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 significantly over the last few years, and it adds one more for 2019.
The least expensive premium compact crossover SUV (the Buick Envision) starts at around $33,000, while the most expensive (the Land Rover Range Rover Velar and Porsche Macan) start at around $50,000 in base form and can run to 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 BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks.” A few come standard with all-wheel drive (the 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, 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.
It’s a bit surprising that there are only three hybrids offered in the class at the moment: the Lexus NX 300h, the Mercedes-Benz GLC350e, and the Volvo XC60 T8 (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 Range Rover Velar. The BMW X3 offers a diesel engine in overseas markets, but it is not currently scheduled to come to the U.S.; however, the X3 is likely to get a hybrid model for the 2020 model year.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2019
Cadillac finally enters the compact crossover segment for 2019 with the XT4, a crisply styled, bobtail-shaped new model that is powered by a 237-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Available XT4 features include adaptive sport suspension, auto park assist, hands-free liftgate, digital gauge cluster, head-up display, and massaging front seats. The Acura RDX, BMW X4, and Infiniti QX50 are redesigned; the X4 migrates to the new architecture that its X3 sibling got with its redesign last year, and the QX50 is new from the ground up after taking the 2018 model year off.
The Buick Envision gets a refresh that includes updated front and rear styling, an improved engine stop/start feature (which can now be switched off), and a 35-lb.-ft. boost in torque for the available turbo 2.0 engine (to 295 total). The 2.0 engine also gets a 9-speed automatic transmission in place of the previous 6-speed. The Porsche Macan receives freshened styling, an 11-inch touchscreen system in place of the previous 7.0-inch screen, and powertrain updates that will likely include new V6 engines and a horsepower bump for the turbo 2.0 four. The Jaguar F-Pace gets a high-performance SVR model with a 550-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V8, as well as available adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering steering-assist feature. Both the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and BMW X3 now offer rear-wheel drive in addition to AWD. The Lincoln MKC gets new front-end styling that brings it more in line with Lincoln’s latest design motif.
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. The BMW X3 and X4 are slated to get high-performance M variants as 2020 models.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
There aren’t any entries with features that really stand out here, save for the BMW X4, and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks.” 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 350 hp or more—are noteworthy too.