While plenty of carmakers still place luxury cars at the top of their model ranges, for many car buyers it’s the luxury SUV that’s now the ultimate form of personal transport. Commanding an excellent view of the journey ahead, providing outstanding comfort and the option of dominating performance both on and off the road, nothing else out there offers quite the all-round capability of the best luxury SUVs.
But which of the luxury SUV models available to buy really are the best? Parkers has put its considerable expertise to good use here and created this list of the top 10 luxury SUVs for UK buyers in 2023.
The top 10 best luxury SUVs
10. Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Our choice for off-roading in a bank vault
✅Immense off-road prowess
❌High running costs
We ummed and ahhed about putting the Mercedes G-Class on this list of the best luxury SUVs – for while it is most certainly expensive, and very well appointed inside, the on-road driving experience is very much compromised by its off-road ability. Even in the Mercedes-AMG G-Class models.
Still, the sense of solid reassurance you get from the build quality (the door locks sound like rifle bolts) explains the G-wagen’s popularity in decidedly not off-road places such as London. Not a choice for long-distance driving, perhaps, but still a status symbol that’s widely understood.
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9. Tesla Model X
Our choice for electric performance and image
❌Patchy build quality
❌More showy than classy
One of two 100% electric SUVs on this list, the Tesla Model X offers plenty of space and clearly projects your environmentally conscious perspective. At the same time it provides simply ridiculous levels of performance and the spectacle of those outrageous rear gullwing doors.
However, while the interior design certainly exudes minimalist modernity, the build quality is variable and might not be everything you’d expect from a £100k car. Many buyers are prepared to accept this for the reassuringly reliable driving-range management, the speed, and the ever-impressive Tesla charging network.
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8. Land Rover Discovery
Our choice for a value-packed high-tech seven-seater
✅Off-roading for seven in comfort
❌Not as posh as a Range Rover
❌Reliability could be a concern
Need a seven-seater that will happily carry all of you and your clobber over the countryside before then returning to the tarmac and blasting across continents in fantastic comfort? Then the Land Rover Discovery should be right at the top of your list.
It’s perhaps not as full-on luxury grade as many of the other SUVs here, but it is well finished inside and very high-tech these days as well – and although the price is hardly cheap, it’s pretty good value in comparison. Just a shame that Land Rover’s reputation for poor reliability just doesn’t seem to be going away.
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7. Volvo XC90
Our choice for opting out of aggression
✅Lovely calm interior design, great seats
✅Latest plug-in hybrids are excellent
❌Starting to feel a little old
❌Not as posh as many rivals
The Volvo XC90 is another entrant that arguably falls short in terms of outright luxury – it’s also getting on a bit, even if the plug-in hybrid models have just been upgraded with greater electric-only driving range (making them some of the best large SUV PHEVs on the market).
But for us the XC90 still makes the grade thanks to its supremely calm and holistically approached interior design, which offers a clear alternative to the usual machismo of many German brands we could mention. It’s also a comfortable and refined vehicle with excellent seats, making it a great companion on longer drives.
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6. Porsche Cayenne
Our choice for the best luxury to drive
✅Fantastic performance and handling
❌Ride can be harsh
❌Porsche’s expensive options list
Is the Porsche Cayenne a luxury SUV? It’s certainly a very sporty one, and along with that comes a superbly appointed interior and a degree of personalisation that can fulfil nearly every whim. The suspension can be comfortable as well as outstandingly dynamic if you avoid the bigger wheels, and there’s plenty of space inside.
Top all that with a Porsche badge and you’ve certainly got the kind of luxury we can get on board with. Need more space but a similar feel? Then the Audi Q7 could be worth a look, as it uses the same fundamental underpinnings but seats up to seven. Or for an even sportier choice, try the Lamborghini Urus.
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5. BMW iX
Our choice for cutting-edge electric SUV luxury
✅Impressive engineering and performance
✅Very refined and comfortable, yet agile
❌Most capable versions very expensive
The BMW iX is a technological tour de force that courts controversy with its divisive exterior design and highly unusual interior. The latter combines clashing materials and crystalline controls to startling effect – if you want to feel like you’re on the cutting edge of SUV luxury, this is the choice for you.
As such, the 100% electric drive shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is the very pinnacle of BMW electric car technology, with powerful state-of-the-art motors, lengthy driving ranges and exotic carbonfibre construction. It is a very fast SUV that’s also really good to drive, with remarkable agility and fabulously comfortable air suspension.
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4. BMW X7
Our choice for seven-seats and driving dynamics
✅Great to drive with powerful engines
✅Space for adults in third row seats
❌ X5 does most of the same for less
Another challenging-looking BMW SUV that nevertheless excels at providing luxury and comfort on the inside – this time for up to seven people. It’s a more fully resolved vehicle than the rival Mercedes-Benz GLS and Audi Q7 seven-seaters from the German competition.
