The increase in customer demand for SUVs is more than just a fad. And in countries like India, it’s trumped every other segment. The demand which must have been unfathomable for many has also pushed many a carmaker to move out of its comfort zone and try something new. And more often than not, that has led to success. Through Motoring World’s 2019 SUV Guide powered by Reliance Relstar, we aim to educate the reader about the SUV segment with a brief description of each product on sale on the market at the moment. With today’s customer getting more demanding about what they want, manufacturers have responded by flooding the market with an SUV for every person, and that can only be a good thing for you, the customer. Want to go far beyond the tarmac? That’s covered. Want a supercar on stilts? You can get one now. Or do you want to sink into luxury? It doesn’t matter, for today, there is something in every price segment for everyone. So if you, like a large majority of the Indian car-buying audience, hanker after a nice SUV, allow us to help you choose the one for you.
If you were to purchase a small Audi SUV, the Q3 is the only choice at the moment. And if you like Audis, it’s not a bad one, either. With a new one launched abroad, the Q3 is certainly in dire need of an upgrade. The new Q3 (not available in India yet) is based on the MQB platform, is better-equipped than this, and looks newer (obviously) and fresher. The current one isn’t a bad car by any means, but like the X1 and the GLA, it’s a bit boring to drive.
Prices start at Rs 34.75 lakh (ex-showroom)
Audi’s midsized SUV is everything the original Q5 was but in a much-improved package. The quattro AWD system is standard, and so is Audi’s unrivalled fit and finish. The engine options aren’t as wide as before, but the four-cylinder units have a lot of performance in them. The mini-Q7 looks fit perfectly on the Q5 and owing to the shorter overall length, it appears quite proportionate, too. Like the rest, it’s available in two trims (Premium Plus and Technology), while the engine choices include a 2-litre petrol and a 2-litre diesel. As mentioned, both come with an AWD system, and the petrol can hit 100 kph in just 6.3 seconds.
Prices start at Rs 55.29 lakh (ex-showroom)
The first-generation Audi Q7 set a fairly tall benchmark for SUVs in its class. It was loved by celebrities, it could handle harsh terrain, and on the road, it offered a good balance between speed and comfort. With the new one, Audi has just made everything better. Along with an ability to seat seven, it offers a premium cabin, a long list of features, quattro AWD, and a choice of two engines: a 2-litre turbocharged petrol and a 3-litre V6 diesel. Both take close to 7 seconds (claimed) to reach 100 kph from a standstill. So you know, regardless of the model you choose, getting away from paparazzi is unlikely to be an issue. Even if the roads are treacherous.
Prices start at Rs 73.82 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Bentayga started the trend of uber-luxury SUVs. And being a true Bentley, it proved to be driver-orientated, too. In fact, the current Bentayga also happens to hold the fastest production SUV record at the moment — the Bentayga Speed. To keep the Bentley Bentayga from falling prey to laws of physics, Bentley has added a 48-volt active anti-roll system, which minimises body roll and ensures that the Bentayga corners with as much panache as its stately self displays while decimating tarmac.
Prices start at Rs Rs 3.77 crore (ex-showroom)
Gone are the days when the entry-level BMW SUV/crossover, the X1, was rear-wheel drive. It’s now based on a new front-wheel drive platform, and that’s not exactly as sacrilegious as Internet commentators might make you believe. In the latest avatar, the X1 has grown to be a more premium offering, has more space than before, and looks good, too. Engine choices include turbocharged 2-litre units (both petrol and diesel), and only the top-spec diesel gets AWD. Like other BMWs, there’s the xLine and a sporting M Sport package, which makes the X1 undeniably more appealing than what it is in the standard form.
Prices start at Rs 35.19 lakh (ex-showroom)
The midsized BMW, the X3, made a return with a fresh design and updated underpinnings. Unlike in the past, it’s available with four-cylinder versions of petrol and diesel engines. This might make you miss the glorious straight-six, but with ample performance, BMW has you covered. Having said that, there’s no X3 M available at the moment, either. Given that it’s lighter than before, the X3 offers improved efficiency, too. And if you wanted something more stylish, because let’s face it, the X3 isn’t the most striking design out there, there’s also the BMW X4 SUV coupe.
Prices start at Rs 55.97 lakh (ex-showroom)
It’s clear that not a lot of SUVs are about utility anymore — and the premium ones even less so. There’s more focus on style, on-road dynamics, interior and ride comfort, and of course, performance. The BMW X4 is in a way a good representation of the kind of vehicle a lot of buyers are looking at. With its sloping roofline, it’s more stylish than the X3, which makes a clear statement that the vehicle is more fun than your regular SUV. Engine options are the same as the X3, but there’s also the inclusion of a straight-six diesel. So if you’re looking for added speed/ability to cover long distances without looking like a brick on wheels, the X4 might just the one for you.
