High-End, Highly Capable SUVs

© Audi AG, © Automotive Content Experience, © Bentley Motors, © General MotorsRugged Style
The continued popularity of sport-utility vehicles in America says a lot about who we are as a people. We seek adventure, appreciate the great outdoors and want the freedom to go where we choose, even though most of the time our SUVs are shuttling kids to soccer practice or hauling stuff home from big-box stores, rather than negotiating a remote forest road. As Americans, we also appreciate a vehicular freedom rich in creature comforts, because we don’t feel the need to suffer the indignity of too few cupholders, unheated seats and subpar in-vehicle entertainment. Fortunately, high-end SUVs ensure the needs of motivated Americans get satisfied — across town or along the Rubicon Trail — all in high style.

© Audi AGAudi Q7 Prestige
MSRP: $64,300
Given this German automaker’s reputation for building all-weather luxury performance cars equipped with the brand’s quattro all-wheel drive system, it’s no surprise that Audi’s large SUV would make this list. The 7-passenger Q7 is completely updated for the 2017 model year, and buyers who opt for the top-of-the-line Prestige get heated and cooled 12-way power front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a power-folding rear seat and 20-inch polished-finish wheels.

© Audi AGAudi Q7 Prestige
The Q7 also features Audi’s MMI infotainment and technology package, which features a high-resolution 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that can display full-screen navigation and other selectable information. Audi drive select has seven driving modes, including an Offroad choice that raises the ride height by 2.3 inches. With its permanent all-wheel drive and self-locking center differential, the Q7 is certainly capable of taking occupants off the beaten path.

© Bentley MotorsBentley Bentayga
MSRP: $229,100
Bentley refers to the Bentayga as the “fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world.” Quite a statement, although the new Bentayga certainly has the specs to back up that claim. Lucky occupants are ensconced in a cabin trimmed in the finest leather, wood veneers and select metal elements. The heated and ventilated front seats adjust 22 ways and incorporate a 6-program massage system.

© Bentley MotorsBentley Bentayga
Bentayga’s rear-seat passengers also receive some pampering via power-adjustable massaging seats, footrests, and a full-length panoramic sunroof. Multi-mode air suspension, advanced traction control and permanent all-wheel drive allow adventures off the pavement, and with a 600-horsepower twin-turbo W12 engine under the hood, there will be no lack of power no matter what route gets taken.

© General MotorsCadillac Escalade AWD Platinum
MSRP: $91,950
If you’re looking for a properly luxurious SUV and want to buy American, Cadillac is an obvious choice. In true American fashion, the Escalade is big and bold with a massive chrome grille, unique vertical LED lighting that projects through stacked crystal lenses and 22-inch aluminum wheels. Front- and second-row seats are heated, and all areas and occupants should stay comfortable with tri-zone climate control.

© General MotorsCadillac Escalade AWD Platinum
Escalade occupants can enjoy an advanced Bose audio system or an optional Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system without distractions from outside, thanks to triple-sealed doors, acoustic-laminate glass and Bose Active Noise Cancelation technology. But the luxurious amenities shouldn’t lull occupants into a false sense of complacency; Escalade is still built on a full-size truck platform that has excellent off-road capability.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Explorer Platinum 4WD
MSRP: $53,235
Ford’s midsize Explorer has been one of the best-selling SUVs in America for more than 20 years, and it received a complete refresh for 2016. The stylish 7-passenger sport ute is properly designed for heading off-road with Intelligent 4WD, as well as a Terrain Management System that lets the driver choose one of four settings on the fly to configure the vehicle for whatever terrain may be encountered.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Explorer Platinum 4WD
While the Explorer Platinum pushes through mud or snow, occupants are kept cozy and comfortable with leather-trimmed heated seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a twin-panel moonroof and a premium 500-watt Sony sound system.

© General MotorsGMC Yukon XL Denali
MSRP: $72,860
From the “bigger is better” point of view, GMC offers the Yukon XL Denali. One of the largest SUVs on the road, the Yukon XL can accommodate seven passengers with enough extra space to carry all their stuff. With a big V8, more than 8 inches of ground clearance, a locking rear differential and an automatic four-wheel-drive system, the Yukon XL is certainly up to the task when it comes to leaving the pavement.

