SUVs have expanded with the rise of the crossover vehicle. Crossovers retain a lot of the utility that puts the “U” in SUV, while bringing car benefits to the party.
The rise of the luxury vehicle and the rise of the crossover have converged to create the luxury crossover SUV. While it is possible to spend over six figures for a new luxury crossover SUV, you don’t have to break the bank to get luxury and utility in the same package.
Here are 10 examples of luxury suvs under $40,000.
2016 Acura RDX: $35,370
In the middle of its second generation, the RDX gets its power from a 3.0-liter V6. While it may not be as much fun as the first-gen turbo could be to drive, RDX can still be loaded up with a ton of tech – one of Acura’s strengths. All-wheel drive is a bargain at $1,500 over standard front-wheel drive. RDX has copious cargo capacity at 76.9 cubic feet, making it one of the most capable compact luxury crossovers. Polarizing exterior design, including Acura’s signature “cheese slicer” grille, may not be for everybody.
2016 Audi Q3: $33,700
Following in the bootsteps of big brothers Q7 and Q5 in 2015, the compact Audi Q3 provides ample utility in a small package. Q3 shares the Audi family design cues, and delivers a genuinely sporty ride thanks to a peppy 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Audi is a favorite when it comes to interior design, and Q3’s dash impresses with its simple, modern layout and high quality materials with excellent fit and finish. Q3 is a classy crossover in a tidy small package.
2016 BMW X1: $34,800
The X1 compact crossover is the smallest of the BMW SAVs (Sport Activity Vehicles, in BMW-speak). In true BMW tradition, the X1 goes its own way with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system and a 2.0-liter twin-turbo 4-cylinder engine providing a great driving experience that should be familiar to BMW loyalists. New for 2016, the X1 doesn’t share a platform with any BMW currently sold in the US, so it’s not just a tall wagon; it’s a totally unique SAV.
2017 Cadillac XT5: $39,990
Cadillac’s latest crossover is the 2017 XT5, replacing the outgoing SRX (2004 – 2016). The new name, which stands for “Crossover Touring” according to Cadillac, is attached to an all-new vehicle with a wealth of standard features. XT5’s performance and handling are worlds better than the SRX’s were, even with standard front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is available on the higher priced Luxury trim starting at $48,375). A roomy second row and an attractive interior make XT5 a great choice for comfort-oriented luxury buyers.
2016 GMC Terrain Denali: $34,175
GMC’s Denali line pushes its “Professional Grade” vehicles over the line into the luxury category, the Terrain Denali benefits from the bling. Sharing a platform with GM corporate sibling Chevrolet Equinox, the Terrain Denali announces its arrival with chrome accents and LED running lights. An upgraded premium interior bustles with technology, entertainment and safety features. Comfort and luxury, highlighted by perforated leather ventilated power front seats, distinguish the Denali from an ordinary Terrain. A V6-powered all-wheel drive Terrain Denali can still easily limbo under the $40,000 mark, starting at $37,500.
2016 Infiniti QX50: $34,450
Infiniti’s SUV lineup was renamed for the 2014 model year, as the QX56 became the QX80; FX became QX70; and JX became QX60. The QX50 (formerly called “EX” from 2008 to 2013) is Infiniti’s compact crossover. One of the few vehicles in its class with standard rear-wheel drive, QX50 is really fun to drive. (AWD can be added for an additional $1,400 for folks who have to deal with winter weather.) QX60’s low center of gravity and well-tuned steering make the most of the 3.7-liter V6 engine and 7-speed automatic transmission.
2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport: $37,455
Discovery Sport replaced the Freelander (1997 – 2006) and LR2 (2007 – 2014) in Land Rover’s lineup in 2015. Discovery Sport is one of the few compact luxury crossovers with an optional third row seat (best reserved for children or small adults), and its utility doesn’t stop there. Four-wheel drive is standard, controlled by Land Rover’s Terrain Response system. Discovery Sport may be the most capable off-road vehicle in our roundup. On-road or off-road, Discovery Sport’s luxurious interior assures that a full load of passengers and cargo can arrive in style and comfort.
2016 Lexus NX: $34,965
The NX made its debut as a 2015 model. The first Lexus with a turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant, NX is a compact crossover that puts an emphasis on zippy on-road performance. Even though you can add all-wheel drive for $1,400 (front-wheel drive is standard), modest 6.9” ground clearance limits NX’s off-road adventures to dirt roads and well-maintained trails. Four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and a double-wishbone setup in the rear deliver excellent on-road handling with crisp turn in and a firm ride. Just don’t call it a hatchback.
2016 Lincoln MKC: $33,260
MKC is the smallest crossover in Lincoln’s lineup, sharing a platform with the Ford Escape. Lincoln exterior and interior design cues distinguish the MKC from its Ford cousin with an elegant grille, signature lighting and upscale interior package. Lincoln’s technology package has greatly improved over the generations with the current SYNC 3, and its THX II Certified Audio System delivers one of the best sound experiences in the class. When it comes time to park the MKC, Active Park Assist can make any driver look like a pro.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class: $32,500
GLA-Class represents an affordable entry into the Mercedes-Benz luxury suv experience, sharing the high-quality build and solid driving characteristics of its larger, more expensive stablemates. GLA-Class benefits from many standard and optional Mercedes-Benz innovations, including radar-based Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist and Distronic Plus Cruise Control. If you’re willing to blow through the $40,000 ceiling, M-B will sell you a hot-rodded AMG GLA45 version of the GLA-Class for $49,580, giving you 375-hp bragging rights to go along with your three-pointed star.