When sport utility vehicles were first introduced, they were slow and lumbering truck-like creatures, cobbled together mostly from existing components in various models’ parts bins. Today that’s all changed, and crossover suvs are now some of the most attractive, modern and best-selling vehicles on the road, and also some of the quickest and most powerful. With their engines now making up to 600 horsepower and top speeds reaching close to 200 miles per hour, some of today’s SUVs can outperform supercars from thirty years ago. Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite hot crossovers, and see how they compare.
10 Hot Crossovers for 2016
Photo Credit: Audi Media Services
The Audi Q5 is a compact luxury crossover SUV with a comfortable and roomy interior that is full of high-quality materials. It handles more like a car than an SUV, and like most Audis, it comes with the Quattro all-wheel drive system for sure-footed traction in inclement weather. For those looking for even better performance, the SQ5 version is available with a stiffer suspension, beefier brakes and a supercharged V6 that pumps out 354 horsepower. Top speed is listed at the typical German 155 miles per hour, and 0-60 mph takes only a hair over five seconds. The only real downsides to the SQ5 are its meager cargo capacity and its less than stellar fuel economy, but overall it is one of the standouts in its class and one of the hottest crossovers out there.
Photo Credit: Bentley Media
The hot Bentley Bentayga is a super-luxurious SUV, powered by a W12 engine that uses twin-turbos and direct injection (along with traditional port injection). The result is 600 horsepower, which means that 0-60 miles per hour takes only four seconds flat and top speed is 187 mph. Bentley is also trying to do their part—with oil and water pumps that only run when needed, an improved engine management system, and a stop-start system—all in the name of efficiency (though you shouldn't expect the Bentayga to be particularly frugal). Thanks to a significant amount of aluminum in the body, the Bentayga is one of the lighter vehicles in the Bentley lineup, and one of the best handling as well. Inside, it’s typical Bentley, with triple-sealed doors, the best leathers, real wood and nearly perfect fit and finish.
Photo Credit: BMW
BMW X5 M
The BMW X5 is a mid-size luxury suv, but in X5 M trim it feels and drives more like a nimble sports sedan. Its twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 churns out 567 horsepower, enough to get the X5 M to 60 miles per hour in four seconds flat, and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 156 mph. The X5 M’s suspension is more than up to the task of handling the power and makes the X5 feel like a much smaller and ligher ride, while the upgraded brakes stop the M ferociously. The downsides to the X5 M are its high cost, poor fuel economy, and the lack of an available third row. But if you have the means, the upsides to this hot crossover more than offset the drawbacks.
Photo Credit: Ford
Ford Explorer Sport
The Ford Explorer Sport is a three-row, seven-passenger crossover SUV. Powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 with 365 horsepower, it reaches 60 miles per hour in around six seconds before reaching a top speed of 123 mph. The Explorer Sport has a smooth ride, even with its large wheels and stiffer suspension. While biased for on-road use, the Sport does feature a Terrain Management System and Hill Descent Control, and a truck-like 5,000-lb. towing capacity. Interior quality is good, but not quite up to the standard set by the more expensive Platinum model. The third row is quite small and best suited to small children, as is the middle seat in the second row, but the rest of this hot crossover is comfortable and roomy, and cargo space is good.
Photo Credit: Ford
While the F-Pace is Jaguar’s first SUV, this hot new offering more than ready to take on the best of its rivals. Extensive use of aluminum (as well as some magnesium and composites) in the construction helps keep it light, a rear-biased all-wheel drive system is standard, and the engines are more than competitive, including a 380 horsepower supercharged V6 in S versions. Accelerating from a stop to 60 miles per hour takes only 5.4 seconds, and top speed is limited to 155 mph. Since it is an SUV, the F-Pace features a roomy interior, a huge cargo area, and a towing capacity north of 5,000 lbs. Jaguar has been on a roll lately, and this latest hot crossover is no exception.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-AMG GLS 63
The Mercedes-Benz GLS is a full-size SUV available with a choice of several different powerplants, including a 577-horsepower twin-turbo V8 in GLS 63 AMG models. Fuel economy in the high-performance version isn’t great, but it's what you would expect from a nearly-three ton SUV that can get from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 168 miles per hour. The AMG isn’t only quick on the straights, it also manages to hold its own through the corners thanks to a trick sports suspension with AIRMATIC air springs, adaptive damping, and active roll stabilization. Speed and power doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice function with three rows of seats, tons of electronic gadgets, and a towing capacity of 7,500 lbs in this hot SUV.
Photo Credit: Nissan USA
The Nissan Juke is a hot compact crossover SUV with unique styling, and in NISMO RS trim it packs a good punch. We prefer the front-wheel drive version with its 215 horsepower and six-speed manual transmission, over the all-wheel drive versions that are contrained by their continuously-variable transmissions. None of the Jukes are all that impressive off-road, and while the NISMO RS models handle well on-road (with the expected understeer inherent in most powerful front-wheel drive designs), their ride is quite firm and bouncy. Fuel economy isn’t all that impressive for such a small vehicle (essentially a higher-riding subcompact with a tight interior), but the performance might be worth it for some drivers. Overall the NISMO RS is a fun little package, but we can’t help but wonder if a sports car might be a better choice.
Photo Credit: Porsche Cars North America
The Porsche Cayenne is perhaps the hottest of all SUVs, with engines ranging from a normally aspirated V6 all the way to a twin-turbocharged V8. The most powerful engine makes 570 horsepower and can get the Cayenne to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in just a tick over four seconds, and on to a top speed of 173 miles per hour. To keep the power under control, the top Cayenne models use the brake-based Torque Vectoring Plus system, an electronically controlled differential lock, and active suspension and roll bars. The result is an SUV that drives remarkably like the brand’s sports cars. The interior is luxurious, and though the number of buttons can seem intimidating at first, after a while the controls become second nature, and they are more tactile than the usual screen-based systems.
Photo Credit: Porsche
The Porsche Macan is a compact crossover SUV that looks almost like a shrunken version of its bigger brother, the Cayenne. The Macan might be small, but it isn’t all that light, tipping the scales at well over two tons. The base engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder, but turbocharged V6s are optional, including the 400-horsepower version found in the Turbo. Its top speed is 164 miles per hour, and from a stop, 60 mph is reached in around four and a half seconds. While the Macan doesn’t handle quite as well as the rest of the brand’s lineup, it does outperform its rivals, and the ride quality is quite good. The interior is a bit tight, especially in the rear, but otherwise this hot crossover is very welcoming.
Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover
Range Rover Sport
The Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a smaller version of the Range Rover, with some exterior design reminiscent of the stylish Evoque. It makes use of an aluminum body to help keep weight down, and the lineup includes a few supercharged V6s, a turbocharged diesel V6, and a couple of supercharged V8s. The top-of-the-line SVR version uses a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that makes 550 horsepower, which is enough to get the Sport to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and up to a top speed of 162 mph. The ride is impressive on the pavement, off-road capability is strong, and handling is confidence inspiring, though not quite sports car like. Combine that with an available third row of seating and a towing capacity of over 6,000 lbs, and the Range Rover Sport SVR might be the most versatile vehicle on the road.