land Rover in the luxury SUV segment - well, if Land Rover doesn't do plush mud-pluggers well, what does it do?

It's controversially but ruggedly styled, with the off-road ability to match. Seven usable seats are inside, and when you're in the front one on the right, you'll have a great time, because it's as comfortable a cruiser as many traditional, saloon-shaped luxury cars.

With such size, though, comes considerable thirst, so the Discovery is not overly cheap to run.

3. Audi Q7

The Q7 is huge inside, with incredible quality materials on the inside and a high level of refinement.

The downsides? In typical Audi fashion, it has numb steering, the handling is unspectacular and the residual values are nothing special.

It's potent, though, and improves over the previous model immeasurably. The Q7 is not the cheapest choice but neither is it the most expensive; it's little wonder that sales are growing.

4. Volvo XC90

Volvo's renaissance following Ford ownership started with the XC90 - a genuine seven-seater with comfort and handling on its side, a decent range of engines including a 401bhp plug-in hybrid, as well as an abundance of style.

It's another that sits directly in the middle of the luxury SUV price spectrum. A mix of luxury touches and not-so-luxury plastics in places, less-than-perfect refinement and sat-nav niggles ensure the XC90 stops just short of greatness.

5. Range Rover Velar

The new kid on the block, and another Land Rover. The Velar is the brand's most road-biased model yet, with looks taken straight from the concept car book and an interior that puts most others to shame with its richness in both materials and technology.

Luckily, it's just as good to drive, and the ride and refinement are akin to that of a full-blown luxury car.

Prices start fairly low but at the upper echelons can stretch the credibility of the car, especially considering the styling is so sensitive to spec.

6. Tesla Model X

An electric SUV from before electric SUVs were a thing, the Model X, of course, makes its presence known with top-hinged falcon doors.

EV packaging helps the seven-seat interior feel spacious, with the added bonus of a boot in the front. Then there's the performance - it may not match the top speed of many rivals, but on accelerative pace it's second to none in this segment.

Shame the handling can't make it a true driver's car, then, and the price is prohibitive for many buyers, especially with quality issues recently grabbing headlines. 

7. BMW X5

Th is is the one that reinvented the luxury SUV segment for the modern era.

Two generations later, the X5 is still the practical premium SUV it always was. It's a bit of a shame that the ride across the range is awkward and lumpy.

The styling won't appeal to everyone, but the badge certainly will, and that's a big selling point in this particular market. Priced bang in line rivals, apart from the absurdly priced but impressive M50d model, the X5 is a stalwart in the segment if not a class leader.

8. Porsche Cayenne

The car that saved Porsche has a place on our list of the top luxury SUVs.

Not something you would have ever thought you'd read decades ago, but the Cayenne remains true to the badge by being the driver's choice in the segment in its third generation. It's a little on the expensive side, but it does have an impressive CV, with luxury, capability and on-road manners not to be scoffed at.

It's controversial for all the reasons that don't actually matter and better in all dimensions than its sophomore offering. 

9. Volkswagen Touareg

Not long for this world but still a contender in its old age, the Touareg is comfortable, refined and capable.

In typical Volkswagen fashion, it's unpretentious and practical, too, although those requiring seven seats will have to look elsewhere. For a luxury SUV, the Touareg is also fairly green if thirstier options are avoided.

Handling is excellent for the class and prices are low. The interior is a little plain, mind. A new one is due in a matter of months.

10. Mercedes-Benz GLE

The former ML falls short on its engine range but is talented in the comfort, space and luxury departments. 4Matic-equipped versions are fiercely capable machines.

They don't come much more expensive at the bottom end, but the lower-spec GLE 250d 4Matic provides all the practicality and economy you may ever need. It's not tip-top in driver engagement, mind, so keen drivers who can't do without a luxury SUV should look higher up the list here.

Our Verdict

Range Rover Sport

The Range Rover Sport offers just the right dynamic twist on the well trodden SUV formula

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