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European Flavor: 10 Luxury SUVs from Across the Atlantic

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
June 1, 2011
6 min. Reading Time
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class ・  Photo by Mercedes-Benz

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class ・ Photo by Mercedes-Benz

Sport utility vehicles have grown from their original role as heavy-duty people haulers and tow rigs into a segment with models that can offer comfortable luxury accommodations and attractive styling to go with their more practical attributes. European automakers have become particularly adept at the this marriage of luxury and utility, producing some of the finest and best-designed SUVs on the market. In particular, these European sport utility vehicles are capable of providing considerable performance to go with their well appointed interiors and advanced high tech features. Let’s take a look at 10 luxury SUVs from across the Atlantic that bring some European flavor to American showrooms.

1) 2016 Land Rover Range Rover

The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover is a unique entry onto this list of European luxury SUVs, a full-size vehicle that is equally at home blazing new trails across rocky hillsides or being valet parked in front of a five-star restaurant. The five-passenger Land Rover Range Rover offers considerable off-road poise thanks to the availability of features such as the Terrain Response system, which offers complete driver control over the vehicle’s suspension, drivetrain response and traction control (with settings for several different surfaces), as well as hill-holding and hill descent control features. Three zones of automatic climate control, heated and cooled leather seats and a high end entertainment system can also be found within the SUV’s confines. All versions of the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover feature full-time four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle’s base motor is a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that is good for 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. There is also a 254-horsepower turbodiesel 3.0-liter V-6 with 443 lb-ft of torque. The Range Rover HSE trim offers a tuned version of the supercharged V-6, good for 380 horsepower. The Supercharged and Autobiography trim levels feature a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 with 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque, while the SVAutobiography trim squeezes 550 horsepower from this engine.


2) 2017 Audi Q7

The 2017 Audi Q7 is the largest vehicle in the German brand’s lineup. The full-size Audi Q7 SUV can accommodate as many as seven passengers across three rows in its elegantly appointed interior, which offers such standard niceties as heated power leather seats, a manual folding second row of seating, a power folding third row, a panoramic sunroof, and a power liftgate. Moving up through the Q7’s different trim levels and options packages allows buyers to add items such as a surround sound system, four zones of automatic climate control, an adaptive air suspension and adaptive cruise control. Audi’s technological focus carries over into the engine bay, where the 2017 Audi Q7 sports a supercharged V-6 engine that is good for 333 horsepower. This 3.0-liter unit also pumps out 325 lb-ft of torque and is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive.

 Photo by Audi

Photo by Audi

3) 2016 BMW X3

The BMW X3, one of the older luxury suv models on the market, offers generous interior space for up to five passengers. The SUV can also be had with equipment such as HID headlights, 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. Three different drivetrains are available with the 2016 BMW X3. The first is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, providing 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The next step up is a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that makes 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. A turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder rounds out the lineup, with 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. All versions of the nimble BMW X3 come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard on some trims, while all-wheel drive is standard on others.

 Photo by BMW

Photo by BMW

4) 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a throwback to a time when European full-size SUVs proudly displayed their roots as military-grade people movers. The five-passenger Mercedes-Benz G-Class offers an upright, square design that leaves no doubt as to its utilitarian origins, but its bold styling conceals an opulently luxurious passenger compartment that is decked out with heated and ventilated leather seats up front, heated leather seats for the rear row of seating, a sunroof, a navigation system and a surround sound audio system. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class base model features a new offering, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. The premium AMG G63 model provides 563 horsepower and 560 lb-ft from its twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8, and the AMG G65 has a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 with 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission come standard.


5) 2016 Porsche Cayenne

The 2016 Porsche Cayenne is that rarest of SUVs, a large crossover which can not only seat as many as five passengers in total comfort but which also offers sports sedan-level handling and braking. Featuring a tuned chassis that makes excellent use of available features such as active body control and air suspension, the Porsche Cayenne can also be ordered with four zones of automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, and a Bose surround sound system. Helping the 2016 Porsche Cayenne achieve impressive acceleration times are a trio of engine choices, starting out with a 3.6-liter V-6 that is good for 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The Cayenne S and GTS feature a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V-6; the S gets 420 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, while the GTS squeezes out numbers of 440 and 443. The Cayenne Turbo lives up to its name by twin-turbocharging the 4.8-liter engine to the tune of 520 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, and the Turbo S increases those specs to 570 and 590. A hybrid Cayenne is additionally available for eco-conscious SUV buyers. All versions come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.


