Four-wheel drive vehicles embody the spirit of the SUV in a way their two-wheel drive counterparts will never be able to. A critical component in the “Utility” component of a “Sport Utility Vehicle”, four-wheel drive brings a level of versatility that’s needed in today’s world. Whether it’s hauling cargo, towing a trailer, or splashing through the mud, four-wheel drive can go where other vehicles can’t go and do what other vehicles can’t do. Here is a brief look at some of the best four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles’ upsides and downsides.
|Land Rover Range Rover||$84,950||17/23||9.2||5 std|
|Volvo XC90||$49,800||20/25||8.8||7 std|
|Lexus RX Hybrid||$41,900||20/27||8.4||5|
|Kia Sorento||$25,100||21/29||8.35||5 std (7 opt)|
|GMC Yukon||$48,165||16/23||8.2||7 std (9 opt)|
|BMW X6||$60,600||18/25||8||5 std|
|Mercedes GL-Class||$64,550||19/26||7.8||7 std|
|Toyota Land Cruiser||$83,825||13/18||7.6||8 std|
|Jeep Renegade||$17,995||24/31||7.6||5 std|
|Jeep Wrangler||$23,895||17/21||7||4 std|
2016 Kia Sorento – $25,100 – 7 Passengers Optional
Completely redesigned for 2016, the Kia Sorento is a stylish blend of economy, comfort and utility. Almost every piece of the 2016 Sorento has been modified or changed out for 2016, and the general sentiment is that these changes are overwhelmingly positive. With standard seating for five and an optional configuration that will seat seven, along with optional 4-wheel drive and a comfortable interior, the 2016 Sorento is a prime example of SUV heritage and modern design.
While the exterior has undergone little change from last year, the updated interior in the Sorento truly shines. Even in the base trim the cabin is extremely well finished, with quality touches throughout. With the second and third rows folded down, the interior has 73 cubic feet of cargo space. This quickly shrinks to a paltry 11 cubic feet when these rows are in use, limiting the seven seat configuration’s usefulness as a cargo carrier.
The standard four-cylinder engine produces just 185-horsepower. This is just barely enough to get the mid-size SUV moving, and most consumers will want to spring for the higher end V6 or turbo-four options. These will quickly climb in price, however, and the Sorento takes a large value hit as a result. This lack of power is at least partially made up for with the vehicle’s agile and composed handling. The Sorento glides smoothly across the roadway and even in bumpy terrain will maintain a comfortable ride. The Sorento’s all-wheel drive option is adequate for light off-roading, but anything beyond a well traveled trail road is best left to more rugged SUV’s.
2016 Volvo XC90 – $49,800 – 7 Passengers
Volvo has made a name for itself by creating vehicles that quietly whisper luxury without the brash opulence that accompanies its competitors. The 2016 XC90 personifies this hushed statement, seating its passengers in extravagant luxury without forcing it on those around them.
Just looking at the XC90 hints as to why this strategy is so effective. The XC90 looks smaller than it really is, and the aesthetics fit nicely into any city street without standing out in a bad way. Upon entering the cabin, passengers will be treated to an exceptional experience, with comfortable seats, well made materials, and a wealth of function and utility. Interior cargo space with the back two rows folded down is an impressive 85.8 cubic feet, one of the largest in its class. The XC90 is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
The base model T6 comes with all-wheel drive as standard, with a 316-horsepower turbo and supercharged engine. This powertrain provides ample power for the XC90, and the ride quality is exceptional. Like its exterior profile, the XC90 handles like a smaller SUV than it actually is, with responsive cornering and good brakes. The all-wheel drive system functions perfectly, and the XC90 can handle rough roads and tracks with ease thanks to its high ground clearance.
2016 Jeep Wrangler – $23,895 – 4 Passengers
The 2016 Jeep Wrangler is meant to be a rugged off-road performer. In that respect it succeeds beautifully, giving its owners competitive off-road performance at a low price-point. In other respects the Wrangler is mediocre at best, however, and only buyers who are comfortable with this trade-off should consider purchasing the Wrangler.
