2014 Luxury SUV Buying Guide

BMW X3

2014 BMW X3 7

Larger than the X1, the X3 is still a compact-sized luxury SUV and it enters 2014 with a few new standard features. Available with a four- or six-cylinder engine – both turbocharged — the X3 comes with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s roomy, agile, and surprisingly efficient, boasting EPA combined city/highway fuel economy ratings of 21-24 mpg. Base-price range is a relatively reasonable $40,525-$45,625, but BMW tends to charge quite a bit extra for items that usually come standard on other premium-compact SUVs. For example, leather upholstery and heated seats will add $2,000 or more to the X3’s bottom line.

 

2014 BMW X5

2014 BMW X5 1

It doesn’t look much different from the 2013 model, but the 2014 BMW X5 is new from the ground up. This midsize luxury SUV seats five, or seven with an optional folding third-row. It’s slightly roomier and is available for the first time with two-wheel drive, in this case, that means rear-wheel drive denoted by an “s” suffix. Most buyers choose the sDrive35i and all-wheel-drive xDrive35i models. They use BMW’s proven 300-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine. A 445-horsepower 4.4-liter turbo V-8 powers the xDrive50i (the ultra-high-performance X5 M model goes on hiatus). Power and efficiency combine in the xDrive35d, which has a 255-horsepower 3.0-liter turbodiesel six rated 31 mpg highway (combined city/highway numbers for this model were not available in time for this review). Ratings for gas X5s span 17-22 mpg, depending on engine. Solid as a rock, this is again one of the world’s sportiest SUVs, with crisp handling and power to spare. It all comes at a price, which BMW has raised about $5,000 over the 2013 model, and that’s before adding pricey stand-alone and packaged options. Base price range is $53,725-$69,125.

 

2014 Buick Enclave

2014 Buick Enclave

This upscale sibling of the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia straddles the midsize and full-size classes. Enclave seats seven if you choose a second row of two buckets, or eight with the three-across bench. After a substantial model-year 2013 freshening, the 2014 Enclave sees only minor updates, headed by availability of lane-departure and forward-collision-warning systems. Enclave is smooth, quiet, and well-appointed. Its 288-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 isn’t enough to move this 4,700-4,900-pound vehicle with more than adequate dispatch. The six-speed automatic transmission can feel lazy at times, too. Fuel economy is a mediocre-for-the-class 18-19 mpg combined. Base-price range is $39,340-$49,240.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]