From BMW to Bentley, almost every upmarket car brand now offers a luxury SUV. Even Ferrari has joined the party; its V12-engined Purosangue arrives in early 2023.
Luxury SUVs offer the comfort and prestige of a large saloon, but with the potential to venture off-road. You also get a commanding driving position and enough space inside to rival a boutique hotel room.
We’ve pulled together a list of the best luxury SUVs to buy in 2022, with our choices presented in alphabetical order.
Aston Martin DBX
The car to save Aston Martin? Let’s hope so. One thing is certain: the St Athan-built DBX is the best thing to come out of Wales since the Manic Street Preachers.
This design for life is powered by the 550hp 4.0-litre V8 from the Aston Martin Vantage, which propels the 2,245kg DBX to 62mph in 4.5 seconds. Or you can upgrade to the ballistic DBX707, the world’s fastest SUV, with 707hp and a top speed of 193mph. Both cars put the ‘Sport’ firmly into ‘Sport Utility Vehicle’.
We said: ‘The new AMG-sourced transmission is key to the DBX707’s added urgency. Where the torque converter ’box of the standard car might hesitate to kick down, this setup is fiercely focused, with whipcrack shifts via the long metal paddles. And when you aren’t doing your best Sebastian Vettel impression, it’s smooth and GT-like in automatic mode, too.’
Once considered bold and perhaps rather brash, the Audi Q7 looks quite subtle alongside many of today’s SUVs. It’s also one of the most affordable routes into high-rise luxury, with prices starting at less than £60,000. You don’t need to tick many option boxes before the price leaps significantly, though; the fully loaded Vorsprung model costs from £84,000.
Standard specification is generous, with all Q7s getting seven seats, air suspension, Matrix LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, two touchscreens and a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. Buyers can also choose from 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines, a plug-in hybrid or, in the case of the flagship SQ7, a 507hp 4.0-litre V8.
We said: ‘The Q7 majors on comfort rather than precision, with its air suspension delivering a cushion-soft ride if you resist the lure of huge alloy wheels. Inside, you’ll find a near-faultless and high-tech cabin, plus a huge amount of space for passengers and luggage.’
A few eyebrows were raised when Bentley launched an SUV back in 2015, but the Bentayga was a critic-silencing class act. It remains so following a comprehensive update in 2020, which included all new panels in front of the windscreen, cut-glass LED headlights, oval tail lights and an even more indulgent interior.
Recent additions to the range include the 3.0-litre V6 hybrid, the racy 550hp V8-engined Bentayga S and the stretched EWB model (pictured) – which effectively replaces the Mulsanne as Bentley’s luxury flagship.
We said: ‘Bentley’s powerful active anti-roll system is standard, and clever tweaks to the torque vectoring system make it feel snappier and more like a hot hatchback through bends. Cornering isn’t something that comes naturally to heavy and high-riding SUVs, but the Bentayga S shows what can be done with a bit of nous.’
The X7 is a 7 Series saloon on stilts: a full-size SUV for buyers who demand more luxury than the BMW X5 can deliver. It’s the first time BMW has offered a genuine Range Rover rival, and it sure ain’t subtle.
Prices start from £83,000, but you’ll pay well into six figures for the 530hp M60i version.
Still, it’s more affordable than the Bentayga, albeit without the extra layer of opulence. Seven seats come as standard, while the optional six-seat layout (£600) creates more room for passengers in the second row. The xOffroad package costs £2,600 and features a mechanical differential lock, plus four additional driving modes.
We said: ‘The X7 is the antithesis of the compact crossover. It’s an unashamedly big, bold SUV that has much in common with the tech-laden BMW 7 Series.’
Prices from £47,000 make the Genesis GV60 a budget option in this company, but it has the performance and technology to rival more expensive SUVs. Its fully electric drivetrain is shared with Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, and three versions are offered: 229hp Premium, 318hp Sport and 490hp Sport Plus (the latter pair with twin motors and four-wheel drive).
You can unlock the GV60 with your face or fingerprint, and its five-seat interior is stylish and richly tactile. It’s bigger than it looks in photos, but still smaller than other SUVs here.
We said: ‘Unless you really want to terrorise Teslas, the rear-driven Premium is quick enough, with plentiful traction and 258lb ft of torque from zero rpm. It gathers speed in a smooth and impressively calm manner – even by the standards of electric cars. The ride feels supple and composed on 19-inch wheels, too.’
The idea of a Lamborghini SUV isn’t a new one. Car enthusiasts of a certain age will remember the ‘Rambo Lambo’ LM002 of the late 1980s and early 90s. Not that this stopped many from choking on their Ricicles when Lamborghini unveiled the Urus.