Due to this focus on rugged performance, the Wrangler doesn’t have all that smooth of a ride, and as is common with top heavy Jeeps, there is a significant amount of roll through the corners. The itself is agile, but drivers must be careful lest they find themselves rolling the vehicle. That being said, the Wrangler is an exceptional trail runner, and there isn’t much terrain it won’t gobble up with ease. In order to get true off-road performance buyers will need to spring for the Rubicon trim; its locking front and rear differential are required for the most difficult terrain performance. This will cost quite a bit more than the standard model, having an MSRP of $33,195.
Four-wheel drive comes as standard on all Wrangler trims, and the rumbling V6 motor has ample power. On the road, the Wrangler never feels sluggish or like it’s lagging behind. Off the road, the Wrangler can pull up over and through almost anything that a modern commercial vehicle can handle.
2016 Mercedes Benz GL Class – $64,550 – 7 Passengers
Driving performance meets high-end luxury in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL Class. The GL has the uniquely Mercedes blend of driving enjoyment, function, comfort and caution to the wind power that has become a hallmark of the brand.
Featuring three ever more powerful engines, the GL is never short on power at any trim. The base V6 is a 240-horsepower coupled with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Drivers interested in more of a thrill can opt for either a V6 or a mighty 550-horsepower V8 that’s sure to satisfy even the most discerning speed seekers. Driving on paved roads is a joy, with far less body roll and much more agile braking and handling than others in the class. The GL does fall short of more off-road focused competitors like the Range Rover, but its all-wheel drive system will still handle moderate trail work.
On the inside, the GL Class is as comfortable and luxurious as one would expect from a Mercedes. Quality is the standard here, with an array of features and options to fit any driver. From the outside, the Mercedes is clearly in another class unto its own and not afraid to show it. The sleek lines, familiar grille and pristine finish unmistakably mark the GL Class as a luxury SUV.
2016 Toyota Land Cruiser – $83,825 – 8 Passengers
Toyota’s premiere off-road offering, the Land Cruiser is a terrain focused luxury SUV that knows its way around a bumpy back road. While it does start at a higher price than its rivals, almost everything comes as standard in the Land Cruiser and the price doesn’t climb much higher even with all the optional extras.
For that base price, buyers get a hefty 5.7-liter V8 making 381-horsepower. It’s exactly as thirsty as one would expect from such a large engine, which may be its only downside. On pavement the Land Cruiser is comfortable, with only a little roll in the corners and surprisingly good handling for its size. Off the road it’s a direct challenger to Land Cruiser’s best off-road performers. The four-wheel drive system and locking center differential come standard, and help the Land Cruiser tackle almost any terrain.
Inside the Land Cruiser is a special brand of Toyota flavored luxury. All the standard luxury features are here, like heated seats and power adjustable everything, but it’s presented in a functional way that contrasts nicely against some of its rivals more opulent displays.
2016 Land Rover Range Rover – $84,950 – 5 Passengers
The last word in luxury four-wheel drive performance, the Land Rover Range Rover is the complete SUV package. There may be better rough terrain vehicles and there may be better on-road performers, but no other vehicle does both with such a proficient blend of luxury and performance.
The base model’s supercharged V6 is more than enough for any driving conditions, and even more powerful engines are available, topping out at the Range Rover Autobiography’s mighty supercharged 5-liter V8. It has one of the smoothest rides of any SUV available on the market and handles it’s bulk well. Off the beaten path the Range Rover is nearly unmatched, featuring all the needed rough terrain capabilities including terrain response monitoring, locking differentials, a low-range gearbox and intelligent four-wheel drive.
There are SUVs with more interior cargo space available, but few that can beat the Range Rover for comfort and quality. Leather, high-quality paneling, and adjustable everything is the standard here .The Rang Rover’s mediocre 71 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row seats folded down is more than made up for with interior features, like available 22-way adjustable seating and a USB port for every seat.
2016 BMW X6 – $60,600 – 5 Passengers
As one of the original sedan-SUV crossovers, the BMW X6 set the standard for models that came after it like the GLE. BMW has continued to evolve the X6, but has always kept the vehicles’ focus the same: raw driving performance.
