SUVs are now everywhere and even manufacturers like Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Maserati have a 4×4 in their arsenals. While they’re most famous for piloting bratty kids around posh neighbourhoods they are capable of tackling the elements. With the weather turning in the northern hemisphere I thought I’d compile a list of the 5 best luxury SUVs 2019 to battle the weather in.
Land Rover Discovery
This may seem a bit biased given that I recently owned a Land Rover Discovery, but the all-new fifth-generation Disco is literally nothing like my old D3. Unlike the D4, which was essentially a facelift of the previous model with some new engines and a couple of little extra goodies, the new model is exactly that, new.
On the inside, there are 7 seats, some big screens and some super-clever little storage solutions like the ability to store your phone behind the centre console and it feels more like a Range Rover than a mid-range family 4×4. 95% of the outside looks great, but it’s that 5% that lets the side down according to many with the offset rear number plate placement. Personally, it doesn’t bother me. The Discovery’s real party piece is unfortunately probably going to be the least-used feature of the car – and that is its off-road capability. The Discovery has been famous for their off-road prowess for a long time and the latest edition is the best yet. It is dripping in off-road technology that can make even a simple novice feel like a pro. The 3.0 Sd6 Auto with the HSE trim is the all-around best of the bunch as the 2.0 SD4 just feels a little underpowered for a car of this size and weight.
Bentley Bentayga V8
The Bentley Bentayga first hit the roads in 2016 and to be honest, I haven’t seen many out and about despite their unprecedented initial sales success. The main reason for this is probably it’s eye-watering price – with a basic price of £136,000, you can get a heck of a lot of Range Rover for that. However, that high price tag is one of the reasons I actually really like the Bentayga. Not only are there thousands of Range Rovers wafting about the British countryside, but there are also plenty of similarly priced other SUVs like the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, and BMW X5. The Bentayga has carved itself a lovely little niche in the market and for that reason it is brilliant – the only 4x4s that really square up to the Bentayga with regards to exclusivity are the Lamborghini Urus (which quite frankly bores me) and the Rolls Royce Cullinan, which is another £114,000!
It may share its platform with the Audi Q7, but that is definitely where the similarities end. Inside the cabin, it’s hand-stitched leather and wood as far as the eye can see and there is a no-expense-spared feel to everything. It’s like sitting in a Mulsanne, but a Mulsanne you can load up with skis, the kids, the dog and a months supply of Champagne. The V8 is the sweet spot for the range with the same twin-turbo 4-litre V8 from the Urus and the Cayenne and the output is a punchy but smooth 542bhp and 568lb-ft. This will help you launch your Bentley across your country estate from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds.
The Porsche Cayenne, like the Bentayga, was an extreme break away from the norm with Porsche, and it was also the first of its kind. When the Cayenne was first launched it was the only sportscar derived 4×4 on the market and it had all the place to itself. Since then a lot has changed and there are now plenty of fast SUVs to choose from like the Mercedes GLE63 AMG, the BMW X5 M50d, and the Audi SQ7 to name a few, but none of them carry that all-important Porsche badge and therefore don’t have that same feel and pedigree you get from the Stuttgart snow plow. It’s difficult to explain the feeling you get driving a Porsche without plonking you right there in the driver’s seat to experience for yourself, but I’ll try. When you sit in an Audi, whether it’s an entry-level A1 or a full-fat R8, you know you’re in an Audi. Everything is solid, well built and well thought out, but it’s still an Audi, but when you sit in a Porsche you get a sense of performance and ability in whatever car it is.
A standard 3.0 V6 Cayenne will set you back about £55,000 ($116,300 AYD) but the one to go for at the moment is probably the E-Hybrid which shares the same V6 petrol engine, but also has an electric-hybrid system boosting power from 340bhp to 462bhp and shaving nearly a second off the 0-62mph time (5.9 seconds and 5.0 seconds respectively), but the real gain for your extra £12,000 ($136,600 AUD) is a claimed 83-88mpg!
Imposing, extravagant, opulent, tasteless. These are all pretty good words to describe the behemoth that is Rolls Royce’s entry to SUV Show-and-Tell.
The Cullinan is ultimate in luxury off-roading and every single detail is so undeniably Rolls Royce. From its rear-hinged “suicide” rear doors to the 2-inch thick sheepskin rugs, it is as much a proper Rolls Royce as a Ghost or a Wraith is. There are, obviously, options for a Champagne chiller in the rear with “Immersive Seating” that places a glass divider between rear occupants the boot – so you don’t get cold while the driver loads your apres-ski luggage after a week unwinding in the Alps. Under its enormous bonnet, there is a 6 and 3/4-litre V12 with 2 turbochargers bolted on producing 563bhp and 627lb-ft of torque that power, for the first time in the company’s history, all 4 wheels. It is also built on an all-new aluminium space-frame that when bundled up with the all-wheel steer and all-wheel drive systems, makes the Cullinan the most technologically advanced purpose-built luxury SUV in the world (according to Rolls Royce).
With a starting price of £250,000 ($685k AUD), you’re not going to see many of these on the road, especially in the countryside, but there’ll no doubt be a few in Knightsbridge soon!
Land Rover Range Rover
And still, at the top of the luxury SUVs 2019 pile is the one and only trusty Range Rover. With owners ranging from wealthy landowners to film stars to Her Majesty The Queen herself, there is simply no denying the Range Rover really is the best of the best and the only real choice for anyone looking to buy the ultimate in off-road comfort. Range Rovers have driven all over the world since 1970 and have been the benchmark for every other manufacturer. All the cars in this list are great cars and they all have their strengths, whether it be on road performance, off-road ability or pure luxury and refinement, but the Range Rover is the one that can pretty much tick every box. There is a real blend of ultimate luxury and unrivalled ability that makes it pretty much perfect. The interior is a calm and warm haven from the elements filled with cutting-edge design and technology. Under the skin of the Range Rover, you have the All-Wheel-Drive system that ensures that no matter what, you’ll always get to where you need to go.
I’ve driven several Range Rovers from several generations both on and off the tarmac they really are as good as people say they are. As much as I loved wafting along in the Bentayga and experiencing the speed and road car-like feel of the Cayenne, the Range Rover will always be the top of my list and the one I would buy if I ever have the funds.
The luxury SUV throne has belonged to the Range Rover for nearly 50 years now and long may it reign…