The Urus looks and feels more like a four-seat supercar than a traditional SUV. Lamborghini calls it a ‘Super Sport Utility Vehicle’, highlighting its ferocious pace and incredible handling. Whether you opt for the ‘standard’ Urus S or the hardcore Performante, its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 serves up a devilish 666hp. The Performante adds steel springs and adaptive dampers (rather than air suspension) and a shouty Akrapovic exhaust.
We said: ‘Confession time: I was one of those Porsche diehards who complained about the Cayenne, and part of me feels the Urus isn’t a ‘proper’ Lamborghini either. However, it’s an accomplished all-rounder with more performance and presence than any other SUV on sale. And that, I suspect, is precisely what buyers will want.’
Once upon a time, the plutocrats and oligarchs of Europe rolled around in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with a driver to whisk them from superyacht to helicopter. Today, they’re just as likely to be seen in the back of a GLS, the firm’s largest and most opulent SUV. We could argue that it’s too big for British roads, but that’s true of the majority of vehicles on this list.
Look beyond size matters, though, and you will enjoy the ultimate expression of Mercedes-Benz luxury, especially if you opt for the £177,500 Maybach GLS 600 4Matic First Class. Alternatively, select one of the Mercedes-AMG models, which offer more performance and a bombastic soundtrack.
We said: ‘If the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the best premium saloon in the world, the GLS must be the best premium SUV.’
Don’t knock it. It’s thanks to the Cayenne and Macan that Porsche is able to continue building sports cars like the 911. This alone wouldn’t be enough to secure a place on our list of the best luxury SUVs, so it’s fortunate that the Cayenne is an impressive Porsche in its own right.
Even the ‘basic’ Cayenne can hit 62mph in 6.2 seconds before reaching a top speed of 152mph. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Turbo S E-Hybrid packs a 680hp punch and tax-friendly CO2 emissions from just 86g/km. A special mention also goes to the wild Cayenne Turbo GT: quite simply the most exciting SUV we’ve driven.
We said: ‘The Turbo GT’s throttle response is so sharp, so immediate, it actually feels electrified – like a supplementary electric motor is dishing out instant torque. How ironic.
‘There’s no doubt you’re in a V8 once the yellow needle on the front-and-centre rev counter swings past 4,000rpm, though. The soundtrack hardens into an exultant roar and the gearbox gleefully romps through the ratios. Acceleration is explosive, well into speeds that are only acceptable on a German autobahn.’
The Range Rover has been the luxury SUV of choice since 1970. Although the latest incarnation is a world away from the wipe-clean and hose-down spec of the original, the Range Rover retains its unrivalled off-road capability and peerless image.
The latest, fifth-generation Range Rover is available with seven seats for the first time, plus a choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains (with a fully electric version coming soon). It still feels like the benchmark against which other luxury SUVs are judged.
We said: ‘How does it drive? Oh, like a Range Rover: impeccably. The serenity and sense of wellbeing is all-encompassing. It’s not uncannily silent, like an electric car, but the background hum of the super-smooth engine merely seems to enhance the experience. A bit like the vibration-free noise of a car in the movies, when they are driving on a green screen.’
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is, by some margin, the most expensive luxury SUV on our list: around £100,000 more than a Bentley Bentayga or a fully-loaded Range Rover. Bank on spending around £275,000 before you’ve personalised your high-rollin’ Rolls-Royce.
Its styling will divide opinion. Being kind, the Cullinan is more imposing than it is stately. However, the level of craftsmanship is on another level to most luxury alternatives – it’s best to think of it as a ‘Ghost SUV’. Inside, it’s as quiet as a church mouse, while the ride comfort is matched only by, well, another Rolls-Royce.
We said: ‘The Cullinan glides away from junctions with the serenity of a yacht casting off to sea, its creamy 6.75-litre V12 so hushed you could be driving an EV. The steering is fingertip-light and the huge wheels seem to squeeze the road into submission. By the time I arrive, both my passengers are fast asleep.’
If the inclusion of a Volkswagen on this list seems a little odd, hear us out. The Touareg is based on the same platform as the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne, so it feels like a cut-price ticket into the world of posh SUVs. Prices range from £56,000 to £70,000.
For that, you get a choice of 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines, four-wheel-drive, an eight-speed transmission and an interior that feels a cut above its mainstream rivals. Granted, it can’t match the other cars on this list in terms of opulence and a sense of occasion, but many will appreciate the understated styling. It’s also huge, with seating for five adults and a massive boot.
We said: ‘When you consider the company it keeps, the Volkswagen Touareg is a bit of a bargain. Many buyers will stretch to the fully loaded R-Line Tech, which boasts a 15-inch touchscreen instead of a button-packed centre console. Combined with a 12-inch digital dashboard, it presents a high-definition visual feast.’
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research