6) 2016 BMW X5

Despite the BMW X5’s age, the 2016 edition remains one of the most popular sporty crossovers available on the luxury market. Available seven-passenger seating with an optional third row provides the BMW X5 with a roomy interior, and the SUV’s is look is contemporary and upscale, both inside and out. Leather sport seats, a stiff, performance-oriented suspension system , a head-up display, and four zones of automatic climate control are just a few of the high end features that can be found with the X5. The 2016 BMW X5 is initially offered with a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that generates 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, thanks to the use of a turbocharger. A 4.4-liter, turbocharged V-8 can also be ordered with the X5, and the larger motor is capable of producing 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. A turbodiesel version of the X5 is also available, and it offers up 255 ponies and 413 lb-ft of torque from its 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder design. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the base X5, but most models come with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, along with an eight-speed automatic transmission.


7) 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport continues the theme of luxury sport utility vehicles that pull double duty as high performance land rockets. The Land Rover Range Rover Sport can coddle as many as seven passengers while roaring down the highway – or two-lane country road – at triple-digit speeds, with all occupants comfortably ensconced in the leather-wrapped, wood-trimmed cabin of the SUV. Helping to keep the Range Rover Sport locked to the pavement are a full-time four-wheel drive system and Land Rover’s Terrain Response system. The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport comes standard with a 340-horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine that is also good for 332 lb-ft of torque. A supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 makes 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. 2016 also sees a new engine added to the lineup, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 254 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque. All come paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.


8) 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is a big and burly luxury SUV that steps up to the plate when it comes to towing and hauling. With a 7,500 lb trailer rating, 93.8 cubic feet of interior cargo space and three rows of seating (which can accommodate up to seven passengers), the Mercedes-Benz holds up the utility end of the bargain quite well. It also maintains the brand’s high standard of premium equipment, coming with items such as a sunroof, air suspension, heated front seats and Bluetooth integration free of charge. A number of options packages also open up access to features such as massaging seats and a navigation system. The 2016 GL350 BlueTEC is a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 240 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque. The GL450 features a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 with 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The GL550 makes 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft from its twin-turbo 4.7-liter V-8. And finally, the AMG GL63 puts out 550 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8. All GL-Class SUVs come with a seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

 Photo by Mercedes-Benz Media

Photo by Mercedes-Benz Media

9) 2016 Audi Q5

The 2016 Audi Q5 is a compact high-end crossover known for its fun-to-drive handling and its elite interior design and execution that has become famous across the Audi lineup. The Audi Q5 can hold as many as five passengers, and standard equipment found with the SUV includes leather seats with power adjustment, a panoramic sunroof, three zones of climate control and the Audi MMI vehicle interface. The Q5 can also be decked out with options such as HID headlights, heated seats, a navigation system, and adaptive cruise control. The engine lineup in the 2016 Audi Q5 offers buyers a lot of choice. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder serves as the base, with 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 earns 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and a tuned version of this engine, making 354 horsepower, is also available. The top-of-the-line SQ5 earns 354 horsepower from its supercharged V-6 engine, and a Hybrid model is also available. All Q5s come with quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.


10) 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, all new for this model year, is a compact SUV with seating for five passengers. Designed as a replacement for the discontinued GLK-Class SUV, the GLC-Class injects some life into the brand’s smaller models, with updated styling and plenty of features. The list of standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and an extensive suite of active safety systems. So far, just one trim level of the GLC-Class is available. The GLC300 comes powered by a 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which is paired to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard in the GLC-Class, and it’s actually not a bad choice to optimize the vehicle’s excellent handling. However,  the Mercedes-Benz’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is available. More trim levels of the GLC-Class are expected next year.

 Photo by Mercedes-Benz

Photo by Mercedes-Benz


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