The SUV marketplace expanded geometrically with mainstream popularity back in the latter part of the 1980’s. So much so, the segment spawned segments within segments as manufacturers began to see just how profitable they could be.
Interestingly, only one of the manufacturers on this list of the best 2012 AWD luxury SUVs, was offering a SUV at the beginning of the SUV boom. Tellingly, the 2012 model from that manufacturer (Land Rover Range Rover Evoque) has more in common with the other vehicles here than it does with the models the brand is traditionally noted for.
As the SUV marketplace evolved carlike qualities became more desirable than the truck based attributes upon which they were founded. This created an opening for luxury car brands to get into the SUV business with products developed from their car platforms. Thus, today’s luxury SUV marketplace is dominated by what were formerly car-only brands.
Blending the ride and handling of cars with the high seating position and all-wheel drive attributes of the SUV proved itself a compelling formula. When the luxury features of high-end cars were thrown in for good measure…
Well, see for yourself, as we present our list of the best 2012 AWD luxury SUVs
Like the cars with which the Q5 shares showroom space, the 2012 Audi Q5 offers dynamic driving attributes, handsome exterior styling, and one of the nicest interior treatments on the road. Based on Audi’s A4, the fine craftsmanship evident in every Audi is solidly represented in the Q5—in a package sized to live with quite easily.
Standard features on the base model include Audi’s Multi Media Interface (also known as MMI) tri-zone climate control, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, roof rails, leather upholstered power front seats; and a 10-speaker audio system fed by a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary input for portable audio devices, and a satellite radio receiver. Options include a panoramic sunroof, adaptive headlights, smart cruise control, Bluetooth, and an iPod interface.
Two powertrain choices are offered; a 211-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine capable of generating 258 ft.-lbs. of torque with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a 270-horsepower, 3.2-liter V6 producing 243 ft.-lbs. of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment with that engine choice.
Introducing the solidly enjoyable driving feel of a BMW 3 Series to the SUV market, the 2012 BMW X3 features responsive handling and a silky-smooth roster of engines—along with the robust construction and premium quality interior materials you expect from BMW. This entry on our list of the best all-wheel drive SUVs is available in two models, the designations of which are predicated upon the choice of engines.
Standard features include BMW's iDrive telematics interface system, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, alloy wheels, automatic headlights, fog lights, automatic wipers, eight-way power front seats, automatic climate control, and Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio streaming. The 12-speaker sound system consists of a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio input and a USB/iPod interface for portable audio devices.
BMW’s 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is the powerplant for both X3 versions. The base model 240-horsepower xDrive28i produces 221 ft.-lbs. of torque, while the 300-horsepower turbocharged xDrive35i’s version of the engine makes 300 ft.-lbs. An eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode is standard equipment for both.
Based on the platform underpinning the Cadillac CTS, the Cadillac SRX corners well, is attractively styled, features an abundance of tech, and offers more than adequate power— thanks to its new engine offering for 2012.
This entry on our best 2012 AWD SUVs list is offered in four trim levels. The most basic SRX Cadillac comes with automatic headlights, roof rack rails, keyless entry, remote engine start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, OnStar, and Bluetooth. The standard eight-speaker Bose stereo system features a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Power comes from a 308-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 making 265 ft.-lbs. of torque.
A six-speed automatic routes its power to the drive wheels.
One of the first luxury SUVs to place the demands of driving enthusiasts at the forefront, the Infiniti FX is easily one of the most fun to drive models on this list of the best AWD luxury sport utility vehicles. The platform carrying Nissan’s 370Z is modified for Infiniti FX duty. The voracious manner in which the FX goes down the road is readily indicative of this fact.
Standard features include a back-up camera, automatic xenon headlights, fog lights, a power liftgate, a sunroof, power-folding heated outside mirrors, keyless entry and start, leather, power windows and door locks, heated power adjustable front seats, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls. Dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth are included in the base price as well. Entertainment comes courtesy of an 11-speaker Bose surround audio system incorporating a six-disc CD changer, an iPod/USB interface, an auxiliary audio input, and a satellite radio receiver.
Two engine choices are offered; a 303-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with 262 ft.-lbs. of torque, and a 390-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 with 369 ft.-lbs. of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control conducts power to the drive wheels.
If style is the primary motivating factor in your automotive choices, you can stop reading right here. The 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is easily the most beautiful SUV currently offered—period. The Evoque is also the only model on this list of the best all wheel drive SUVs to come in both two- and four-door configurations.
The standard features list for the base model includes the Land Rover Terrain Response system, hill start assist, front and rear fog lights, automatic wipers, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power front seats, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio streaming connectivity, a touchscreen electronics interface, and an 11-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio input and two USB audio interface ports. A two-person divided rear seat is offered as a no-cost option for the Evoque two-door coupe.
