Is a Midsize Luxury SUV the Best for You?
Many people choose their first car or two based on affordability. However, when you have more financial wiggle room, it’s worth considering whether a certain type of car fits you. Sure, you may see yourself tearing up dirt roads in a Jeep Wrangler or switching lanes at high speeds in an Aston Martin, but are you really going to do those things? Furthermore, do those vehicles really fit your lifestyle?
If you’ve got a little extra in your budget and found yourself enthralled lately by commercials for midsize luxury SUVs like the BMW X5, Genesis GV80, or Audi Q7, stop before you hit the dealership. Consider if a midsize luxury SUV is right for you – especially if you’ve never even owned a regular SUV before.
The pros of owning a midsize luxury SUV
According to MotorTrend‘s buying guide, two of the biggest benefits of owning an SUV are its versatility and space. SUVs offer more power than your typical sedan. Many come equipped with enhancements that allow them to handle tougher terrains than sedans as well.
SUVs are spacious, allowing you to carry more equipment or passengers than your typical four-door. That space is especially handy for taller drivers who may appreciate an SUV’s elevated ride height. It’s also helpful if you have pets.
SUVs also have higher ground clearance, making them safer in certain situations. Their larger frames also may provide more rider protection in a collision. Furthermore, drivers in sedans and coupes may act a bit less recklessly when driving around larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks.
Now, a midsize luxury SUV may not be where you want Fido shedding. Their generous cabins are filled with upscale styling and excellent tech features, after all. However, you’ll also likely get solid performance that at least matches your typical daily driver sedan.
The cons of owning this kind of SUV
Pros aside, many people still avoid SUVs partly because of their terrible fuel economy. The same internal combustion engine (ICE) in a sedan will get you more mileage than in an SUV. SUVs are heavier, so even if you skip an ICE SUV in favor of a hybrid, you’ll still be on the hook for larger fuel costs than you’d get from a sedan.
Because of the lighter weight, you’ll also get better agility, braking, cornering, and handling from a sedan. The ground clearance in SUV offers may also mean less to shorter drivers or those who don’t need to tackle tough terrain.
However, a midsize luxury option may not be the best fit if you are set on an SUV. There’s the expense, of course. Compared to a compact SUV, a midsize model means more weight, which means relatively worse performance. SUVs in this segment also typically sport low-profile tires and large wheels, which are not built for much beyond very smooth roads.
Now there are performance SUVs but few in the midsize luxury class. If you’re looking for performance, you’d be looking to the subcompact or compact SUV segment, not this one.
What kind of midsize luxury SUVs are there?
The midsize luxury SUV segment does work well for those looking for smooth, comfortable rides for themselves and several passengers, cargo, or both. Some genuinely great options are available, including the Lincoln Nautilus, Porsche Cayenne, Lincoln Aviator, and Land Rover Range Rover Sport. Of these, it’s hard to go wrong starting your search with three of the biggest names, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, perennially ranked toward the top of the segment.
The 2023 BMW X5 has a storied history and serves as an inspiration for many other SUVs in the segment. It offers a lot of power, with its top trim powertrain choice generating up to 617 horsepower, remarkable tech features like standard dual 12.3-inch displays and built-in navigation, and multiple advanced standard safety systems.
The RX might be for you if you’ve always coveted a Lexus. The 2023 model offers four powertrain options, with the highest trim, the RX 500h F Sport Performance topping out at 367 hp. It’s got plenty of interior space, premium styling, a 14.0-inch touchscreen (on higher trims), a head-up display, and more. It also comes with Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 Suite, which offers nearly every advanced safety system available.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class also provides drivers with five powertrain options, each paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. RWD is standard on the base trim, but all the others come with AWD. The top trim has a 603-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 paired with a mild hybrid system. It has the same dual-screen setup as the BMW X5 and comparable safety features.
Of course, this is a crowded segment, and there are far more midsize luxury SUVs to choose from. However, if you’ve decided this type of SUV suits you, these three options are great for a test drive.