These are 10 of the best SUVs
Want an SUV? Well, there’s more than enough to choose from. Here’s the cream of a staggeringly large crop
Since its introduction (seemingly half a lifetime ago, but who’s counting), the XC90 vaulted to the top of the ‘sensible family car’ list. And that’s in spite of the fact that it’s an SUV.
And that’s all down to clever touches – Volvo uses space and technology in ways that architects (and Star Wars directors) could learn from. So while it’s no larger than any other large SUV, there’s space for seven people and near-countless things inside, more toys than a daycare centre and the option of a hybrid powertrain that somehow offers both 450bhp and 30mpg. The fact that it looks good while doing it just seems like adding insult to the injury it’s inflicted on lesser rivals.Advertisement - Page continues below
Yes, the Cayenne. Say what you will about the Cayenne’s image, clientele or qualifications for being a ‘real Porsche’, it remains the driver’s choice in its field. Or indeed in whichever field you find yourself in, assuming you’ve obtained permission to be there from whoever actually owns it. Or is that against the spirit of greenlaning?
In any case, the latest Cayenne is the lightest, fastest and best-looking one yet. Which, if your arguments against SUVs tend to go along the same lines as ours – that they’re fat, slow and ugly – you might want to reassess your ability to win that particular debate.
While a lot of SUVs are a case of 4x4 styling cues and f... airly well nothing else, the G-Class is – pretty clearly – something else entirely.
Starting off as a military vehicle is, you’ll agree, not the most obvious path to a luxury SUV, or indeed any family-friendly daily driver. And yet, even though it’s an uncompromising off-roader, still in use by police forces and armies the world over – including 6x6 versions for the Australian Defence Force – the new G is comfier, safer and... well, less of a compromise than ever before.Advertisement - Page continues below
Go on – tell us that you genuinely saw this one coming.
Yes, it’s a Cadillac, on a ‘best of’ list, by Top Gear. Honestly, if you’d told us a few years ago that such a thing was on the cards, we would have told you to shuffle the deck.
It’s Cadillac’s first EV and the first step of a long climb back to the pinnacle of luxury. And talk about putting your best foot forward – bespoke switchgear adorns a spacious and silent cabin, which is conveyed around in almost eerie comfort and calm. Well, it’s silent and calm for those who aren’t duking it out over the year-long wait list, anyway.
On the other hand, we’d bet good money that you expected this one. We’d bet bad money too, which is presumably drachmas, Zimbabwean dollars or Reichsmarks, but we digress.
Of course the Range Rover is here. Of course we’d include a machine that rivals an S-Class for luxury, a hovercraft for go-anywhere capability... and a decent house in the Wales for price. Then again, between splashing all your money on a house in London and a bicycle, or a Range Rover and a nice place near Rhyl, we know what we’d pick.
Toyota Land Cruiser
OK, so the Land Cruiser isn’t available everywhere. But as the world is larger than our little island, we feel inclined to include a machine we’d trust with our very lives to cover every inch of it. Well, maybe not that bit labelled ‘Atlantic Ocean’, for instance, but definitely the dry bits.
The Land Cruiser’s reputation precedes it, and lingers long after it’s left. There are more efficient, circumspect and enjoyable ways to get around, there aren’t many – or indeed any – with more endurance. When the going gets tough and the tough get going, they’re almost definitely better off going for a Land Cruiser.
Land Rover Defender
You. Yes, you. You will not use all of the capabilities of the Defender. At least not unless you start up a modern version of the Camel Trophy, or head off to Dakar.
And yes, the new Defender is now as posh as if it had gone to Gordonstoun, but that’s actually a good thing in many regards. This quantum leap in refinement over the old Defender (y’know, by actually possessing some) means that for the first time in its long history, you could actually use one as an everyday car without qualifying as an honorary Spartan in the process.
One thing to note, however. As much as the Defender loves its new dual role as a family bus and fen-basher, it clearly subscribes to the school of ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’...Advertisement - Page continues below
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Is the Mach-E an SUV? Well, Ford says so. But then we’re not exactly in the business of taking a manufacturer’s word for it. So let’s sift through the facts. Does it ride higher than your average bear? Check. Does it have a tailgate? Check. Is it quite heavy? Check – 2.2 tonnes is also more than your average bear. Or indeed an entire sleuth of bears.
Inside, there’s all the appurtenances of modern family life – gigantic touchscreens, endless connectivity, a decently sized boot and big seats for your kids to kick the back of. And it all comes together... quite well, to be honest. So yes, it’s an SUV. Just maybe not a Mustang.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Much like the Mach-E (and perhaps even more so) the Ioniq 5 strives to be an SUV without traditional SUV drawbacks. It’s fast, agile, cheap to run and – even though we’re told there’s more to life – really, really good-looking. That squared-off, retro hatchback styling is so perfectly proportioned that it hides just how big of a machine the 5 actually is.
It’s a mid-size SUV (although definitions like mid-size, SUV, crossover and so on are really starting to break down now) with interior space that you can only achieve with a well-packaged EV drivetrain. You can quick charge, thanks to 800V architecture, and then run whatever you’d like off the battery when it suits. We ran our gigantic Orange amplifier, just for kicks, but your uses will probably vary.Advertisement - Page continues below
As you might expect from a segment that’s finding new and even more baffling definitions of the phrase ‘overfilled’, to decide on just 10 means deciding against quite a few that might work every bit as well for your situation. The Ioniq’s inclusion came at the expense of a still-brilliant I-Pace. The Cayenne edged out the Alfa Stelvio, and our preference for SUVs that can actually head off-road (and make proper use of their body style) means overlooking perfectly decent machinery like the CX-5 and Hogwarts-spell-sounding Cupra Formentor.
So why the Ford Bronco, then? Well, unlike the Tesla Model Y, you could call it attractive without immediately being referred to Specsavers. Unlike the Jeep Wrangler, driving on the road doesn’t feel like an guessing game on where it’s going to go next. And unlike 99 per cent of SUVs, you’d happily take it off-road. Because that’s why you’re buying an SUV instead of an estate, right?