12 Luxury Crossovers: A Buyer’s Guide for 2014

The crossover segment has seen tremendous growth over the last couple of years, and for good reason. The category gives families needing ample utility a more fuel-efficient alternative to larger SUVs, and on the other end, it gives those looking to size up a slate of choices that don’t require jumping to a full-size SUV that is cumbersome and thirsty for fuel.

Early on, crossovers were reserved for entry-level brands. However, once luxury manufacturers discovered the potential of the SUV-wagon breed, they hopped on board, and crossovers now account for an invaluable portion of their business.

Here are the 12 vehicles that make up the slate of luxury crossover options this year. Many are available now, though some aren’t scheduled for release until later in 2014. Since we here at Wall St. Cheat Sheet haven’t driven the vehicles in question ourselves, we turned to the automotive expertise of Edmunds.com for some insight as to the pros and cons of each vehicle. The following are ranked alphabetically.

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1. Acura RDX

Base price: $34,520

Fuel economy: 20 miles per gallon city, 28 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: The Acura (NYSE:HMC) RDX offers a commendable degree of refinement for a good price relative to its segment. The V6 is strong but tends to sip fuel rather than swill; passengers in the back can take advantage of generous rear legroom, and the RDX also boasts a healthy standard features list. However, the RDX isn’t as fun or sporty as others in its class, and as good as the options list is, some competitors offer more.

Options worth splurging on: For those in climates that are more sensitive to cold weather, opting for the all-wheel drive is always a good idea. The fog lights ($360) can greatly improve reduced visibility, and splash guards ($138) will help keep debris and dirt from chipping the paint around the wheel wells. Inside, the all-season floor mats ($160) will help keep the upholstery clean.

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2. Audi Q5

Base price: $37,300

Fuel economy: 20 miles per gallon city, 28 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: The Audi (VLKAY.PK) Q5 features impeccable interior craftsmanship and fuel economy that’s near the top of the segment. The optional supercharged V6 is certainly powerful, though it will chip away at the mileage. The Q5 also offers generous interior space but is still fun to drive. On the downside, that extra passenger space came at the detriment of cargo space, while the control layout felt “unintuitive” without navigation and the steering felt “artificial,” Edmunds says.

Options worth splurging on: If you live in colder climes, definitely go for the heated front seats ($450). Audi’s list of standard features subdues the number of options that one might need, but for those with kids, the rear seat entertainment setup ($1,950) could be a good investment if there are longer drives involved. The rear passenger thorax side airbags ($350) would also be a good idea for those carting passengers around regularly. If the budget ceiling is a bit higher, we’d definitely recommend going for the fuel-savvy TDI model, which returns better mileage (24 city, 31 highway) and serves up a healthy dose of torque.

BMWX3

3. BMW X3

Base price: $39,800

Fuel economy: 21 miles per gallon city, 28 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: The BMW X3 already comes standard with all-wheel drive (as does the Audi), while the engine options are “potent and reasonably efficient,” according to Edmunds. The X3 also boasts a high-quality cabin with “generous passenger and cargo room.” The handling was described as Edmunds as ”crisp,” while the rear seat is notably comfortable. The only con, it seems, is that the BMW runs a bit of a premium in comparison to some of its rivals.

Options worth splurging on: The cold climate package ($950) will adorn the X3 with front and rear seat warmers, retractable headlight washers, and a heated steering wheel. For those willing to spend a bit more for sportier performance and appearance, the M Sport option ($3,000) adds a slew of goodies from premium paint to 19-inch rims, improved aerodynamics, and sport seats. The navigation system ($2,150) is also a notable option that’s missing from the standard model, that — for those driving often — could prove to be a worthy investment.

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4. Cadillac SRX

Base price: $37,505

Fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon city, 24 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: The Cadillac (NYSE:GM) SRX has no problems when it comes to offering luxury and safety features, and it reportedly returns a balanced ride and handling. The CUE interface offers drivers plenty of features, and overall, the cabin design is “classy,” Edmunds says. However, the CUE system can be slow to respond, headroom in the backseat is somewhat cramped, and the outward visibility overall isn’t great.

Options worth splurging on: Fog lamps ($460) and splash guards ($90) are always good things to have, and for those with trailers to think about, the towing package ($505) wouldn’t be bad to consider either.

InfinitiQX50

5. Infiniti QX50

Base price: $34,750

Fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon city, 25 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: Edmunds has not yet reviewed the 2014 Infiniti (NSANY.PK) QX50. However, power comes from a strong 3.7-liter V6, which, at 325 horses, makes for one of the most powerful crossovers in its base trim. At just a bit less than $35,000, the QX50 is also one of the more affordable models in its segment. On the downside, there are limited powertrain options: the QX50 can be had in rear- or all-wheel drive, but no other engine options are offered other than the V6.

Options worth splurging on: No packages are currently available for the base QX50, and the accessories list consists of the usual cargo nets, weather mats, and splash guards. However, upgrade to the range-topping Journey AWD model ($38,500) and a whole new world becomes available. We’d recommend going for the Premium package ($3,050), which installs navigation, a Bose stereo, Infiniti Voice Recognition, NavWeather, and aluminum roof rails, among other things.

LandRoverEvoque

6. Land Rover Evoque

Base price: $42,040

Fuel economy: 21 miles per gallon city, 30 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: Edmunds has not yet reviewed the 2014 model year Land Rover (NYSE:TTM) Evoque. Of the 2013 model, the site commended its stylish cabin and lengthy list of standard features, as well as its “refined ride quality” and the “punchy and efficient engine.” However, the Evoque suffers from a lack of cargo space and less interior room than its rivals, the options cost quite a bit, and Land Rover has a fairly dodgy reliability record.

