Crossover SUVs have become immensely popular because they marry car-like ride and handling with utility and optional all-wheel-drive traction. That they are wearing macho wedding attire and are, for the most part, reasonably affordable adds to their appeal.
But there is a subgenre that adds high performance and much higher price tags to this wedding litany: the hot SUV. These are typically powerful crossovers with big tires and sport-tuned suspensions. They corner well, and they are very fast.
Predictably, this subset is made up largely of luxury brands and appeals to an affluent, mostly male customer who likes the excitement and cachet this upmarket hot rod dispenses. Obviously, there isn’t a huge clientele for such transit. But while this is a niche market, the unit profit margins are good, and the hot SUV’s halo effect shines light on the lesser showroom denizens around it.
Let’s take a quick look at some of these typically thirsty athletes, starting with the saltiest, and working our way down to the Ford:
Bentley Bentayga ($231,825)
This model name is an odd and obscure Babylonian term. It means: We are going to charge so much for this car that even Warren Buffett would have to finance it.
The Bentayga First Edition lists for $300,125, including a rather portly $2,725 shipping charge. If you want to be a piker, you can get the regular Bentayga for only $231,825.
This Bentley’s twin-turbo, 6-liter, 12-cylinder engine develops 600 horsepower. That oomph quotient drop-kicks this full-size, seven-passenger crossover from 0 to 60 in a scant four seconds and allows it to tow a hefty four tons.
Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 ($125,025)
This is another full-size seven-seater. Since its biturbo V-8 develops only 577 horsepower, it gets from a standing start to 60 in a full half-second more than the Bentley takes. But that’s not bad for a ride that weighs nearly three tons and costs only $125,025.
BMW X5 M ($101,695)
This performance-minded midsizer is powered by a turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8 that engenders 567 horsepower. That’s enough to engender a wonderful four-second roller-coaster ride from 0 to 60. Then again, the car is electronically limited to 155 miles an hour. Sad, as the president would tweet. (Just kidding.)
Porsche Macan Turbo ($77,050)
That base price is for a compact crossover. Clearly, Porsche hasn’t been diagnosed as pricing-challenged. The Macan isn’t challenged in the performance department, either. With the help of a turbocharged V-6 that develops 400 horsepower, this cutie scoots from 0 to 60 in a light-the-cat’s-tail 4.5 seconds.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT ($65,294)
This midsize SUV is fodder for an automotive tale from the Brothers Grimm. You know, off-road frog turns into the prince of speed. In fact, the SRT is as Viperish as it is SUVish. The SRT’s 470-horse Hemi V-8 takes this 2.5-tonner from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds, while a sport suspension and Brembo high-performance binders make for equally surprising cornering and braking.
Jaguar F-Pace S ($58,695)
This, the first Jag crossover, starts in the mid-40s, but when you toss in the sporting hardware, including a 380-horse, 3-liter, supercharged V-6, the tariff on this handsome compact swells a bit. Meanwhile, the 0-to-60 number shrinks a bit — to 5.1 seconds.
Audi SQ5 ($54,250)
Like the Jeep and several others listed here, the SQ5 starts with a milder-mannered, mainstream model — the Q5 — and adds a sportier suspension, a more powerful engine, and bigger brakes. That brawnier engine, in this case a supercharged, 354-horse V-6, takes this comely midsizer from the stoplight to 60 in a follicle over five seconds.
Ford Edge Sport ($41,795)
This sporting rendition tacks nearly 13 large onto this nifty midsizer’s window sticker, but it is still easily the cheapest of the group. Fun is furnished largely by a 2.7-liter, turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 that makes 315 horsepower — and a 6-second jaunt to 60.