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CARFAX Finds: Luxury SUVs

Posh family haulers continue to grow in popularity, no doubt thanks to how many different manufacturers offer an SUV with a luxury nameplate now.

In fact, luxury SUVs are capturing the attention of parents, as well as those who want space and comfort in every situation, from driving up to ski vacations to getting around a pothole-ridden highway. Here are three popular models you might be considering.

Lexus RX

Lexus RX
2015 Lexus RX 450h (CARFAX)

We have to talk about the Lexus RX, which is the reason you see nothing but luxury SUVs from Malibu to Martha’s Vineyard, and from Pottery Barn to Williams-Sonoma. Since 1999, the RX has been the dominant posh crossover and a favorite among those who value Lexus’ principles of driving an isolation chamber wrapped in subtle elegance.

Thing is, though, the 2016 RX that is just about to go on sale seems to throw away the restraint in favor of sporting fashion trends that look very un-Lexuslike. So is now the time to buy one of the outgoing models? A pre-owned, current-generation RX 350 starts from $21,000.

The RX may not be the most exciting to look at or drive, but neither of those attributes have been part of this crossover’s mission. It has room for five and a generous luggage hold, partly because it doesn’t bother sacrificing space for a miniscule third-row seat like some rivals. Thoughtful storage cubbies abound, which means the RX is noticeably more kid-friendly than other luxury SUVs. And being a Lexus, you can criticize the whole interior ambiance for being on the sterile side, but you can’t fault the way it’s put together. Expect the RX’s cabin to last the test of time – and the test of family hauling duties.

Acura MDX

2016 Acura MDX (CARFAX)
2016 Acura MDX (CARFAX)

For those who actually need the third-row seating capacity and a larger overall package, there’s the Acura MDX. Which, since its 2014 redesign, has actually become a lot more like the Lexus RX in terms of luxury and refinement. These models start from around $37,000.

Think of the MDX as the Acura of minivans. While it may be dressed up like an SUV, the MDX excels at passenger carrying and being a practical vehicle for its occupants. Like the Lexus, storage space abounds. The third-row seat is actually usable for kids and short adults, with a reasonable pass-through behind the second row of seats. The V6 is powerful and quiet, with good fuel economy ratings. And most versions come lavished with a comprehensive suite of electronics, even if the radio and navigation system are as responsive and straightforward as a teenager.

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade
2015 Cadillac Escalade (CARFAX)

For many in the luxury SUV market, nothing other than a music video set will do. And by that, I mean the Cadillac Escalade. While the previous versions could be derided as gussied-up Chevy Tahoes, the 2015 Escalade does the best job yet at convincing itself it’s a genuine luxury SUV – even if it’s still rooted in the Tahoe. We’re getting into expensive territory, however. Even pre-owned 2015 Escalades that are more than a year old are north of $70,000.

The Escalade isn’t the last word in practicality. Even though it’s enormous inside and out, packaging concessions mean the MDX may actually be the better vehicle to comfortably seat seven people. Despite the fine leathers and plastics, along with the advanced technology offered now, there’s no denying the Cadillac is really a truck.

But this pays dividends in hauling. The Escalade can tow a large trailer, unlike pretty much every car-based luxury SUV. Then there’s the Cadillac’s burly 6.2-liter V8, with its ‘60s soundtrack and 400-plus horsepower, you’ll mash the right pedal down and ask, “What fuel crisis?”

The Cadillac Escalade commands authority like few other vehicles in the world. And for many buyers at this end of the market, there is no substitute.

In fact, all these vehicles have developed a following that could surely put a dent in the luxury sedan market. Fancy SUVs have become so refined over the years. They’re able to marry practicality, all-weather capability and panache so well that these high-riding things could be the future of luxury.

See Also: Our SUV Buying Guide

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