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Best Mid Sized Luxury Crossovers Reviewed

BMW X5 are the most popular, Luxury-vehicle sales are up – thank you, economy – and one of every four premium vehicles Americans buy is a midsize crossover SUV. The Lexus RX, Acura MDX, Buick Enclave and BMW X5 are the most popular. Redesigned versions of the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 are generating buzz. And all-new entries like the fastback Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and pure-electric Tesla Model X are reviving up this very competitive field. Arranged alphabetically, this buying guide describes them all, with 2016 models called out when they’re about to replace the ’15 editions. Key changes and attributes are highlighted, and please note that fuel-economy numbers cited represent EPA combined city-highway ratings. Base prices include the manufacturer’s delivery fees, usually around $900.

2016 Acura MDX

Updates to Honda’s upscale brand’s top-selling vehicle include new technology and a nine-speed automatic in place of a six-speed automatic. The new transmission features steering-wheel paddles and a center-console pushbutton selector. Front-wheel drive remains standard. Acura’s Super-Handling AWD system, a $2,000 option, is recalibrated to enhance handling. Also new is the $1,500 AcuraWatch safety package with adaptive cruise control, multi-angle rearview backup camera, forward-collision mitigation, and lane-departure, blind-spot, and rear-cross-traffic warning. A 290-horsepower V-6 is the sole engine. Optional start-stop boosts fuel-economy ratings 1 mpg, to 23 mpg combined with front-drive, 22 with AWD. A $43,785-$58,000 base-price range makes this a top value. The ride is firm but handling sharp and it carries four in comfort; up to seven will fit, thanks to small third-row seats.

2016 Audi Q7

Audi’s largest crossover is redesigned for 2016 with exterior styling that’s both fresh and familiar. New, lighter-weight underpinnings help shave a few hundred pounds of curb weight, which will benefit fuel economy and handling. This second-generation Q7 is a bit smaller on the outside than the 2008-2015 original but still affords generous interior room — though it’s kids only in the third row. The Q7’s first four-cylinder, a 252-horsepower turbo 2.0-liter, is standard. Also available are a 332-horsepower supercharged V-6 and a turbodiesel V-6 with 443 pound-feet of torque. All models use an eight-speed automatic and come with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. Myriad features includes a sophisticated infotainment system with fingertip-handwriting recognition for entering navigation addresses, a voice activation system that uses conversational commands, and many of the latest high-tech safety systems, including a stress-reducing adaptive cruise control that allows the vehicle to crawl along in stop-and-go traffic autonomously.

BMW X5

BMW calls this a midsize “sports activity vehicle” and continues for 2015 with only minor changes following more significant 2014 updates. This is among the sportiest three-row luxury vehicle, with BMW’s xDrive AWD tuned to benefit both slippery-surface traction and dry-road handling. It’s standard on all X5s except the sDrive35i base trim, where it replaces rear-wheel drive at a cost of $2,300 over the $54,850 base price. Any X5 rewards with energetic handling, a slightly harsher ride the only tradeoff. The sDrive and xDrive 35i models have a 300-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine for adequate acceleration. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel six powers the xDrive35d and combines punchier thrust with a pleasant 26-mpg-combined rating. The xDrive5.0i packs a smooth 445-horsepower V-8 that BMW says is good for 4.7-seconds 0-60 mph. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission. The racy M5 model rejoins the line for 2015 with a 575-horsepower V-8, performance-enhancing upgrades, and a $94,550 starting price.

BMW X6

Minor styling tweaks and return of the high-performance X6 M update the 2015 version of this more extroverted take on BMW’s X5. The X6 supplants the X5’s squared-off shape with a sharply curved, coupe-like roofline for a more dynamic profile, though one that complicates entry into the rear seat and compromises cargo room. The base rear-wheel-drive sDrive 35i starts at $60,550. Like the all-wheel-drive xDrive35i, it has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with 300 horsepower. The xDrive50i packs a 445-horsepower V-8. The racy X6 M has a 567-horsepower V-8, assorted performance upgrades, and a $103,050 base price. All use an eight-speed automatic. BMW’s xDrive AWD adds $2,300 to the base 35i and is standard otherwise. The sporty cabin is nicely finished with leather, wood and black trim, with myriad options available for customization. A host of newly available features includes a hands-free power operated tailgate and a self-parking function.