The power supply is a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 250 ft.-lbs. of torque. A six-speed automatic is the transmission offering.
THE best-selling luxury SUV and the Lexus brand’s best selling model, the Lexus RX is everything most people are looking for in one of 2012’s best all wheel drive luxury SUVs. Quiet, spacious, comfortable, and beautifully finished both inside and out, the Lexus is also easy to drive and adequately powered. Bottom line, the Lexus RX 350 and its hybrid sibling—the RX 450h, are the best answers to the questions nearly everyone is asking in this segment.
Standard features include keyless entry and start, alloy wheels, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, fog lights, heated outside mirrors, power operation for the front seats and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, sliding and reclining second-row seats, and Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio streaming connectivity. The nine-speaker sound system is fitted with a six-disc CD changer, an auxiliary audio input, an iPod/USB interface, and a satellite radio receiver.
The all-wheel drive 2012 Lexus RX 350 is powered by a 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 capable of 248 ft.-lbs. of torque, and a six-speed automatic transmission. The AWD hybrid RX 450h gets a continuously variable transmission, the 3.5-liter V6, and three electric motors for a total system output of 295 horsepower.
An update for the 2011 model year bought the Lincoln MKX a spot on our list of the best AWD luxury SUVs for 2012. The Lincoln SUV’s good-looking exterior is nicely complimented by its handsome and well-tailored interior treatment. A comfortable ride and easy handling contribute nicely to making the MKX a ready choice.
The standard equipment list contains a power-operated rear hatch, leather, alloy wheels, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and heated and ventilated power front seats with driver memory. In-cabin tech includes the MyLincoln Touch and Sync electronics interfaces incorporating Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio streaming connectivity. The 10-speaker sound system is outfitted with a CD player, a satellite radio receiver, a USB port, an iPod interface, an auxiliary audio input, and an SD card reader.
Power comes from a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 with 280 ft.-lbs. of torque. The transmission is a six-speed automatic with manual shifting capability.
All-new for the 2012 model year, the Mercedes-Benz M Class was introduced back in 1997, as a 1998 model. Easily one of the best AWD luxury SUVs, it was also was the first Mercedes-Benz model to be built in the United States. The third generation of the now iconic model offers more interior room, a more luxurious ambiance, better fuel economy, and crisply updated styling.
Standard features on the base model include power adjustable heated front seats, reclining rear seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a sunroof, a power liftgate, fog lamps, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Electro-tech includes the Mercedes-Benz COMAND electronics interface, Bluetooth handsfree phone connectivity and audio streaming, along with the TeleAid emergency telematics service. The eight-speaker sound system incorporates HD radio, a CD player and USB/auxiliary input ports.
Four engines are offered: a 302-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, a 240-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 producing 455 ft.-lbs.of torque, a 402-horsepower, 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 443 ft.-lbs. of torque, and a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 making 518 horsepower and 516 ft.-lbs. of torque. This latter engine can make 550 horsepower and 560 ft.-lbs. of torque when equipped with the optional AMG Performance package.
Pairing the performance potential of a Porsche with all of the offroad capabilities of the most accomplished SUVs sounded crazy when Porsche introduced the Cayenne back in 2002. However, critics quickly discovered the all-wheel drive luxury sport utility vehicle highly capable of supporting those claims.
Standard features include leather upholstery, Bluetooth, a touchscreen interface, a power liftgate, automatic wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input. Key options include adaptive suspension dampers, active stabilizer bars, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, voice-activated secondary controls, and a 16-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system.
Four engine choices are offered; a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 with 295 ft.-lbs. of torque; a 400-horsepower 4.8-liter V8 good for 369 ft.-lbs. of torque, and a supercharged hybrid powertrain with a 3.0-liter V6 attached to a 34kW electric motor, to produce 380 horsepower and 427 ft.-lbs. of torque. The most potent Cayenne models get a 500-horsepower, 4.8-liter turbocharged V8 producing 516 ft.-lbs. of torque. All four powertrains use an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Sleek, sophisticated, sexy, stylish…
Yes this IS a Volvo we’re talking about—and a Volvo SUV at that.
Benefitting hugely from the styling renaissance at Volvo, the XC60 is easily one of the prettiest vehicles on this list of the best 2012 all-wheel drive luxury SUVs. That it’s blessed with delightful driving attributes makes it even more so.
Standard features include heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver’s seat with memory, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. The eight-speaker sound system uses a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input, and an iPod/USB interface.
Engine choices are a 240 horsepower, 3.2-liter inline-six producing 236 ft.-lbs. of torque; a 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with 325 ft.-lbs. of torque; and a 325-horsepower version of the turbocharged 3.2.
All three engines use six-speed automatic transmissions.