Even in the base model the BMW X6’s 300-horsepower V6 is powerful enough to put its competitors on their heels. Even more ridiculous engine options are of course available, including the M-Division’s 567-horsepower twin-turbocharged monster. The X6’s focus on performance translates to handling as well, with crisp cornering and sport-like braking. Multiple drive modes ensure that drivers can tailor their ride to fit their needs; from Eco to Sport+, the X6 embodies BMW’s mantra of creating the Ultimate Driving Machine.
While some reviewers feel the X6’s interior doesn’t reflect its luxury price-tag, the X6’s furnishing should feel more than adequate for most drivers. The rear seats are extremely comfortable and have ample room to seat two adults. Quality materials are featured throughout and most of the standard luxury offerings are present.
2016 Jeep Renegade – $17,995 – 5 Passengers
The smallest vehicle in Jeep’s current lineup, and one of the smallest Jeep’s ever made, the 2016 Renegade is a spunky sub-compact with the attitude of its older and more rugged brothers. A meeting of everyday driveability and impressive off-road capability, the Renegade excels at the former and never feels like it’s lacking in the latter.
A small turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine makes an impressive 160-horsepower and is enough to power this subcompact through city streets and backwoods trails. It’s not meant to be a powerhouse, but it also doesn’t lag behind on the road. Drive quality is adequate and there is little roll. It handles exactly like it’s small frame would imply, able to nimbly navigate small city streets and cramped parking lots. It’s also very fuel efficient thanks to its small engine and light weight.
The Renegade is remarkably comfortable, especially when it’s extremely low price is factored into the equation. There really is a lot of bang for the buck in the Renegade, and while standard features aren’t as robust as other offerings in the subcompact class, the Renegade has enough optional extras to satisfy most buyers.
2016 Lexus RX Hybrid – $52,235 – 5 Passengers
Undergoing a massive design overhaul from ground up, the Lexus RX Hybrid has made a number of improvements over its previous model year. Regardless of how people feel about its new exterior looks, the quality, comfort and luxury present in the vehicles’ interior is as undeniable as its mouth wide open grille.
A 308-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 sits under the hood and front-mounted electric drive completes the hybrid package. Most Lexus vehicles aren’t known for their sporty performance and the RX Hybrid isn’t overly impressive either. It doesn’t feel slow, it’s just not fast either. It handles sufficiently well, though some competitor offerings are more agile and have more responsive steering, something the Lexus lacks. The all-wheel drive system performs fine on the road but doesn’t have the chops to really perform off the pavement. On the upside, thanks to its hybrid powertrain, the RX Hybrid is incredible fuel efficient for its size, getting an EPA estimated combined 30 mpg.
What the RX Hybrid misses in its driving performance it makes up for with pure comfort and quality. It has one of the nicest Lexus interiors available, if not one of the nicest luxury SUV interiors on the market.
2016 GMC Yukon XL – $51,015 – 7 Passengers (9 Optional)
The GMC Yukon XL is one of the biggest, toughest and strongest SUVs on the market today. The Yukon XL is the longer wheelbase version of the standard GMC Yukon, which is already large to begin with. An additional 14 inches is added to the standard Yukon to create the XL, and this extra length makes the Yukon not just one of the largest SUVs on the road, but one of the largest vehicles on the road period.
True to GMC form, a muscular V8 powers the Yukon XL, making 355-horsepower, and GMC offers a larger 420-horsepower option as well. Cylinder-deactivation helps conserve fuel, shutting off half the engines cylinders at cruising speed. Even so, the V8’s are gas guzzlers, which is to be expected from such a massive vehicle. On the road the Yukon XL feels every bit as large as it is, but its ride is smooth and the body roll when cornering could be much worse. The Yukon XL will tow up to 8,500 pounds.
The obvious advantage to the Yukon’s large size comes in the interior, which is cavernous and comfortable. There is plenty of room in all three rows for passengers, and while all trims feature a superior level of quality and comfort, the Denali is a particular standout, rivaling luxury competitors in almost every way.
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Over to You
Which of these vehicles are you leaning towards? Leave a comment and let us know what you like about it and why!