What’s the Best Luxury Compact SUV for 2018? – Cars.com

What’s the Best Luxury Compact SUV for 2018? – Cars.com

Small SUVs are a popular group and among
luxury models nearly every brand has thrown its hat in the ring. We took seven
contenders all of them recently redesigned updated or introduced in the
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Cadillac XT5, the Infiniti QX50,
the Lexus NX 300 and Volvo XC60. Cars.com editors joined a luxury SUV
shopper to put these vehicles to the test on local roads in suburban Chicago.
We also tested acceleration, braking, car seat accommodations and much more to see
which SUV came out on top. In distant last place is the Lexus NX 300. An SUV
with the group’s oldest roots judges agreed interior quality was a strength
but the NX had a lot of inherent flaws. By our measurements cargo space was the
worst in the group and the backseat was among the tightest when we tested three
adults across. A responsive six-speed automatic transmission helped everyday
driving but the NX turned in distant last-place numbers in our drag strip
testing for both acceleration and braking. In 6th is the redesigned BMW X3
which boasts a comfortable roomy cabin but uninspired driving manners and a lot
of missing features in our test car. Now our X3 was the most affordable in
the group at some $47,000 but it seemed like you just missed more features than
that savings even made up for. It’s dashboard display measured a puny six
and a half inches in lacked Apple Carplay or Android Auto most critically
the X3 lacked forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, a
must-have safety feature checked by all the other SUVs most of which have its
standard. BMW – got to get with the program. Next is the all-new Alfa Romeo Stelvio,
an Italian stallion that saddled us with plenty of controversy. On the drag strip
the Stelvio bested all comers by more than half a second in acceleration.
Couple that with sports car poise when you throw it into corners and the
Stelvio was the unabashedly fun choice. But it kind of stank is a luxury SUV with
a cramped backseat, horrendous visibility, cut-rate interior quality, minimal cabin
storage and a disastrous multimedia system. Finishing fourth is the Cadillac
XT5. A half size larger entry in this class.
That exercise and weight made for pokier acceleration than the
XT5’s specs suggest with excessive engine noise to boot. Poor handling, an
unintuitive touch-sensitive dashboard controls presented further drawbacks.
Seriously, Cadillacs volume slider is about as bad
as a White Castle slider. Still the XT5’s strengths can’t be overlooked cabin materials felt a cut above and the front
seats scored well on features and comfort. Infiniti QX50 finished third.
This redesign turned out well despite some missed opportunities. The dashboard
stacks two screens that look like they’re from separate cars in terms of
responsiveness and resolution. Speaking of resolution, Infiniti needs to resolve
to add Apple Carplay and Android Auto, both missing. The continuously variable
automatic transmission in the QX50 felt responsive when driven hard but
droned like most cvts in everyday driving. Still the QX50 had a lot to like
with roomy seats and the group’s largest cargo area by our measurements. Finishing
in the runner-up spot is the redesigned Audi Q5, an SUV with few drawbacks. The
conservative interior styling works in Audi’s favor with an understated quality
across myriad details. Audi’s knob based multimedia system has
clear intuitive menus though the touchpad just made us really want a
touchscreen which the Q5 lacks. The Q5 turned in solid acceleration on the drag
strip though accelerator lag became a constant annoyance around town. Still if
that gas pedal felt sloppy the brakes were stoppie.
Drag strip braking ranked as the group’s best. And finally in first place we have
the redesigned Volvo XC60. No pun intended but the XC60 smoked the rest of
the pack. No okay pun totally intended. But it was with good reason.
Volvo’s stylish redesign boasts a practical interior and lots of safety
and multimedia technology. It was really a runaway winner here. We liked the cabin
quality a lot with stitched accents and wood trim across the entire dashboard
that really felt especially luxurious and nice little details like metallic
accents on the air vents and even a little Swedish flag stitched into the
passenger seat as a reminder of Volvo’s heritage. All that really conveyed a
sense of serious attention to detail. All that extended to storage to where we
found numerous nooks to put things in and around the center console. Visibility
is underrated and with the only remote folding rear head restraints
in the group, the unobstructed view out the XC60’s large rear window would make
Jimmy Stewart jealous, and mirrors set off the narrow a pillars make for great
visibility out front too. Our XC60 also came packed with safety technology and
rated best among our challenge competitors in that regard.
Still the XC60 didn’t do everything right. Judges rated the Volvo’s
powertrain below average and noted a sort of agricultural sound from the
engine at full bore with transmission response decidedly lacking. Body roll was
also noticeable and that sleek 9-inch multimedia screen suffered from slow
boot up, so so legibility and too many functions buried in two sub menus instead of having their own separate controls. But those are really only minor
quibbles because in the scheme of things Volvo notched a decisive victory over
the XC60’s rivals. It’s the best choice here. So there you have it. Now for a full
scoring breakdown on these SUVs and a lot more about our tests, be sure to
check out Cars.com.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. The Alfa Romeo had so many issues the only reason it didn’t come last was due to its top of class performance. Not to mention the long term reliability of the Stelvio would be horrendous.

