While SUVs are all the rage nowadays, and there’s a wide glut of them available across all size and price spectrums, some SUVs are grander than others. Here are our top picks for the ultimate new SUV experience in 2020.
- Aston Martin DBX
The newest car on the list and one of the most expensive, the DBX has a huge job on its hands. It needs to sell in (relatively) big numbers to boost its parent company – so lucky, then, that it is capable off-road, brilliant in the corners, quiet and comfortable when you need it to be and yet good to look at on the outside and capacious on the inside. This is a strong all-round prestige product.
- Audi Q8
Audi’s biggest SUV is technically the seven-seat Q7, which is closely related to the Q8, but it’s the ‘coupe’ model that is considered the flagship. That’s because it’s the most expensive and it looks the grandest on the outside, while it has not one but two performance derivatives – culminating in the 600hp RS Q8, which is a Lamborghini Urus in all but name.
- Bentley Bentayga
At the level above the likes of the Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche models in this countdown, the Bentayga (launched in 2016) is the best-selling vehicle of its type, with more than 20,000 shifted worldwide in four years. That’s because it is excellent: great in the corners, despite its size and weight, rapid on the straights thanks to an array of strong engines and wonderful to sit in, courtesy of Bentley’s craftsmanship. It has recently been significantly facelifted too, so it looks a lot better on the outside than it ever has done before.
- BMW X7
BMW’s largest-ever SUV is maybe not the prettiest thing in the world (and that’s underselling it somewhat), but it is absolutely vast within – not only that, but the cabin is unremittingly of high quality, too. An array of BMW’s typically excellent engines is available, and the handling is pretty spry for such a large machine, while the M50d with its quad-turbo engine is a technological tour de force.
- Lamborghini Urus
The most overtly sporty and showy SUV here, the Urus laid claim to being the fastest SUV in the world – until Bentley did a Speed version of the Bentayga in 2019, which went 1km/h faster flat out than the Lambo’s 305km/h. Nevertheless, with its dramatic exterior styling and needlessly over-intricate interior design, this truly is a supercar on stilts.
- Maserati Levante
An often-overlooked prestige SUV, the Levante is Maserati’s first effort at this vehicle type and it’s a fairly good stab at the formula, too. There are plenty of models with big-power engines, given that the ‘base’ petrol Maserati has 354hp, but if you want there are Ferrari-sourced V8 versions with upwards of 500hp to consider. Just ignore the Jeep-sourced infotainment system and instead revel in the tasteful looks and cool factor of owning a ‘Maser’.
- Mercedes-Benz GLS
Another huge seven-seat German SUV, this one is supposed to be the 4x4 version of the venerable Mercedes S-Class. To that end, the GLS is tech-laden with things like air suspension that can lean it into corners and the possibility of mild-hybrid running gear. However, a GLS 400 d with the straight-six turbodiesel engine is a wafting great luxury of a thing, capable of taking seven full-sized adults and their stuff in total comfort.
- Porsche Cayenne
The best-handling SUV on this list and one of the finest SUVs in the world for dynamics, only possibly surpassed by its smaller Macan brother and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The Cayenne has really come of age over three generations, morphing from a hideously ugly thing when it was a Mk1 in 2003 into something very handsome and desirable in 2020. There are two body styles in the Cayenne, the regular SUV and the rakish Coupe, and a wealth of mega engines, but the model to go for is a Cayenne GTS – V8 power, blinding chassis, great looks.
- Range Rover
Where would a list of expensive SUVs be without the one that ruled the roost for nigh-on 40 years, unchallenged? As you can see from this top ten, the Range Rover is no longer alone in its own rarefied bubble, but despite the rise of multiple competitors, the original king of the 4x4s is still one of the best. It might not be the greatest-handling SUV ever but the Rangie is imperiously comfortable and refined on the road, and as a handy bonus it will get you far further into the rough stuff than any of the other vehicles mentioned here.
- Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Perhaps the ultimate luxury SUV. The Aston Martin, the Bentley, the Lamborghini and the Range Rover would all like to think they’re the top dogs in this field, but the Cullinan is another level again – and it has a price tag to justify such a belief. It’s not pretty. It’s not particularly sharp in the corners. But it is exquisitely built and appointed, and once it is on the move the Rolls is near-silent, even at high speed. Unremitting excellence like this rarely comes cheap.