Luxury SUVs

Other vehicles do just as much for less

Last reviewed: December 2008

Despite gas prices and the dismal fuel economy of large SUVs, the sales of some luxury SUVs have actually gone up this year. That indicates the strong appeal of the luxury experience for buyers of models such as the Porsche Cayenne and Toyota Land Cruiser.

But in our testing, competitive models costing thousands less have earned higher overall scores.

In addition to the Cayenne and Land Cruiser, we tested the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and the Hummer H2. Prices ranged from $61,900 for the Land Rover to $71,985 for the Porsche.

None shone overall, but each performs well in a different area. Redesigned for 2008, the Land Cruiser earned the highest score in this group of luxury SUVs. It’s comfortable and refined, and it’s excellent for off-road driving.

The recently updated Hummer H2 is also an excellent off-roader but doesn’t have much more going for it. It is impractical, with awful visibility, difficult access, and poor fuel economy. Its overall test score of 23 is the lowest in this category.

The Cayenne and Range Rover Sport are designed more for on-road than off-road performance, with the Cayenne emphasizing a sporty driving experience and the Range Rover Sport a luxurious interior.

None of the four luxurt SUVs is recommended. The reliability of the Range Rover Sport and Cayenne is much worse than average, we don’t have sufficient reliability data for the Land Cruiser, and the H2 scored too low in our testing.

If better gas mileage is important, Mercedes-Benz sells diesel versions of all of its SUVs, and a diesel Audi Q7 and BMW X5 are coming soon. Hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chrysler Aspen, Dodge Durango, GMC Yukon, and Lexus RX are also available.

Used-car alternatives

You can save money or get more for your money by buying used. Skipping the luxury brand often lets you buy more vehicle for the money.

Model Current Value
'05 BMW X5 3.0 $25,675
'05 Infiniti FX35 22,675
'06 Toyota Land Cruiser 32,250
'07 Ford Expedition EL Eddie Bauer 24,635
Posted: October 2008 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: December 2008