Just because an SUV or a crossover vehicle offers greater-than-normal passenger and cargo capacity doesn’t mean that it must therefore drive like a truck. The automotive industry has trended away from truck-based SUVs in recent years, allowing a fresh crop of crossovers and sport-utility vehicles featuring more comfortable sedan-derived platforms to flourish. Even some traditional SUVs have gotten in on the driving dynamics kick, with suspension systems tuned to largely cancel out the extra weight and size that come part and parcel with their practical designs.
Let’s take a closer look at 10 brand new SUVs and Crossovers that handle like sedans.
01. 2011 Land Rover Range Rover
The 2011 Land Rover Range Rover is famous for its ability to conquer seemingly any off-road obstacle that is thrown its way. The Land Rover Range Rover is also notable for the aplomb with which its suspension system absorbs jarring potholes and other road insults, insulating its occupants from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. This is fully in keeping with the Range Rover’s high luxury quotient, which on some models includes adaptive cruise control, four zones of automatic climate control, heated and ventilated leather seats and a rear seat entertainment system.
The 2011 Land Rover Range Rover provides a choice of V-8 engines: a 5.0-liter unit good for 375 horsepower and a supercharged version of that same mill that puts out 510 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission sends output to all four wheels through a standard 4x4 system, while the model with the supercharged engine also adds an adaptive suspension system to further enhance the SUV’s steering prowess.
02. 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan
The 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan is legitimate crossover choice for driving enthusiasts seeking out a family vehicle which counts an engaging driving experience amongst its most appealing features. The Volkswagen Tiguan offers compact dimensions that make it a good choice for both urban and rural traffic, and its surprisingly high level of available equipment elevates it to near-premium status. When properly spec’d out, it’s possible to drive home in a Tiguan that offers a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, heated leather seats, HID headlights and a rearview camera.
Motivating the 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan is 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 200 horses and 207 lb-ft of torque across its broad powerband. Front-wheel drive is standard, but optional all-wheel drive is on hand in order to further improve handling. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic.
03. 2011 Infiniti FX
The 2011 Infiniti FX is about as close as you can get to a sports sedan in the crossover segment. Borrowing important chassis bits from the Nissan 370Z sports car, and featuring a suspension system that has been specifically tuned to enhance cornering capability, there are few SUVs that can hang with the Infiniti FX on a track – especially when equipped with the optional Sport package that includes a two-mode suspension system. In the real world, the FX also delivers a luxurious ride loaded with high tech gadgets such as available adaptive cruise control, voice-activated navigation and a lane departure warning system.
Under the hood, the 2011 Infiniti FX can be ordered with either a 303 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 (FX35) or a 390 horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 (FX50). Each comes with a seven-speed automatic transmission, and while rear-wheel drive is standard on the FX35 (with the option of all-wheel drive), the FX50 is all-wheel drive only.
04. 2011 Lexus RX
The 2011 Lexus RX prizes smooth and comfortable driving over all else, making it a standout in the mid-size luxury segment. A fine replacement for a full-size luxury sedan, the Lexus RX offers excellent reliability as well as a very configurable options sheet that can see any of a long list of different packages and features installed inside the crossover. Standouts include heated and ventilated leather seats, a sport suspension system that combines with the Lexus Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management feature, front and rear parking assistance and a surround sound audio system.
The 2011 Lexus RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that puts out a hearty 275 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions of the crossover are available, and a six-speed automatic transmission is standard with each. Eco-conscious SUV shoppers can also check out the Lexus RX 450h hybrid model, which gives up nothing to the gasoline-powered edition in terms of performance.
05. 2011 Acura RDX
The 2011 Acura RDX is somewhat of a hidden gem amongst compact crossover vehicles. Although it offers the interior room and practicality of a large wagon, the Acura RDX has also benefited from the ministrations of Acura’s performance engineers, creating a buttoned-down driving experience that holds its own through the corners. Top level RDX trims also add such exotic features as a climate control system that tracks the position of the sun in the sky so as to adequately warm or cool the cabin, upping the crossover’s “wow” factor considerably.