Prices start at Rs 60.60 lakh (ex-showroom)
The X5 is the product with which BMW started its SUV innings. Back in the late 90s, with the Rover group a part of BMW, the German carmaker tried its luck with the SUV segment, which was gaining popularity. No one would’ve estimated that in two decades, BMW will end up with six SUVs (and more globally) on sale in India. The X5 is what started it all, and in its newest avatar, it’s easy to see why it’s been so successful. Although it needed no reaffirmation, it proves that BMW can still make striking looking cars regardless of the segment they’re in. The new interior brings it even closer to the X7 category, and the engine options are exactly what you’d expect of BMW: straight-six units. There’s AWD available on both variants, and the X5 also boasts adaptive air suspension. And just to tell you how good BMW is with performance, the non-M petrol
version (there’s no X5 M in India at the moment) can do 0-100 kph in just 5.5 seconds. If that’s not impressive for a full-sized SUV…
Prices start at Rs 72.90 lakh (ex-showroom)
The BMW 7 Series needs no introduction. It’s a car that despite the size is fun to drive. It’s the best saloon (both in terms of equipment and price) that BMW offers, and it’s your go-to choice, if you had deep pockets, a good taste in cars, and wanted something as enjoyable in the back seat that it is from behind the wheel. The X7 is that, but in a different form. It’s the SUV equivalent of the 7, and one look inside will tell you how and why. Depending on the configuration, it can seat up to seven in comfort. It also has everything that will help you take a deep breath between your top-dollar meetings and phone calls. Its chance of surviving bad roads are much stronger than a saloon (even the 7) but with 22-inch wheels, you (and/or your chauffeur) will need to be careful. There’s one engine on offer, a 3-litre straight-six, which can send you from reading your newspaper while enjoying a cuppa to pinned to the seat (or 0-100 kph in usual speak) in a claimed 7 seconds. Not bad, BMW!
Prices start at Rs 98.90 lakh (ex-showroom)
If you’re looking for a purpose-built off-roader or an alternative to the hugely popular Mahindra Thar, there aren’t many choices on the market. But you don’t exactly need many choices when the Thar’s main rival, the Force Gurkha, is such a capable machine. It’s available in three variants, comes with a choice of Mercedes-sourced 2.6-litre or 2.2-litre engines, and gets off-road equipment like diff locks, snorkel, and can also be specced in a long-wheelbase five-door version. The newest variant called the Force Gurkha Xtreme is the most powerful one and is more driveable on the road as well. And its off-road credentials are worth taking a look at, too. Not only are these better than the competition, but also much better than the standard variants of the Gurkha. The angle of approach for it is 44 degrees, the departure angle is 40 degrees, and the ramp-over angle is 30 degrees.
Prices start at Rs 9.75 lakh (ex-showroom)
The new-ish EcoSport improves on almost everything the original offered and some more. The engine/gearbox line up has been updated, and while it’s still not available as an AWD variant, the build quality and drive remain two of its strong points. The wide range of engine options (including the sublime 1-litre turbocharged petrol ‘EcoBoost’ unit) and a solid brand value make the EcoSport a favourite in the segment. Options like six airbags, sunroof, solid infotainment system, and even 17-inch wheels still aren’t available on most rivals. And that gives the EcoSport an edge.
Prices start at Rs 7.81 lakh (ex-showroom)
It’s the only full-sized SUV that Ford India sells, but it covers a variety of use cases so well that it becomes difficult to question why Ford doesn’t have any other SUV in the range, apart from the smaller EcoSport. In the latest generation, the Endeavour has good road manners (better than that of its main rival, the Fortuner), can easily go off the road, and despite the size, is not a big pain to drive. Of course, the control weights are heavier than the Fortuner, but it feels more connected, too — which for a big SUV is saying something. The five-cylinder engine has a distinct sound, despite being a diesel. And did we mention it looks amazing!
Prices start at Rs 28.19 lakh (ex-showroom)
It’s a segment that Honda pioneered with the CR-V. Everyone from the affluent to the showbiz success wanted one. A couple of years down the line, the demand for the CR-V has diminished because everyone has upgraded to more premium vehicles. The fact that the CR-V had very limited variant and engine choices didn’t help its case, either. But all that changed with the launch of the latest generation. Now there isn’t just the petrol-powered version on sale but also a diesel. Which means that the CR-V now has a wider appeal, and with the optional seven-seat choice, it’s more practical, too.
Prices start at Rs 28.33 lakh (ex-showroom)
Hyundai’s latest crossover SUV is one the brand is immensely proud of. While it might be positioned below the best-selling Creta, the Venue brings so much new to the segment, that one might consider it even despite its smaller size. Apart from the much-talked-about connected-car tech that the Venue boasts, its appeal also lies in the way it drives. It’s a clear improvement from the Creta (which wasn’t a bad car as such) and with the turbocharged petrol engine (our favourite of the lot, obviously), it seems like a much bigger car. It might be more road-biased, so that’s one thing you ought to keep in mind while choosing it.
Prices start at Rs 6.50 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Creta has been around since 2015, and the way it’s managed to capture markets and hearts is worth an applause. While it was given an update recently, the chassis feels a bit lethargic in comparison to what some other new Hyundais are, and the engine line up, although wide, can do with a more powerful engine or two. But if you’re looking for something that offers good peace of mind, has commendable long-distance abilities, and won’t feel cheap, the Creta is still the car in the segment. Unless you’re looking at the Kia Seltos…
Prices start at Rs 10 lakh (ex-showroom)
In the absence of the Santa Fe (doesn’t the new one look amazing!) in India, the Tucson happens to be the largest Hyundai crossover SUV that you can buy. A refreshed one has been introduced in certain markets, so that can be expected in India soon, too. Regardless of when that happens, the Tucson excels in being one of the most well rounded road-going crossover SUV on the market (in the segment, of course). It’s got exactly what you’d expect from a top-tier Hyundai: good space inside, premium interior, and most importantly a good drive.
