Best Luxury SUVs: Top-Rated Luxury SUVs for 2021 | Edmunds

Best 3-Row Luxury SUVs

Although there are midsize SUVs that offer three rows of seating, third-row headroom and legroom measurements are typically modest at best. If you plan on transporting bigger kids or adults in the third row, full-size SUVs tend to be the best family luxury SUVs. Some even offer an extended-length option that increases the size of the cargo area, which is invaluable for families on road trips. Having said that, midsize three-row SUVs can be the best family luxury SUVs if you have little kids who don’t yet need a lot of passenger space.

2021 Audi Q7

Most midsize SUVs now offer three rows, and the Audi Q7 is one of the best. It doesn’t have an abundance of room in the back, but cargo room is decent and the seats fold completely flat if you need extra storage. A third row is standard on the Audi Q7; it’s optional on many other midsize SUVs.

2020 Acura MDX

Acura might not be the first name you think of when it comes to luxury SUVs, but the MDX is well worth a look if you’re in the market for a well-appointed family hauler. In addition to a standard third row of seating, the MDX comes with an excellent list of standard features, making it a relative bargain too. It’s not the sportiest or most luxurious SUV out there, and some of the in-car tech and driver aids feel behind the times, but the MDX offers a lot for the money. The sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and powerful but smooth V6 don’t hurt either. Just keep in mind that the 2022 Acura MDX will be fully redesigned, so this is the end of the line for the current MDX.

2021 Lincoln Aviator

The Aviator may share its platform with the Ford Explorer, but there’s nothing mundane about this luxury SUV’s style. Convincingly upscale inside and out, the Aviator just might be the most impressive American luxury SUV on the market. Whether you go with the plug-in hybrid variant or the standard spec, you’ll enjoy big-time acceleration and exemplary refinement. Just don’t expect a roomy third row — the kids will fit back there, but adults won’t be happy.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

There’s a big jump in third-row room — and price — between midsize and full-size SUVs. The Mercedes GLS-Class is considerably more expensive than a comparable Audi Q7, but seven adults will have no problem fitting into the big Benz. There’s also plenty of room behind the third row, and cargo space increases from sizable to gargantuan as you fold down those seats.

2021 Lincoln Navigator

As a full-size SUV, the Navigator is a seven-seater with a more commodious back seat than midsize crossovers. The third-row seat bottom is raised higher than in some other SUVs, so adults will enjoy a more natural seating position. Although the cargo area is already quite roomy for the class, Lincoln also offers a longer Navigator L with more cargo room than the standard version.

2021 Cadillac Escalade

As the top dog in General Motors’ line of full-size SUVs, the Escalade brings flash to its traditional truck-like architecture in your choice of two sizes: the base Escalade and the extended Escalade ESV. Subtlety is not its strong suit. You get seven seats, 22-inch wheels and a powerful 6.2L V8 engine as standard equipment. Key to this new model is an independent rear suspension that improves both interior space and ride comfort.

Most Affordable Luxury SUVs

The smallest SUVs are also the most affordable, but that doesn’t mean they offer the best value. While subcompacts have relatively low price tags, overall refinement may fall below the standard set by their lofty nameplates. With this in mind, we’ve chosen three smaller crossovers that offer good value in a compact wrapper.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class

The GLB gets double billing on this list because it’s not only one of the best small luxury SUVs, but it’s also one of the most affordable luxury SUVs on the market. Starting at $39,100, the GLB delivers a high-tech interior, optional seven-passenger seating and spunky turbocharged performance in a moderately muscular-looking package.

2021 BMW X1

Starting at $36,395, the BMW X1 is the smallest SUV in the BMW lineup, though it doesn’t skimp on things we’ve come to expect from a luxury SUV. Despite the small footprint, it’s surprisingly spacious, with ample room for both people and cargo. Thanks to a peppy yet relatively economical turbocharged inline-four engine, the X1 is surprisingly good to drive. For 2020, BMW mildly revised the X1’s exterior styling and added more standard features. Our biggest complaint is the somewhat jarring ride on rough roads, but we still think it’s one of the best small luxury SUVs on sale today.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

The second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class improves massively on its predecessor yet maintains a low cost of entry of $37,225. Where the first model looked like a Mercedes-Benz, it didn’t feel or drive like one. The new GLA feels like a small Mercedes instead of a cheap one. We like the handsome and premium-looking interior, comfortable ride and top-notch in-car tech. Unfortunately, much of that tech is optional, though even the base GLA gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Few vehicles at this price point look or feel as premium as the GLA.

2021 Audi Q3

At $35,045 to start, the Audi Q3 is one of the most affordable small luxury crossovers, but it’s also among the most desirable. The Q3 offers easy-to-use technology, comfortable seats, a compliant ride and responsive steering. Standard features include a power tailgate, three-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof and more, making the Q3 a strong luxury value. It’s not the sportiest choice in the segment and it doesn’t have the biggest trunk, but the Q3 is still a great car at a great price no matter how you slice it.

2021 Volvo XC40

The XC40 is Volvo’s first attempt at an SUV in the subcompact class. With a low starting price and tons of features, it’s safe to say Volvo nailed the value proposition. The XC40, which starts at $34,795, counts LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and genuine leather upholstery among its standard features. (Most cars in this class come with simulated leather.) Being a Volvo, the XC40 also comes standard with lane departure warning and forward collision warning. If you want to buy a car without getting swept up in expensive option packages, the XC40 might be the small luxury crossover for you.

Luxury SUV Features

While many luxury SUVs come well-equipped, they all offer myriad options and features for a somewhat custom feel. Look for frills such as leather upholstery, keyless entry and a sunroof for a true luxury experience. Heated and ventilated seats are must-haves for many shoppers but aren’t always available on smaller luxury SUVs. Modern safety features, including 360-degree parking cameras and blind-spot monitoring, are essential for easily placing large SUVs on the road.

Choosing the Right Luxury SUV for You

There are dozens of luxury SUVs spread over four size classes, so it can be difficult to figure out where to start. Subcompact and compact crossovers offer a strong value statement to city dwellers, empty nesters, and those who simply want something that stands out from a typical SUV. Small families that need a bit more passenger and cargo space will likely find an appropriate vehicle in the midsize class. Full-size SUVs are perfect for growing families or, again, individuals who just want to make a statement. No matter which class appeals to you the most, Edmunds has the tools to point you in the right direction in your search for the perfect luxury SUV.