Helping to wake up the 2011 Acura RDX’s ride is its 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Capable of producing 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, this mill can be shifted through standard steering wheel-mounted paddles linked to its five-speed automatic transmission. The RDX is also available with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, which dramatically improves cornering adhesion and low-traction acceleration.
06. 2011 Lincoln MKX
The 2011 Lincoln MKX is another mid-size luxury SUV that trades on its reputation for offering high tech features along with a ride and styling that has been refreshed for the current model year. The MyLincoln Touch feature is particularly impressive, as it replaces the vehicle’s standard gauges with a set of configurable digital displays that can keep track of a startling amount of vehicle information. In addition, Lincoln includes the MyKey parental controls and the SYNC entertainment and communications interface with the MKX.
A new engine also awaits buyers of the 2011 Lincoln MKX. The 3.7-liter unit generates 305 horsepower from its six-cylinders, and it also offers up 280 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is optional and a six-speed automatic transmission handles the gear shifting duties for the luxury crossover.
07. 2011 Audi Q5
The 2011 Audi Q5 comes through for entry-level luxury crossover buyers seeking a compact SUV that doesn’t turn into a turtle once the road ahead starts to get twisty. Thanks to liberal platform sharing between the Audi Q5 and the lauded Audi A4 sedan, the crossover provides the kind of confident handling that is unexpected in its class. The SUV also offers the top tier Audi interior and deep options list prized by fans of the German brand.
Initially, the 2011 Audi Q5 features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 211 turbocharged horsepower. An advanced eight-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox with this motor, and quattro all-wheel drive is included free charge. Also featuring standard quattro are versions of the Q5 that come with the crossover’s optional 3.2-liter V-6, which is good for 270 ponies and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
08. 2011 BMW X3
The 2011 BMW X3 comes close to matching the experience behind the wheel offered by the exciting to drive BMW 3 Series sedan. This is no surprise, given that the all-new for 2011 BMW X3 borrows substantially from the 3 Series Touring platform. Available features such as the adaptive suspension system and variable steering that come as part of the Dynamic Handling package also do a fine job of improving the X3’s already exceptional attributes.
The 2011 BMW X3 provides two 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder drivetrains for buyers to choose from. The first is tuned to provide 240 horsepower, while the second is turbocharged to generate a more adrenaline-inducing 300 horses. Eight-speed automatic transmissions are part for the course with both models, as is all-wheel drive.
09. 2011 Subaru Forester
The 2011 Subaru Forester stays true to its sedan roots, and the Impreza chassis that underpins the family-friendly crossover is a big part of why the vehicle is so pleasant to drive on a daily basis. Almost nine-inches of ground clearance indicate that the Subaru Forester is serious about fulfilling its SUV duties, if required, but the affordable vehicle also excels at swallowing cargo and passengers and eating up the miles without any of the harshness or numbness that is sometimes associated with larger trucks.
The 2011 Subaru Forester offers all-wheel drive across every trim level, even the base model which is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder motor that puts out 170 ponies. A turbocharged version of this engine is also available, and it ups production to 224 horsepower. A mix of five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are provided with the Forester.
10. 2011 Toyota Venza
Some might consider the 2011 Toyota Venza a tall wagon, but to others it is simply a representation of the evolution of the crossover segment. The Toyota Venza drives in a very car-like manner, thanks to the fact that it is based on the same chassis as the popular Toyota Camry mid-size sedan. More interior volume, and the availability of all-wheel drive help to set the Venza apart from its sedan cousin, as do its much beefier looks.
The 2011 Toyota Venza can be equipped with the choice of either a 2.7-liter, four-cylinder motor or a 3.5-liter V-6. The former generates 182 horsepower, while the latter provides a significantly more robust 268 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission offered with the crossover.