It’s winter—that may mean snow, slush, and icy conditions on the roadways where you live. Perhaps the best answer to safely and comfortably negotiate those slippery roads is the modern evolution of the old family station wagon, but now with All Wheel Drive and automotive technology that was unimagined in the 1950s and ’60s. What are we talking about specifically? The popular Sport Utility Vehicle, or SUV. Whether built on a truck-based chassis (a true SUV), or a car-based foundation (usually termed a crossover), these versatile vehicles come in a myriad of sizes, price ranges, and levels of luxury and performance. At the upper end of the market, there is an exciting array of truly wonderful all-weather vehicles.
Starting at the top of the heap, for a weighty investment north of $230,000, a Bentley Bentayga can grace your garage. Sporting a 600 HP Twin Turbo W-12 engine mated to an 8-speed transmission, the Bentley claims the title of fastest SUV on the planet, with a top speed of 187 MPH and a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds. In typical Bentley fashion, each Bentayga is custom built, with a plethora of paint schemes, leather interior configurations, wheel options, and wood veneers to choose from. Fuel economy is rated at a modest 10/18 MPG, but for a vehicle this awesome, who cares?
Moving down to the somewhat more rational $70,000+/- range, there are at least 15 fabulous models to consider. Ultra-high performance, diesel, and/or hybrid versions of some of the most popular vehicles in this class (Porsche Cayenne GTS, BMW M models, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Lexus LX 570, Tesla Model X P100D, for example) can easily top $100,000.
For drivers focused on the “sport” in SUV, the BMW X5/X6, Porsche Cayenne, and Jaguar F-Pace lead the way with outstanding high performance in this luxury SUV class. For true off-road capabilities, look to Land Rover Range Rover and Toyota Land Cruiser. While these SUVs abound in luxurious accommodations, Mercedes GL/GLE, Lexus LX 570, Infiniti QX 80, Cadillac Escalade, VW Touareg, and Volvo XC 90 emphasize the luxury end of the spectrum.
For the environmentally oriented who want to leave gas stations behind, with neck-snapping acceleration as a bonus (0-60 in 2.9 seconds!), the all electric gull-winged Tesla Model X is the clear choice. Speaking of acceleration, the outlandish Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 8 with a 475 HP 6.4 L Hemi V8 is a true luxurious beast. If Italian flair and exclusivity are the priorities (and if you can be patient a few months), look for the stylish Alfa Romeo Stelvio, offering a 2.9L Bi-Turbo V6 putting out 505 HP, and the opulent Maserati Levante (shown in feature image), featuring a Ferrari-built Twin-Turbo 3.0L V6 pumping out 424 HP. The two will be in showrooms later in 2017.
So many choices, so much power, so many high-tech creature comforts, such gorgeous vehicles . . . be thankful for winter, as it provides you the excuse to go test drive all these fabulous high-end SUVs . . . and just maybe ask Santa for a late Christmas present for the one that rings all your bells.