Top-Rated 2021 Luxury SUVs in Appeal According to Consumers

Jack R. Nerad | Sep 15, 2021

It wasn't too long ago that sedans dominated the luxury market, but those days are over. Luxury-brand buyers, just like their mainstream counterparts, have made the SUV their vehicle of choice. In response, automakers have filled the market with luxury SUVs. That begs the question: Which is the right one for you?

2021 BMW X6 Teaser

If you are looking for a luxury SUV that will both fulfill your quality needs and your emotional desires, we have the answers for you. Each year J.D. Power questions thousands of verified owners about their experiences with their recently purchased vehicles. That information fuels the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

While some studies count problems, the APEAL study gauges attitudes and emotional attachment, discovering which of the many vehicles on the market truly "surprise and delight" their owners. Based on consumer responses, J.D. Power creates an overall APEAL index score for each model using a 1,000-point scale. The higher the index score, the more appealing the model is.

This article describes the 10 highest-rated 2021 model-year luxury SUVs in appeal, drawn from the analysis of all luxury SUVs. The vehicles are listed in ascending order so the most appealing luxury SUV is the last on the list. 

10. 2021 Audi E-tron - Find the best Audi deals!

2021 Audi E-tron Front Quarter View

The Audi E-tron is an electric-powered 5-passenger SUV offering an estimated 222 miles of electric driving range on a single charge. That range estimate is an improvement of 18 miles compared to the 2020 model, and Audi also drops the base price by about $9,000 by adding a new, lower-priced Premium trim beneath Premium Plus and Prestige.

The Audi E-tron has a 2-motor electric drive system that is rated at 355 horsepower. It drives all four wheels, giving the E-tron an electric version of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. A Sport mode momentarily increases power output to 402 horsepower, giving the E-tron satisfying performance.

The index score for the 2021 Audi E-tron is 880.

9. 2021 BMW X5 - Find the best BMW deals!

2021 BMW X5 Front Quarter View

The BMW X5 was one of the automaker's first attempts to offer a luxury SUV, and it is now in its fourth generation. The midsize SUV has ample room for five passengers, or seven with the optional third-row seat. But it has always differentiated itself with advanced driving dynamics that sporting drivers appreciate.

BMW X5 models are based on their powertrains. The 2021 X5 comes in 40i, 45e, M50i, and M models. Engines include a mild-hybrid turbocharged 6-cylinder (40i), plug-in hybrid (45e), twin-turbocharged V8 (M50i), and more powerful twin-turbocharged V8 (M). All but the base rear-drive X5 sDrive40i includes BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment.

The index score for the 2021 BMW X5 is 883. 

8. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Find the best Mercedes-Benz deals!

2021 Mercedes Benz GLE Front Quarter View

The SUV equivalent of the well-regarded E-Class sedan, the Mercedes-Benz GLE is a 5- to 7-passenger SUV available in rear-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. As with most Mercedes vehicles, it offers a couple of high-performance variants tuned by Mercedes-AMG. You can also get the GLE in coupe form, with a sportback design that retains a 4-door configuration and some utility.

As is the European tradition, powertrains and model names go hand-in-hand. The GLE 350 has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The GLE 450 has a mild-hybrid turbocharged 6-cylinder. And the GLE 580 has a mild-hybrid twin-turbocharged V8. 

Should you want more performance, the AMG GLE 53 has 429 horsepower while the AMG GLE 63 S supplies 603 horsepower. The GLE Coupe models come only in AMG specification.

The index score for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is 887, in a tie with the Porsche Cayenne.

7. 2021 Porsche Cayenne - Find the best Porsche deals!

2021 Porsche Cayenne Front Quarter View

The Porsche Cayenne is the model that started Porsche's transition away from purely offering sports cars to including luxury SUVs. Of course, Porsche did not leave performance behind, so power and handling are key attributes of all the Cayenne models. 

To demonstrate that clearly, each of the Cayenne variants features its own turbocharged powertrain. Even the plug-in hybrid E-Hybrid trim features a turbocharged engine, ensuring rousing performance in addition to 27 miles of electric-only driving range. Across the model range, power varies from 335 horsepower to 670 horsepower. Both standard SUV and sportback coupe body styles are also available.

The index score for the 2021 Porsche Cayenne is 887, in a tie with the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

6. 2021 BMW X4 - Find the best BMW deals!

