What makes a cool SUV? For some, it's the ability to tackle absolutely any type of terrain, while others seek out arresting and unique styling. Then there's the street performance heads, the drivers who want to be able to hang with sport sedans in the curves and muscle cars at the drag strip while still preserving the practicality of the SUV concept. In short, there's more than one definition of 'cool SUV' floating around out there - and therefore more than a few answers to this particular question.
Let's take a quick look at 10 cool SUVs that you can buy in 2014.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 01 - 2014 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X
The 2014 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X might not be the most modern SUV on the market, but it's one of the most rugged - and therefore, quite cool - thanks to its full-frame design and off-road focus. The Nissan Xterra PRO-4X comes with a low-range four-wheel drive system, skid plates, Bilstein shocks, special 16-inch rims with knobby tires, an electronically-locking rear differential, and electronic driving aides such as hill descent control and hill start assist. You also get a 4.0-liter V-6 that is good for 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, along with the choice between either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 02 - 2015 GMC Yukon Denali
The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali is already on sale in 2014, and it significantly upgrades the full-size SUV to offer more luxury, additional power, and a heaping helping of road presence through its eye-catching Denali styling call-outs such as a mesh grille and body-color trim. The GMC Yukon Denali can seat passengers across three rows, can be had in a long wheelbase edition, and packs a lot of premium features, including heated and cooled leather thrones and the GMC IntelliLink vehicle interface. Under the hood, the Denali is blessed with a 6.2-liter V-8 that grinds out 420 horses and 460 lb-ft of torque, which can be paired with the option of four-wheel drive. When finished in black, it's the ultimate presidential motorcade vehicle, but fortunately you don't have to run for office to park it in your driveway.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 03 - 2014 Ford Flex
The 2014 Ford Flex is the perfect retro-cool SUV for those who want to relive their endless 60s summer. Designed to resemble the rectangular proportions of the surf wagons of yesteryear, the Ford Flex also packs a punch with the throttle down if its available EcoBoost drivetrain is selected at ordering time. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 provides 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, and this output is managed by a standard all-wheel drive system that makes sure each pony stamps the pavement with authority. Not bad for a three-row SUV that can handle up to seven passengers.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 04 - 2014 Nissan Juke Nismo
The 2014 Nissan Juke Nismo is a pint-size SUV that scores big points by way of its spirited personality and engaging handling. The lightweight Nissan Juke Nismo is outfitted with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 197 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, and if you stick with front-wheel drive you can stir the pot with a six-speed manual transmission (all-wheel drive models come standard with a continuously-variable automatic). Although there's not a lot of room inside the Juke Nismo, its stiff suspension system, hefty 18-inch rims, and sport seats make it a fun choice for those who want to stand out from the compact SUV crowd.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 05 - 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon sits at the apex of this iconic SUVs line-up, standing tall as the most capable version of the well-loved Jeep model. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon packs on a few more creature comforts than other members of the Wrangler family, but the real reasons to order this edition of the SUV are its heavy-duty axles (with locking differentials front and rear), rugged suspension system, ability to remotely disconnect its front sway bar for increased articulation, and special low-range four-wheel drive that is designed to crawl from one rock to another. Like all Wranglers, the Rubicon comes with a 3.6-liter V-6 (285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque), along with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 06 - 2014 Subaru Forester XT
The 2014 Subaru Forester XT is an all-new entry into the performance SUV universe, adding finesse and muscle compared to last year's edition of the vehicle. The Subaru Forester XT gains a trick continuously-variable automatic transmission that offers six and eight 'virtual' gears when set to either Sport or Sport Sharp modes. It also comes with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that squeezes 250 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque out of its 2.0-liters of displacement. As a bonus, you get X-Mode for 2014, a transmission feature which adds a bit of off-road prowess to the Forester XT's playbook by redistributing torque more effectively during low-speed driving over rough terrain.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 07 - 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Of course, for the real rough stuff you'll be better served by a vehicle like the 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser, the spiritual sibling of the Xterra PRO-4X and Wrangler Rubicon. Featuring the kind of throwback styling that evokes images of the FJ40 Land Cruiser of old, the Toyota FJ Cruiser presents itself as a simple, strong, and affordable off-road SUV. In its final model year, the Toyota can be had with a TRD-tuned, remote-reservoir shock absorbers, bead-lock rims, thick skid plates, and even an inclinometer to keep track of the SUV's attitude. The vehicle's A-TRAC traction control system is designed to make short work of any type of terrain, and the FJ Cruiser's standard 4.0-liter V-6 can be relied on to produce 260 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 08 - 2014 Land Rover Range Rover
The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover towers over many of the other cool SUVs on its list due to its admittedly astronomical price tag. You get a lot of sport-utility vehicle for your money with the Land Rover Range Rover, however, as this ultra-plush full-size cruiser also happens to be completely unstoppable in off-road situations. The Range Rover comes with the Terrain Response system's ability to automatically adjust transmission, engine, and full-time four-wheel drive system parameters for the driving situation at hand, as well as four zones of automatic climate control, cameras that can show you the view from any angle of the SUV, a height-adjustable air suspension, and of course a wide range of seating and entertainment options. Opting for the Rang Rover's supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 brings 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque to the table, and its eight-speed automatic transmission is adept at doling out this performance in such a manner as to eclipse even the quickest of sport sedans.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 09 - 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT isn't quite as robust as the Range Rover once the pavement disappears, but take it to a drag strip - or even a road course - and you'll be shocked at the driving dynamics of this over-muscled beast. In addition to offering luxurious interior trappings, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT blows the doors off of most other SUVs by way of its 6.4-liter, 470 horsepower Hemi V-8. Also capable of generating 465 lb-ft of torque, the Jeep makes use of an eight-speed automatic transmission that is a significant upgrade over last year's five-speed autobox. 60-mph arrives from a standing start in the neighborhood of five seconds with the Grand Cherokee SRT's throttle pinned to the floor, aided and abetted by a specially-tuned four-wheel drive system as well as a launch control feature.
10 Cool SUVs for 2014 - 10 - 2014 Infiniti QX70
The 2014 Infiniti QX70 is a cool SUV that looks like nothing else in its class. The Infiniti QX70 is based on the same platform that underpins the Q50 sedan, which gives it car-like handling to go with its flowing curves and aggressive front fascia. Available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive editions, the QX70's ability to take a corner is exemplary, and when found with its available 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood, the Infiniti brings substantial sturm und drang to the performance party. The 390 horsepower and 369 lb-ft produced by this mill are corralled by a seven-speed automatic transmission.