Luxury Brands Lavish Attention on SUVsApril 19th, 2016 by David Beran
At the recent Geneva Auto Show, Maserati announced that it was revving into the SUV market by introducing the Levante, the luxury brand’s first foray into the SUV sector. The Levante will initially roll out overseas and will make its way to the United States later this year. Adopting the platform of Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans, the design lowers the Levante’s center of gravity and evens out weight distribution.
Of course, fans want to know if the Levante will have the Maserati’s signature sound of revving and if its active air suspension paired with all-terrain tires will make it a capable off-roader. Luxury brands have a spotty record when it comes to producing SUVs as the often derided Lamborghini LM002 (AKA “Rambo Lambo”) and the Knight XV Fully Armored SUV attest.
Luxury SUVs are hitting a sweet spot with consumers and Cayennes, Bentaygas and Mercedes-Benz G-Class vehicles are wildly popular. Here’s a closer look at these luxury brands and what these vehicles are capable of when it comes to off-roading.
The Cayenne has been spicing up the SUV sector since 2003 and this plucky, luxury midsize packs some punch into the on and off-road driving experience. Sporting Porsche’s patented sport car appearance and a dash of off-road ability, the SUV seats 5 and features a V6 and all-wheel drive. Towing with trailer sway control and a trailer capacity of 7,716 lbs. makes this more than an upscale player in the SUV arena. Off-roaders delight in the double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspensions with coil springs and front and rear anti-roll bars. Precise steering makes hugging corners effortless and overall it ranks among the top crossovers on the market. EPA violations recently slowed the Cayenne’s roll and 2015-16 diesel models have stopped sales, but its responsiveness still makes it a heavy hitter among luxury SUVs.
It’s all about the speed when it comes to the Bentayga that claims to be the fastest SUV – clocking a top speed of 187 m.p.h. – courtesy of a twin-turbo 6-liter W-12 engine paired with an 8-speed gearbox. An opulent and fully insulated interior and excellent handling in inclement winter weather has consumers clamoring for the SUV and Bentley reportedly plans to make over 5,000 of them this year. Off-road settings include ones for suspension and varying terrains and it maintains agility fairly well on approach and departure angles. Those interested in sparing no expense will meet the Bentayga’s steep price tag to own this radical, rocketing machine.
The Mercedes-Benz’ G-Class has been around for 36 years, making it the elder statesmen of luxury SUVs. Possessing the trademark boxy look and all the elegance associated with the manufacturer, its all-wheel drive combines with a twin-turbo V-8 engine and three lockable differentials to maximize torque and traction. A stability-control system that diminishes body roll, low-range transfer case and ladder-frame construction establish the G-Class as viable off-road vehicles and motoring through mud, water and rocks is no problem. Knocks on these SUVs include their lack of comfort compared to rivals and relatively poor gas mileage, but these issues have not hurt G-Class sales.
About the Author: David Beran
As a professional inkspiller living in Los Angeles, I’ve written in industries ranging from entertainment to employment to automotive. Terrain I cover includes off-road events and races, budget builds, custom mods, EVs and the latest innovations in aftermarket 4x4 parts. I’m always eager to learn about new trends in 4x4s and my motto is “go off-road or go home.” Google+ is the destination for my dispatches: https://plus.google.com/+DavidBeran/posts.