Buick Enclave

2014 Buick Enclave

Sharing its underskin architecture, powertrains, and most features with corporate cousins Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, Enclave is positioned as the most luxurious of GM’s three-row offerings. It’s richly designed and quiet cabin is a highlight. Adequate acceleration comes from the 288-horsepower V-6 linked to a six-speed automatic transmission. Enclave shows its age, however. It dates from engineering introduced as a 2008 and it isn’t due a redesign until 2018. Convenience, Leather, and Premium trims are offered. Base-price range is $39,975-$48,230.

Front-wheel is standard and all-wheel-drive is a $2,000 option for Leather and Premium trims, which gain a heated wood steering wheel as standard for 2015. Enclave handles well for a vehicle of its size, with a suspension that’s able to absorb bumps and jolts in the road nicely. The roomy interior can hold seven or eight passengers depending on the seating configuration, and while the third row is more spacious than in most crossovers, it’s still prime turf for the kids or smaller adults. The touchscreen-based “Intellilink” infotainment system operates easily and intuitively. Forward-collision and lane-departure-warnings are available, and a standard airbag between the front seats improved side-impact protection.

Infiniti QX70

Previously known as the FX, this five-seater continues for 2015 sans V-8-engine option. It’s expressively curvy styling no longer looks as fresh as it did upon its 2009 introduction though the cabin remains attractive and quiet, if a little squeezed for rear-seat legroom. The sole engine is a peppy-enough 325-horsepower V-6; gone is the previously available 390-horse V-8. Base price is $46,845 with rear-wheel, $48,295 with all-wheel. A seven-speed automatic is the sole transmission. Handling is more responsive than the typical automobile in this class, the ride sufficiently smooth over all but broken or pockmarked pavement. Several accident avoidance systems are offered, including lane-departure that can help steer the vehicle back into place if it inadvertently crosses highway lane markers. An optional 360-degree-view monitor includes a moving object detection program that warns of the presence of pedestrians or vehicles in its path when backing up. Expect the next redesign as a 2017.

Infiniti QX60

Formerly badged JX35, this seven-passenger delivers solid all-around performance with conservative but poised ride and handling dynamics that make it a great upscale family hauler. It’s essentially a fancier version of the Pathfinder from Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan. The QX60 has a 265-horsepower V-6, the QX60 Hybrid combines a supercharged four-cylinder with electric power for a net 250 horsepower. Both offer front- or all-wheel drive and link to a gearless continuously variable automatic transmission. Acceleration is adequate with either powertrain and fuel economy good, with the Hybrid rated 26 mpg combined city-highway.

The CVT optimizes acceleration and gas mileage, but operates with more harshness than a conventional automatic. For 2015, it gets the automaker’s D-Step Logic Control intended to simulate shifts during acceleration for a more natural feel. The interior is roomy and well designed, with comfortable seating, though the third row is best left to the kids. This is among the few vehicles to offer a Backup Collision Intervention system; it automatically applies the brakes in reverse gear if the driver isn’t reacting quickly enough to avoid hitting a pedestrian or other obstruction. Base-price range is $43,395-$47,795. Expect a modest freshening for the 2016 with updated styling and assorted revisions.

Land Rover LR4

Smaller and, starting at $51,325, considerably more affordable than the parent company’s flagship Range Rover, the midsize LR4 is a family friendly yet reasonably rugged premium crossover with a touch of British brass. It’s emblematic of the divide this automaker is establishing between its utility-oriented Land Rover brand and its ultra-luxury Range Rover arm. The former includes the new Discovery Sport, the latter the Evoque and the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The LR4 has a 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 that delivers pleasing V-8-like thrust and includes stop-start technology to help improve fuel economy, which is still not exactly stellar at 16 mpg combined city- highway.

