Best luxury SUVs 2024 – and the ones to avoid

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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by
Darren Moss
Published12 January 2024

An increasing number of car buyers are shunning luxury 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. And they have the high driving position and sense of opulence many like.

Range Rover Sport and Lexus RX

Having extensively tested every luxury SUV on the market, our reviewers rate the BMW X7 as having the finest set of abilities – and the number one choice for luxury SUV buyers. To find out why, and which version we recommend, you'll need to keep reading.

Of course, there are plenty more luxury SUVs on the market, so we've also rounded up our top 10 choices in the market, as well as the model we recommend you avoid. If any car takes your fancy, click the links to read our in-depth reviews, or see our latest new car deals.

Our pick: xDrive40d MHT M Sport 5dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 5.9 sec
MPG/range: 36.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 205g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 750 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Supremely quiet and comfortable
  • Incredibly spacious and practical
  • Great infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • There are cheaper alternatives
  • Looks won’t be to all tastes
  • No plug-in hybrid or electric option

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 luxurious 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.

The way it drives is also surprising. For a car that’s so big, the X7 handles and feels like something smaller, making it easy to place on the road. Our favourite engine, the 3.0-litre straight-six diesel in the xDrive40d, provides strong performance and surprisingly good fuel economy, too.

Read our BMW X7 review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 Dynamic SE 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.6 sec
MPG/range: 37.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 196g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 647 litres
Insurance group: 48E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Offers lots of Range Rover qualities for a lower price
  • Incredible ability off-road
  • Fantastic range on the PHEV model

Weaknesses

  • Cheaper than a Range Rover, but still very expensive
  • Rivals are sharper to drive
  • Land Rover’s reliability record is a concern

Land Rover knows a thing or two about building luxurious SUVs, and the Range Rover Sport is a prime example of the firm’s expertise.

Like the full-size Range Rover, you get a high driving position that gives you a great view of the road. And yet, the centre console is raised to give it a slightly sportier feel. The ride is also smooth and supple, making it the ideal companion for long journeys.

Our favourite version is the entry-level engine, the D300 diesel, because it blends impressively punchy performance with silken refinement

In short, the Range Rover Sport is its bigger brother’s worst enemy, because it offers much of the same but for less money.

Read our Range Rover Sport review

Our pick: 55 TFSI Quattro S Line 5dr Tiptronic

0-62mph: 5.9 sec
MPG/range: 27.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 233g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 865 litres
Insurance group: 44E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

  • Touchscreen infotainment system
  • Third-row space is better in the BMW X7
  • Entry-level Sport trim misses some important kit

The Audi Q7 is an incredible all-rounder, offering composed driving dynamics and plenty of space for seven occupants. 

Its strongest suit of all is comfort; the suspension soaks up impacts from speed bumps and other road imperfections with aplomb and demolishes long journeys like a private jet. The Q7 also takes on corners very well, and feels agile for its size.

The interior quality only adds to the sense of comfort you get while driving, with plenty of soft-touch materials, glossy black veneers and smart brushed metal trims used throughout. We also like the fact that there’s plenty of technology on board, but the Q7’s touchscreen infotainment system can be fiddly to use while driving.

Read our Audi Q7 review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 S 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.8 sec
MPG/range: 35.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 211g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 172 litres
Insurance group: 42E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

  • Rivals are quieter
  • Wallowy handling
  • Terrible reliability

Much like its predecessor, the latest Discovery is a big SUV 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 compared with rivals such as the Audi Q7 and BMW X7.

Following an update, the Discovery has a range of new engines. Our favourite is the 3.0-litre straight-six diesel unit you get with the D300. It pulls the big 7-seat SUV along effortlessly, and is very smooth and quiet under acceleration. 

Like the other Land Rover and Range Rover models on this list, reliability is a weak point.

Read our Land Rover Discovery review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 SE 4dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.5 sec
MPG/range: 36.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 201g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 1093 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Fabulous driving position
  • Fantastic off-road ability
  • Useful seven-seat versatility

Weaknesses

  • Very expensive
  • Reliability is a concern
  • More physical controls for the infotainment would be preferable

The Range Rover is one of the founding fathers of the luxury SUV class, and today it remains the go-to choice for many.

Why is that? Well, the Range Rover has a presence few other luxury cars can match. It’s stylish both inside and out, plus it’s incredibly comfortable to drive. That’s largely thanks to its cosseting air suspension and whisper-quiet interior.

