Top-Rated 2018 Luxury SUVs in Performance and Design

Christian Wardlaw | Jul 25, 2018

Designed to measure owner satisfaction with the design, interior, features, and performance of new vehicles, the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study surveys people who purchased a new car, truck, SUV, or van and have owned them for at least 90 days. The study’s intent is to identify what people like and dislike about their new vehicles.

To visually summarize the APEAL Study’s findings for consumers who are researching new vehicles, J.D. Power generates Power Circle Ratings from the data. These ratings are tools that consumers can use to help them find the right new vehicle for their needs.

2018 BMW X1 front quarter right photo This buyer’s guide highlights the top-rated 2018 Luxury SUVs from the J.D. Power 2018 APEAL Study. Each model listed in alphabetical order below receives a Power Circle Rating of 4 or 5 out of a possible 5 for overall appeal.

2018 Audi Q7

Audi’s flagship SUV, until the 2019 Q8 arrives, is the Q7. It is a 3-row, 7-passenger vehicle sold in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels. A turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is standard, with a turbocharged V6 engine optional. All Q7s are equipped with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. For 2018, each trim gains standard equipment.

The 2018 Audi Q7 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 BMW X1

As the entry-level BMW SUV, and the company’s lowest-priced model, the X1 is quite popular. It sits on a front-drive vehicle architecture shared with the BMW Group’s MINI brand, and is available with AWD. A turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission are standard. For 2018, shuffled equipment and option packages but made no other substantial changes.

The 2018 BMW X1 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Small Premium SUV segment.

2018 BMW X3

Redesigned for 2018, the new BMW X3 is available with a turbocharged 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engine. The company’s xDrive AWD system is standard in 2018, but in 2019 a new rear-drive version of the X3 arrives. Standard trim includes the xLine appearance package, with Luxury and M Sport trim available as upgrades.

The 2018 BMW X3 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Compact Premium SUV segment.

2018 BMW X5

In its final year before a complete redesign, the midsized BMW X5 remains one of the most appealing luxury SUVs you can buy. It offers seating for up to seven people with the optional third-row seat, and is available with a choice between a turbocharged 6-cylinder, a twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder in two different states of tune, a turbo-diesel 6-cylinder, and a plug-in hybrid. A new transmission debuted for 2018, applied to all but the plug-in hybrid variant.

The 2018 BMW X5 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Lexus RX

Lexus addresses a longstanding omission in its SUV lineup by stretching the RX and adding an available third-row seat. The new version is called the RX 350L when equipped with the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the RX 450hL when the optional gas-electric hybrid drivetrain is powering the wheels. In other news, the 2018 Lexus RX supplies a free 10-year subscription to Enform services, and the company has modified how some features and options are grouped.

The 2018 Lexus RX receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

The GLA serves as the entry-point to the Mercedes-Benz SUV lineup, sharing a platform and powertrains with the CLA model. A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard, powering the front or all four wheels. A performance-tuned AMG GLA 45 is also available. For 2018, the GLA is freshened up with minor styling and interior updates, a new infotainment system, and an optional off-road suspension for the GLA 250.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

Among the most popular Mercedes-Benz models, the GLC-Class is offered in standard and fastback “coupe” body styles. This year, a new GLC 350e version arrives with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, while new AMG GLC 63 tops the lineup in standard and even more powerful S versions. Otherwise, minor updates accompany the GLC-Class into 2018.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Porsche Cayenne

A sports car at heart, the Porsche Cayenne blends sleek design and impressive performance with space for five people and their luggage. Porsche is rolling out a redesigned Cayenne for 2019, so the 2018 model is unchanged. Standard, S, S E-Hybrid, GTS, Turbo, and Turbo S versions are available, along with a Platinum Edition that groups popular equipment together at an attractive price.

The 2018 Porsche Cayenne receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Midsize Premium SUV segment.

2018 Porsche Macan

Smaller than a Cayenne, the Macan is available in standard, Sport Edition, S, GTS, and Turbo model series. A turbocharged 4-cylinder powers standard and Sport Edition version, while the S, GTS and Turbo feature a twin-turbocharged V6 in different states of tune. Each one includes AWD as standard equipment.

The 2018 Porsche Macan receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2018 Volvo XC60

Redesigned from the tire contact patches up, the Volvo XC60 is a compact 5-passenger crossover SUV. The XC60 is available in turbocharged T5, turbocharged and supercharged T6, and plug-in hybrid T8 model series, and with Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription trim levels. It sits on the same vehicle architecture as other recent Volvo models, albeit scaled down in size.

The 2018 Volvo XC60 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

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