At the big end of town, certain luxury SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) will always be too cool for school. Here are 10 prestige newbies that should keep onlooker’s drooling enviously for many years to come. Fabian Cotter reports.
Don’t let anyone delude you! Prestige SUVs have nothing to do with how much cargo and passenger space they have, how thrifty the fuel economy is, or how many spare sets of keys they come with. Okay, maybe they do just a bit.
Prestige SUVs are a cut above the rest and offer a wow factor that will have other soccer mums shooting daggers at you faster than they can reload, or rival dads chiding their uninspiring SUVs – more ho-hum workhorses than all dancing and prancing Palomino stallions.
Usually upwards of $80K new – and then anywhere from $24K+ used after 10 years – these high-end SUVs give their owners the confidence to impress while either tootling around town, or giving it a quick squirt to the shops. Jealous onlookers choke on their lattes when they see these SUVs cruise by ritzy cafes, or need CPR as an hors d’oeuvre gets lodged in the back of their throat as you ‘rumblingly’ pull up outside at some swanky cocktail party soiree.
And their kids? They’ll probably be hoping you adopt them, too.
These 10 prestige SUVS are a little something for everyone and should be so for socialite soccer mums and dads for many years to come, as they make their way onto the used-vehicle market.
And as always, best check the automotive Recalls section of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (www.recalls.gov.au) to learn as much as you can about your future SUV purchase.
So, in no particular order, here are some to look out for. What would make your list? We’d love to know in the comments below…
1. Porsche Cayenne GTS
How’s your German? It matters not. Keen to tap into the whole family-SUV trend, when premium sportscar manufacturer Porsche debuted the original Cayenne in 2002 there were more than a few purists and punters scratching their heads and sundry other body parts wondering what the hell was going on. But with three stonking V8 engines in the mix – the 4.5L 254kW Cayenne S, the 4.5L 336kW and 389kW Cayenne Turbos – people quickly clued on to the idea a performance SUV might not be such a bad thing after all.
Imbued with excellent handling and on-road dynamics, cashed-up families loved that they could dump the pesky kids at weekend footy or netball in style – giving owners the kind of bragging rights the premium pricetag afforded them.
A slightly larger yet lighter and sleeker second-gen Cayenne arrived in 2011, which brings us up to date. Featuring a redesigned front end, more sloping rear window for a somewhat racier look and updated interior, it’s arguably the iconic hi-po SUV on the market today.
Look for the Platinum Editions of the petrol and diesel options as they hit the used-car market, or just do yourself a favour and eBay a kidney to get the uber-cool Cayenne GTS. With 324kW and a 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds, you’ll need plastic surgery to remove the smile off your face.
2. Mercedes-Benz GLE
If any brand were best placed to have a big luxury-SUV family following then it would be Merc. It’s been pumping out US-made M-Class ML variants for nearly 20 years, which as of 2015 is now known as the GLE.
Look, you could stick a Mercedes-Benz badge on a shopping trolley and true fans would probably queue a mile long behind the supermarket non-express counter with the work-experience kid off having a ciggie just to get their hands on one. So when the German marque essentially kicked off the luxury-SUV market in 1997 solid sales were arguably a done deal. Oh, and a special guest appearance in the Spielberg blockbuster movie Jurassic Park: The Lost World probably helped sell the dream, too.
Available throughout the years in a range of petrol and diesel engines, from a 2.4L four to a slew of V8s options, it was the first luxury SUV to have Electronic Stability Control.
The latest GLE range is a distinctively smarter and aggressive cosmetic upgrade that will have you quivering in your Ugg boots at the very thought of leaving it parked next to some schmuck in a busy supermarket carpark. So just take down their rego first before you hit the shops, maybe.
These come in a 150kW four-cylinder right the way to the juicy 430kW AMG-tuned C 63 S 4MATIC. Something eminently more standout still is the permanent AWD GLE Coupe, also available in 430kW AMG tune. Looking a bit UFO-ish, you’ll be more than happy to be abducted by aliens in it.