Prices start at Rs 18.77 lakh (ex-showroom)
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross
Despite numerous efforts by various manufacturers, no one could crack the lifestyle pickup segment. But it took Isuzu just one shot with the right product, to be successful. The product in question is the D-Max V-Cross, and if you don’t know, it’s one hell of a pickup. Isuzu recently gave the D-Max V-Cross an update, and then also introduced a smaller but more powerful engine. So depending on how you want to use the truck, you can either choose the standard 2.5-litre one for its good off-road ability or the new 1.9-litre diesel for its acceleration and claimed improved fuel economy. The D-Max V-Cross also gets a shift-on-the-fly 4WD system, hill descent control and hill start assist, among other features.
Prices start at Rs 15.48 lakh (ex-showroom)
Not only did Isuzu excel in making a great pickup truck with the D-Max, with the MU-X, it offers a good alternative to the Fortuner and the Endeavour. It’s powered by a 3-litre diesel engine, comes equipped with four-wheel drive (has a shift-on-the-fly system), offers a variety of assists, and gets 18-inch alloys as standard. Like its main rivals, it has enough space and seats to seat seven in comfort and gets six airbags in total for their safety. An eight-speaker audio system is also the highlight, with speakers mounted in the roof as well. Its off-road performance is backed by a 220 mm of ground clearance, an angle of approach of 30.1 degrees, angle of departure of 25.1 degrees, and a ramp-over angle of 22.6 degrees.
Prices start at Rs 27.30 lakh (ex-showroom)
It’s the first Jaguar SUV, which means when it was introduced, the F-Pace had the gargantuan task of proving that it was a Jaguar first. Which in turn meant it had to drive as brilliantly as it looked. And despite the change from the norm (Jaguar only built sports cars and saloons), the F-Pace didn’t look out of shape — even one bit. And thankfully it drives as wondrously, too. The new lighter engines help maintain its balance even more. And since it’s now made here in India, you don’t have to shell a bucket load of your hard-earned money as import duty.
Prices start at Rs 64.23 lakh (ex-showroom)
The new Jeep Wrangler is now available in India, which means you can enjoy the best the American SUV brand has to offer. It’s leagues ahead of the model it replaces but stays close to its roots with an off-road-ready setup, an interior that can be hosed, doors and roof that can be removed, and a windscreen that can be folded down. Just like the good old Jeeps. It’s Trail Rated, which means it’s ready for some serious off-roading. There’s additional support for the undercarriage, and the engine range now includes a 2-litre turbocharged engine that makes 268 bhp and 400 Nm. The approach and departure angles continue to be impressive at 41.8 degrees and 36.1 degrees respectively.
Prices start at Rs 63.94 lakh(ex-showroom)
A Jeep that mates the off-road ability associated with the brand with luxury, the Grand Cherokee is the third product Jeep sells in India. The standard engine choices include a 3-litre V6 diesel and a 3.6-litre V6 petrol. But it’d be criminal to not take a look at the stonker of a vehicle the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is. It comes with a 6.4-litre V8 engine that not only looks great but makes close to 460 bhp, 624 Nm of torque, and inimitable engine noise. Driving with the windows down never sounded this good, especially in an SUV! (You don’t even have to roll the windows down to hear the gargantuan engine, actually!)
Prices start at Rs 75.15 lakh (ex-showroom)
That the Fiat Chrysler group has run out of products in the Indian market is no surprise. But as the Compass debuted, things changed. And while the brand isn’t quite selling enough of these, the Compass as a product does more right than wrong. It’s a good gateway to Jeep products, is decently capable both on the road and off it (the latter more so if you pick the range-topping Trailhawk version), and looks good, too.
Prices start at Rs 15.64 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Seltos might have not launched at the most favourable time, especially when the entire automotive industry is going through a slowdown, but it soldiers on as if nothing’s happened. And that’s because it does so many things right that despite its newness (and the fact that Kia is far from a popular brand in India yet), the Seltos has made a strong start. With more variants that you can count on your digits, and a surprisingly good and wide line up of engines, the Seltos looks exactly like the car the Creta needs to be afraid of.
Prices start at Rs 9.69 lakh (ex-showroom)
With the LM002 gone out of reach for most, it was time Lamborghini launched an SUV. Because why not — the market’s growing and the need for a rally-ready Lamborghini SUV is possibly more than ever. So here it is, the Lamborghini of SUVs, made by Lamborghini. It’s powered by a turbocharged V8 engine, but give it the stick, and you’d soon know its worth. The relentless acceleration is only bettered by concept-car looks, good stance, and distinct Lambo lines. To keep everything in perspective, the 0-100 kph dash is possible in 3.6 seconds, the 200 kph mark breached in 12.8 seconds, and Lambo also claims a top speed of 305 kph. Some really powerful cars might begin to look a bit pedestrian in comparison.
