The 2014 Luxury SUV Buying Guide from CarPreview.com chronicles the sport-utilities set apart from mainstream SUVs by their blend of comfort, performance, design and prestige. Our roundup spans compact-, midsize-, and full-size-luxury SUVs priced from $35,415 to $146,995 and ranging in horsepower from 200 to 550.
All 23 models in our guide are crossovers, with car-type unibody construction. For a look at truck-style body-on-frame SUVs, including some in the luxury class, check out our 2014 SUV Buying Guide. Lighter in weight than old-school SUVs, crossovers tend to furnish a smoother ride and better fuel economy. The any-climate security of all-wheel drive (AWD) is available across the board. And some luxury SUVs, particularly those from Land Rover, boast sophisticated off-road hardware. Most also come as two-wheel-drive models to suit sun-belt customers.
Each entry in this guide carries at least five passengers. Several have a standard or optional third-row seat that increases capacity to seven but also folds into the cargo floor when not needed. And from streaming Internet radio to personal concierge service, these luxury SUVs will satisfy the most demanding connoisseurs of in-vehicle connectivity. (Note that all base prices in this guide exclude optional equipment but include the manufacturer’s destination fee, which averages about $900.)
Here is our 2014 Luxury SUV Buying Guide
2014 Acura MDX
The first MDX bowed for model-year 2001 as one of the original three-row, seven-passenger, midsize luxury SUVs. Honda’s premium division redesigns it for 2014 with updated styling, a new chassis and engine, and for the first time, available front-wheel drive; all previous MDXs can with AWD. Powered by Honda’s “Earth Dreams” V-6, the 3.5-liter engine produces less horsepower than the outgoing MDX, 290 instead of 305. But it’s more fuel efficient (21-23 EPA combined city/highway mpg vs 18). The 2014 Acura MDX does just about everything well and represents a very good value for the money. Nitpicks include a third-row seat that’s not as roomy or easy to access as its rivals and an infotainment system not as intuitive as it should be. Base-price range is $43,185-$57,400.
2014 Acura RDX
RDX is Acura’s entry-level SUV. A compact-class wagon, it seats five and is available with front- or all-wheel drive. The sole drivetrain teams a 273-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic transmission. Redesigned for 2013, RDX sees no major changes for 2014. The engine is smooth and strong, the cabin spacious given the tidy exterior size, and RDX delivers lots of features at bargain-for-the-class prices. On the downside, the ride might be a bit firm for some tastes. And some desirable features are available only as part of the pricey Technology Package (Acura and Honda vehicles do not offer standalone factory options). Fuel-economy ratings span 22-23 mpg combined. Base-price range is $35,415-$40,515.
2014 Audi allroad
The compact Audi allroad is similar in concept to the Volvo XC70: it has the same general look as a conventional station wagon. However, it boasts SUV-like styling elements and rides on a raised suspension. This second-generation allroad is based on Audi’s A4 premium-compact car, but it’s about 1.5 inches taller overall. It’s available with one drivetrain, a 220-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. The allroad provides an appropriately car-like driving experience and its interior design and materials are first-rate. At the same time, this pumped-up A4 wagon is a tough sell when Audi’s own Q5 is roomier, has traditional crossover-SUV styling, offers thrifty hybrid or diesel power, and can cost less than the allroad when comparably equipped. The 2014 Audi allroad rates 23 mpg combined. Base-price range is $40,700-$49,200.