Take a look around your neighborhood and you’ll see everyone from soccer moms to office executives driving an SUV with an emphasis on luxury, and why not?
For many decades, the only sport utility vehicles were those used by the military in the form of the original Jeep. Then came Land Rovers, Toyota Land Cruisers, and a slew of others as the SUV continued to dominate the market and creep into luxury models.
Offerings seem to be better each year and with each model, but as with any segment in the market, some are better than others.
Here are our top picks for this year’s best and worst models.
Best Luxury SUVs of 2018
1. 2018 Lincoln Navigator
The Lincoln Navigator has undergone a complete redesign for the 2018 model year, with a bold and refreshing new look.
The front is decorated with a huge grille and the latest in LED headlights. But, this is only the beginning – not only did the exterior get revamped, but the turbocharged 3.5L, V6 under the hood now pumps out 450 HP.
Along with this is an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission that helps put all this power to the ground. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of luxury materials, three rows of spacious seating, and the latest Sync 3 infotainment system. The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is arguably one of the nicest vehicles in its class.
2. 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
We can't talk luxury SUVs without having at least one offering from Mercedes-Benz on the list.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class comes with your choice of three engines, all of which offer incredible power, smooth operation, and either a 9-speed (GLS 450 and 550) or 7-speed (GLS 63 AMG) automatic transmission.
For comfort, the second-row seats recline and there is more than ample leg room.
Despite being an SUV, the GLS offers an exceptionally smooth and comfortable ride, even when negotiating the switchbacks Germany is famous for. While the price may be a little on the high end, what you get for your money is well worth the investment.
3. 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser
Much like every Land Cruiser that has come before it, the 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser is more than just an SUV by name.
This vehicle is designed to take on just about any challenge thanks to the body-on-frame construction. Under the hood sits a powerful 5.7L V8 rated at 381 HP and 401 lb-ft. of torque, which is connected to the four-wheel drive via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Inside the luxurious interior is room for up to eight passengers and an extra-large door that makes getting in and out of the Land Cruiser much easier. Drivers are sure to appreciate the thoughtfully located controls and the large touchscreen for the infotainment system.
4. 2018 Land Rover Range Rover
Land Rover has never been one to build something all about show and not about go, and the 2018 Range Rover is no exception. This may be one of the most capable vehicles in its class.
If you’re looking for a luxury SUV that’s just as comfortable off the beaten path as it is driving to a night out on the town, the Land Rover Range Rover might be just the ticket.
You get to choose between one of four very healthy engines. The three gasoline engines are a supercharged 254 HP 3.0L V6, a supercharged 517 HP 5.0L V8, a supercharged 557 HP 5.0L V8. And for those who need serious pulling power, there’s a very stout-hearted 254 HP 3.0L V6 turbodiesel that offers a massive 443 lb-ft of pulling torque.
5. 2018 Lexus LX
The 2018 Lexus LX is essentially an upgraded version of the 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser. Not that this is a bad thing – after all, the Land Cruiser continues to dominate its class.
To understand the difference, think of the Land Cruiser as going out into the woods in your expensive Patagonia shell jacket, whereas the Lexus LX is more like going into the woods wearing an expensive suit. The LX still has all the capabilities, but the fancy clothes keep you from going too far off the beaten path.
Under the hood sits a 383 HP 5.7L V8 and an 8-speed automatic transmission. This might be the only combination available, but then again, who needs anything else.
Worst Luxury SUVs of 2018
These five models were eagerly anticipated by the public thanks to lots of hype but failed to deliver on their promise.
1. 2018 Volvo XC90
Volvo first entered the luxury SUV market back in the 80s and presented consumers with a selection of the finest SUVs on the market.
Their attention to precision engineering and overall vehicle safety is legendary. But, somewhere along the way, Volvo seems to have lost its way.
The 2018 Volvo XC90 is currently rated as one of the least reliable luxury SUVs on the market, even while retaining a hefty price tag.
While it might have a strong powerplant under the hood, the XC90 suffers from a litany of electrical and power problems along with a major braking issue.
2. 2018 Mazda CX-9
With a reputation for building quality cars at affordable prices, it comes as a bit of a surprise to find this year’s Mazda CX-9 as one to avoid. Even the Fiat 500X scores higher than this luxury-class SUV.
Along with electrical and braking system issues, a more serious issue behind why the CX-9 has been voted as among the worst in its class is the lack of body integrity. It seems the CX-9 has a habit of shedding body parts all over the road in the event of an accident occurring at more than 45 mph, causing major safety concerns.
3. 2018 GMC Acadia
This may be one of the worst offerings to have come from GMC is a long time. According to the testers at Consumer Reports, the entire GMC brand is listed at number 26 in overall reliability.
Starting with a rearview camera that only seems to work on occasion, the same issues apply to the navigation system. Since most, if not all, drivers need a reliable system that will help them avoid crashing, it’s probably best to avoid the 2018 Acadia.
Another issue to consider is the drivetrain; if a smooth and properly functioning drivetrain is important to you – and it should be – this model is not for you. To prove the point, GMC scored a measly 26 in reliability testing, while Toyota topped out at 86, making a huge difference.
4. 2018 GMC Yukon
The Yukon is touted as GMC’s Flagship SUV, but how did it end up on this list of worst luxury SUVs? With a long list of problems consumers have been encountering, it seems there’s hardly a good place to start with the concerns.
Most of today's SUVs have long since cured their nasty rollover problem with prioritized safety measures and testing, but apparently, GMC hasn’t quite gotten the message. Driving this monstrous luxury SUV could be a risky move as reports come in about rolling issues.
On top of this, the Yukon seems to suffer from the same power and electrical problems that plague many vehicles in its class. It's also the only large luxury SUV to score lower than 20 points in Consumer Reports testing.
5. 2018 Jaguar F-Pace
I wouldn't blame you for thinking that investing in a luxury SUV like the 2018 Jaguar F-Pace would be a good idea. Sadly, though, Jaguar should have taken this model back to the drawing board (again and again). Silly name aside, the entire vehicle seems to be the result of a rush job at the manufacturer.
The list of complaints is long and glorious, ranging from a poor drive system to a touchscreen system that is unbelievably slow with controls that act up when you turn the system on.
On top of this – just as the steam of frustration starts to come out of your ears – the AC system has been noted as a big failure as well. Is there anyone who wants to invest in a luxury SUV with unreliable cooling systems? I think it’s safe to assume the answer is a definite no.