2014 Buick Encore
Even the smallest luxury SUVs can seem gargantuan next to the diminutive Encore. Even the tidy BMW X1 is more than 8 inches longer in wheelbase and overall length than this bitty Buick. As such, Encore carves an interesting niche in the luxury-SUV market. It handles much better than you’d expect. But its only engine is the 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine available in the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car. Encore weighs significantly more, so acceleration can feel labored, particularly during highway passing and merging. There’s no surplus of cargo room. Passengers sit upright enough for decent comfort. And cabin materials feel like they belong in a vehicle costing thousands more. Fuel-economy ratings span 26-28 mpg combined. Base-price range is $25,085-$31,390.
2014 Cadillac SRX
Cadillac has quietly fielded a sale success in this compact competitor to the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLK. The SRX lacks the import brands’ prestige, but it’s rather well turned-out nonetheless, with a roomy cabin that looks and feels appropriately high end. With no major changes for 2014 the SRX again seats five and comes standard with a peppy 308-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Downsides include uninspired handling, some overdone styling, and Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which can be cryptic enough to confuse. And a fuel-economy-ratings span of 18-19 mpg combined won’t win any green-car awards. Base-prices range is $38,430-$51,880.
2014 Infiniti QX60
This midsize crossover bowed for the 2013 model year as the JX35 and quickly became Infiniti’s top-selling SUV and second-most-popular vehicle overall. A seven-seater, the QX60 remains the upscale cousin of the Nissan Pathfinder from Infiniti’s parent company. But Infiniti’s new naming convention means it’s now the QX60. New for 2014 is the QX60 Hybrid model, covered in our CarPreview.com 2014 Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Buying Guide. The conventional QX60 continues with a 265 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6. The cabin scores for materials quality, a simple audio/climate-control interface, and a roomy, easy-to-access third-row seat. The QX60 is quiet and comfortable, but no standout for acceleration or handling. And Infiniti forces you into costly option packages to obtain some desirable safety and convenience features. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions are offered. Fuel-economy ratings span 21-22 mpg combined. Base-price range is $42,995-$44,395.