They may be super-sized, but the Best Large AWD SUVs offer consumers the best combination of power, agility, comfort, style, safety, technology and prestige. Among the available models are affordable (but watch the add-ons) or luxury large AWD SUVs. Here are three top picks for the title of Best Large AWD SUVs:
- Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV – Though regular Escalade is rear-wheel drive (with AWD optional), the 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV comes with standard AWD. Consumer Guide names the 2010 Escalade a Recommended pick in the premium-large SUV category. There’s plenty of power from the 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission. New for 2010, Escalade gets cylinder deactivation for improved gas mileage and front side airbags. Car and Driver comments: “Cadillac’s full-size luxury sport utility continues to impress with its strong V-8, extroverted appearance and posh interior…Quick and handles well for an old-school body-on-frame ute.”
- Mercedes-Benz GL-Class – For a car-like, luxurious and refined driving experience, you can’t beat the 2010 . Standard 4Matic AWD tops the list, but there’s so much more that’s appealing about GL-Class. The car-based crossover, unlike some truck-based competitors, offers luxurious appointments, prestige, plenty of power in several engines, and nimble handling. Edmunds says “no other luxury SUV provides the same balance of driving refinement and interior space as the 2010 Mercedes GL-Class. While some like the or the Range Rover models provide the former, they can’t comfortably haul around 7 adults…Classy and refined, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class rises above the competition with its confident road manners and excellent build quality.”
- Audi Q7 – Powered by a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine, the 2010 Audi Q7 large luxury SUV features standard Audi Quattro AWD and seating for up to 7 passengers. Other engine choices include 350-hp 4.2-liter V8 and 225-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. Excellent safety features, lots of cargo room, luxurious interior and superb build quality are all Q7 plusses. Consumer Guide gives Q7 a Recommended nod and remarks: “Q7 is more agile and car-like than most large SUVs. Still, its elevated stance and high weight demand slowing for tight corners despite the modest body lean vs others in this class. Steering is firm and slop-free at highway speeds and usefully light for parking. Still, Q7 suffers from a large-SUV-typical turning radius.”
A word of advice: Before you plunk down cash or sign on the dotted line for any of these contenders for Best Large AWD SUVs, be sure to do a comprehensive test drive. Navigating the open road is one thing to consider, but you’ll also want to experience how this full-size ‘utes handle parking and tight spots. AWD is a huge assist in this area, but there are still differences between makes that make competitive comparisons important.