The sole transmission is an eight-speed automatic. Standard is a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system with terrain management that optimizes traction according to various on- and off-road conditions, such as grass/gravel/snow, sand, mud and rocks. This is an amenable seven-seater on or off road, thanks in part to its standard air suspension. And it delivers overall pleasing driving dynamics, despite a rather top-heavy silhouette. The interior is well designed, though legroom is a bit tight for second-row riders, with the third row limited to children.

Land Rover Range Rover

Large and stately, Range Rover continues for 2015 with modest paint-color changes and addition of the automaker’s InControl suite of smartphone-tapping Web applications. Regular- and extended-length versions are available, but all have seats for five. The 3.0 trim lines are regular-length only and use a supercharged V-6 with 340 horsepower and a start-stop that automatically shuts down the engine while at idle to help save fuel.

Available in both lengths, 5.0 models pack a burly 510-horsepower supercharged V-8. Both use a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. A six-cylinder diesel is expected to join the line as a ’16. As always, Range Rover is stylish on the outside, roomy and comfortable on the inside, and delivers a smooth ride with impressive off-road abilities for those willing to risk its aluminum body to blaze trails and crawl over rocks. The top Autobiography models drip with excess, with opulent interior treatments and myriad creature comforts. This remains one of the most posh and expensive SUVs on the planet – at least until Bentley and Maserati weigh in with luxury crossovers of their own in the coming years. Prices start at $84,420 top out at $143,920. Only two trim lines begin under $100K.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

This is the smaller and livelier alternative to the big Range Rover. The Sport trades some bulk and opulence for a more athletic feel. Redesigned for model-year 2014, when it grew and added an available third-row seat, the roster expands for ’15 with the fIagship SVR model, while all versions gain the InControl app capability. The standard 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 furnishes brisk acceleration, while the available supercharged V-8 is even faster and slightly smoother. It delivers 510 horsepower or, in the SVR, model, a romping 550.

The SVR does 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and has an upgraded suspension and 21-inch wheels. Expect a six-cylinder diesel option to be added for the 2016 model year. Other ’15 changes include additional driver assists, including automatic entry and exit to parallel parking spaces. And the puddle maps now project the vehicle’s silhouette instead of its name. The Sport’s interior is sufficiently plush and comfortable, though the available third-row seat affords only limited legroom; even the automaker admits it’s just for “occasional use.” An air suspension keeps the ride smooth over rough pavement while an indomitable four-wheel-drive system enables it to tackle rugged off-road trails, though at the risk of scuffing up a high-fashion crossover with a base-price range of $64,275-$111,400.

Lexus RX

The original, 1999 RX launched the class and it’s been a top-seller in the category since. The 2015 version counts a newly standard rearview backup camera among minor updates as Lexus prepares a fully redesigned RX for model-year 2016. The ’15 continues as the RX 350 with a smooth 270-horsepower V-6 and as the hybrid RX 450h that combines a V-6 with electric power for a net 295 horsepower. Both are available with front- or all-wheel drive and both furnish good acceleration, though the AWD hybrid rates 30 mpg combined, versus a best 21 mpg for the RX 350.

The 350 is also available in F Sport performance-oriented trim with an eight-speed automatic transmission versus a six-speed; the hybrid uses a continuously variable automatic. The F Sport rides too stiffly to merit its minor handling advantage; the other models favor comfort and isolation. RX’s interior is roomy, comfortable, and luxurious, but this vintage-2010 design shows its age. The redesigned version likely will again be a five-seater.

2016 Lincoln MKX

Like the Ford Edge upon which it’s based, this upscale five-passenger Lincoln is redesigned for 2016. Highlighted by the brand’s double-wing grille, it gets a more handsome exterior to go along with a richer interior and additional high-tech features. Newly available is a twin-turbo V-6 and two “Black Label” limited edition design themes, one based on 1920s Paris, the other on thoroughbred horseracing.

The base engine remains a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6. It’s joined by an optional turbo 2.7-liter from Ford’s “EcoBoost” engine family. Lincoln says it’ll have more than 330 horsepower and over 370 pound-feet of torque. Front- and all-wheel drive are available. A six-speed automatic is again the only transmission but it adopts Lincoln’s dashboard-pushbutton gear selector. A revised rear suspension and other upgrades promise improved handling, though comfort and luxury are the prime objectives. New available features include a 360-degree-surround-view camera, forward-collision mitigation, 22-way power front seats with active air bladders, and a 19-speaker “Revel Ultima” premium audio system.

