Despite some people's reservations, SUVs are one of the most popular vehicles on the planet and have been for many years. Whether it's for their size, off-roading capabilities or something else entirely, SUVs are on roads all over the United States and indeed, across the world. This proves there will always be a demand for these large and fairly cumbersome vehicles, even if—more often than not—the owners don’t really need such a vehicle. The truth is, with so many out there, there's simply nothing that can be done to stop the SUV onslaught.
As a result, things only get more interesting. Since quantity doesn't always translate to quality, it's the same with the SUV market. Some of the cars we're going to feature in this article may take you by surprise. Their quality is either not what you expected, either in terms of how bad it is, or that it's surprisingly better than what you could have expected. When car brands, such as Lamborghini, make it onto a list about SUVs, you know the market for these things is really big indeed.
22 Actually Good: Lamborghini Urus
You have to wonder what the ultimate SUV is. It's something a lot of us think about. Well, right now, it surely has to be the Lamborghini Urus. It looks absolutely incredible. It has a 641 bhp twin-turbo V8 (641 bhp!). That’s more than a Gallardo Superleggera (562 bhp) and a McLaren F1 (627 bph)! Its top speed is an eye-watering 190 miles per hour, which means some quick refining and fine-tuning could see this thing hit 200 mph. Just one look is enough to impress with this Lambo's stellar design. Yes, it's big, it's bulky—but it's one insane looking car, and it’s an SUV!
21 Actually Good: Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade looks like an unwieldy machine, and indeed it is. You won’t find the same finesse handling-wise that you'd get with the big, but brilliant, Urus. What you need from an SUV however, is something big and comfortable over long trips, which the Escalade ticks all the boxes on. It is big, spacious and comes equipped with all the modern gizmos and gadgets that make for a comfortable car. Sure, it’s not going to win any beauty contests, and that's a bad mark, but if you want one of the best equipped SUVs money can buy, put this at the top of your list.
20 Actually Good: Porsche Macan Turbo
Porsche is not a brand you'd associate with big and luxurious SUVs. The Macan isn’t exactly the largest SUV in the world, but it has impressive performance to make up for it. It goes from 0-60 in just 4.1 seconds on the way to a blistering top speed of 177 miles per hour. That’s sports car territory, and knocking on the door of challenging several supercars in a drag race. It’s unprecedented to see an SUV produce such a level of performance. An SUV shouldn’t be able to do that, but then again, is it a surprise coming from Porsche?
19 Actually Good: Porsche Cayenne
When I mentioned Porsche isn’t a brand you’d think of when it comes to large and luxurious SUVs, I said "sort of," because there's an exception to this rule: the Cayenne. The Macan isn’t tiny but it’s not on the same scale as certain SUVs. The Cayenne, however, is. Despite its ugliness, it's one of the best. The performance is as impressive as a Macan. 0-60? Just under 4.4 seconds. Top speed? 169mph. Of course, it isn’t necessarily performance that makes you buy an SUV. Like the Urus and Macan, however, it's staggering to see potential in these vehicles, which retain all the luxury you’d expect of an SUV.
18 Actually Good: Jeep Grand Cherokee
I’ve looked at a variant of the Cherokee before, but not the standard one. The one I initially looked at was the Trackhawk, which was a beast of a car with performance similar to that of the Urus and big Porsches. The regular Cherokee is not in the same league as those cars, but it's nonetheless a good SUV. It comes with space and comfort you will need and want when it comes to an SUV. The best part is, being a Jeep, it's incredible for off-roading. The Porsches and Lamborghini are too, but Jeeps have ruggedness that the others don’t quite have.
17 Actually Good: Tesla Model X P100D
Teslas divide opinions and will likely continue to for a good many years, but there is no doubting the products it puts out. It's the leading EV manufacturer, with the Model X one of the best out there. Even more impressive are the figures that come with it, which certainly make for startling reading at first. It can run from 0-60 in a very impressive 4.5 seconds and reach a highly-respectable top speed of 155 mph. That's without the Ludicrous Mode that's able to bring the 0-60 to around 2.9-3.2 seconds, which is, as the name suggests, pretty ludicrous. It’s not impossible for the X P100D to become one of the best SUVs of all time.