Prices start at Rs 3 crore (ex-showroom)
Land Rover Discovery Sport
As Land Rover phased out the Freelander 2 (its entry-level SUV), the Discovery Sport came in with much fanfare. It’s a hugely talented SUV, both on and off the road, and is a big step upwards from the Freelander — in terms of the way it looks and the cabin feels. Local production has meant the prices are kept in check. And unless you want the stylish exterior of the Evoque or more space of the full-size Discovery, this is very much the entry-level Land Rover to buy. A refreshed version has been introduced, so expect that to head to India soon.
Prices start at Rs 44.68 lakh (ex-showroom)
Range Rover Evoque
With Land Rover having sold close to 8 lakh units of the Range Rover Evoque globally, it’s safe to say that the baby Range Rover is quite a popular car. The current/first-generation car is on its way out, with a better-equipped model expected to be launched soon. But here’s the thing: the current car is also available in a convertible-style body form, so if you plan on picking that up, this might be the chance as the second-gen model doesn’t get that. The Evoque might look stylish on the outside but introduce it to difficult terrain, and it’ll surprise you with its wide array of off-roading skills.
Prices start at Rs 52.06 lakh (ex-showroom)
Land Rover Discovery
The fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery is the full-sized SUV that balances between the utilitarian and luxury. As something that can handle bad terrain and on-road driving equally well, it’s the formidable choice in the segment. And while the offset licence plate might have looked odd (it was a forced continuation of the design from the old Discos), it eventually grows on you. Of course, you can get one of the more luxurious options from the Range Rover catalogue for roughly the same money, but the Discovery’s off-road prowess is impossible to ignore.
Prices start at Rs 75.18 lakh (ex-showroom)
Range Rover Velar
With a platform shared with the F-Pace, the Range Rover Velar brings the best of both worlds (on and off-road) in a package that puts styling before anything else. There’s an SVR version available abroad, but in India, you get the 2-litre engine options — available in both diesel and petrol. AWD is standard, and so is a feature-rich cabin. If you are a regular at high-profile parties and your sartorial preferences influence a legion of followers, the Velar is a no-brainer for you. Having said that, it still handles bad roads well.
Prices start at Rs 72.61 lakh (ex-showroom)
Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport is an easy choice for those who want the style, comfort, and off-road capabilities of a Range Rover but won’t mind going for a spirited drive every now and again. The new platform has made the Range Rover Sport easy to chuck into corners, and the eager engines ensure that it’s equally easy to power your way out of corners. The latest 2-litre-engined model brings the cost considerably down, so while you lose out on bragging rights (on how big the engine is; performance off-the-line is similar to larger engines), you can spend that money on optional extras. And since it’s a Range Rover, you can spend substantially on extras. And did we mention there’s also the Range Rover Sport SVR?
Prices start at Rs 86.71 lakh (ex-showroom)
The full monty Range Rover currently enjoys the status of being the most popular luxury SUV. And there’s no doubting its capacity. It’s a favourite among celebrities, and if you opt for the LWB version, that’s just a different level of opulence. Engine options include 3-litre V6 units and larger V8s. Like the rest of the Range Rover range (including the new Evoque), it gets the Touch Pro Duo dual-screen infotainment system. And while rich and style-conscious you may be, the Range Rover doesn’t let practicality take the back seat (literally) — as you can fold and benefit from its versatile seating arrangement. The range includes Vogue, Vogue SE, Autobiography, and SVAutobiography/SVAutobiography Dynamic trims.
Prices start at Rs 1.82 crore (ex-showroom)
The premium compact SUV by Lexus, the NX, brings the distinctly Lexus design and luxury in a small form factor. The all-wheel-drive crossover SUV is powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine mated to a hybrid motor (that’s connected to both front and rear axles). It’s claimed to manage 0-100 kph under 10 seconds (9.2 to be precise) and has lowly carbon emissions of 138 grams of CO2 per km. Given its position in the market, Lexus has included a fair bit of features in the NX and the standard safety kit gets eight airbags. The NX is available in two versions: NX 300h Luxury and NX 300h Sport. The latter looks more sporting with an F Sport grille and 18-inch wheels. It also gets sport seats to complement the kit outside.
Prices start at Rs 56.71 lakh (ex-showroom)
A step up from the NX is the Lexus RX. The mid-sized crossover SUV is also available in two versions (Luxury and Sport), has petrol + electric powertrain, and can do 0-100 kph in just 7.7 seconds. The engine is a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine along with a hybrid setup, making 308 bhp in conjunction. The five-seat crossover gets 10 airbags, an eight-speed AT gearbox, adaptive suspension, and sharp looks.
Prices start at Rs 1.29 crore (ex-showroom)
Think everything a premium SUV can do and add a bit of luxury to it, and that’s the Lexus LX 570 for you. It’s a full-sized SUV positioned atop the current Lexus SUV line up. It’s powered by a 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine that makes 362 bhp and 530 Nm. Despite the heft, it comes with a claimed 0-100 kph time of just 7.7 seconds. An AWD system is standard fitment, like 10 airbags, Multi-Terrain monitor, adaptive suspension, a 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and a lot of space.
