2017 Jaguar F PACE on road front grille ・ Photo by Jaguar Land Rover
Traditionally, sport utility vehicles were all about substance — more power, more space, and more all-around capabilities. Of course, styling is an important element of successful vehicles, and we’re not suggesting SUVs of the past were generally unattractive. Luxury automakers, in particular, took advantage of the larger platform as a means to showcase their best designs and features.
Now we’ve got crossovers and SUVs that can haul up to nine passengers, and others that aren’t much larger than a compact hatchback. Many manufacturers use their SUV and crossover offerings to showcase their brands’ latest overall looks, and there are some great-looking ones out there. Here are 10 of the most stylish SUVs you can buy, chosen by our Autobytel editors.
We’re kicking off our list of 10 stylish SUVs with the 2017 Bentley Bentayga… but don’t interpret that to mean that we’re recommending you buy it, and here’s why. It’s the most expensive SUV currently on the market. And for that, it had better be stylish. It looks like a Bentley coupe — grille, headlights, wheels — except it’s an SUV. The door panels are made of quilted leather. The glove box is lined in fabric. The optional picnic basket, complete with champagne flutes, costs $32,000. The Bentley logo is embroidered flawlessly on the headrests. And you can order the Bentayga in nearly any color you’d like. You might look like kind of a jerk, but no one else’s stylish SUV will be able to compete with yours.
Photo by Bentley
We came close to selecting the Escalade for our list of the most stylish SUVs, since the big, traditional Caddy has a sort of timeless appeal. Yet Cadillac’s designers have been doing good work lately, and so we chose the all-new XT5 instead. This midsize SUV, which replaces the discontinued SRX, provides the brand’s distinctive styling cues (such as plenty of chrome) in a friendlier and more affordable package. Its style isn’t limited to the exterior, either. Cadillac is General Motors’ answer to the German brands, which are known for upscale interiors, and as such, the XT5 features a high-quality cabin with a thoughtful layout, giving the XT5 another strong point in its favor.
Photo by General Motors
The FIAT 500X might be one of the least-functional SUVs on the market, but it sure is cute. This stylish subcompact takes its cues from the FIAT 500, a hot hatch with sporty aspirations, and the family resemblance is strong. We love the 500X’s hatchback shape, rounded-off headlights, and eye-catching wheel designs, but the fun color choices might be our favorite element of this stylish SUV. The paint palette’s similar to that of the regular 500, consisting of a range of hues from cheerful to sophisticated. Choose carefully, because the FIAT 500X is available with a body-color instrument panel, which means you might be staring at bright orange or sunny yellow throughout your entire commute.
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
It’s not the most stylish vehicle in Honda’s lineup (we’d award that honor to the newly redesigned Civic) but the HR-V subcompact SUV is still a great example of the brand’s overall aesthetics. The HR-V’s stylish, sure, but not in an over-the-top, obnoxious, ostentatious way. It’s just an all-around good-looking subcompact SUV. We like that it’s more modern-looking that its older stablemate, the CR-V, and although it’s small, Honda’s designers made good use of the space. Look at it from the side, and the eyes are drawn in different directions, sweeping up from the front wheel well and back down from the rear pillar. It’s not chaotic, though, it’s simply competent and confident.
Photo by Honda
The Jaguar F-PACE is one of the most stylish SUVs on the market, as well as one of the newest models to earn a spot on our list. It looks like Jaguar spent some time plotting this move beyond the realm of sports cars, although the company is quick to point out that the compact F-PACE delivers performance that enables it to hang with smaller, lighter, more traditional Jags. We just think the F-PACE, particularly in white, is a stunner. A large black grille and an optional black-finish wheel design provide balance for the otherwise sleek, shiny, and streamlined vehicle. The F-PACE looks fresh, new, and every bit as elegant as the brand’s sedans and coupes.
Photo by Jaguar Land Rover
The Renegade’s design is polarizing, but we applaud Jeep’s designers for taking some risks. This subcompact SUV greets onlookers with a massive grille, the strongest connection to the Jeep brand’s design language, which gives all the brand’s SUVs that familial feel. Beyond that, the Renegade pretty much stands on its own. It’s got an athletic, off-road-ready stance anchored by a chunky wheel design, and lots of rounded-off corners accented by contrasting trim. Granted, this description isn’t too far off from, say, a Grand Cherokee, but the visual effect is entirely different. If you’re in the mood for an affordable Jeep, you’ve got choices. Play it safe with the Patriot or Compass, or make a statement with the stylish Renegade.
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Let’s face it, Mazda’s got a pretty good-looking lineup. The brand’s stable of affordable SUVs, sporty cars, and actual sports cars have great design to match their winning personalities. The freshly redesigned 2017 Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorites, a compact SUV that boasts near-flawless execution of the brand’s Kodo design language. What that means, in plain terms, is that the CX-5’s body lines are inspired by movement; this may seem redundant since it is a vehicle, but take a closer look and you’ll see what Mazda means. The new Soul Red Crystal exterior finish is the best way to achieve Kodo since the tri-stage metallic paint appears to flow over the car’s curves.
Photo by Mazda
Regarding functionality, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is more like a compact car than a subcompact SUV. Passenger accommodations are tight, cargo space is minimal, and the ride can be kind of harsh — potential buyers should be aware that this vehicle has very real limitations. But if style is the main priority, the GLA-Class is a solid bet. This SUV is one of the newer options in the Mercedes lineup, and it’s a bit more aggressive than the brand’s previous sport utes. Depending on the exterior color (we like the bright and upbeat South Seas Blue Metallic) this Benz is, well… kind of cute. If you want to stand out in a stylish yet affordable Mercedes, the GLA-Class is our pick.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz
The Toyota C-HR is another of the newest models to make our list of 10 stylish SUVs. This subcompact offering looks more like a lifted hatchback than a true crossover or SUV, and that’s by design; in fact, “C-HR” stands for “Coupe-High Rider.” For now, we’ll put aside the name, and concentrate on its looks. The profile alone isn’t outrageous — there are clear connections to Toyota’s RAV4 — but the front and rear are something else, all sharpened and sliced and vented. A vehicle in this class needs to be attention-getting, though, and it works. If you want to take the C-HR’s styling in a less aggressive direction, just browse through the exterior options — we recommend the teal body and white roof pairing.
Photo by Toyota
The Volkswagen Atlas is a midsize SUV that’s all new for the 2018 model year. Size-wise, the Atlas is roughly on par with the Touareg, yet its thoughtfully designed interior accommodates a third row of seating, and the exterior is much fresher and more modern. The squared-off headlights mark a new design direction for the VW lineup, and those strong lines continue to flow from the front down along the vehicle’s sides. Yet, the yellow color shown in many early photos of the Atlas (and on the auto show circuit) is fresh and adventuresome. The Atlas is a stylish addition to VW’s SUV lineup and we can’t wait to see it when it finally hits the streets.
Photo by Volkswagen