2021 BMW X4 Front Quarter View

The BMW X4 is one of several coupe-like SUVs that automakers have brought to market in recent years. The fastback roofline limits cargo area in the rear, but it endows the X4 with the looks of a speedy sportback instead of a practical SUV.

Based on the BMW X3, the X4 seats its passengers in two rows, and the rear seat folds to add more luggage space. The X4 is available in three model series, each equipped with standard xDrive, which is BMW’s AWD system. The xDrive30i has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the sport-skewed M40i has a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine, and the X4 M gets a twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine.

The index score for the 2021 BMW X4 is 890. The X4 receives a J.D. Power award in the Compact Premium SUV segment.

5. 2021 Genesis GV80 - Find the best Genesis deals!

2021 Genesis GV80 Front Quarter View

The Genesis GV80 is the first salvo in the automaker's attack on the luxury SUV market. When Hyundai Motor Group launched Genesis, the brand was handicapped by its lack of SUVs. The new GV80 immediately turned Genesis into a force to be reckoned with. 

The luxurious 5-seat midsize luxury SUV gives buyers two powertrain choices. The 2.5T has a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder while the GV80 3.5T is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. Both are backed by 8-speed automatic transmissions. The 2.5T is offered in rear-drive and AWD versions. The 3.5T comes only with AWD. 

The index score for the 2021 Genesis GV80 is 892.

4. 2021 Land Rover Range Rover - Find the best Land Rover deals!

2021 Land Rover Range Rover Front Quarter View

The Land Rover Range Rover created the import luxury SUV segment decades ago, and is one SUV that walks the off-road talk. It offers go-anywhere capabilities that can match any luxury SUV, yet at the same time it offers a very upscale interior.

For 2021, the Land Rover Range Rover is available in five trim levels: Standard, HSE, Westminster, Autobiography, and SV Autobiography Dynamic. The engine choices include a turbocharged gasoline-fueled 6-cylinder, a turbocharged diesel-fueled V6, a pair of high-powered V8s, and a plug-in hybrid powertrain that features a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

The index score for the 2021 Land Rover Range Rover is 893.

3. 2021 Cadillac Escalade - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2021 Cadillac Escalade Sport Front Quarter View

The Cadillac Escalade is a traditional body-on-frame SUV that dwarfs most of its competition. For those seeking size and carrying capacity, the Escalade offers cushy accommodations in three rows of seats. You can even get an extended-length model to ensure carrying capacity for up to eight people plus their luggage.

With its complete redesign for 2021, the Escalade adds a massive standard instrumentation and infotainment display. A new independent rear suspension also debuts, improving the ride and handling as well as comfort and capacity. A 420-horsepower V8 engine is standard, with a high-torque 277-horsepower turbodiesel 6-cylinder available as an option. Buyers choose between five trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Premium Luxury Platinum, and Sport Platinum.

The index score for the 2021 Cadillac Escalade is 897. 

2. 2021 BMW X7 - Find the best BMW deals!

2021 BMW X7 Front Quarter View

The BMW X7 is the largest member of the automaker’s SUV fleet. With standard room for seven passengers, the X7 maintains BMW's reputation for sharp handling while at the same time transporting a big group in comfort. It isn't quite as large as models such as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, though. 

BMW offers the X7 in three grades: 40i, M50i, and the new-for-2021 Alpina XB7. All-wheel drive is standard across the lineup. Various turbocharged and twin-turbocharged powertrains offer between 335 and 612 horsepower.

The index score for the 2021 BMW X7 is 898. The X7 receives a J.D. Power award in the Large Premium SUV segment.

1. 2021 BMW X6 - Find the best BMW deals!

2021 BMW X6 Front Quarter View

Like the previously described X4, the BMW X6 employs styling that mixes the SUV vibe with the looks of a sleek coupe. While the design might impede interior space and rear headroom, many consumers like its sportback looks. And they like its interior accommodations as well. It can accommodate up to five people, though four will be more comfortable.

Based on the BMW X5, the X6 offers a choice between three powerplants. The X6 40i has a 335-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder, the M50i uses a twin-turbocharged V8, and the X6 M features an even more powerful twin-turbo V8 that turns the X6 into quite a performance machine. 

The index score for the 2021 BMW X6 is 903. The X6 receives a J.D. Power award in the Upper Midsize Premium SUV segment.

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