By on April 22, 2020

We continue our discussion of SUV and CUV design from the 2010s today with our third question entry of the series. The first and second editions covered the best and worst parts of affordable SUV/CUV design, with a strict price ceiling of $48,000.

Today we head upscale and only consider really expensive rides.

As before, we have some limiters to keep the competitor field level-ish: Only production vehicles are up for discussion today; no concepts or one-off bespoke trucks. Selections must hail from model years 2010 to 2019. Finally, your best design nominations must cost over $48,000 when new; no cheap stuff today.

Now we move on to my selection, which won’t be what you were expecting:

2017 Porsche Macan - Image: PorscheA CUV that’s barely costly enough to qualify for today’s question, it’s the Porsche Macan. Recalling when Porsche announced they were going to make a smaller CUV to accompany the Cayenne in showrooms, I wasn’t too interested. The first Cayenne looked utterly awful, and appeared dated in roughly two years. The second generation carried more modern styling, but resided in the Expensive Things Realtors Drive category — so I ignored it.

But then the Macan arrived as a 2015 model in the U.S.; I saw an ad somewhere and wasn’t impressed. However, when I saw a couple of these vehicles in person, I began to revise my opinion. I liked the proportions, and how it looked very different to its Audi Q5 sibling. The Porsche face, which looked too big on the Cayenne, was downsized to a reasonable scale for Macan, and it worked. It also seemed as though Porsche sweated the details with regard to quality. Nary a trim piece was misaligned on any example I saw. And not that it matters for today’s discussion, but reviews seemed to state overwhelmingly that the Macan was good to drive. I was sold on the Macan, and remain so today.

But my vote for best design is probably a minority one here. What’s your pick?

[Images: Audi, Porsche]

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23 Comments on “QOTD: Best Upscale SUV Design of the 2010s?...”

  • avatar

    Land Rover Range Rover

    Swoon :)

    • 0 avatar

      +1 for the Range Rover. Not only does it look good, it fits in with the Land Rover brand values, unlike some other SUVs that seem as though their manufacturers are just jumping on the bandwagon now that the SUV / CUV segment is hot.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep. The Range Rover is beautiful, especially in Autobiography guise. Id also nominate the Velar. In addition, the Lincoln Navigator as a runner up.

      Worst design would probably be the Infiniti QX80.

      The Macan and Cayenne just dont do it for me. They look like anonymous blobs and dont have any Porsche signature design details from a distance.

  • avatar

    honestly I think the 2018 Navigator got it right. big, has presence, but doesn’t have the gaudiness of the Escalade or whatever Lexus thinks it’s doing today.

  • avatar

    Range Rover is the correct answer.

  • avatar

    I have no love of crossovers whatsoever, and the RR is still my #1 also, but a very close number 2 is the Audi Q8. From the front and from the rear, especially in dark colors, it has a strong road presence that a lot of the CUV blobs don’t have. It also has the very nice and upscale Audi interior, and those OLED lights in the back…wow.

  • avatar

    To me the choice should be Trackhawk.

  • avatar

    Range Rover Velar.
    A leader in both exterior and interior design.

  • avatar

    macan or glk350

    • 0 avatar

      Can confirm GLK. I bought a nicely appointed 2013 GLK 350 for $23,000 CAD w/ 60K miles on it, and its great – restrained & practical but nice interior, boxy exterior, great performance from the 300 hp V6, AWD works really well, etc. etc. Mechanically – one transmission solenoid replaced under extended warranty, tie rod ends need replacing in next year, battery was replace.

      Great vehicle – engaging to drive, good city size, good performer, great used car value.

  • avatar

    Not to knock your choice of the Macan, but it reminds me of the first generation Subaru Impreza hatchback.

  • avatar

    Best upscale SUV design? Insert the name of any full sized pickup form the domestic automakers… with the exception of Chevy and GM. Their new trucks are hideous.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s funny, I really didn’t like the 1500 Silverado when it first came out. But the more I see it, the more it’s really growing on me. It’s not perfect, but it does have a certain butch-ness to it.

      And the first head-on view of the HD was certainly hideous, but with better trims and a three-quarter view, it actually has a nice presence.

      I read a quote from a designer that said something to the effect that if a new design doesn’t jolt you at least a little bit, then it didn’t reach far enough. And I can see that. Whereas I initially thought the new Ram was better looking than the Silverado, the Ram is actually starting to look bland vs the more daring Silverado.

  • avatar

    The new Lincoln Navigator just has an elegance about it. I really like it.

    The Macan looks very athletic to me (in person) like a classy running shoe.

    Range Rovers always look like Range Rovers always have looked like (and updated over generations), but there’s so much baggage there in terms of British quality, and strange designs to so many systems, that RR is tainted to me.

    Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is an interesting choice – This generation of the GC is still going to look good in 20 years (my opinion), and the aggressiveness of the Trackhawk accentuates that – but then, I like muscle cars.

  • avatar

    I like the Macan, but it comes up short in the utility part of SUV.

  • avatar

    Jeep Grand Cherokee is a good one- well proportioned, contemporary yet timeless.

    I’d also nominate the Lexus GX with the spindle grille (~2014+ on) – a lot of people hate on this grille but I think it works pretty well here without feeling grotesquely large, and it compliments the rest of the body in a way the Land Cruiser Prado’s front end doesn’t. Best of all unlike the Macan or Range Rover it’s a real rig with capability beyond fetching groceries / instagram ‘models.’

  • avatar

    I nominate the Jaguar F Pace. It looks gorgeous and on top of that it drives as good if not better than the Macan.
    My forerunners would be the 2018+ Lincoln Navigator and 2nd gen Volvo XC60

  • avatar

    Jeep Grand Cherokee and JL Wrangler

  • avatar

    I have driven all sorts of SUV’s and owned a Blazer only as my tow vehicle and hardly used it as my daily driver. I was never convinced of any of them as a car always beat them in comfort and in the handling characteristics of driving a vehicle—until I drove my niece’s Macan S. I was blown away as it felt like driving my Lotus Supercharged Elise power-wise, as well as how it handled. I didn’t really care on how the Macan looked (SUV/CUV-like) but the body grew on me and my wife. Will be in the market for a Macan S soon.

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