Prices start at Rs 2.33 crore (ex-showroom)
Mahindra’s innings in the compact SUV space started long before the TUV, and it’s clear with both the TUV and the XUV3OO that the carmaker has learnt a lot. The TUV3OO is only offered with a 1.5-litre diesel engine, and RWD, but you can opt for an automated manual transmission. While that looks good on paper, Mahindra’ execution is still a few steps behind Maruti’s, so it’s not recommended whole-heartedly. But where the TUV3OO absolutely shines is in its ability to handle bad roads. And since it’s an RWD, like its more utilitarian cousins, the TUV finds it easier to tackle challenging terrain.
Prices start at Rs 8.59 lakh (ex-showroom)
Don’t let the fact that the XUV3OO is positioned lower than the XUV5OO make you believe that it’s a lesser product. Because it’s certainly not. It’s easily the most balanced Mahindra compact SUV till date, and even considering the heavy competition, it’s quite a desirable product. Like how the TUV3OO is more about ride comfort in a sub-four-metre platform, the XUV3OO is more about a rounded performance. Its engines are powerful, its chassis is fairly well-balanced, and it doesn’t look bad, either. Picking one instead of the usual choices in the segment might sound like a lot but it can be the leap of faith that redeems more than what you expect.
Prices start at Rs 8.1 lakh (ex-showroom)
It mightn’t be new anymore but the XUV500 is still one of the formidable large crossover SUVs you can buy. It offers seven seats, a powerful engine, an optional AT gearbox (an Aisin-sourced unit, which does its job well), optional AWD system, and of course, a lot of presence. Mahindra introduced monocoque platforms to its SUV line up with the XUV500, and that shows. It can handle both highway speeds and bad roads equally well. Which makes it safe to say that the new one (whenever it comes) will have fairly large shoes to fill…
Prices start at Rs 12.37 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Scorpio’s introduction in the early 2000s must have been a revelation to most in the Indian market. Because not only did it bring immense success to Mahindra, it’s also, over the years, made a brand value that rivals might find impossible to beat. The crossover SUVs can easily challenge the Scorpio’s on-road manners, but take it off the road and it’s in a league of its own. The new model also brings forwards a variety of updates made to the platform, interior, and overall quality, so it rides and handles well. And the engine’s capabilities can’t be doubted, either. The optional 4×4-equipped version is still one of the favourites of those who like to explore by taking the path less-trodden.
Prices start at Rs 10.08 lakh (ex-showroom)
It’s a firm belief that every manufacturer should do a nice throwback model — one that helps the new fans connect with its past, but well-equipped to take on the modern challenges. The Mahindra Thar is exactly that. Off-roaders love it for the way it drives off the tarmac, and those hankering for a stylish set of wheels choose the Thar for its pucca old-school Jeep-like appearance. While Mahindra might have ceased to licence-produce Jeep in India, the Thar is a clear sign of how good the Indian brand was at it. There’s a new one on its way, which by the looks of it, will take things up a bar or two. It’s also available with a DI engine and independent front suspension, both of which are highly respected in the off-road community.
Prices start at Rs 9.64 lakh (ex-showroom)
Mahindra Alturas G4
The first time Mahindra sold a Ssangyong in India, the buyers were a bit perplexed. Because the Korean brand (partly owned by Mahindra) had a next-to-none presence in the country. And splurging on a vehicle that was sold by Mahindra but didn’t even have a big Mahindra logo added to its misery. But in 2018, Mahindra corrected that with the launch of the Alturas G4. It’s essentially the same vehicle as the Ssangyong Rexton sold in other markets, but it’s made here, and thus proudly boasts a Mahindra logo. It’s moved light years ahead in terms of quality and is also available with an optional AWD system.
Prices start at Rs 27.7 lakh (ex-showroom)
If Maserati was ever to do an SUV, it’d have to be something that sounds great, goes like a stink, looks appealing, and is sublime to drive. And with the Levante, it seems to have achieved all of that. It’s also rarer than the usual choices, so exclusivity is part and parcel with the Levante. And if you’re looking for a V8-engined variant, then you’d be glad to know that the Levante Trofeo is headed to India, too. It’s something as fast as it looks!
Prices start at Rs 1.5 crore (ex-showroom)
Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
The Vitara Brezza is a little over three years old, but it’s managed to maintain a strong sales performance right from the day of its launch. So, what has worked for the only compact SUV from Maruti Suzuki, one must wonder. While it might be easy to blame Maruti Suzuki’s reputation for the Vitara Brezza’s success, it has to be said that on the move, the Brezza feels solid, doesn’t disappoint with fuel economy (thanks to the Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel engine), and even despite its age, looks all right. The inclusion of an AMT unit has made it an even better deal. With the brand’s emphasis mainly on style, the Brezza doesn’t shout performance or driving pleasure. But it has to be said that the drive becomes more enjoyable as it picks speed.
Prices start at Rs 7.85 lakh (ex-showroom)
Based on Mercedes-Benz’s front-wheel drive platform (which also underpins the A-Class, B-Class, CLA, etc), the GLA is the most affordable Mercedes-Benz SUV on sale. You can get an AWD-equipped model, too. Since it’s the smallest Merc SUV/crossover, space and features on offer are limited by the positioning. A slightly larger and more assertive-looking Mercedes-Benz GLB is on its way and will appeal to you if you aren’t sold on the GLA’s styling.
