Top 5 SUVs of 2015
Gas prices won’t always be so low, but while they are, automakers are taking full advantage of the revived popularity of SUVs and crossovers. As such, every mainstream automaker now offers at least one type of SUV or crossover, and even high-end brands like Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini are getting in on the action. On top of that, the overall quality of these vehicles has improved immensely since their initial popularity took hold in the 1990s.
As if defining the “best” SUVs and crossovers wasn’t already hard enough, the vast diversity, improved quality and sheer volume of vehicles on the market these days makes it almost impossible to narrow down the list to just five, but here goes. On a purely subjective level, I’ve chosen my Top 5 SUVs and crossovers that are currently on sale, but be sure to sound off in the comments which vehicles you think I missed.
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GM’s entire lineup of full-size SUVs is worthy of being mentioned in the top five, but the styling and luxury alone of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade put it squarely as one of the best SUVs customers have to choose from. Sure, its starting price of almost $73,000 puts it out of reach for most car buyers, but the Escalade is the ultimate SUV to be in and be seen in, which is why this Caddy is so popular among the rich and famous. I recently had the chance to drive the new Escalade, and I can’t commend GM’s design team enough for creating such a bold and distinctive vehicle. The true highlight is the interior, which is filled with rich leathers and real wood accents, making it a vast improvement over Cadillac interiors from just a few years ago.
Read our full review of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade here.
I kept looking for reasons to use the $200,000 2016 Range Rover SVAutobiography in this best-of list, but as significant as this new model is to the growing market for ultra-luxurious SUVs, the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport is more important to both Land Rover and the SUV market as a whole. As a much-needed replacement for the aged LR2, the 2016 Discovery Sport now stands as the entry-level model in Land Rover’s SUV-only lineup, and it brings an improved sense of quality, comfort and, of course, style. While the LR2 looked like a fancy Ford Escape, the new Discovery Sport resembles a downsized version of the Range Rover.
Read our full review of the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport here.
Standing as the most-awarded SUV ever, the Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to be one of the best SUVs customers can buy. The Wrangler, Cherokee and Renegade are all strong performers in their respective SUV and crossover segments, but the go-anywhere Grand Cherokee gets the nod for this list thanks to its variety of engine options that include the proven 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, the efficient 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 and a pair of powerful Hemi V-8s. And that doesn’t even take into account the Hellcat-powered Trackhawk version that is rumored to be coming in the near future. Factor in the low starting price (just under $30,000) and the numerous models (like the sinister-looking High Altitude, the luxurious Overland and the high-performance SRT), and it’s not hard to see why the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee belongs on this list.
Read our full review of the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee here.
Crossovers have an advantage in ride quality and fuel economy when it comes to their more rugged SUV counterparts, and the 2016 Honda Pilot is one of the newest and one of the best on the market. Although it ditched its boxy, SUV-like styling for a sleeker crossover look, this three-row family-friendly vehicle is now better than ever. The base Pilot LX starts at an affordable $29,995, but the model range goes all the way up to the luxurious, new-for-2016 Pilot Elite that makes road trips easier to bear with features such as heated second-row captain’s chairs, heated and cooled front seats and standard all-wheel drive.
Read our full review of the 2016 Honda Pilot here.
When coming up with this top five list, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 was the first vehicle on my mind. Small, sporty, stylish and affordable, the CX-5 is almost the perfect example of what a crossover should be. Looking nothing like any of the other cookie-cutter crossovers on the market, the Mazda CX-5 is as fun to look at as it is to drive. Mazda has seemingly made its compact crossover even better for 2016 with updated styling, new technology inside the cabin and better comfort for occupants. At its core, the CX-5 has a lightweight design and equally lightweight and powerful engines that make it an embodiment of Mazda’s “zoom-zoom” tagline, while a starting price of under $22,000 makes it an incredible value to new-car shoppers.
Read our full review of the 2016 Mazda CX-5 here.
Regardless of whether you consider it a truck or an SUV, the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 is hands down one of the most extreme, obnoxious and all-around awesome vehicles to launch in recent years. Just in case a six-wheel-drive vehicle with 544 horsepower was too much for some buyers, Mercedes decided to create a more manageable version of the 6x6 behemoth: the two-axle, 382-horsepower G500 4x4². The bad news, of course, is that this is still a concept vehicle, but seeing as how the 6x6 went into production, the G500 4x4² could easily follow suit since it is presumably more practical to drive and requires far less customization to build. Like the 6x6, the Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4² will be a monster truck of a G-Class, thanks to its portal axles.
Read our full review of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4² here.
So that’s my take on the subject. Let me know what you think in the comments.