The premium compact crossover/SUV class continues to be a very popular category. The segment has swelled significantly the last few years, but for 2021 there are no new additions.
The least expensive premium compact crossover SUV (the Buick Envision) starts around $32,000, while the most expensive (the Land Rover Range Rover Velar) starts around $57,000 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 to start, though in all cases, options can boost the bottom line considerably.
All models come only as 4-door wagons except the sloped-roof Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4, and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks,” and the two-door version of the Land Rover Defender. A few come standard with all-wheel drive (the Audi Q5, BMW X4, Jaguar 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, Buick Envision, Cadillac XT4, Infiniti QX50, and Volvo XC60. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class come standard with rear-wheel drive.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2021
The Buick Envision is redesigned, gaining rakish new styling inside and out, as well as a top-line Avenir trim level. The Audi Q5 lineup gets a mild styling refresh, a new infotainment system, and sloped-roof Sportback variants. The Q5’s base 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine adds a mild-hybrid system that helps increase horsepower from 252 to 265. The plug-in-hybrid Q5 also gets a slight hp bump, to 362 horsepower.
The Jaguar F-Pace is set to get revised styling inside and out, and a new 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that utilizes a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. After its debut last year, the rugged Land Rover Defender gets an X-Dynamic trim level, and an expanded model lineup for the two-door “90” body style. The Lincoln Corsair adds a Grand Touring plug-in-hybrid model, which comes with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and electric motor that combine for a total output of around 265 horsepower. The Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class adds a performance-oriented AMG GLB 35 model with a 302-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Infiniti is planning to introduce the QX55—a fastback-roof “sport utility coupe” version of its QX50—in early 2021, but it will be a 2022 model.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
There aren’t any entries with features that really stand out here, save for the Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4, and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks” and the off-road-focused Land Rover Defender. The available high-performance 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 300 hp or more—are noteworthy too.
There are six hybrids offered in the class. The Lexus NX 300h is a regular hybrid, and the Audi Q5 55 TFSI e quattro, BMW X3 xDrive30e, Lincoln Corsair, Mercedes-Benz GLC350e, and Volvo XC60 T8 are plug-in hybrids (note that some of these hybrids are focused on performance as much as fuel economy).
Vehicles in the Premium Compact Crossover/SUV class:
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Land Rover Range Rover Velar