Prices start at Rs 32.33 lakh (ex-showroom)
The GLK never made it to the Indian market. It was the model positioned between the entry-level GLA and the ML/GLE. But with the introduction of the GLE, Mercedes-Benz showcased how a premium SUV is made. Its interior is at par with other Mercedes-Benz products and it looks good on the outside, too. Choose the V6-engined GLC 43 (AMG) if you want more power. Its (the GLC 43’s that is) appeal is only hampered by the fact that it’s available only in the SUV Coupe version, which isn’t as easy on the eyes, and offers less room than the regular SUV. A facelift has been showcased, so it’ll make its way to India soon.
Prices start at Rs 52.38 lakh (ex-showroom)
Following the new, simplified nomenclature that Mercedes adopted, the ML became the GLE. And like the current naming, the GLE is clear in its intent. It’s the Mercedes SUV that you’d consider when you’re looking at cars like the Q5 and the X3. Having said that, the current model’s days are numbered, as a new-generation version of the GLE is on its way to India. It’s been launched in certain markets and comes with enough party tricks to make you overlook the competition. For instance, when stuck in the mud, the vehicle can rock itself out of it. Ask anyone who does off-roading and they’d confirm that it’s far from a gimmick. And yeah, there’s also a coupe version available if that rocks your boat.
Prices start at Rs 67.15 lakh (ex-showroom)
The behemoth of an SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GLS is exactly what you’d buy if you wanted a large Merc but didn’t want to spend on two S-Classes. Makes sense? The GLS sure does, because it combines the luxury of a Mercedes-Benz saloon with the ability to traverse the harshest of roads without the occupants having to reconsider their choice of not buying a Learjet instead. It’s recently got a new rival in the form of the BMW X7, and it remains to be seen how well Mercedes-Benz can defend its position.
Prices start at Rs 87.76 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Gelandewagen, or the G-Wagen, has been around for 40 years. But one chance behind the wheel and you’d be hard-pressed to not dismiss anything and everything that calls itself the G-Class’s rival. The latest one, claimed to be a huge improvement over the previous-generation car, offers a luxurious interior, a styling not too dissimilar to that of the original, but with modern underpinnings — and a 4-litre turbocharged V8 engine. It’s available only in the AMG spec in India, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. Because you have more than 550 bhp to play with, a supercar-beating pace, and the ability to go where even probably the Urus owner begins to question your sanity.
Prices start at Rs 2.19 crore (ex-showroom)
The British (now Chinese-owned) carmaker MG has made its official entry into the Indian market with the MG Hector. The mid-sized SUV banks heavily on its features, imposing looks, and very competitive pricing. That seems to have worked in its favour. Sadly it’s not exactly the Longbridge-based MG that classic car connoisseurs loved. It’s big, heavy, and a bit oddly designed.
Prices start at Rs 12.18 lakh (ex-showroom)
The original Mini Countryman was far from the large-ish (for what its name suggests) crossover SUV that the brand currently sells. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad product. It’s larger, more practical, has powerful engine options, and makes for a good buy if you want something that stands out but isn’t the run-of-the-mill SUV. Its looks certainly give away that it can handle some bad roads and with a fairly chunky set of tyres, it won’t be affected by the pothole-filled roads. Having said that, it’s still not Peter Hansel’s Dakar car, so if your commute involves what possibly resembles the surface of the moon, you might want to look elsewhere.
Prices start at Rs 34.92 lakh (ex-showroom)
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport retails in the same segment as the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour and offers similar capabilities. It’s started to look a bit old, and the sales haven’t been great, either, but as a product, it’s hard to beat the Pajero Sport. It’s now called the Pajero Sport Select Plus, is available only with a 4×2 transmission, and is powered by a 2.5-litre diesel engine that makes about 170 bhp and 350 Nm. The five-speed AT gearbox is standard, and with a 70-litre fuel tank, it can be great for both long trips and overlanding journeys. You also get paddle shifters for the automatic ‘box, 17-inch alloys, and a capacity to seat seven.
Prices start at Rs 28.05 lakh (ex-showroom)
If you picked up an Outlander when it was first introduced in the Indian market, there’s a good chance that the crossover SUV is still running as well as it did when new. So for those who’ve enjoyed the ownership will find it difficult to recommend the new (ish) one. But if you’re completely new to it, here’s a quick recapitulation. The Mitsubishi Outlander now brings the best of both worlds (old and new): its engine is the trusted 2.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol that makes about 160 bhp and 22.6 kgm. The CVT gearbox is standard and you can lock it in 4WD or let it run in Auto/Eco, depending on the use. In terms of appearance, it has the same exterior looks like the new Outlander. And as in the past, it comes with a Rockford Fosgate speaker system, too. It seats five and has seven airbags available as part of the standard equipment.
Prices start at Rs 31.85 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Nissan Terrano was launched a little while after the Duster, and was touted as the slightly more premium offering than the Renault. Since they have the same platform, it made a lot of sense to sell the vehicle under both brands. But while the Duster was refreshed in some way or the other, the Terrano is far from new. And while as a product it mightn’t be a bad vehicle, the lack of updates has hit the Terrano the hardest. The fact that it sits in a segment that’s grown rather rapidly (both in terms of numbers and also how other manufacturers have adapted to the customers’ demands) makes matters even worse.