© General MotorsGMC Yukon XL Denali
When outfitted as the top-level Denali, Yukon XL passengers ride in an elegant interior featuring perforated leather seats, burnished aluminum trim, contrasting stitching, genuine poplar woodgrain inlays and an advanced infotainment system with a high-end Bose Centerpoint surround-sound system.

© FCA USJeep Grand Cherokee Summit
MSRP: $53,395
Jeep has a deserved reputation for building vehicles with impressive off-road capability, and the brand’s flagship is the Grand Cherokee. Tackling deep snow and other tough terrain lands right in the Grand Cherokee’s wheelhouse — the Summit’s Quadra-Trac ll 4WD system features a 2-speed transfer case and can sense tire slippage and compensate almost instantly, sending as much as 100 percent of the torque to the axle with the most traction.

© FCA USJeep Grand Cherokee Summit
The Selec-Terrain Traction Control system can configure the Grand Cherokee for specific types of terrain such as snow, rocks or mud; the air suspension can raise ground clearance to an impressive 10.4 inches. All this capability gets wrapped in a luxurious package with the all-new Summit, featuring heated leather seats throughout, a wood- and leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a high-end Harmon Kardon 19-speaker sound system.

© Jaguar Land RoverLand Rover Range Rover SV Autobiography LWB
MSRP: $199,495
The name that often comes to mind when thinking about luxury SUVs is Land Rover. And the SV Autobiography is about as lavish as they come — basically it’s an off-road limo. Seats are trimmed in Semi-Aniline perforated leather with heating and cooling features both front and back. Rear-seat occupants enjoy an extra 7.3 inches of legroom over the standard version, as well as the rear center console complete with bottle chiller, deployable tables and wood finish.

© Jaguar Land RoverLand Rover Range Rover SV Autobiography LWB
Entertainment in this special Land Rover is courtesy of either a 1700-watt Meridian sound system or a rear-seat video system. And when it comes time to leave the civilized world behind, the Range Rover features permanent 4WD, an infinitely-variable locking center differential, active locking rear differential, hill-descent control and the brand’s latest Terrain Response system, all powered by a 550-horsepower supercharged V8.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLand Rover Range Rover Sport HSE Td6
MSRP: $71,950
The more spirited version of the legendary Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport offers the same impressive Land Rover capability with sleeker styling and sportier on-road dynamics. Perhaps not as high-end as the $200,000 Autobiography, the Range Rover Sport HSE is still luxurious with Oxford Perforated Leather seats, Zebrano Wood trim, a panoramic glass roof, a 250-watt audio system and Xenon headlights with LED signature lighting.

© Jaguar Land RoverLand Rover Range Rover Sport HSE Td6
Fully capable of conquering just about any type of terrain, the Range Rover Sport can even wade through more than 33 inches of water — basically up to the door handles. With its fuel-efficient diesel powerplant, the big 5-passenger SUV can spend more time in the great outdoors between fill-ups.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLexus LX 570
MSRP: $89,380
The largest vehicle in the Lexus lineup with a grille to match, the LX 570 is known for its luxury features, although many consumers don’t realize the LX offers extreme off-road capability. A lockable center differential and 2-speed transfer case are standard, as are Crawl Control, Hill-Start assist, Multi-Terrain select and Active Height control that can raise the ground clearance by up to 3 inches.

© Toyota Motor Sales USALexus LX 570
Inside, the LX 570 has seating for eight in extremely comfortable surroundings, available with semi-aniline leather seats, heated and ventilated front- and second-row seats, matte wood trim and 4-zone climate control. There’s also a power-sliding second row and a power-folding third row.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-Benz G550
MSRP: $122,400
The Mercedes-Benz G550, also known as the G-Wagen, looks basically the same as it did when it entered production in 1979 — more than 30 years ago. One of the most capable production SUVs on the market (and planet), the G550 features three sequentially lockable differentials, more than 9 inches of ground clearance and the ability to climb an 80 percent grade.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-Benz G550
Unlike the original G-Wagen — which was built for military use — the current G-Class features a cabin crafted almost entirely by hand with Nappa leather trim, heated and ventilated powered front seats, polished wood and chrome accents, and a 450-watt Harmon Kardon audio system.

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