Every automaker and their grandma is getting well and truly into the SUV game, but some brands have been slow to sink their teeth in, meaning that they are going up against established nameplates like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. But, while many models from these prestigious manufacturers are award winners, they are not all taking home a blue ribbon. If you’re spending up to $100k on a new purchase, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, so let’s take a look at some of the top choices and see what makes them stand out from the fools gold of the industry.
Audi e-tron S
Starting off with another entrant from the German carmaker, the e-tron S is the more powerful version of the e-tron SUV that has a starting MSRP of around $66k – although official pricing hasn’t been announced for the S variant, assume it will be quite a bit more. To that end, this handsome mid-size is powered by a highly capable electric powertrain, developing a combined 496 horsepower and 717 lb-ft of torque, effortlessly launching it from 0-62 mph in just 4.5 seconds. Thanks to its galvanic nature, it boasts a remarkable fuel economy of 78 MPGe combined, but it is limited to a maximum range of 226 miles.
The interior of the cabin is dressed in plush Alcantara leather, with sports seats up front and room enough in the back seat for the kids or even adults. To keep everyone cozy during those longer drives, it comes equipped with a top-notch infotainment suite and a great sound system. For the driver’s peace of mind, there is a virtual cockpit, a head-up display, and assistance features like forward collision avoidance, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Complementing the high-quality interior, the exterior adopts coupe-like styling, an aggressive set of bumpers, and LED headlights, with the option for Matrix variants, and up to 22-inch alloy wheels.
Tesla Model Y
Returning to the USA for something a little more local, the SUV from Tesla boasts unique styling that makes it look more like a slightly smaller Model X. This means that it only seats five, as opposed to seven, but a three-row version is planned as part of the future updates. Whether or not this will be practical remains to be seen. While the Y is quite spacious for five, adding an extra bench may be pushing it. You wouldn’t want to ruin what Tesla gets right in the interior, which includes high-quality materials and smart yet minimalist styling.
Tech-wise, there is something to make everyone happy, including power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, automatic climate control, and various power outlets. When it comes to infotainment, the 15-inch touchscreen is enormous but it lacks some commonplace applications like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. This is somewhat made up for by the 14-speakers sound system and standard Wi-Fi. All of this, and you get a competent electric powertrain with a maximum range of 315 miles and a combined mileage efficiency of 121 MPGe.
If you’re willing to go full-size in the city, then the latest generation of the Escalade may be the perfect choice for you. That is if you have upwards of $100,000 to get a hold of the fully-loaded model, which includes features like 16-way power front seats, a panoramic sunroof, forward collision avoidance, and a panoramic sunroof. This is complemented by 38 inches worth of high-quality displays spread across the dashboard and a mind-blowing 19-speaker AKG sound system, upgradable to a 36-speaker setup if you really want to spoil/punish your ears.
The cabin is extremely spacious, especially if you opt for the captain’s chairs and the extended wheelbase. This also unlocks up to 41.5 cubic feet of cargo space and adds a few inches for the second and third rows. Meanwhile, under the hood, a high-displacement V8 engine channels 420 hp to the rear or all four wheels, unless you opt for the 277-hp diesel option, which increases fuel economy without sacrificing torque. But then, who cares if you’re only getting a dozen miles per gallon, when you’re doing it in such ridiculous luxury?
You don’t have to go big to make a splash in the luxury crossover market. The smallest offering from the famous German brand is also one of its most impressive. You can stick with the standard model or throw an extra $10k at the dealer to unlock the more potent powertrain on the AMG variant. In either case, you’re bound to have fun, since the compact handles so well, especially on the busy streets in town.
When it comes to form and function, the Merc does favor the former, but only by a small margin. It’s a fine-looking vehicle, though the vertical bar grille and 15-spoke wheels on the AMG sets it apart. As for the interior, leather is the least you can expect, though the styling is a little racier on the performance model, as proven by the perforated leather wrapped around the steering wheel, stitched in red so that it really stands out. Rather than wood, the cheapest of the brand’s SUVs accents itself with metal.