Prices start at Rs 10 lakh (ex-showroom)
While the Terrano might be ageing, the Kicks is a breath of fresh air. The design is new and the features list is long. It has the same platform as the other Renault/Nissan SUVs at the moment in India, so there’s no doubting its capabilities. AWD isn’t available but unless you’re planning to do mild off-roading, its absence won’t be felt. What will be felt throughout the drive/ownership is how much of an improvement the Kicks is to its siblings. And for that reason alone, this Nissan deserves a second look.
Prices start at Rs 9.55 lakh (ex-showroom)
It’s difficult to imagine why any car enthusiast wouldn’t look at the entry points into sports car ownership. And for a lot of people, the Porsche 911 encapsulates the idea of a sports car. Now the gateway to the Porsche family of products happens to be an SUV, but it’s a really good one. It’s called the Porsche Macan, and at less than Rs 70 lakh (ex-showroom), it proves to be great value considering it’s not just a Porsche-badged car but also has some dynamic prowess backing the claim. It’s not exactly large, so if you’re looking at outright space (or a V8) you’d be disappointed. But approach it with an open mind, and the Macan will pleasantly surprise you.
Prices start at Rs 69.98 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Cayenne is one of the most popular Porsches ever sold. And as it rakes in big numbers, it’s also responsible for allowing the German carmaker to continue selling the enthusiasts-centred cars like the 911. But that doesn’t mean the Cayenne itself is any lesser a car. It’s dynamically sorted, so much so that even if you were wrongly told that it’s not a Porsche, you wouldn’t believe that. It comes with enough equipment to handle some off-roading and daily bad roads. And if you’re after more power, the Cayenne Turbo is a no brainer. Prepare to be shocked. It does 0-100 kph in 3.9 seconds. Less than four seconds! That’s less time you took to read half of this description about the Cayenne. And if you can wait, a Cayenne Coupe is waiting to be added to the Indian line up soon.
Prices start at Rs 1.19 crore (ex-showroom)
The new Duster might be the proverbial old wine in a new bottle, but its capabilities aren’t reduced as Renault did the ‘facelift’. So the good part is that it’s the same old Renault Duster, which drove well, had decent poke, could do a bit of off-roading, and had a built-to-last charm to it. The new one is exactly that, uses the same platform as the original, and as before, isn’t a budget proposition in the Indian market. Which means the UN-ish fittings do feel a bit weird at times. And as the market has progressed with more polished rivals, it’s anyone’s guess why Renault hasn’t moved any further than where it was.
Prices start at Rs 8 lakh (ex-showroom)
A good argument on Renault’s part would be that the Captur is exactly the product that competes with the more modern rivals. Which isn’t exactly untrue! It shares its underpinnings with the Duster, so while on the outside, it’s more modern and good-looking, underneath it is a tried-and-tested platform.
Prices start at Rs 9.5 lakh (ex-showroom)
Rolls Royce Cullinan
The first Rolls Royce SUV, the Cullinan, is the epitome of uber-luxury SUVs, and it’s not ashamed of that. Priced at a handsome Rs 7 crore onwards, the Rolls Royce Cullinan isn’t only loaded to the brim (but of course it’s a Rolls Royce, so customise all you want), it’s got a suitable power plant to pull it — a 6.75-litre turbocharged V12 that makes 563 bhp and bucket loads of torque. Seating choices include four individual chairs or a more conventional five-seat setup. Other standard bits include four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, and a lot of jealous glances at you!
Prices start at Rs 6.95 crore (ex-showroom)
Think of the Skoda Kodiaq as a better-equipped version of the Yeti, only with a wider appeal, a more upmarket cabin, and an ability to seat more. It also marked the clear change from the slightly quirky Yeti (which is every bit as loveable) to a more conventional take on the subject. While the Kodiaq RS (which also holds the Nurburgring record for the fastest seven-seat SUV around the track) isn’t available, the standard-spec SUV isn’t slow, either. It’s more comfortable on the road than off it, but the cabin, the way it drives, and the overall quality are all a notch higher than similarly priced ladder-frame SUVs.
Prices start at Rs 33.01 lakh (ex-showroom)
Tata Motors’ revival started with the Zica, which was later renamed Tiago. With it, not only did Tata show that its potential in the last few years was heavily undermined, but also that the carmaker had everything it takes to find relevance again. The Nexon was the next big step, and despite strong competition, it went on to do exactly what Tata needed to make its mark in the segment. Like others, it doesn’t get an AWD system, but it benefits from a range of strong engines (turbocharged petrol and diesel), the convenience of an AMT gearbox, and a style quotient that even Tata might find difficult to surpass. It’s not the most exciting drive, but the vehicle’s stability and the ability to cover long distances without inducing fatigue in the driver are two noteworthy aspects.
Prices start at Rs 6.69 lakh (ex-showroom)
Tata’s resurgence is incomplete without the mention of the Harrier. Think gen-1 Juke with added visual mass and you’d come pretty close to how the Harrier looks. But what matters more is that this vehicle shares its platform with the Land Rover Discovery Sport. This gives it fairly decent road manners, whereas the 2-litre diesel engine (from Fiat) gives it decent grunt. An AWD system and an automatic gearbox, both of which aren’t available on the Harrier at the moment, will surely widen its appeal. There’s also a seven-seat version in the pipeline.