The closest it gets to an electrified drivetrain, however, is the mild-hybrid assistance offered on the otherwise conventional petrol and diesel engines – which does leave it seeming like a bit of a dinosaur among much of this company. But it is good to drive, which is an achievement for something this size. Any good at parking a battleship? You’ll need to be.
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3. Range Rover Sport
Our choice for SUV driving luxury
✅All the image with a sharper drive
✅Spacious and gracious inside
❌People will think you can’t afford the regular Ranger Rover
❌Reliability could be a concern
The latest Range Rover Sport is a truly multi-talented SUV. As ever, it’s a sleeker and sportier alternative to the full fat classic Range Rover that heads the brand, but it’s now nearly as luxurious inside and a simply wonderful place to spend any length of time.
There’s no option to seat seven here, and the Sport will always be the poor relation to the head honcho. But is has an excellent set of engines, including plug-in hybrids. Not to mention tighter driving dynamics to suit keener drivers, despite still being capable off-road. Factor-in that it’s more spacious than it used to be, too, and there is an awful lot to like.
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2. Bentley Bentayga
Our choice for truly personalised luxury – at a price
✅Bespoke build means no two have to be alike
✅Incredible performance on offer
❌You’ll need very deep pockets to buy it…
❌… and even deeper ones to run it
Bentley’s first SUV doesn’t disappoint. It’s inhaled all the values we hold dear about modern Bentley – ultra-luxe interior fit and finish, proper comfort, monstrous speed – and combined them with the imposing appearance and enhanced visibility of a large off-road vehicle. It’s a combo that really works.
There are off-road chops beneath that fancy bodywork, though not to the extent that there is with the Range Rover and the Bentayga is certainly most at home on tarmac. It is also undeniably very expensive, especially if you get stuck into the basically limitless options list. Still, it’s a fair bit cheaper than a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which perhaps makes it a bargain by luxury standards.
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1. Range Rover
Our choice for THE best luxury SUV
✅Unbeatable image – approved by royalty
✅Superbly comfortable, refined and capable
❌Very expensive now
The Range Rover has been the top choice of luxury SUV since it practically invented the concept back in 1970. Since then, it’s morphed from farm-vehicle-with-leather-seats into one of the most complete luxury vehicles of any kind you can buy today. This latest version is utterly sublime inside, packed with technology and equipped with plug-in hybrid power – and offers seating for up to seven.
It also remains one of the most accomplished off-roaders on sale. Nothing compares to the feeling of wading through up to 900mm of water, sliding through axle-deep mud or simply making a muddy field feel like a tarmac car park, all while enjoying a heated, massaging seat and the gentle strains of Radio 4. We love the Range Rover.
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Any other luxury SUVs to consider?
There are plenty of other SUVs that offer a luxurious experience, if none of the above quite float your boat. For instance, all the vehicles here are particularly large, so if you’re after a smaller model but still want to experience the good life you should look seriously at the Range Rover Evoque (reliability caveats as per normal) and perhaps the Volvo XC40. Lexus offers smaller options with intricate interiors, too.
Lexus is also a good choice if customer service and reliability is your major priority – though the range-topping Lexus RX is about to be replaced with a new model. Along similar lines, if you want service but aren’t so concerned about pedigree, the Genesis GV80 is worth a look for an amazing package of all-round care that’s unlike anything else on the market. Go for the six-cylinder diesel, though, as the four-cylinder models are stained and coarse.
And finally, if you want high-performance above all else, we’ve already mentioned the Lamborghini Urus, but there are also Mercedes-AMG models to consider, BMW M variants of its models as well, and the impressive Audi SQ7. The BMW X5 is a decent all-rounder in this regard, and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is good to drive as well, especially in Quadrifoglio specification. The Aston Martin DBX, meanwhile, is a supercar-level hoot, and there’s the Ferrari Purosangue on the horizon if you can wait.
Why buy a luxury SUV?
If you want the ultimate in luxurious status symbols, you could opt for a high-end saloon – but nowadays you’re just as likely to buy a large SUV instead. The best luxury SUVs offer every creature comfort that even the most demanding CEO or world leader could ask for, and combine it with the ride height, rugged styling and celebrity status that these big off-roaders have come to symbolise.
And ‘off-roaders’ is usually right – when you’re paying this much money, the ability to actually plug some mud is a desirable feature. Every car in this list has four-wheel drive and many can mix it with some of the most accomplished off-roaders on sale.
Aren’t big SUVs really bad for the planet?
Even among the mega-rich, the trends of today aren’t completely muted – and being kinder to the planet is one that’s hit the luxury SUV market just like it has everybody else.
While these cars do (mostly) have the option for a thirsty combustion engine, a great many of them are also available as plug-in hybrids, which give users the option for several miles of silent, zero-emissions running in towns and cities while retaining the flexibility of a petrol or diesel engine for longer journeys. This way, the most economical luxury SUVs can have official mpg figures in the hundreds