Lincoln MKT

This is Lincoln’s three-row crossover, sized between the MKX and the full-size, body-on-frame Navigator. It’s essentially unchanged for 2015 as it awaits a full redesign for the 2016 model year. It shares components with the Ford Flex, but with specific exterior styling that sports a wing-shaped front grille and lightning bolt-shaped character line running along the side of the vehicle. A 300-horsepower V6 engine is standard, with Ford’s 365-horsepower EcoBoost turbocharged V6 alternately available; that version also includes all-wheel-drive and a continuous damping suspension that auto-adjusts the stiffness of the shock absorbers according to road and driving conditions. It’s a decent enough vehicle and while its $44,105-$46,175 base-price span puts it within reach of a fairly wide audience, it’s outclassed by other crossovers in its price range. And at that owners are saddled with the MyLincoln Touch multimedia operating system that adds complexity to what should be simple operations. A long list of features come standard with a handful of options including inflatable rear seatbelts that protect the chest in a collision.

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

With an upright profile and relatively conservative styling, this is the German automaker’s family-oriented midsize crossover. Powertrains are updated for 2015, with the four-cylinder diesel ML250 Bluetec replacing the V-6 diesel ML350 Bluetec. The ML250 has less power, but packs still-substantial 369 pound-feet of torque, and the line’s best fuel economy, at 25 mpg combined. The ML400 with its 329-horse V-6 replaces the 402-horse-V-8 ML550, for a gain of 4-mpg combined. The ML350 continues with a 302-horsepower V-6 and the high-performance ML63 AMG packs a 518-horsepower V-8.

The M-Class excels both on wet or snowy pavement and off-road, thanks to its sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that’s included with all versions but the base ML350, where it’s optional. Road manners are highly competent, ride smooth and controlled, with the AMG version trading some harshness over bumps for improved handling. The interior is rich looking and affords ample five-passenger comfort, with a long list of practical and luxury-minded offered. For model-year 2016, the M-Class gets renamed the GLE-Class as part of Mercedes’ revised nomenclature.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

Joining Mercedes’ ever-expanding lineup for 2016, the GLE Coupe is essentially a more expressively styled version of the automaker’s M-Class. A rival to the similarly positioned BMW X6, it sports a curvy, coupe-like roofline. It still features four doors, albeit with compromised access into the rear seat in the name of styling. It’ll be introduced with two models, both twin-turbocharged and both with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The V-6 GLE 450 AMG has 362 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic transmission. It gets a milder-level of sport tuning by the automaker’s AMG performance division while the V-8 GLE AMG63 S gets the full AMG treatment. It has 577 horsepower, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and a handling-calibrated suspension. Air suspension is standard on both, as is a “Dynamic Select” multi-mode driving system that allows drivers to dial in a softer or sportier ride as desired, while an array of available accident-avoidance systems brings it one step closer to autonomous driving. With standard AMG sport bucket seats, the interior is handsomely cast and can be trimmed in any of several finishes for personalization.

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

Mercedes’ largest crossover gets plenty of votes as the best all-around three-row SUV on the market for its roominess, capability, and composure. For 2015, it aims for better fuel economy, replacing the GL450 model’s V-8 with a V-6; horsepower remains 362, torque drops to 369 pound-feet, from 406, but mileage climbs to 19 mpg combined, from 16. The GL350 continues with a diesel V-6, rated 22 mpg combined. Its 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque can propel even a vehicle this size to highway speeds with authority.

Meanwhile the GL550 continues with a 429-horsepower V-8, while the high-performance limited production GL63 AMG variant packs a punch with a 550-horsepower hand-built V-8. All engines have two turbochargers, link to a seven-speed automatic transmission, and can send power to all four-wheels via standard 4Matic all-wheel drive. The stately GL is comfortable, quiet, and tastefully trimmed; the third-row seat will accommodate adults, but just. The standard air suspension system delivers a smooth ride over most road surfaces. Many advanced safety and chassis-control features are standard or optional. Myriad available conveniences include a self-parking feature and a 360-degree exterior-view video display. For model-year 2016, the GL will be rebadged the GLS-Class as part of Mercede’s revised naming scheme.