SEARCH Mercedes SUVs: http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-cars-vans-utes/carmake-mercedes/carmodel-mercedes_gl/c18320
3. Lexus RX F-Sport
Had the latest, fourth-generation Lexus RX actually been the first RX ever produced, one could be forgiven for thinking the chief designer was an 1980s Battlestar Galactica sci-fi fan, so evocatively ‘Cylon’ is the front end. And with those ’80s kid viewers probably the 35 to 55-year-old potential buyers of the RX now that may well prove a sales-pitch master-stroke. Alas, the RX has has been produced since 1998, but in terms of visual ‘wow’ it arguably hasn’t had much chop.
The current RX – which sits above the new compact crossover NX SUV and under the larger V8 GX and LX range – has the edgy design flair that keeps things hot and spicy but not visually annoying. Available as the 220kW 3.5-litre V6 RX 350, or 229kW 3.5-litre V6 Hybrid RX 450h, both are also available as F-Sport variants.
“The small SUV segment is the fastest growing automotive market in Australia,” Bill Tsouvalas, CEO of Savvy Finance says. “It’s easy to see why. They’re a great balance between being practical and having a bit of style, plus having a bit of grunt too. It ticks all the boxes for Mum, as well as giving Dad something to be proud of when he’s out and about.”
At around $55K for the 450h F-Sport it’s not the priciest luxury SUV on this list, but with an award-winning interior there’s just something about it that deserves a look-in.
4. BMW X6 M
Even though the X5 was BMW’s first luxury mid-size crossover SUV in 1999, near 10 years later it would have to be its gorgeous X6 ‘coupe’ stablemate dropping jaws at the half-time oranges break during kids’ soccer games. And with an M Sport version of both the X5 and X6, the performance split between the two is marginal, meaning it’s the coupe’s sultry looks affecting rear headroom and luggage space that families have to decide upon. A near $10k price difference also factors into that decision making, but in the luxury SUV price-point we are dealing with and the type of street cred the X6 M gives, it is hard to ignore.
The current top-of-the-range X6 puts out a claimed 330kW with xDrive50i, giving it a 0-100km/h of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h.
The X6 M turns that up 10 notches! Its two high-rev twin-scroll turbochargers mean you should never be late for weekend prayers or bingo again – 423kW of power and 750Nm of torque. The 4.4L M TwinPower Turbo eight-cylinder petrol engine gives the X6 M a 0-100km/h time of just 4.2 seconds. Not bad for a ‘family’ SUV.
5. Range Rover Sport SVR
Maybe it’s because it’s not just another cool German SUV that the Range Rover Sport SVR stands out from the well-healed crowd, but it’s distinctively stylish looks and formidable performance specs mean it ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people.
The mid-size luxury SUV by Jaguar Land Rover in the UK started being produced in 2005, with a second (and the latest) generation made from 2013.
The current Special Vehicle Racing (SVR) is a blissfully stocky and aggressive-looking beast underwritten by discerning style cues all around. The muscular body gives it great on-road presence and is sure to turn heads at every corner.
The 5L supercharged V8 petrol engine helps it hustle to 100km from standstill in just 4.7 seconds, and sounds amazing doing it. Range Rovers are much coveted on the used-car market, so you’ll have to be quick to snap up a gem when shopping online.
SEARCH Range Rover SUVs: http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-cars-vans-utes/carmake-rangerover/carmodel-rangerover_rangerover/c18320
6. Audi Q7 S-Line
Another German manufacturer sensing a market for a luxury SUV, Audi first sold its large Q7 in 2006 and followed it up with a face-lifted version three years later, similarly releasing its medium-sized Q5. And as part of the Volkswagen-Audi Group the seven-seat Q7 shares much of the same chassis and underpinnings with its Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg cousins.
The 2015 second-generation Q7 featured the meaner-looking front grille and headlight treatment, coming on the new shared MLB platform (read: let’s just build one type of universal platform and make different vehicles based on it to save money, basically).
It’s a good-looking beast and, like its rivals, gave Audi a means to satisfy its traditional customers looking for a high-end family SUV.
