The premium compact crossover/SUV class continues to be a very popular category. The segment has swelled significantly over the last few years, and it adds at least two more for 2020.
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) starts at 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 BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe “hatchbacks,” and the two-door version of the new 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.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2020
Land Rover revives its storied Defender nameplate on an all-new pair of rugged off-roaders. The four-door Defender 110 is set to debut fi rst; it can seat up to seven via an optional third-row seat. A shorter-wheelbase, two-door Defender 90 version is set to follow later in 2020. The Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class arrives to fill the gap between the subcompact GLA-Class and compact GLC-Class in Mercedes’s lineup. It launches in GLB 250 trim with a 221-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Seating for five is standard, but an available third row expands capacity to seven. The all-new Lincoln Corsair replaces the MKC in Lincoln’s model lineup; it’s based on the redesigned-for-2020 Ford Escape, but has completely different styling and a higher level of luxury inside and out, as well as a more powerful optional engine. A hybrid Corsair is expected to join the lineup in the near future.
The BMW X3 and X4 both add high-performance M models with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six that pumps out 473 horsepower, or 503 hp in M Competition trim. The X3 is also slated to get a plug-in-hybrid version called the xDrive30e, though it will likely be a 2021 model. The Jaguar F-Pace and Land Rover Range Rover Velar lose their previously available diesel engine, but the Velar gains an SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition with a 550-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V8. The Land Rover Discovery Sport gets a refresh that includes revised styling, an upgraded interior, and an available engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. Infiniti is planning to introduce a slope-roofed “sporty utility coupe” model called QX55 soon, probably as a 2020 model. The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class gets a new, more powerful turbo 4-cylinder engine, and the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid gets a larger battery and more electric range. The Porsche Macan Turbo gets a new engine: a twinturbo 2.9-liter V6 that puts out 434 horsepower. The Volvo XC60 gets a Polestar Engineered model that uses a 415-hp version of the T8 plug-in-hybrid powertrain.
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” 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 350 hp or more—are noteworthy too.
There are only three hybrids offered in the class at the moment, though that number is expected to grow in the near future. The Lexus NX 300h is a regular hybrid, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC350e and Volvo XC60 T8 are both plug-in hybrids (note that the XC60 hybrid has 400 hp or 415 hp; it’s 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