When considering the best premium SUVs for 2016, it’s important to recognize sport utility vehicles have changed tremendously since their adoption as the de facto American family car back in the 1990s. Originally little more than enclosed trucks with two rows of seats, the SUV has evolved into so many different permutations it is sometimes difficult to keep track. There are rough and ready traditional off road capable SUVs, car-based crossover suvs geared more toward pavement than dirt, mid-sized mid priced models, compact SUVs, full-sized SUVs, and your full-on luxury sport utility vehicles, all of which may or may not be off road capable. This list of the best premium SUVs for 2016 demonstrates the luxury SUV can take many forms, and is offered in pretty much every one of the aforementioned categories.
The Best Premium SUVs For 2016
Photo Credit: Acura
The crisp styling, sporty handling, and comfortable ride of the mid-size 2016 Acura RDX nicely compliment its flexible 273-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with 251 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic feeds either the front wheels or all four if you choose to order your RDX equipped with all-wheel drive. There are two trim packages; base and RDX w/Technology. The vast majority of features you expect on a luxury car can be had on the base model; the Tech package gets you extras like a GPS linked automatic climate control system, navigation, voice controls, and a surround audio system. Pricing starts at $35,270.
Exceptionally sharp in appearance and performance, the compact Audi Q3 came onto the market as one of the best premium SUVs right off the top. Available features include xenon headlights, dual zone automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and leather upholstery. Order the Q3 Prestige and you’ll also get a power tailgate, voice control, navigation, and a Bose surround audio system. Power comes from a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with 207 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission routes power to the front wheels, or all four if you get Quattro. For 2015, Q3 Pricing starts at $33,700.
Credited with being the first sport oriented SUV, as one of the best premium SUVs for 2016, the BMW X5’s primary role is pleasing the driver—while also providing comfort and safety for all aboard. If driving pleasure is a must for you, BMW X5 should top your short list of test-drives. Three engines are offered; the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six makes 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque. The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbodiesel makes 255 horsepower and 413 ft-lbs of torque, while the turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 makes 445 horsepower and 480 ft-lbs of torque. All are teamed with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The gasoline fired six can also be had with rear-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $53,900.
Capable of seating eight in supreme opulence, the imposing Cadillac Escalade is spacious and comfortable. Redone for the 2015 model year, the Escalade boasts styling reminiscent of President Obama’s state limousine. Cutting to the chase, Cadillac’s Escalade is easily one of the best premium SUVs for 2016. Designed strictly for the street, power for the ultra luxury large sport utility vehicle comes from a 6.2-liter V8 good for 420 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed automatic is employed to route power to the rear wheels – or all four when the all-wheel drive option is selected. A long wheelbase version (Escalade ESV) is also offered. Pricing starts at $72,970.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The flexibility of the mid-size Jeep Grand Cherokee lands it on this list of the best premium SUVs for 2016. Equally at home in front of a country club, or clubbing the country over rugged terrain, the Jeep Grand Cherokee boasts a thoroughly contemporary interior treatment with state of the art comfort and convenience. Power ranges from 290 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque to 475 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs. While an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard equipment across the board, the Grand Cherokee’s V6 engine can be had with rear-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $29,995.
Land Rover Range Rover
You, in all probability, expected to find the full-size Land Rover Range Rover on this list of the best premium SUVs for 2016, and justifiably so. The Land Rover Range Rover is absolutely the most luxurious mass-produced SUV out there. What’s more, the Land Rover Range Rover will take you anywhere on earth a wheeled motor vehicle could possibly travel, and more than few places many of them can’t. It really is that good. The big news for 2016 is Land Rover diesel power for the USA. The new Range Rover Td6 gets a 3.0-liter turbodiesel good for 254 horsepower and 440 ft-lbs of torque. Additionally, the 3.0-liter supercharged gasoline V6 gets a bump in output to 380 horsepower. Range Rover pricing for 2016 starts at $85,945.
An all-new Lexus RX350 is offered for 2016. With revised styling and more powerful engine, the original luxury crossover deftly holds on to its spot on the list of the best premium SUVs. The new V6 is expected to deliver some 300 horsepower, while its hybrid powertrain is expected to do the same. A new eight-speed automatic transmission is adopted too. The 2016 styling is considerably bolder, with a “floating” roofline and the Lexus “Spindle” grille treatment. The larger body provides more legroom for rear seat passengers, as well as a more spacious overall environment. As before, the beautifully finished interior is complemented by one of the longest lists of luxury features out there. Pricing has yet to be announced, but should start close to the current $40,970 base MSRP.
After being reworked for the 2015 model year, Lincoln’s Navigator is the first full-size American luxury SUV to come to market without a V8 engine in its feature set. Thanks to parent corporation Ford’s outstanding work with turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing, the Navigator gets 380 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque out of a V6. A six-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard; four-wheel drive is optional. New for 2016 is the Ford SYNC3 touchscreen interface for infotainment functions. Graced with one of the nicest interior treatments in the category, Lincoln’s Navigator is indeed one of the best premium SUVs for 2016. Pricing starts at $61,920.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz Media
Mercedes Benz GL-Class
The componentry, fit, finish, and features of the GL-Class Mercedes-Benz are first class, as is the list of standard features. With seating for seven, among the best premium SUVs for 2016 the full-size Benz is more than up to the task of dealing with a wide range of roads and offroad conditions to boot. Power comes from a choice of four engines, ranging from a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 diesel producing 240 horsepower and 455 ft-lbs of torque, up through a 5.5-liter twin turbocharged V8 making 550 horsepower and 560 ft-lbs of torque. All use seven-speed automatic transmissions and all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $63,600.
Photo Credit: Toyota
Toyota Land Cruiser
One of the more capable off-road models on this list of the best premium SUVs for 2016, the full-size Toyota Land Cruiser runs an exceptionally robust 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission feeds all four wheels. Though it’s been a while since Toyota lavished any attention upon its flagship SUV, the good news is the basics of the Land Cruiser are so good, it doesn’t vividly show. Offered in but one fully equipped trim level, the Land Cruiser rides smoothly, goes anyplace you’ll ask it to, and makes sure you look good when you get there. Pricing starts at $80,155.
While still immensely capable, today’s Porsche Cayenne models rely primarily on V6 engines. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel makes 240 horsepower and 406 ft-lbs of torque, while the 420-horsepower gasoline-fired 3.6-liter produces 406 ft-lbs of torque. Another version of the 3.6-liter V6 makes 440 horsepower and 443 ft-lbs. of torque. There’s also a 416-horsepower hybrid with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and 435 ft-lbs. Don’t worry though, the top of the heap remains the 520-horsepower 4.8-liter turbocharged V8 with 553 ft-lbs of torque. Lavishly outfitted, off road capable, and yet as fast on the street as you’d expect a Porsche to be, Cayenne pricing starts at $58,300.
Photo Credit: Volvo Cars
Volvo’s all-new full-size XC90 comes straight outta Sweden as one of the ten best premium SUVs for 2016. Boasting a stronger body structure and a more fuel-efficient powertrain, the 2016 XC90 is Volvo’s best SUV ever. The beautifully understated Swedish luxury quotient you find in all of Volvo’s flagship models is truly refreshing. A nice twist is the vertically mounted nine-inch touchscreen interface. Power comes from the segment’s first supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, promising strong power output and exceptional fuel efficiency. The engine generates 316 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque. An eight speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. Volvo is also offering a plug-in hybrid version of the 2016 XC90. Pricing starts at $49,800.