Porsche Cayenne

Coming from the renowned sports-car maker, there’s little question this is the best all-around-performing roster of midsize crossover. The 2015 Cayenne gets some visual freshening and a simplification of the lineup trims the model count to four from seven. All-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmissions continue standard across the board. The base version has a turbodiesel V-6 with 406 pound-feet of torque and rates 23 mpg combined.

The S model continues with a 420-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 while the Turbo S has a 520-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 and does 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Also returning is the S E-hybrid model, which blends a supercharged V-6 with plug-in battery-electric power for a net 416 horsepower. It can travel on electricity alone for up to 14 miles and rates 22 mpg combined overall, or the equivalent of 47 mpg combined running on electric, gas, and hybrid sources. It does 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. Every Cayenne is a precision handler with ample feedback to the driver and a rock-solid bearing on any road. Styling is confident if not universally loved. The cabin is an artful amalgam of high tech and high quality, though back-seat room is a little tight for a vehicle this size. And brace yourself for a base-price range of $62,695-$114,595.

2016 Tesla Model X

Already delayed a number of times, Tesla says its midsize full-electric Model X will go into production by the end of summer 2015 for a 2016 introduction. Meantime, the car company owned by aerospace magnate Elon Musk is offering few details on its first crossover. We do know the seven-passenger four-door will come powered by a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system, likely similar to that available the Tesla sedan.

Likewise, it’ll feature multiple battery-draw and performance options. Operating range on a single charge will probably be less than the Tesla sedan’s 265-mile maximum, given the added weight and reduced aerodynamics of the bulkier design. Photos of pre-production models show sleek exterior styling with a curvy coupe-like roofline and so-called “falcon wing” rear side doors that hinge up for access to the rear seating rows, even from tight parking-lot spaces. Also offered will probably be the latest version of Tesla’s “Autopilot” system that purports to automatically drive the vehicle on the open road and in dense stop-and-go traffic with minimal driver input.

Volvo XC70 Cross Country

More a high-riding station wagon dressed to look like an SUV than a bona fide crossover, the midsize XC70 fits between the livelier XC60 and the larger and costlier XC90 in Volvo’s lineup. It’s an entertaining, but no less practical, alternative to a larger automobile with livelier handling and a higher-than-average ground clearance that makes it a good choice for those living in the Snow Belt. It delivers a smooth ride over most road surfaces with easygoing handling, The Cross Country is roomy on the inside and affords generous cargo space. A fuel-efficient 240-horsepower four-cylinder engine is the standard powerplant in the base T5 Drive-E model, with a choice of two available V-6s at 240- and 300-horsepower in the 3.2 and T6 versions. AWD is standard on all models but the base car for added foul-weather traction. As befits its family-minded mission, integrated rear booster seats for toddlers are available, as is a long list of the latest occupant protection and accident avoidance systems.

2016 Volvo XC90

Volvo opens a fresh corporate chapter with the completely new version of its largest crossover. The ’16 XC90 is the first vehicle from the Swedish brand that’s free of leftover components from former owner Ford. It was developed wholly under the new owners, China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Due for a spring 2015 release, the new XC90 is roomier, more efficient, and far more stylish than the slow-selling, more-than-decade-old crossover it replaces. The cabin is especially impressive: luxuriously crafted and featuring a gearshift lever fabricated from Swedish crystal glass.

A large, tablet-like LCD touchscreen dominates the central dashboard. Seating in the second row consists of a 40/20/40 split bench with individually sliding and reclining sections. The ’16 XC90 debuts as the T6 with a 316-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and AWD. A plug-in-hybrid version called the T8 is planned. It’ll use a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder in combination with electric power for a net 400 horsepower, a 24-mile pure-electric range, and a rating of 59-mpg-equivalent. The long list of standard and available safety features includes multiple automatic-braking accident-avoidance systems. Base price for the T6 is an estimated $48,900, with a loaded “First Edition” version at around $66,000.