Some vehicles are placed in this class more for their “premium” status than for being exceptionally large. In fact, there’s quite a size difference between the smallest in the class and the largest, though all are plenty spacious in the grand scheme of things. In terms of length, the smallest entry is the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser at 195 inches stem to stern. Contrast that to the longest—the Cadillac Escalade ESV—at 224 inches. But the Land Cruiser starts at a thoroughly premium $85,000, so we feel its inclusion in the class is entirely justified.
Speaking of prices, the least-expensive vehicle in this class—the Audi Q7—starts at around $51,000, so consider that the ante. The rest start above $65,000 and go up considerably from there.
All but a couple of the SUVs on this list offer versions with three rows of seats, typically with 7-or-8-passenger capacity. They all either come standard with all-wheel drive or offer it in place of rear-wheel drive.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2019
The premium large SUV class is slated to gain a couple new entrants this year. The Audi Q8 is essentially a more dramatically styled, sleeker-roof variant of the Q7. Because of its steeply raked rear window, lower roofline, and shorter overall length, the Q8 only has two rows of seats with seating for five, and its cargo capacity is diminished as well. (The Q7 has three rows, though that third row is pretty cramped.) Initially, the Q8’s sole powertrain is a 335-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, though a high-performance SQ8 version with a hotter engine will likely follow in the near future.
Though it hasn’t been officially introduced as of this writing, BMW is set to add a large three-row SUV named X7 to its lineup, probably as a 2019 model. The X7 is expected to offer the choice of a turbo 3.0-liter inline six or a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, with either engine paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. We expect the X7 to offer a full array of high-tech comfort and convenience features that parallel the lavish offerings in BMW’s 7-Series sedans.
The Land Rover Range Rover line adds a plug-in-hybrid P400e model, with 398 total horsepower and an electric-only driving range of 31 miles. The Range Rover line also adds a newly available Wade Sensing system that provides real-time wading depth information when driving through deep water, and Active Cruise Control with Steering Assist is added to the roster of available driver-assistance systems. An ultra-limited-run two-door “SV Coupe” edition of the Range Rover, which Land Rover says will be hand assembled and offer extensive personalization options, will be offered at a starting price of $295,000. Total Range Rover SV Coupe production will be capped at no more than 999 models worldwide.
The Infiniti QX80 adds a specially trimmed Limited model with exclusive premium touches such as dark-finish 22-inch wheels and open-pore wood interior trim. The Lexus LX 570 gets a digital clock in its multi-information display, smart watch and Amazon Alexa integration for its Enform Remote system, and the addition of Lexus logos to the outside puddle lamps. Information on the 2019 Audi Q7 was unavailable as of this writing, but we are not expecting any major changes; the Q7 was redesigned for the 2017 model year. The rest of the class is either unchanged or sees minor updates such as a shuffling of standard and optional equipment.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
The Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX 570, and Toyota Land Cruiser offer a higher level of rough-terrain capability than the other vehicles in this class. With its available plug-in-hybrid, diesel V6, and gasoline V6 and V8 powertrains, the Range Rover offers the most diverse powertrain lineup. Shoppers in this class with a need for speed (and especially deep pockets) should look to the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class lines: The Range Rover offers supercharged 5.0-liter V8 models with 518 or 557 horsepower, and the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 has a 577-hp turbocharged 5.5-liter V8.