There is a catch, though, because you do have to pay a premium for the Range Rover. Rivals such as the BMW X7 and Audi Q7 are cheaper, and both come with seven seats as standard. If you want seven seats in the Range Rover, you have to add them as an optional extra on the LWB (long wheel-base) version.

Read our Range Rover review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • One of the quietest cars we’ve ever tested
  • Spacious and luxurious interior
  • Great infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • Air suspension and rear-wheel steering available only on pricier xDrive50
  • xDrive40 has a disappointing real-world range
  • Teslas have a better charging infrastructure

It may have divisive looks, but the BMW iX is a hugely impressive electric SUV. It’s luxurious, quick and incredibly quiet on the move. 

Our favourite version is the xDrive50 model. It uses two electric motors and a 108.8kWh (usable) battery that gives it an official range of 382 miles. That’s farther than the Audi Q8 e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace can manage.

The interior is the real party piece of the iX, though. It has a minimalist look, a user-friendly infotainment system and plush materials. However, even though there's plenty of space for passengers, the boot is on the small side for such a big SUV.

Read our BMW iX review

Our pick: 4.0 V8 S 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 4.5 sec
MPG/range: 21.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 294g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 484 litres
Insurance group: N
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

The Bentley Bentayga was the firm's fastest-selling car when it first went on sale, and it's not hard to see why.

It has the same sense of occasion as any other Bentley, with a beautiful interior and a great infotainment system. Performance is effortless, and our favourite version, the V8 S, offers a more engaging drive – even if there's a little more road noise.

Despite its considerable size, the Bentagya offers great visibility, aided by a range of cameras. Those dimensions mean there's huge space inside, and while seven seats come as standard you can also choose a seven seat layout, or even a four seat configuration with throne-like rear seats for those seeking ultimate luxury. 

Read our Bentley Bentagya review

Our pick: 2.0 D200 MHEV S 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 7.8 sec
MPG/range: 43.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 169g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 552 litres
Insurance group: 36E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Very comfy with smaller wheels or air suspension
  • Cheaper versions are temptingly priced
  • Huge boot

Weaknesses

  • Rivals are more agile
  • Fiddly climate controls
  • Disappointing reliability record

The Range Rover Velar is a stylish, refined and seriously appealing luxury SUV. It’s slightly smaller than its Range Rover and Range Rover Sport siblings, but as a result it feels more nimble to drive.

All models are generously equipped, with the entry-level S trim giving you luxuries such as 14-way powered front seats, a Meridian stereo and a powered tailgate. The 2.0-litre diesel engine you get with the D200 model also provides a good balance of performance and economy.

Overall, we think the Velar makes the most sense with cheaper engines and trims, because otherwise the price can creep up to a level similar to rivals such as the Audi Q7, which is much more practical and spacious.

Read our Range Rover Velar review

Our pick: 300kW 55 Quattro 114kWh Sport 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 5.6 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 569 litres
Insurance group: 49E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Spacious interior
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Strong range of engines

Weaknesses

  • Pricey to buy
  • Lack of physical buttons for infotainment system
  • Iffy reliability and average warranty

It may have a larger number in its name, but the Audi Q8 is actually slightly smaller than the Audi Q7.

The reason for that is because it’s designed to be a sleeker, more desirable alternative for buyers who don’t need seven seats. The downside? You do have to pay more for its sharper looks – despite the reduced practicality. Even so, the Q8 is more practical than the BMW X6.

Being closely related to the Q7 means the Q8 has many of the same benefits. For instance, it has the same classy interior and similarly impressive build quality. The 50 TDI diesel is our favourite engine, and it provides effortless performance while keeping running costs down.

Read our Audi Q8 review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Effortless performance
  • Wonderfully opulent interior
  • Superb refinement

Weaknesses

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

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 interiors, the Cullinan swats away its rivals with lashings of leather, wood and solid metal finishes.

It’s not only the Cullinan’s interior that impresses. Considering its size, the Cullinan provides effortless performance from its mighty V12 engine. Indeed, this 2.6-tonne SUV can go from 0-62mph in just 5.2sec. And yet, it’s quiet, smooth and refined.

So, if you can afford it, the Cullinan makes a brilliant choice. But, the enormous list price and expensive running costs do restrict its position on this list.

Read our Rolls-Royce Cullinan review

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