Prices start at Rs 13.02 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Aria didn’t manage to be as successful as Tata would’ve liked, so they gave it a second chance. And it turned out to be a fair chance with the Hexa, because Tata polished it so well that it turned into an actually desirable proposition. The 2.2-litre variCOR engine was powerful for most tasks, it could gobble bad roads with ease, and an optional AWD system (and not to mention an AT gearbox — sadly available only with 4×2) made the Hexa something worth considering. It’s not Tata’s strongest seller but if it’s a stable cruiser you’re after, the Hexa proves to be a good alternative to the usual choices. And despite it being a rehashed version of the Aria’s old design, the Hexa looks good.
Prices start at Rs 13.26 lakh (ex-showroom)
Tata Safari Storme
The gen-1 Safari was brought out along with the Indica, and while it didn’t quite garner as much attention as Tata’s home-grown hatchback, its fan following is second to none — at least when we’re talking about Tata Motors/Telco products. Following multiple revisions and an overhaul later, the Safari can still be bought in 2019. Its demand is low, largely because the segment has moved forwards, but the appeal hasn’t exactly diminished. Whether or not Tata does justice to the Safari’s cult appeal is yet to be known, but as a product, the current Safari is far from perfect, despite its undeniable appeal.
Prices start at Rs 10.97 lakh (ex-showroom)
The king of the full-size SUV segment at the moment is the Toyota Fortuner. It marries the go-anywhere ability with Toyota’s proven reliability. The major reason it works so well in the Indian market is, of course, the vehicle’s road presence and longevity, both of which are yet to be established so well by rivals. Despite its size, the Fortuner is surprisingly easy to drive, and the new engines have enough grunt, too. It’s not a proper off-roader but is very capable. And those interested in taking the hobby more seriously can order from a plethora of after-market parts available to further aid the Fortuner’s supremacy.
Prices start at Rs 27.82 lakh (ex-showroom)
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
A luxury SUV from Toyota that’s positioned above the Fortuner but a fair bit cheaper than the Land Cruiser, the LC Prado is a great intermediate choice. It offers good off-road ability (700 mm water wading, an approach angle of 30 degrees, and departure angle of 25 degrees), a four-camera system that lets you see keep an eye outside (helps in gauging difficult off-road challenges), and crawl control. With an adaptive variable suspension system, the vehicle’s road-holding is improved. Similarly, off the road it depends on the kinetic dynamic suspension system to keep body roll in check.
Prices start at Rs 96.19 lakh (ex-showroom)
Toyota Land Cruiser
This is the big one, the full-sized Land Cruiser. It’s got a legacy, a brand name everyone can connect with, and longevity that can effectively make humans look like they have a lifespan of a common housefly. We’re not making that up. Okay, on the more tangible list is a diesel V8 engine, which is complemented by a plethora of off-road features. These include a multi-terrain monitor, crawl control, terrain modes, ability to start in 2nd gear, adaptive ride control, etc. It can seat seven, has 10 airbags, and a four-zone climate control system.
Prices start at Rs 1.47 crore (ex-showroom)
Volvo has been inundated with awards for the XC40. That’s not only because they’ve done some good advertising for the car so a lot of people know about it, but because it’s a very good product. It’s the most affordable Volvo on sale in India right now (bar the V40 hatchback) and given what’s on offer, it gives you the most bang for your buck. A well-designed exterior? Check. A good interior — especially with a large touchscreen panel in the centre? Check. A decent performance from the engines on offer? Well, it’s no Polestar, but check. And most importantly, semi-autonomous driver aids? Check. What else would you want!
Prices start at Rs 39.90 lakh (ex-showroom)
The previous-generation XC60 had a long, successful run. Halfway through its life, Volvo added new engines, hence bringing it closer to the new range of products, mainly the XC90. But when the all-new XC60 was launched, it couldn’t have been a better execution of making a smaller XC90, without making it instantly recognisable as what it was, the XC60. And like everything we’ve come to love about the XC90, it also gets a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, meticulously crafted interior, and a good drive.
Prices start at Rs 52.90 lakh (ex-showroom)
When Volvo was about to debut the new XC90, it was clear that it had some large shoes to fill. The previous model was popular and successful, and it would have been a huge PR disaster if Volvo didn’t take a huge leap when it came to safety and other ‘Volvo’ things that we’ve come to expect from the Swedish brand, with the new XC90. But thankfully that’s exactly what Volvo did. The new XC90 isn’t only a better product than the car it replaces, it’s loaded with tech, has a powerful range of engines, and if you wanted to run a cleaner and greener car, Volvo will be glad to offer you a plug-in hybrid version of the XC90, too.
Prices start at Rs 80.90 lakh (ex-showroom)
Certainly more road-biased with its setup, the Tiguan is VW’s take on the premium compact SUV space. And by no means is it a jacked-up hatchback. It can handle some off-roading, but the way it covers ground quickly is worth an applause. It feels more settled than its size may suggest. And it’s got a distinct charm about it in the way it’s put together. It’s built to last, and if you can resist the temptation to get one of the more popular, larger, body-on-frame rivals, you won’t regret buying the Tiguan.
Prices start at Rs 28.14 lakh (ex-showroom)