Midsize Luxury SUV Buyer's Guide

By KBB.com Editors on June 15, 2016 7:43 AM

Sometimes the Middle of the Road is the Place to Be

Roomier than small luxury SUVs but not as pricey, thirsty or cumbersome as the big ones, midsize luxury SUVs might be the most well-balanced luxury vehicles of all.

Most offer three-row seating for seven, several offer driving dynamics reminiscent of some sport sedans, and four start in the low $40,000 range or lower. All of them, of course, offer the elevated seating position, cargo flexibility and bigger-is-better profile that continue to drive the increasing popularity of SUVs across the industry.

Which one's right for you? You'll have to answer that question for yourself, but we're here to make it easy. Keep reading to get a handle on the segment, then explore your 11 options below.

Price Range

Starting prices in this group range from about $40,000 to $50,000, give or take a couple thousand, with the average price paid landing just north of $50,000. The Buick Enclave takes the title for lowest starting price in the group above, while a fully loaded Porsche Cayenne Turbo can zoom well into the six-figure stratosphere.

Awards and Accolades

Several of these SUVs are featured on our most recent list of 10 Best Luxury SUVs, and a version of one found its way onto our list of 10 Most Fun SUVs.

New/Next

A revamped Cayenne Turbo S arrived for 2016, as did a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the BMW X5. Mercedes-Benz has been testing the next generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLE (previously known as the M-Class). Bentley is also getting into the midsize luxury SUV market with the Bentayga. It's one of several all-new or redesigned vehicles set to go on sale in 2017.

Acura MDX

For 2016 the MDX gets even better, with a new 9-speed automatic transmission, enhanced all-wheel drive system and an impressive suite of active safety features.

Explore MDX

Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 combines the brand's signature contemporary interior design with the family practicality of 3-row seating.

Explore Q7

BMW X5

BMW's 2- or 3-row SUV remains one of the most fun-to-drive entries in the midsize luxury SUV segment.

Explore X5

Buick Enclave

The Buick's sub-$40,000 starting price also qualifies it as one of the most affordable choices.

Explore Enclave

Infiniti QX60

The Infiniti QX60 offers soft, traditional luxury interior styling and a surprisingly roomy third row.

Explore QX60

Land Rover LR4

The Land Rover LR4 is at home busting trails, or on the well-manicured pavement of suburbia.

Explore LR4

Lexus GX

Truck-like construction qualifies the GX among the most capable off-roaders in the segment.

Explore GX

Lincoln MKT

The Lincoln MKT is among the roomier options in the midsize luxury SUV segment, with one of the most livable third rows.

Explore MKT

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Every bit a comfortable, refined and well-appointed Mercedes-Benz.

Explore GLE

Porsche Cayenne

The Porsche Cayenne is the most fun-to-drive midsize luxury SUV on the road.

Explore Cayenne

Volvo XC90

The new XC90 is the most luxurious Volvo ever made.

Explore XC90

Seat Selection

The Mercedes-Benz GLE and Porsche Cayenne are the only models in this group that don't offer a third row. The Buick Enclave and Lincoln MKT offer second-row captain's chairs, which provide easier access to the third row when car seats are installed in the second row. While the Infiniti QX60 doesn't offer captain's chairs, it does offer a clever way to access the third row while a car seat is installed in the second row.

Diesel Options

One of our favorite applications of diesel power is in midsize SUVs. Better fuel economy and bigger torque figures are both welcome enhancements in these not-small vehicles. Diesel power is available in the BMW X5, and Mercedes-Benz offers a smaller new 4-cylinder diesel engine in the GLE. The GLE300d Bluetec is the least-powerful diesel in the class, but it does offer an impressive 29 mpg on the highway.

Hybrid Power

There are four midsize luxury SUVs currently offered with hybrid power: the BMW X5, Infiniti QX60, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90, and all but the Infiniti are plug-ins. The BMW X5 xDrive40e offers the highest range at 540 miles, while the Cayenne boasts 416 total horsepower. Hybrid powertrains will soon be available in the 2017 Acura MDX and the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Performance Plus

The 570-horsepower, $158,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S will run to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 176 mph. The Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S starts around $108,000 with 577 horsepower, a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. And the high-performance BMW X5 M, which starts at just under $100,000, offers 567 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds.

Off-Road

Every midsize luxury SUV offers all-wheel drive, and many are surprisingly capable off-road, but the Land Rover LR4 and Lexus GX are the truest off-roaders in this group.

Smaller Options

If you don't need three rows or this much room, most of these models have smaller but equally appealing siblings. Check out your options with our Compact Luxury SUV Buyer's Guide.

Bigger Options

Looking for a roomier third row, more cargo room and/or greater towing capacity? The next level in luxury SUVs includes the Cadilac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS and the two-row-only Range Rover.

Other Options

Bolder, sportier alternatives to the models above include the BMW X6, Infiniti QX70 and Range Rover Sport. Mercedes-Benz also has an answer to the BMW X6: the GLE Coupe.

The Volkswagen Touareg and Jeep Grand Cherokee might wear mainstream badges, but they're comparable on many levels with some of these luxury models. In fact, the VW has strong ties to the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, while the Jeep shares underlying commonalities with the Mercedes-Benz GLE.


 

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