2018 Audi SQ5 Front ・ Photo by Audi
While highlighting the 10 Best German Luxury SUVs is difficult, partly because German manufacturers have the whole luxury thing down like no one else, we whittled them down to this list. The attention to detail is breathtaking, every comfort and convenience item is refined and perfected, while safety features (like night vision systems) continue to astonish. And, as a rule, German vehicles tend to be engaging for drivers — even when they’re SUVs. These choices are here to whet the appetite of a luxury SUV buyer and provide inspiration to explore the subject in greater detail. Chances are, that when it’s time to take the plunge, the ultimate choice is in this list.
We could easily have recommended the regular Q5, which is also all-new for 2018, but Audi’s S models have so much going for them. Even though they have greater power than their conventional counterparts, don’t think they’re overly sporty. The 2018 Audi SQ5 follows the successful S formula that brings exactly the right amount of everything. Any more muscle than the 354 horsepower coming out of an all-new turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and it could start to become a liability. The brakes are strong and confident. Safety equipment and other technology features are plentiful without being overdone, and leather/Alcantara upholstery is standard. For audiophiles, the Prestige trim comes with a 19-speaker/355-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Photo by Audi
A new generation of this seven-seater premium German SUV has launched for 2017 and it has immediately made the Q7 one of the top choices yet again. The higher trim levels enjoy technology that seems like it comes from the future, like the semi-autonomous features, configurable instrument display called the Virtual Cockpit, and a touchpad that recognizes handwritten inputs. Air suspension is available, as is rear-wheel steering for an agility that comes as a pleasant surprise to anyone familiar with big SUVs. The new Q7 is around 500 pounds lighter than the old model so the base 4-cylinder engine is workable (252 hp), but the full luxury experience is made complete by the supercharged V6 engine generating 333 hp.
Photo by Audi
Although this generation of BMW's X3 is nearing replacement, it’s still among the best premium compact crossovers, German or otherwise. To drive it is to recalibrate one’s expectations of how something so practical (a massive 63.3 cubic feet of total cargo space) can still be so flowing and fun. The 2017 BMW X3 simply doesn’t have a weak spot. With average fuel consumption of 24 mpg for both the rear-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the 28i, there isn’t even a penalty at the pumps. The range starts off well-equipped, with features like a power tailgate, keyless entry, a push-button ignition, and drivers-side memory settings. The X3 has also scored exceptionally well in crash testing.
Photo by BMW
The X5 was one of the first car-based SUVs and has since evolved into a mainstay among luxury vehicles. The 2017 BMW X5 stretches from a diesel version, includes a plug-in hybrid, and tops out triumphantly with the energetic 567 hp X5 M. The hybrid and M versions only have seating for five, but it’s possible to squeeze seven into the others. X5 drivers will discover that BMW has injected a lot of the pace, poise, and precision for which the company is renowned, along with high-quality materials and construction.
Photo by BMW
There’s something about the 2017 BMW X6 that has a way of getting under a driver’s skin. To think of it merely as an X5 with less space for rear passengers and cargo is to miss the point. For starters, having something this size and not having to wave the practicality flag is a form of luxury. This is a prime example of how BMW’s design language can work so well within the lines and proportions of a midsize SUV “four-door coupe.” It should be noted that although other manufacturers have since produced their own fastback crossovers, the X6 was a trailblazer. The effortless thrust of the 445 hp xDrive50i comes from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8. Those who opt for the high-performance X6 M will find it phenomenal.
Photo by BMW
Old-school luxury SUVs are led by the G-Class in the traditional sense of the word, with rugged off-road abilities mixed with considerable engine power. What started out as a military vehicle during the Cold War has now evolved into a status symbol. The 'basic' 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 comes with a 416 horsepower V8 engine and lots of standard equipment, starting at $123,325 and includes a rocking 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system. A twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 dishes out a daunting 621 horsepower in the G65 AMG version does tempt, though the price is $221,325.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz
A luxury SUV doesn’t always have to be big, or even midsize. The compact 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC-300 exhibits refinement in a city-friendly package. As its name hints, this is based on the C-Class platform, and a wonderful platform it is, full of sophisticated, top-level engineering. The cabin’s design is also similar to that in the C-Class sedan, which is not a bad thing. Materials hit the right notes in terms of quality, while pretty much everything is easy to reach and use, and even the basic version has power-folding rear seats. A GLC43 AMG version raises the power bar to 362 horsepower and sharpens reflexes, but the regular GLC300 runs around happily with 241 hp and keeps its occupants unflustered.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class might be the luxury German SUV to beat all other luxury German SUVs, especially if space, equipment, and off-road capability are the main criteria. The GLS was refreshed for 2017, providing options found in the S-Class flagship sedan (with which it shares a platform) such as a fragranced/ionized cabin ventilation system. It comes with an air suspension and offers comfortable seating for seven adults. Sure, the GLS is big, but it doesn’t feel like driving a bus. Having Crosswind Assist and a self-parking feature as standard are another couple of points in its favor. There are many good points, including a special off-road package that raises ride height and brings a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system.
There are two luxury midsize German SUVs that handle better than any midsize SUV should — the BMW X5 and the 2017 Porsche Cayenne. It’s not always possible to be super-scientific and drive an example of each on the same route on the same day for a true back-to-back comparison. Even then, tires could make a difference. However, should the occasion ever arise, there’s a good chance that the ultimate nod will go to the Cayenne. It has an extra degree of finesse, which is a description that can be applied to any area of the Cayenne when comparing it with its main rivals. The plug-in hybrid model (the Cayenne S E-Hybrid) sips gas yet remains deserving of the Porsche badge.
Photo by Porsche
There’s a reason why the 2017 Porsche Maca is one of the best-selling vehicles that Porsche builds, and it’s not just because it's a crossover. It’s a luxury compact crossover with driving talents that make the competition feel like lumbering lumps. The GTS version is especially honed, with 360 horsepower, an adjustable air suspension and plenty of other cool additions included. For true luxury, though, the Turbo model brings 400 hp into play along with a heap of comfort and convenience features. The Macan’s cabin is a gem, with a center console that’s simultaneously effective and attractive. If any true driving purists find themselves in the position of having to buy a luxury SUV, the Macan should be their choice.
Photo by Porsche