16 Actually Good: Dodge Durango SRT
The Durango has an element of presence about it. If I was alone with one, I'd be worried about getting too close. But it doesn’t look that fast, really, does it? Well, if you were to step inside of one, you'd find a 475-bhp Dodge V8 and an impressive 0-60 time of just 4.4 seconds. The top speed for this absolute monster of a car will peak at around 180 mph; that's seriously impressive stuff from such a monstrous SUV. Simply put, it's huge. Then again, with a Dodge V8, it'd be wrong if it didn’t shoot off into the distance, wouldn’t it?
15 Actually Good: Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer has been with us in various forms since 1990, so the brand has a long history with this model, which has gotten more refined as time goes by. The car is now in its 5th generation, with roots stemming back to the 1983 Ford Bronco. The Explorer features a fantastic rugged design, a great interior and is powered by two engine options. A 290 bhp 3.5L V6 with a six-speed, or the very popular EcoBoost 1-4, which pumps out a very solid 240 bhp. So the Ford Explorer is certainly one of the best SUVs out there while being modest as well.
14 Actually Good: BMW X6
BMW is best known for its sportier cars, but it certainly knows how to make a good SUV as well. The X5 was the first SUV from the company just over ten years ago; they expanded that range by bringing in the X6. It's classed as a cross between an SUV and a high-ground clearance coupe; either way, it's very impressive. Its second generation has seen great sales figures, and it can pump out 302 or 402 bhp depending on the 3.0L or 4.4L V6 engine options. Heck, there's even an M version with twin turbochargers. The X6 is a well-versed vehicle and will be for a good while.
13 Actually Good: Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevrolet Tahoe falls into the same category as the Escalade. That is an SUV that lacks some of the raw power and performance some drivers like but comes fully equipped in SUV terms. It is into its 4th generation and is still wildly popular following its initial launch way back in 1994, so it has been with us for a good few years now. It’s rather gracious in appearance and well trimmed, making it the ideal SUV for the average family.
12 Actually Good: Bentley Bentayga
The Bentley Bentayga is perhaps one of the more understated SUV’s on this list, as outwardly there is nothing really to shout about. But don’t be fooled by this appearance, it is every bit as comfortable as a Tahoe and it also boasts some mega performance to go with it. Inside, it is very well spaced out and nicely finished. And under the hood, it is very impressive. It features a 0-60 time of just under 4 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph, all thanks to a 600 bhp, W12 monster of an engine. Impressive stuff from a car company not so used to making big SUV’s.
11 Letdown: Pontiac Aztek
Sometimes I come across a car I've already covered, such as the Aztek. However, on each occasion, it's been for pretty unfortunate reasons. Oddly, I've seen a following in favor of this car develop recently. For starters, I think we can all agree that it's one of the most horrifically-styled cars Pontiac ever produced, or perhaps by any manufacturer ever. I should get into performance, but the Aztek is just so hideous, it’s almost all I can think about. Not to mention how maddeningly questionable of a crossover it was, basing it off of an old minivan chassis. A 0-60 run was an amazingly slow 10.8 seconds, and it could barely manage over 100 mph, peaking at 108 mph.
10 Letdown: Jeep Wrangler
Launched in 2006 at the North American International Auto Show, the JK-generation Wrangler has been a common fixture in Jeep’s range while going through various guises and changes in its twelve-year history. However, it's known for being notorious when it comes to rust levels, which takes away from the fact the Wrangler is a great off-roader and a very good car. Unfortunately, it can't hide the fact you may come back from an off-road experience with a bit less exterior than when you first set off, and it isn't simply wear and tear either.
9 Letdown: Range Rover Evoque
One of Range Rover’s most luxurious SUVs, the Evoque is—on balance—a very good car, despite being something of a let down by not-so-good performance figures. Its eD4 diesel engine produces only 178 bhp, and can reach 0-60 in 9.5 seconds. The car's top speed? Only 124 mph. Those numbers simply pale in comparison to the other SUVs we've already looked at. The biggest problem with this car though is its size. It's staggering how large it is, and what that does is add an extra layer of ugliness to a very unattractive machine. SUVs aren’t always pretty, but the Evoque takes that to a whole new level.