Available in a range of petrol and diesel engines, these are highly coveted from a status symbol point of view. The latest 3.0 TDI turbocharged diesel version pumps out 200kW of power and 600Nm of torque, to accelerate 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds.
Look for anything with legitimate S-Line badging on the used market for a hint of exclusivity.
7. Volkswagen Touareg SUV
There’s no point going into how it’s supposed to be pronounced in German, but perhaps more relevant TV gameshow trivia is that it’s named after some nomadic tribe on North Africa’s Saharan area. And presumably if they were that nomadic and had the keys to a Touareg themselves perhaps they could have got a lot farther around the place than they normally would on a single tank of gas.
The Volkswagen luxury SUV shares underpinnings with its Q7 and Cayenne relatives, though its ‘people’s car’ badging would relegate pricing to the comparatively lower end of the three. Rap music aficionados, though, would find its value elsewhere in merely having such a cool, big VW badge on the front to match the ones on the chains around their necks. Yep, the Beastie Boys are ‘in da haus’.
Looking equally tough as it does classy – chrome elements throughout the radiator, integrated tailpipes – ideally seek out the latest 250kW TDI 4-MOTION permanent all-wheel drive in the Gumtree pages. Anything in the R-Line range always a bonus.
SEARCH Volkswagen SUVs: http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-cars-vans-utes/carmake-volkswagen/carmodel-volkswagen_touareg/c18320
8. Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
Unless you’ve been living under Uluru, it seems common knowledge now that you, me, they, I, he, she – someone and their dog at least – went and ‘bought a Jeep’! In what’s got to go down as one of the most successful marketing and advertising campaigns ever, somehow an automotive brand in Australia went from being a ‘why would you?’ proposition to a ‘how could you not?’ one. Fortunately, there is some good-looking product out of the Jeep stable to match the hyperbole and the Grand Cherokee SRT is one of them.
With its all-new 6.4L V8 Hemi engine punching out 344kW and 624Nm, this bad boy does alright for itself sprinting 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 255km/h. And with massive red Brembo six-piston (front) and four-piston (rear) brakes said to bring her to a halt from 100km/h within 35m – you are in good hands.
9. Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine SUV
Perhaps Volvo’s global reputation for safety helped it amongst families when the XC90 first launched into the luxury crossover SUV market in 2002. After a series of facelifts throughout the years, the second generation in 2014 only then dramatically brought about an air of exclusivity and style.
This is matched with the latest technology in the current range, with the T8 Plug-in Hybrid giving an insight into what type of cars and SUVs we’ll be driving more often in future. With its supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine putting out 235kW on its own, complemented by a 65kW electric motor, the seven-seat SUV offers new and used-market customers a range of reasons to pick one up for their driveway.
The safety features listed on this is immense, as you can imagine being a Volvo, so new owners might want to keep their hands on it for a bit longer than usual, but when it comes to buying great SUVs on Gumtree’s classifieds site, ‘you never know your luck in the big city’.
10. Jaguar F-Pace S
Jaguar is a little late to the luxury SUV party, but better late than never – plus it’s come suitably dressed with a decent bottle of vino in hand and a box of delicious chocolate treats that gets the big cat a pretty good seat at the dining table.
Debuted in 2013 as the C-X17 crossover SUV concept, the production F-Pace range takes full advantage of the beautifully designed product currently in the Jaguar car range, ensuring the sleek and aggressive styling is something few families can ignore. The huge air-dams and wide front grille looks authoritative and intimidating, with the free-flowing lines and silver highlights complementing the muscularity throughout.
Available in a range of petrol and diesel engines, from four-cylinder to V6, look for the AWD F-Pace S with 279kW 3.0L V6 supercharged petrol engine. With a claimed 0-100km/h of 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h, mums and dads will be happy to sit behind the wheel at the traffic lights checking themselves out in the rear-view and vanity mirrors while the kiddies look on in disgust.
Early days for this to be on the used-car market, but all in good time.
What would make your list?
We’d love to know in the comments below…