If You Could Choose, Which Compact Luxury Crossover or SUV Would It Be? – Part 1

Our Automologist KEVIN gives you many, many choices. 

If you want to stand out from the crowd and feel bold and different, then no, don’t buy an SUV, because that’s what damn near everyone is doing.

As luxury vehicles go, the compact SUV is now the pulse of the market. Just about every brand has one of these right-sized five-seat crossovers or SUVs, combining an elevated seating position with wagon-like utility and deluxe interiors. It’s not surprising that compact crossovers (which really aren’t so compact) have become so popular. For families who don’t need a third row, the compact category is a great place to start. The sheer number of vehicles in this article is a good indication of just how popular this segment has become. Not one is truly bad, but some are obviously better than others.

25. Buick Envision

Looks rather Korean. Adorned with unassuming styling, the Buick Envision does everything you expect a Buick to. It is quiet and rides comfortably. There is even an active noise cancellation feature, which uses sound waves to counteract road, tire and wind noise. There’s a choice of two different four-cylinder engines: a base 2.5-litre with 197 horsepower and an optional turbocharged, 2.0-litre rated at 252 horsepower. All-wheel drive is optional with either engine, although the 2.0-litre gets a more sophisticated system along with a nine-speed automatic transmission in place of the base six-speed auto. The Buick isn’t sporty or too fun to drive. It’s somewhat comfortable, but one could hardly call it hardly luxurious.

24. Cadillac XT5

Cadillac’s XT5 was conceived into this segment to compete with one of the most popular players, the Lexus RX 350. Its angular styling and boxy profile is built for town-trotting. The minimalist interior is handsome and practical. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 237 horsepower is now the standard engine, while a 310-hp V6 remains an option. All-wheel drive is optional with either engine. Upgrades to the interior, such as a digital instrument cluster and nicer materials, improve the overall appeal. Spacious passenger accommodation and solid cargo room make the Cadillac XT5 a practical choice.

23. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Unlike most of the vehicles in this segment, Land Rover’s Discovery Sport offers seating for seven and delivers some actual off-road capability. It has a four-mode Terrain Response system with settings for sand, snow, rocks and mud, as well as standard all-wheel drive. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides 246 horsepower on all models except the new hybrid, which is rated at 286 horsepower. Unfortunately, the Discovery Sport’s interior is smaller than most competitors, so while it offers a third row of seating, don’t expect adults to fit back there. Modern technology such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a mobile hotspot assure you’ll be able to stay connected, while the stylish interior design makes the Discovery Sport feel like a proper Land Rover.

22. Infiniti QX50

Not only is the Infiniti QX50 attractive, but it also boasts a revolutionary new engine design. Its turbocharged four-cylinder engine is capable of changing its compression ratio on the fly, which adds power under certain circumstances while saving fuel in others. During factory tests, it was said to generously give 27 mpg on the highway and the 268-hp four-cylinder engine provides satisfyingly quick acceleration. Around town, the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) can kill the spirit out of the otherwise strong engine. The QX50 handles well and has a comfortable ride. The interior features ample passenger room and high-quality materials on the upper trim levels. The dual touchscreen user interface isn’t the most intuitive system, but the manufacturer has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, which is good.

21. Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Land Rover’s Range Rover Velar exists purely to wow. Unfortunately, the gorgeous design is the best thing about the Velar. The base four-cylinder engine struggles to perform under its substantial weight while the optional 3.0-litre V-6 is more powerful, but you pay the price at the pump. An optional V-8 puts the Velar in territory inhabited by much better all-around performers. On the plus side, the interior feels as fancy as the exterior looks. The boxy shape also leaves a good amount of passenger and cargo room, so it’s actually quite practical.

20. Acura RDX

The Acura’s RDX with its 272-hp turbocharged inline-four engine, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and pointy looks are anything but staid. The RDX backs up its sporty demeanour with tight handling, although there are the adjustable dampers that come with the Advance package, which is far better. The cabin doesn’t feel as premium as some competitors. A tighter-than-average rear seat and a curious touchpad-controlled infotainment system also keep this otherwise fun to drive Acura from finishing higher in our rankings.

19. Lexus RX

The Lexus RX helped start this vehicle class some 20 years ago, and it remains a popular offering to this day. Like the original, today’s RX places a priority on comfort; unlike the original, the styling is flashy. A non-turbocharged V6 is standard in the RX 350, as is front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is optional. The interior now features a touchscreen interface that almost makes us forget about the awful touchpad setup which, oddly, still remains. A few minor tweaks to the chassis and suspension has made a more nimble RX, but above all else this still a comfortable cruiser.

18. Lincoln Corsair

The Lincoln Corsair is an all-new entry in the compact segment. It replaces the previous Lincoln MKC and shares some basic elements with the Ford Escape, which was also redesigned for 2020. The new design is similar to Lincoln’s larger Aviator, although the smaller proportions don’t look quite as elegant on the Corsair. There are two four-cylinder engines offered: a base 2.0-litre turbo with 250 horsepower and a 2.3-litre turbo with 295 horsepower. Both are smooth, punchy off the line, and reasonably fuel-efficient. The interior of the Corsair is also impressive with plenty of soft-touch materials and a sharp design. There are several high-end options as well, such as a digital gauge cluster, 24-way adjustable seats, and an adaptive suspension. Unfortunately, many of them are only available on the top-tier Reserve model, which pushes the price into Audi and Porsche territory.

17. Mercedes-Benz EQC

The Mercedes-Benz EQC is a newcomer to the electric-vehicle market. 90 percent of its body structure comes from the fuel-burning Mercedes-Benz GLC-class, which simplified manufacturing and kept the overall cost in check. Its dual electric motors produce a combined 402-hp and 561 ft-lb of torque to help move the 5500-lb EV. It has been estimated that the range will be around 320 kilometres.

16. Mercedes-Benz GLB-class

Although the Mercedes-Benz GLB-class sits tightly between the GLA- and GLC-class crossovers, it’s the only one that has an optional third row. Available in just a single trim, the GLB-class comes standard in front-wheel drive with a 221-hp 2.0-liter turbo inline-4; the all-wheel drive 4MATIC is also available. The GLB-class offers a spacious cabin considering its compact size.

15. Jaguar I-Pace

The fully electric Jaguar I-Pace looks stunning, offers a useful 415 kilometres of driving range per charge and drives with an incredible off-the-line thrust. A software upgrade for 2020 has boosted the range and improved the performance of the regenerative brakes as well. There’s nothing new about the way it drives, however, which is a good thing. The I-Pace is already one of the more engaging vehicles in this segment, thanks to its effortless acceleration, agile handling, and compliant ride. A spacious interior rounds out the practical package. The dual-touchscreen interface looks modern, but it can be hard to use at times. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality come standard in the Jaguar I-Pace, so you don’t have to use the stock system at all times.

14. Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar’s F-Pace deftly balances sportiness with the everyday practicality that buyers in this segment expect. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Jaguar is bigger than many of its immediate competitors, with a roomy cargo area behind its second-row seats. The previously optional diesel engine is no longer available, but the F-Pace still offers two four-cylinder engines, a supercharged V6, and even a supercharged V8. The V6 offers a good blend of performance and refinement. All F-Pace models come with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. A tight suspension and quick steering responses make the F-Pace one of the more entertaining vehicles in the class. Add in the spacious interior and a surprising amount of cargo space, and the Jaguar F-Pace makes for a fun-to-drive family car.

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