Sport utility vehicles have taken the world by storm, which should come as little surprise after a quick review of the Mazda CX-5, Kia Seltos, or Hyundai Kona. Each and every one of these cars is a powerhouse in the automotive industry, despite their small size.
Larger offerings like the Kia Telluride or Cadillac Escalade have plenty to offer, too, but they don’t fit in around town all that well. When it comes to being both stylish and practical, there are a few names that pop out from the crowd immediately. But, if you’re unsure whether an SUV or crossover is right for you when there are so many sexy sports cars on the market, here are some of the advantages to consider:
- Their cargo practicality is unbeatable.
- Pack leaders have loads of space for five, and sometimes up to eight passengers.
- Thanks to their construction, they boast incredible safety ratings.
- Loads of modern features are becoming standard by the day.
- Athleticism and good looks are not uncommon.
Here are five SUVs you should have on your shortlist:
1. Toyota RAV4
One of the top sellers in the USA, the RAV4 is offered as a standard gasoline, hybrid, or plug-in compact. Even burning gas, it returns admirable mileage figures, but the PHEV boasts truly impressive fuel economy for a hefty high rider.
However, none of the available powertrains are particularly zesty. Acceleration is modest, but a top speed of 130 mph helps it keep up and a towing capacity of 1,500 to 3,500 lbs makes it competitive in the segment.
Its racy styling may be one of the main reasons it’s so popular, but the interior is nothing to scoff at, especially with the available SofTex upholstery and power moonroof. But even the base model is spacious and elegant, despite hard plastics and cloth seats.
2. Audi e-tron
With luxury brands, you get what you pay for. And while the $66k MSRP price tag on the German mid-size may seem high, it earns every penny. Motivated by an electric powertrain developing a combined 402 horsepower, it races from 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds and it has the handling to manage it.
And while this much power generally results in poor economy, the e-tron gets around 78 MPGe, though the maximum range of just 222 miles is a little disappointing in comparison to electric market leaders.
If all of this doesn’t impress you, the cabin certainly will. Technology abounds across the dash with an MMI infotainment suite and Audi’s virtual cockpit. Even in its most modest guise, it's a looker with Alcantara sport seats, but the more expensive trims throw in some carbon to really kick things up a notch.
3. Kia Sorento
A mid-size with three rows of seats, the Sorento is as sporty as it is practical. This is courtesy of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumping out 281 hp on the upper trim levels. However, towing capacity is more on par with the compact segment, maxing out at 3,500 lbs. Available as a gas-fed or hybrid, and with a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive, it’s a versatile and exciting piece of machinery.
It’s also a handsome, if somewhat burly SUV, with a wide honey-comb grille, with LED headlights and up to 20-inch wheels. If you go the X-Line route, it gets unique bumpers and a special badge to really make a statement.
In either case, the interior is spacious and well-appointed, even in the back-seat bench. The large touchscreen complements the driver-information display, but you’ll have to upgrade a little to get access to the best safety features.
4. Ford Mustang Mach-E
Building on a proud legacy, the latest addition to the Mustang line is an electric powerhouse going up against the likes of Tesla’s Model S - quite a step away from the muscle car the name implies.
With access to as much as 480 hp, it sprints from 0 to 60 mpg in around 3.5 seconds, which is more than most high-riders can say. To top it all off, it boasts a maximum range of 305 miles. Like any other Mustang, it handles well, enjoying the track as much as its little brothers.
But considering who it’s up against, the Mach-E has to win on multiple axes, including exterior and interior design. In both areas, it doesn’t disappoint, taking classic muscle car good looks and adding modern, electric flair. Inside, it proves that the US automakers know how to offer great quality, with top-notch materials and ergonomic engineering.
5. Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
The smallest of the luxury SUVs from the prestigious German tri-star, the GLA manages to combine multiple disparate characteristics. As such, it is a tantalizing prospect that no young professional should ignore. It may not be as spacious as some of its siblings, but it makes for an excellent starter for those wanting to grow their family of two. But, even if you’re on your own, it's a fun and stylish option.
A gorgeous exterior accented with fluid lines, a coupe-style roof, and just the right amount of chrome makes it hard to resist. Add to this the brand-new grille and sleek LEDs, and it’s ready to make you the envy of all your friends.
The interior is just as lavish, with a high-tech cockpit, soft leather all over, and upscale amenities such as power-heated seats. Throw in active driving assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, and there are few safer and more comfortable places to be.