Best luxury SUVs 2021

The best luxury SUVs are as practical as they are classy and as desirable as they are relaxing to drive. Here we count down the top 10 – and reveal the one to avoid...


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What Car? team

Best luxury SUVs

An increasing number of car buyers are shunning prestige saloons in favour of luxury SUVs, drawn in by the appeal of their elevated driving positions, rugged looks and upmarket interiors.

The best also offer a cosseting ride, punchy performance and the sort of refinement that makes long journeys effortless. So, here we count down our top 10 – and name the luxury SUV that is best avoided. 

And remember, if you like the look of any of these models, you could potentially save thousands by using our free New Car Buying service.

10

Mercedes GLE

Some rivals are more practical and better to drive, but the Mercedes GLE has a dazzling interior and, on air suspension, is a comfortable cruiser. Go for the 400d and you also get one of the best diesel engines around; it blends effortless performance with good fuel economy, and is both smooth and quiet, even under hard acceleration.

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Pros

  • Swanky looking interior
  • Quiet cruising manners
  • Loads of second row legroom

Cons

  • Rivals have a bigger boot
  • Cramped third row seats
  • Not exactly sharp to drive
9

Range Rover Sport

The Range Rover Sport is cheaper than the full-sized Range Rover, yet is closely related under the skin, so doesn't feel even remotely like a poor relation. It’s a fantastic car for covering long distances, with a smooth engine and a relaxed ride. What's more, its interior is luxurious and generously equipped, and there's the option of seven seats. Land Rover's reliability record is a worry, though.

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Pros

  • Impressive refinement
  • Comfortable ride
  • Sumptuous interior

Cons

  • Expensive to buy
  • Poor reliability record
  • Infotainment system is slow and fiddly
8

Tesla Model X

In addition to being the only all-electric SUV that can seat seven, the Model X is packed full of tech, surprisingly sharp to drive and capable of embarrassing sports cars in a straight line. Throw in a long range and Tesla's world-beating charging infrastructure, and it's hugely appealing. Our one complaint is that interior quality should be better given the high price.

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Pros

  • Astonishing performance
  • Great for safety
  • Seats up to seven

Cons

  • Below-par interior quality
  • Ride comfort isn't great
  • Expensive to buy
7

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Yes, you could buy a property for the same money, but would your three-bedroom house come with lambswool mats as standard? For the best of the best in interiors, the Cullinan swats away its rivals with a gloved hand, while also delivering effortless performance and superb refinement.

Pros

  • Effortless performance
  • Wonderfully opulent interior
  • Superb refinement

Cons

  • Unsettled low-speed ride
  • Hugely expensive to buy and run
  • Controversial styling
6

Volvo XC90

The latest version of Volvo's XC90 is enjoyable to drive and much smarter than its predecessor inside, yet it remains every bit as practical, with flexible seating and a huge boot. Only average refinement and a slightly unsettled ride stop it making the top five here.

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Pros

  • Classy interior
  • Seven seats come as standard
  • Plug-in hybrid options

Cons

  • Unsettled ride
  • Road and suspension noise
  • Fiddly infotainment system
5

Bentley Bentayga

The Bentley Bentayga may not be quite as sharp to drive as an Aston Martin DBX, or as cosseting as a Rolls Royce Cullinan, but it strikes a convincing compromise between the two, both in terms of its price and dynamics. In other words, it’s one of the most complete and compelling SUVs on sale today.

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Pros

  • Beautiful hand-finished interior
  • Effortless performance
  • Impressive infotainment system

Cons

  • Gearbox can be laggy around town
  • High running costs
  • Average boot space
4

Land Rover Discovery

Much like its predecessor, the latest Discovery is a whopping great seven-seater that feels equally at home both on road and off it. However, today's car is much classier inside and better to drive. It's even pretty good value for money and slow to depreciate.

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Pros

  • Brilliant off road
  • Roomy third row space
  • Attractive PCP deals

Cons

  • Audi Q7 rides better
  • Not as agile as some rivals on the road
  • No plug-in hybrid version yet
3

BMW X7

The only thing bigger than the X7’s gigantic front grille is the car itself, so if you’ve got a big budget and a big family, it should definitely be on your shortlist. As a bonus, the interior is as flashy as it is sturdy, and refinement is so impressive that someone in the third row can have a conversation with those up front without raising their voice.

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Pros

  • Super quiet and comfortable
  • Incredibly spacious and practical
  • Outstanding infotainment system

Cons

  • There are cheaper alternatives
  • Feels its size and weight on the road
  • Looks won’t be to all tastes
2

Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 is an incredible all-rounder, combining rapid acceleration with spacious seating for seven and class-leading interior quality. But its strongest suit of all is comfort; it soaks up impacts from speed bumps and other road imperfections with aplomb and demolishes long journeys like a private jet.

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Pros

  • Smooth and powerful engines
  • Pillowy ride in Sport and S line trims
  • Stunning interior quality

Cons

  • Rivals have better infotainment systems
  • Third-row space is better in the BMW X7
  • Plug-in hybrid model is average to drive
1

BMW X5

BMW's original X5 was one of the first road-focused 4x4s, and this latest model sticks closely to that car's winning formula, with good practicality and sharper handling than most rivals. These days you also get a lavish interior with the best infotainment system around, though. And if you opt for the xDrive45e plug-in hybrid version, the X5 is cheaper to run than rivals, not least because it can travel a whopping 54 miles on electric power.

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Pros

  • Fantastic plug-in hybrid version
  • Great to drive
  • Classy, well-designed interior

Cons

  • Potential for road noise at speed
  • Third row of seats costs extra
  • There are more spacious and practical rivals

And the luxury SUV to avoid...

Maserati Levante

The Maserati Levante is spacious and well equipped, but the driving experience it delivers doesn’t live up to the badge’s promise. Its diesel engine is noisy, its handling stodgy and its ride bumpy. Read our review