Options worth splurging on: For those who may need it, the navigation system ($1,750) is always a worthwhile investment. Land Rover’s climate package ($1,000) includes a heated windshield, heated washer nozzles, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel, and it makes sense for those regularly experiencing cold weather. While the Premium package ($6,400) is atmospherically expensive, the Pure Plus package ($2,000) offers a panoramic roof, fog lamps, a rear armrest (with cup holders!), leather seats, and headlight washers — less than what is offered by the Premium but still a quality deal.

lexus-rx-350

7. Lexus RX 350

Base price: $39,760

Fuel economy: 18 miles per gallon city, 25 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: Edmunds lauded the Lexus’ (NYSE:TM) quiet and attractive cabin, noting that it was clearly constructed of high-end materials. A generous list of standard features and comfortable rear seating also won the site’s praise. However, the RX lost points for lacking a third row seat option, a “finicky electronics interface,” and a “counter-productive” F Sport model.

Options worth splurging on: Lexus’ navigation system ($2,775) is pricey but includes the Lexus Enform app suite with Pandora, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, Yelp, and Facebook (among others) built in. The $4,520 Luxury Package is also quite pricey but includes a slew of features like a 2-prong AC power outlet, a smog-sensing automatic recirculation mode for climate-control system, auto-dimming heated outside mirrors, and a lot more. The biggest option? Splurge on the RX450h, the hybrid version of the car that manages a combined rating of 30 miles per gallon.

Lincoln MKC

8. Lincoln MKC

Base price: $33,995

Fuel economy: N/A

Pros and cons: Perhaps the biggest con is that the Lincoln (NYSE:F) MKC isn’t yet available and won’t be until this summer. However, the pros make the vehicle one worth waiting for: a powerful 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, an affordable price relative to its peers, and a new attitude that says far more than, “I’m a dressed-up Ford.”

Options worth splurging on: Left to our own devices, we would recommend going with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost model with all-wheel drive. That kit will cost $39,965 before destination. We’d also recommend the Technology package, which includes a slew of safety features like adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, park assist, a lane-keeping system, and a forward warning system.

Mercedes in Snow

9. Mercedes-Benz GLK

Base price: $37,480

Fuel economy: 19 miles per gallon city, 25 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: Edmunds loved the “solid feel” of the Mercedes GLK combined with its “sophisticated ride and handling.” The V6 engine is powerful, while the diesel model offers a more efficient alternative. It has a luxurious and “impeccably crafted” cabin, and comes with numerous safety features. However, the site disliked the small backseat and rear doors, noting that it has less cargo capacity than its rivals. Edmunds also pointed out some “intrusive wind noise at higher speeds.”

Options worth splurging on: The GLK BlueTec diesel costs just $1,500 more than the base gasoline model and returns far better fuel economy, so it’s definitely worth shelling out some extra cash for the oil-burning model. The GLK has many available packages, but the Premium 1 Package ($3,450) gets our vote for offering the most everyday usefulness. It has a panorama roof, a 115-volt household-type AC power outlet in the cargo area, Mercedes’ Media Interface, and other nifty extras.

2015 Porsche Macan _6_

10. Porsche Macan S

Base price: $49,900

Fuel economy: N/A

Pros and cons: Porsche has finally slotted a vehicle in below the Cayenne, which has been the brand’s only SUV model since its debut in 2003. It’s called the Macan, and it’s a Porsche in just about every way, from its class-leading 340 horsepower to its decadent and well-appointed interior. On the downside, it comes at a very Porsche-like price of nearly $50,000 at base, though that makes it the cheapest Porsche to hit the American market. The Macan hasn’t yet hit showrooms, but it will this spring.

Options worth splurging on: The options for the Macan have not yet been released.

Tesla Motors Model X

11. Tesla Model X

Base price: Currently unknown, but expected to be around $70,000.

Fuel economy: Unknown, but based on the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S specs, expect a figure around 95 mpge — miles per gallon equivalent — from the 60kWh battery option.

Pros and cons: The Tesla Model X, expected out this fall, is the crossover to wait for if you want something truly different. In true Tesla style, it’s completely electric; it features falcon-wing doors that lift up and an all-wheel drive option that will make it the first production electric car to run on all fours; and it also has Tesla’s trademark 17-inch touchscreen center console. It has the usual EV drawbacks, though: limited range coupled with potentially long recharging times.

Options worth splurging on: It might come to the detriment of range, but the all-wheel drive model might be too good to pass up.

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12. Volvo XC60

Base price: $34,850

Fuel economy: 18 miles per gallon city, 26 miles per gallon highway

Pros and cons: Edmunds enjoyed the Volvo XC60′s “ample” interior space, comfortable ride, strong turbocharged engine, and the “distinctive design inside and out.” It also noted that the Volvo has available integrated booster seats, and it naturally comes with top safety scores. However, the base engine offers “lackluster” acceleration and fuel economy, while the navigation system and audio controls were described as “dated” by Edmunds.

Options worth splurging on: The T6 model likely offers a smoother ride, so that would be our first upgrade — it adds about $7,000 on the base price but comes standard with all-wheel drive. The Premier Plus adds another $1,300 to that and adds leather seat surfaces; a portable navigation system ($795) nestles into the Volvo dash, but it can be removed and used outside the XC60, as well. Though it’s a bit expensive, the running boards and mud flaps option ($1,825) is usually a worthwhile expense for the sake of maintaining the integrity of the car’s exterior paneling.

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