  2. Just wait till the 2019 RDX comes out and it will sweep the field, except for the Xc60 of course. Might be really close.

  3. This Cadillac is not a C-Class SUV/CUV. It's in the next class up. It competes with the Lincoln MKX, Lexus RDX and BMW X5.

  4. I’m confused, the X3 got the 6th place for lacking features even though it’s spacious compared to the others and its infotainment system is one of the best in the business and yet the infiniti with the horrible infotainment system and lack of apple carplay and Android auto, and a cvt you mentioned as a drawback got 3rd?

  5. missing few real competitive cars in this segment (19' RDX, GLC) and each vehicle trims on this comparison doesn't seem to be similarly spec.ed or at least not stated on the video…….also noticed presenter was pointing more negative stuff for No.1 vehicle they chose (Volvo XC60) than other lower ranked cars………

  6. Incredible video recording! Sitting here at Y&S FOOD! we like to come across this style of content. We produce Travel & Food video too, across the world, and so we are frequently aiming for inspirations and also vision. Thank You.

  7. Was this Volvo T5 or T6 engine? Probably only T5 since he said power train was below avg. If he had T6 like I just bought with 316 horsepower 😍 he would of been even more impressed of Volvo XC60

  8. The Acura RDX '19, kick ass to all these, is less expensive with more standard features. than these over priced SUVs. The RDX is high quality more reliable and safer

  9. 1.X3 (there's ways to equip it around 47-49k with auto braking they just didn't get right package set)
    2.Audi q5

  10. I dont own any of these cars but i have been doing research on getting one. The numbers are off. First of all for the NX i have never seen braking being mentioned as a weakness. Exact opposite. I have seen it rated at 115ft online. Second one of the judges seems paid off as he gave the NX a 2 in almost ever category which was much worse then any of the other 3 judges. I say so your own research this is garbage.

  11. You left out two of the top sellers in this category, MB GLC and Acura RDX, the 2019 model is available so you should’ve included it.

  12. You guys like the interior of the Volvo? Are you high? It looks like a Hyundai threw up some piano black and a couple bits of wood.

  13. I found this review to be completely bogus since it limited the vehicles to a random price point. It's true that the BMW X3 does not have a lot of standard features, but when you add options that most people would want, it fares very well. Base pricing is meaningless on these vehicles. The X3 has superior tech and handling compared to the Audi Q5 and others. See Consumer Reports and Alex on Autos for more meaningful reviews and comparisons.

  14. Ummmm you reviewers are either drunk or avg age was 76. Volvo interior is nice if you want wood and butterscotch for grandpa. The Q5 smokes the Volvo in handle and transmission. I drove the Volvo for 2 hours and was happy to give it back. Sloppy handling and transmission sucked

  15. i tested several luxury suvs including the Mercedes glc300 and decided that the Audi q5 was the best. My problem with Volvo was that my last Volvo always had something going wrong with it. I purchased the 2018 Q5.

  16. $47K was the cheapest car out of the bunch, BMW X3? Damn, if $47 was the cheapest out of the bunch, I’ll buy used and save $10-$15K. I don’t mind the extra 20-30K miles!

  17. Nah… bought the xc60, sold it within a month. If anything get thr T6. I’m no expert but that transmission is what bothered me the most, and the screen is over rated. I’m driving and I can’t find shit on that screen. Though safety it comes well equipped and seats are damn comfy but that wasn’t enough for me. Hated the look of the steering wheel. Sold it, got a GLC coupe 4matic instead and I know that Volvo ain’t smoking shit next to mi aleman

  18. Don't replace physical buttons with touch screen until good AI voice control or 3d hologram become mainstream.

  19. Eh it’s because the X3 is so a la carte. Can’t blame them for putting it so far down. I’m glad the Volvo came out on top.

  20. With all due respect… it is irrelevant to compare cars (and to penalize some of them) based on the options present on the test cars. For example, take the X3: BMW has probably the best nav & info system among car producers, but the reviewer penalizes the X3 because the test car has only the standard nav & info system (which indeed looks odd and cheap). It is the duty of the reviewer to compare cars with same specs (and ideally in full specs versions). The full specs configuration gives the proper measure of a certain car model's position in its class. It is irrelevant and in fact misleading doing otherwise… especially comparing cars with different levels of specs.

  21. Every other review that i saw was ranking the bmw x3 as the best driving dynamics for a mid size suv except for you

  22. You can take your safety features and stick it. For starters, it's just more technology sure to go wrong and God help you if by used car down the road with those features and something goes wrong. The price to fix will be high. A lot of buyers of those used cars won't be able to afford the price of repairing those devices and then what? I've been a professional driver for 12 years. I don't need not want a car to be doing the driving for me, thank you. I'll take my base model BMW X1 sDrive28i less those features and drive home happy. I haven't hit anyone yet and won't be doing so in the future, thanks.

  23. Volvo, Audi, Infiniti and Cadillac – Boring! Terrible cars to drive
    I'd take the Alfa and likely add Mercedes
    BMW seems right at 6th

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