The best luxury SUVs in 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...

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.

Best luxury SUVs

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, then we can help you buy one for a great price through our free New Car Buying service.

10. Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD wide front wading

Despite its rugged image, the latest Defender fully deserves the title of luxury SUV. It can seat up to seven in its high-quality interior, it comes loaded with standard kit and it's capable of tacking both long motorway journeys and mountain passes with equal ability. What's more, because the Defender is predicted to hold onto its value extremely well, you should get more of your money back when you come to sell than you would in most rivals.

Land Rover Defender (cont.)

Land Rover Defender 2020 RHD dashboard

What Car? Target Price £43,625

Excellent off road
Up to seven seats
Slow depreciation

Higher trim levels are very pricey
Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are poor
Tiny boot in 90 models 

9. Range Rover Sport

Range Rover Sport front three quarters

The second Land Rover to make the list is the Range Rover Sport, which is based on the full-sized Range Rover. It’s no surprise, then, that 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.

Range Rover Sport (cont.)

Range Rover Sport interior

What Car? Target Price £62,125 RRP from £65,295 to £114,915 Save up to £5,634

Impressive refinement
Comfortable ride
Sumptuous interior

Expensive to buy
Poor reliability record
The infotainment system is slow and fiddly

8. Audi Q8

Audi Q8

Despite sitting at the top of Audi's now extensive SUV range, the Q8 is a fraction smaller than the Q7, its raison d'etre being its outlandish style and presence, a corollary of its sloping roofline, wider stance and massive and purposeful front grille. Yes, the Q8 is expensive, but it's also beautifully made, wonderfully refined and boasts an opulent and spacious interior. 

Audi Q8 (cont.)

Audi Q8

What Car? Target Price £61,847 RRP from £67,050 to £106,240 Save up to £7,234

Spacious interior
Fantastic build quality
Very quiet

High list price
Fiddly infotainment system
Average warranty

7. Mercedes GLE

Mercedes GLE front - 19 plate

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.

Mercedes GLE (cont.)

Mercedes GLE - interior

What Car? Target Price £52,448 RRP from £57,790 to £110,523 Save up to £6,247

Swanky looking interior
Quiet cruising manners
Loads of second-row leg room

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

06. Volvo XC90

Volvo XC90 T8 front cornering - 69-plate car

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 from featuring higher in this list.

Volvo XC90 (cont.)

Volvo XC90 T8 - interior

What Car? Target Price £50,737 RRP from £54,400 to £73,970 Save up to £5,122

Classy interior
Practical seven-seat interior
A brilliant plug-in hybrid version

Unsettled ride
Road and suspension noise
Fiddly infotainment system

5. Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery off-road

The latest Discovery is more practical than any of its rivals, but it’s also great to drive and even pretty good value for money and slow to depreciate. Much like its predecessor, the all-new Discovery is a whopping great seven-seater. It also has lots of ingenious storage spaces, including two gloveboxes and a hidden compartment behind the dashboard air-con control panel.

Land Rover Discovery (cont.)

Land Rover Discovery - interior

What Car? Target Price £45,133 RRP from £48,015 to £71,120 Save up to £4,306

Brilliant off-road
Roomy third row space
Attractive PCP offers

Audi Q7 is classier inside
Average to drive on road
Fuel economy and CO2 emissions

04. BMW X5

BMW X5 M50d

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 decent practicality and sharper handling than most rivals. On the inside, there’s a commanding driving position and plenty of space for five. The optional third-row seats are cramped, though.

BMW X5 (cont.)

LUXURY SUV: BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport dashboard

What Car? Target Price £54,975 RRP from £59,135 to £76,760 Save up to £5,342

A fantastic plug-in hybrid version
Great to drive
Classy, well-designed interior

Expensive to buy
Third row of seats costs extra
Relatively small boot

03. BMW X7

BMW X7 Long Termer Cornering

Big, bold, comfortable, and with a luxurious interior – the X7 is a very worthy recent addition to BMW’s lineup and the luxury SUV class. It's also one of the most practical cars in the class; even six-footers will have plenty of space in the third row, while the boot is enormous when those seats are folded away.

BMW X7 (cont.)

BMW X7 interior

What Car? Target Price £70,735 RRP from £75,110 to £114,975 Save up to £6,629

Super quiet and comfortable
Incredibly spacious and practical
Outstanding infotainment system

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

02. Range Rover Velar

2020 Range Rover Velar P250 R-Dynamic SE driving

With prices starting at around £45,000, the Velar bridges the gap between the cheapest Range Rover, the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. It’s the most road-biased Range Rover ever, even though it’s still incredibly capable in the rough stuff. Just bear in mind that you have to step up from the base model to S trim to get sat-nav, a properly punchy stereo, a rear-view camera and leather rather than cloth seats.

Range Rover Velar (cont.)

2020 Range Rover Velar P250 R-Dynamic SE interior

What Car? Target Price £43,606 RRP from £46,110 to £71,020 Save up to £3,902

Decent economy with the D180 diesel
Massive boot
Good off road

Average rear leg room
Slow-witted infotainment
Some cheap plastics inside

01. Audi Q7

Audi Q7 front three quarters

Audi's flagship 4x4 is the best luxury SUV you can buy. It's relaxing to drive, comfortable to sit in and pleasantly efficient to run, while its interior is plush enough to compete with models that cost twice as much. As if all that weren't enough, the Q7 is very practical, offering more than enough space for families and their luggage and seven seats as standard.

Audi Q7 (cont)

Audi Q7 - interior

What Car? Target Price £51,991 RRP from £56,935 to £96,880 Save up to £7,489

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

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

Find out what the luxury SUV to avoid is on the next slide >>

And the luxury SUVs to avoid...

Maserati Levante V6 S

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.

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