Cars

Is the Best Luxury SUV a Porsche, BMW, or Audi?

We test-drove three popular models to find out which car blends the very finest in convenience, comfort, and performance.
Porsche, BMW or Audi: Which Luxury SUV Should You Buy?

Porsche Cayenne GTS

The $97,200 Cayenne GTS is a slick blend of luxury, off-road handling, and smooth performance. The $60,600 base Cayenne has a 300-horsepower V-6 engine and all-wheel drive, but the GTS I tested gets to 440 hp. It goes from zero-60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds—impressive.

Porsche Cayenne.
Source: Porsche

Drivers who like power will admire its assertive grip around curves and fearless acceleration. Aesthetes will love its singular exterior beauty. Inside, the generous space is leather-lined, and the intuitive infotainment system, ­rain-sensing wipers, and power-lift tailgate all come standard. The excellent park assist with front and rear cameras is a good investment. The trunk offers more than 60 cubic feet of space with the seats laid flat.

The Cayenne is almost a sports car, which means you’ll have a family vehicle that’s actually fun to drive. But at 16 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway, it’s inefficient. And quite expensive: Don’t you have to send those kids to college?

Price: $97,200
Horsepower: 440
Zero to 60 mph: 4.9 sec.
Gas mileage: 19 mpg combined
Trunk storage: 23.6 cubic ft.
Top speed: 163 mph

 

BMW X5 xDrivr40e

The versatile X5 handles like BMW’s excellent sports sedans—all cool German styling and useful technology—with the added advantage of smart storage space and an optional third row. That’s why, for the money, it’s the best of the lot.

We drove the $62,100 X5 xDrive40e hybrid, which features a 308-hp inline-four engine combined with an electric motor and has both manual and automatic shift modes. Zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and the available power, especially under middle gears, is palpable. With the hybrid engine, the X5 gets 56 mpg equivalent in combined city/highway driving (easily besting the hybrid version of the Cayenne). Inside, the delightfully easy 10.2-inch infotainment screen, Harman Kardon sound, and parking sensors come standard, as does the large panoramic moonroof.

BMW X5.
Source: BMW

With sporty, aggressive performance and loads of cargo room, the BMW X5 works as both a daily family workhorse and a weekend escape vehicle.

Price: $62,100
Horsepower: 308
Zero to 60 mph: 6.5 sec.
Gas mileage: 56 mpg combined equivalent
Trunk storage: 34.2 cubic ft.
Top speed: 130 mph

 

Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro S Tronic

This latest iteration of Audi’s $41,500 midrange Q5 SUV is as tidily efficient as a Manhattan studio apartment. It’s cheap if you’re rich—and plenty spacious if you don’t have too much stuff.

The Q5 sits between Audi’s smaller $32,900 Q3 and its larger $49,900 Q7. It pairs a 252-hp inline four-cylinder engine with a ­seven-speed transmission and Audi’s impressive Quattro all-wheel drive. The 2.0T Quattro S Tronic is a $54,300 variant that adds useful tools like park assist. It’s worth the splurge. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and gets 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in the city—sterling specs for the category.

Audi Q5.
Source: Audi

But the Q5 S Tronic isn’t as dynamic as the Porsche and the BMW; it’s slower around corners and less powerful. And the storage space is tight. So it’s not our winner, but it’s an excellent option at its price point. Designed beautifully inside, with a vast sunroof, it’ll brighten long days on the road.

Price: $54,300
Horsepower: 252
Zero to 60 mph: 5.9 sec.
Gas mileage: 25 mpg combined
Trunk storage: 26.8 cubic ft.
Top speed: 130 mph

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