Crossovers are hot right now, and wagons have the hearts of enthusiasts, but SUVs still reign supreme in the luxury market. And competition among these high-dollar SUVs is heating up, with revised old models stepping up to meet new entrants. Here are ten high-end SUVs to watch for as they arrive over the next couple of years.
2015 Audi Q7
It's easy to forget that the current Q7 debuted in 2005; most likely that's due to the fact that it debuted in 2005 and has been in production for seven years without a replacement (although a facelift in 2009, pictured here, kept it fresh). That changes with the coming second-generation Audi Q7. Depending on the rumor mill you happen to visit on any given day, the new Q7 will either be presented in 2015 for a later release or is scheduled to hit the market in the summer of 2014 as a 2015 model. In any case, the new Q7 looks to achieve a targeted weight loss of 800 pounds over the current model, and could be offered with a hybrid powertrain option.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Get your orders in now; the all-new 2014 Range Rover Sport is scheduled for its first deliveries this summer, and buyers are going to want every extra second they can get to enjoy the madness of this high-performance, ultra-lux people mover. The 2014 Sport's base engine, a 340-hp supercharged V-6, is nothing to sneeze at. It's the supercharged, 510-hpr, 0-to-60mph in 5 seconds 5.0-liter V-8 in the Autobiography and (appropriately named) Supercharged models that is raising eyebrows. A V-8-equipped 2014 Range Rover Sport just set a record time for a production SUV performing the Pike's Peak hill climb at 12 minutes, 35 seconds—comparable with some sports cars.
2014 BMW X5
The third-generation of BMW's X5 SUV—sorry, Sport Activity Vehicle in BMW parlance—is scheduled to arrive before the end of 2013 after an official debut at September's Frankfurt Auto Show. We know a lot about this new X5 right now, however, including the coming first-time-ever option of a rear-wheel-drive X5, and a turbocharged diesel X5 expected in the first quarter of 2014. The X5 will be greeted by a more fractious, subsegmented, and highly competitive luxury SUV market than ever before; by offering a multitude of powertrains and interior options (the choice of a 40/20/40 or 70/30 rear bench, for example) BMW hopes to draw customers away from less flexible rivals.
2016 Mercedes-Benz MLC
The BMW X6's combination of SUV capabilities, ride height, and blobby—sorry, sporting—looks have spawned a myriad of similar designs, and it looks like Mercedes-Benz is ready to throw its version in the ring. The MLC is based on the current M-Class—pictured here—and possibly slated for production in 2015 for a 2016-model-year release. But little is known about the MLC yet, down to whether the MLC moniker will even be its official name. Rumors have been swirling for over a year, and there is plenty of time for powertrains to be mulled over and for revisions to the M-Class to affect what the MLC will become.
2014 Cadillac Escalade
The Escalade has lived a complicated life. Over the past fifteen years, the Escalade was simultaneously the biggest hit for Cadillac in a generation and a setup for every "bling" reference your parents have made in an uncomfortable attempt to relate to you. Just when it seemed that the Escalade had outlived its relevance, here comes a revitalized Cadillac riding a hot streak and ready to make the Escalade a legitimate luxury SUV contender. Spy shots haven't revealed everything about the 2014 Escalade yet, but what we've seen so far indicates a turn toward a more mature, elegant SUV. Combined with Cadillac's CUE infotainment system and recent success with high-end interiors, the 2014 Escalade could be flying in a little bit under the radar compared to its overly chromed reputation.
Bentley EXP 9F
Bentley debuted the EXP 9F Concept at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, and at the time its only real delay in hitting dealerships seemed to be the number of preorders that the company was waiting to get before beginning a production run. Reports surfaced late in 2012 of a pending redesign, however, and with the EXP 9F likely to be built on the underpinnings of the new Audi Q7 coming to the market as a 2015 model, there certainly is time to do so. There is no confirmed powerplant for the Bentley SUV, but look for a big-displacement engine to differentiate the Bentley from the Q7.
2016 Audi Q8
A top-of-the-line luxury SUV meant to sit above Audi's Q7 has been discussed for years, with little solid information to show for it. That changed ever so slightly recently when Audi confirmed a coming Q8 SUV, built on the platform of the coming 2015 Q7. With its sights set on the Range Rover Sport, Audi's new Q8 will be a sportier Q7, with the coupe-inspired styling that will be seen in the new Q6 crossover. There are still rumors of an Audi Q9, which would in effect be a larger Q7 built onto the Q7's chassis. At this stage, it appears that the Q8 is intended as Audi's SUV range-topper, as the A8 is for its cars, so no Q9 is in the offing.
2014 BMW X7
With a new X5 set to roll out, BMW appears ready to debut a brand-new, larger luxury Sports Activity Vehicle. Recent spy photos have caught a big BMW SUV on the road, with a test driver allegedly calling the vehicle a 2014 X7. So far that's all we know for sure about the X7, so the rest is speculation: trim levels, engine options, M-Sport package—we can likely expect these, but we don't know for sure. Potentially more interesting is that the success of an X7 might see a Rolls Royce SUV built on the same platform, which would melt the eyes of luxury-sedan purists the world over.
2015 Maserati Levante
It's going to take some time to get used to the Maserati Levante. Not only is the Levante the first SUV from Maserati, but since 2011 we've been seeing it as a concept design called the Kubang and frankly, we've all gotten used to calling it that. Built on the new Jeep Grand Cherokee platform, the Levante will draw its power from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 410 hp or a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 with 530 hp, with Europe getting a additional turbodiesel option. Maserati's Q4 all-wheel drive will come with the Levante, which should see a more performance-focused tuning in line with that of the Porsche Cayenne or the BMW X6.
2017 Lamborghini Urus
The first Lamborghini SUV in decades has been called a game-changer by Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winklemann. The insane performance standards of contemporary Lamborghinis have set an extremely high bar for the Urus, and Lamborghini is putting forth every effort to reach its goals—including having the ability to produce enough of them. The Urus project is set to double Lamborghini's annual volume, and Winklemann promises that the result will be an SUV that fits in with the wider Lambo lineup. Likely to ride on the chassis of one of its Volkswagen Auto Group brethren (Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne), expect lots of carbon fiber and other weight-saving materials and a screaming-loud) powerful engine. The Urus is confirmed for 2017; set your clocks.
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