Crossover SUVs aren’t usually regarded as street race kings or track-day killers but more livable, practical, and family-oriented daily runabouts. When talking about sports-utility vehicles, SUVs such as the new Kia Sportage and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid are most likely what comes to mind, but there are some high-end automakers out there that have been shaking up the arena with some out-of-ordinary, ultra-luxurious, high-performance SUVs. And while pricing and affordability are usually the primary considerations in this segment, these super SUVs place style and capability above all else.
So, while a hybrid Toyota is not quite the ferocious beast we have in mind, there are some fire-breathing sports utes we’d like to introduce you to:
Lamborghini was the first premium automaker to have introduced anything indicative of a high-performance SUV to the mainstream market with the LM 002 – a military-derived SUV equipped with a juicy V12. Now keeping things a little more mainstream, the Urus comes standard-fit with a mighty 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that generates up to 641 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. Those outputs propel the Urus from 0-62 mph in a quick 3.6 seconds and get it up to a hair-raising top speed of 189.5 mph. It’s designed on the MLBevo platform and outfitted with an auto-balancing air suspension with pitch and yaw sensors that control the adaptive dampers. That apparatus, along with its rear-wheel-steering, have the Urus mimic the effects of a shorter wheelbase, while the torque vectoring system effectively curbs understeer. This focus on performance and luxury doesn’t come without its compromises, however, and nothing is perfect after all:
- Massive in size but still cramped inside
- Coupe-styling hinders rearward visibility
- Styling is very garish to some
Some may argue that the Rolls-Royce Cullinan’s existence is heresy, others, such as superstar celebrities and sportsmen like Floyd Mayweather consider it the ultimate symbol of success. That is, of course, provided that it’s surrounded by numerous other high-end ultra-expensive cars. Under the hood of the super cruiser is a 6.8-liter twin-turbo V12 with 563 hp and 627 lb-ft, or 592 hp and 664 lb-ft in the case of the Cullinan Black Badge. Rolls-Royce claims that the base model will accelerate from 0-60 mph in a matter of five seconds flat, impressive for a silk-stocking of a car. As with the Urus, the Cullinan has its downsides:
- Divisive design and styling
- Not the most enjoyable to drive
- Just terrible gas mileage
Porsche Macan Turbo
The Turbo version of the Porsche Macan is newer, more compact, lighter, and a whole lot more capable at hitting fast speeds and burning rubber around corners than the regular version. Under the hood is a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that delivers 434 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. Porsche offers the Macan turbo with Sport Chrono package that adds launch control which drops the clean models’ already impressive 0-60 mph sprint time from 4.3 seconds to 4.1. Both its adaptive steel suspension setup and available adaptive air suspension have it deliver compliant and apt handling during aggressive driving while preserving a refined and comfortable ride when cruising.
- Excessively expensive MSRP
- Options are also expensive
- Cramped second-row seats
Maserati Levante Trofeo
Maserati have a penchant for designing beautiful and capable cars, and the Levante is certainly one of them. The Trofeo doubles down on the performance side of things, featuring a 580 horsepower twin-turbo V8 that launches it to 60 mph in a time of just 3.8 seconds from off-the-line. Acceleration is exhilarating and the exhaust note mesmerizing, unfortunately, the now all too common electrical steering system takes away from the overall experience. The adaptive suspension is otherwise good, and the six-piston Brembo brakes up front and four-piston setup at the back handle stopping confidently and adroitly. Maserati carries its penchant for attractive aesthetics to the inside of the Levante and even offers plenty of features and customization options.
- Exorbitant pricing
- Ride quality isn’t very luxurious at all
- Below-average cargo space for an SUV
Aston Martin DBX
Aston Martin hit the nail on the head when it came to its design, bringing in elements clearly borrowed from the brand’s more traditional sports cars. Its front end looks almost alien with its inward slanted oval headlights that are underscored by illuminated air vents and flanking an enormous kidney-shaped grille. A one-piece tail light bar borrowed from the Vantage completes the rear. Beneath the hood’s sleek dual air vents is a potent 542 hp, 516 lb-ft 4.0L twin-turbo V8 unit that Aston claims will get it to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Its adaptive triple volume air suspension and 48V electric anti-roll control system have it handle and ride like a dream.
- More expensive than a Bentley Bentayga
- Below-average reliability expectations
- Substandard infotainment and feature selection
Not everyone can afford a super SUV imbued with an ultra-luxurious cabin brimming with opulent creature comforts and conveniences, but we sure can appreciate them for what they are. Beautiful and majestic in all the right ways.