Despite the lofty purchase prices involved, the premium midsize crossover class is a thriving category with a number of popular contenders. All starting prices are above $40,000, and some hover in the $50K range. Several top $100,000 in their fanciest form.
But the lower-cost models, at least, offer quite a bit for the money, and aren’t significantly pricier than “regular” midsize crossovers when similarly equipped. And it’s easy to justify any extra expense through a combination of ritzier interior materials, a higher level of available features, and a more prestigious nameplate.
All vehicles in this class are 4-door wagons except the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe, which can be considered hatchbacks due to their sloping rear rooflines. All premium midsize SUVs offer all-wheel drive—and on a few, it’s the only way they come—and the rest are about evenly split between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive being standard.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2019
The class gets one “all-new” contender this year, though it’s really a renaming of an existing model—the Lincoln MKX is heavily updated to become the Nautilus for 2019. New styling, new safety and tech features, 22-way Ultra Comfort seats, and a standard 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder are among the Nautilus’s features. Lincoln is also planning to introduce a new three-row SUV named Aviator as a 2020 model.
The BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne are redesigned. The new X5 launches in all-wheel drive xDrive40i (with a 335-hp turbo 3.0-liter 6-cylinder) and xDrive50i (456-hp turbo 4.4 V8) forms, with several new technology features as well as an available Off-Road Package. New high-performance X5 M and plug-in-hybrid versions are likely to re-appear on the redesigned X5 platform in the near future. The new Porsche Cayenne offers a broad range of high-tech optional features and several tantalizing powertrains (the base engine is a 335-hp turbo 3.0 V6, and one step up from that is a 434-hp twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6).
The Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport get a Wade Sensing Control feature for fording water, and the Discovery gets a new steering wheel with capacitive-touch controls. The Lexus GX’s and RX’s Enform infotainment systems add smartwatch and Amazon Alexa connectivity. The Maserati Levante gets a muscular available 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8. A Mercedes-Benz GLE 400 model, powered by a 329-hp turbo 3.0 V6, replaces the GLE 350; note that Mercedes-Benz is readying a redesigned GLE-Class that is slated to launch as a 2020 model. The rest of the premium midsize SUV class is either unchanged or sees slight alterations such as a shuffling of standard and optional equipment, updated infotainment features, and/or minor trim revisions.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
Although fuel economy isn’t typically a big concern for vehicles in this price range, the class includes six hybrids and two diesels. Hybrid versions are offered in the Acura MDX, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, Porsche Cayenne, and Volvo XC90. All but the Acura and Lexus are plug-in hybrids, and those plug-ins are powerful machines that favor performance as much as fuel efficiency—they all have nearly 400 horsepower or more. Premium midsize SUVs currently offering a diesel engine are the Land Rover Discovery and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
Beyond that, several models come in high-performance trim. The BMW X6 M has a 567-hp turbocharged V8. The Range Rover Sport is available with a 518- or 575-horsepower supercharged V8. The Maserati Levante GTS has a 550-hp turbo 3.8-liter V8, and the Trofeo version bumps that up to 590 hp. The Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE63 has a 550- or 577-horsepower turbocharged V8, and the Porsche Cayenne can be had with a 550-horsepower turbocharged V8.
Vehicles in the Premium Midsize Crossover/SUV class:
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Lexus GX 460