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 twelve models over the last three years, and it adds at least three more for 2018.
The least expensive premium compact crossover SUV (the Infiniti QX30) starts at around $30,000, while the most expensive (the new Land Rover Range Rover Velar) starts at around $51,000 in base form and more than $90,000 in topline trim. 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 X2 and X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks” and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, which offers a 2-door convertible version. A few come standard with all-wheel drive (Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, BMW X2, X3 and X4, Jaguar E-Pace and F-Pace, Porsche Macan, and the three 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. The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class comes standard with rear-wheel drive.
It’s a bit surprising that there are only two hybrids offered in the class at the moment: the Lexus NX 300h and the redesigned Volvo XC60 (note that the XC60 hybrid has 400 hp; it’s focused on performance as much as fuel economy). There are just two diesels: the Jaguar F-PACE 20d, and the new-for-2018 Range Rover Velar. (Audi’s Q5 TDI diesel engine was dropped two years ago in the wake of VW/Audi’s emissions cheating scandal.) The BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class could possibly add both hybrid and diesel versions to their model lineups in the future.
The new additions to the premium compact SUV class for 2018 are the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X2 (a slope-roofed version of its X1), Jaguar E-Pace, and Land Rover Range Rover Velar. Volvo has announced that it will introduce an XC40, which will slot in size and price beneath the XC60, as an early 2019 model.
The Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60 are redesigned; all of them gain new platforms and a host of new technology features. The Jaguar F-Pace gets a 247-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder as its new base engine, along with a hotter 296-hp version of the same engine and available Forward Traffic Detection and Forward Vehicle Guidance systems. Both Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque receive a new 4-cylinder engine for 2018. The Range Rover Evoque 2-door wagon has been dropped. The Lexus NX 200t is renamed NX 300, and all NXs get the Lexus Safety System + as standard equipment, along with exterior styling tweaks, updated infotainment systems, new climate-control switches, and other minor updates. The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is refreshed with redesigned front and rear bumpers, a new instrument cluster design, and some new appearance options. The Mercedes GLC-Class adds high-performance AMG GLC63 models with a bi-turbo 4.0-liter V8 making 469 hp or 503 hp, as well as some revised appearance and performance packages.
The Infiniti QX50 takes a one-year hiatus for 2018; the 2017 model year is extended and a redesigned QX50 is slated to be introduced soon as a 2019 model. 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 Range Rover Evoque’s 2-door convertible variant, and the BMW X2, X4, and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks.” The gutsy available engines in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3 and X4, Jaguar F-PACE, Mercedes AMGs, Porsche Macan, and the sporty SQ5 variant of Audi’s Q5—all of which produce 350 hp or more—are noteworthy too.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
Land Rover Range Rover Velar