8 Letdown: Fiat 500X
In 2015, Fiat decided they had had enough of building purely smaller cars, so they entered the SUV market. Thus, the 500X was born. It certainly didn’t live up to their expectations though. Designed with the help of Jeep, the 500X's cabin was incredibly small compared to what Jeep could offer. With a poorly detailed interior, it just didn’t justify the car's price tag. For the $32,000 tag, there are much better alternatives out there for a better price and value.
7 Letdown: Dodge Journey
Global sales for the Dodge Journey have steadily increased since the car launched in 2009, yet the car isn't exactly what we'd call good. There's plenty of storage space inside while also being a bargain at used car lots, but the interior is more like something from a 1990s SUV instead of 2009. What's more, the car doesn’t handle with the same precision as something like a Urus. It's sluggish, heavy, and not what you'd really want out of an SUV. The Journey is simply a poor offering.
6 Letdown: Lincoln MKX
Lincoln wanted to get in on the SUV wagon market and launch their own edition, looking to the Ford Edge for inspiration. A big problem with these cars, however, is their depreciation. Lincolns depreciate very fast. On average, over 70 percent of its value can vanish within ten years. That is a lot, so you aren’t going to get much money back if you decide to sell your MKX. The high-end looking interior of the car belies the fact it's been decked out with cheap looking vinyl. Therefore, it's not as high-end as the company would have you believe.
5 Letdown: Mitsubishi Shogun
Mitsubishi is a great company, having made many a great car, such as the Lancer Evo. The Shogun is a bit of a dud though in comparison to its SUV rivals. It looks like a solid and rugged off-roader and does, in fact, perform well once it leaves the tarmac, particularly in rocky terrain. In reality though, most of your driving in such a car will be on paved roads and, unfortunately, the Shogun is a letdown in this regard. There are vibrations through the controls while driving and a coarse sound, making it a less pleasurable vehicle to drive.
4 Letdown: Jeep Renegade
I've touched on other Jeep SUVs earlier, namely the Wrangler and TJ. Despite being good products, their structural integrity let down much of the appearance they put on. The Renegade isn’t much of an exception. Its fairly average fuel consumption and safety ratings don’t make it many peoples' first choice for an SUV, and its awful 0-60 time of 11 seconds (from its mid-range diesel engine) is also a letdown. Many might expect slightly more performance for one's money. Despite its class as a luxury SUV, it really is anything but that. There are much better choices on the market.
3 Letdown: Jaguar F-Pace
The Jaguar F-Pace is not the worst SUV on the market, but it's a bit of a letdown. Being Jaguar’s first SUV though, perhaps we should cut them some slack. It shares its platform with the Jaguar XE, XF and Land Rover's rather brilliant Velar. In addition, the styling of the F-Pace is great—elegant for an SUV and not too flashy either. There's a big reason why this car is a letdown though: fuel economy. It offers a rather poor 20 mpg, which, if you're going on a long trip, is not going to be cheap, particularly in the UK. On top of that, the ride is firm, which is bizarre considering it's a Jaguar; a lot of their performance cars are much smoother than the F Pace.
2 Letdown: GMC Acadia
General Motors wanted to kickstart a new era of SUVs following the retirement of the Trailblazer and Envoy brands; they ushered it in with the Chevrolet Traverse followed by the GMC Acadia. Designed to compete with the Journey and Ford Explorer, the sales of this car have increased steadily, however, all is not as it seems. For one thing, the interior quality is poor and cheap despite GMC’s best efforts. Even more, the ride is quite bad. Stiff and uncomfortable, it isn’t exactly ideal for driving long distances. Plus, a fuel economy of just 20mpg is simply horrific for a car like this.
1 Letdown: Toyota Sequoia
Toyota has been known to dabble in the SUV market. The strangely named Sequoia is one of the brand's offerings. While other Toyota cars, like the Land Cruiser, has had a great 70-year history, the Sequoia’s 18-year history has not been good. Its design started off bad, steadily on the declining since then and is even worse than where it started off at. Every year sees a steady decline in sales for this SUV, which is now in its second generation. When sales drop, it makes you wonder why the brand chooses to carry on with production.
Sources: Wikipedia, RAC, CarMax, AutoCar, Motor1, Sid Dillon