Despite being a relatively young category in the marketplace, the premium compact crossover/SUV class is one of the fastest growing segments around. The class has swelled by eight models over the last two years, and it adds three more for 2017.
The least expensive premium compact crossover SUV (the new Infiniti QX30) starts at $29,950, while the most expensive (the Porsche Macan) starts at $47,500 in base form and $76,000 in topline Turbo form. Most competitors are grouped in the mid-$30,000 to mid-$40,000 range, though in all cases, options can boost the bottom line considerably.
All models come only as 4-door wagons except the sloped-roof BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks” and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, which offers 2-door versions. A few come standard with all-wheel drive (Audi Q5, BMW X4, Jaguar F-PACE, Porsche Macan, and the two Land Rovers), while it’s an option on all others. Those that come standard with front-wheel drive include the Acura RDX, BMW X1, Audi Q3, Buick Envision, Infiniti QX30, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and Volvo XC60; those standard with rear-wheel drive are the BMW X3, Infiniti QX50, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.
With fuel economy being such an important concern today, it’s a bit surprising that there are only two hybrids offered in the class at the moment: the Audi Q5 Hybrid and the Lexus NX 300h. There are also just two diesels: the BMW X3 xDrive28d and the new-for- 2017 Jaguar F-PACE 20d. (Audi’s Q5 TDI was dropped last year in the wake of VW/Audi’s emissions cheating scandal.) The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class could possibly add both hybrid and diesel versions to its model lineup in the future.
The three new-for-2017 additions to the premium compact SUV class are the Buick Envision, Infiniti QX30, and Jaguar F-PACE. Technically, the Envision launched as a late-2016 model, but its only changes for 2017 are an expanded model lineup and available front-wheel drive in addition to AWD. The Envision is Buick’s first North-American-market vehicle that is built in China; it’s powered by a 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder or a 197-hp 2.5-liter four. The Infiniti QX30 is a bobtailed, car-like crossover that shares its basic platform and its 208-hp turbo 4-cylinder with the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. The F-PACE is Jaguar’s first SUV; it offers a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 340 or 380 hp, and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder with 180 hp.
The BMW X1 now offers front-wheel drive in addition to AWD. The Land Rover Discovery Sport gets available Driver Condition Monitor, Intelligent Speed Limiter, and Lane Keep Assist safety features, along with a Dynamic Design appearance package. The Range Rover Evoque adds a 2-door convertible body style and a topline Autobiography trim level. Both Land Rovers get a new infotainment system. The Lincoln MKC adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and the fuel-saving auto start/stop feature is now available on the turbo 2.0 four engine. The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class also adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a refreshed instrument panel and an AMG Dinamica trim package for the GLA45 model. The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class gets a fastback GLC Coupe body style and a high-performance GLC43 model with a 362-hp turbocharged 3.0 V6.
The Porsche Macan lineup adds a base model with a 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, and a sporty GTS model with a hotter 360-hp version of the S model’s 3.0 turbo V6. The Volvo XC60 pares down its model lineup and drops its 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine. The rest of the class is either unchanged or sees minor revisions such as updated infotainment systems and/or a shuffling of trim levels and standard/optional equipment.
There aren’t any entries with features that really stand out here, save for the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque’s 2-door hardtop and convertible variants. The gutsy engines in the BMW X4 M40i, Jaguar F-PACE, Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG, Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC43, Porsche Macan, and the sporty SQ5 variant of Audi’s Q5—all of which produce 340 hp or more—are noteworthy as well.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque