All this week we're rolling out our annual awards for best new automobiles, with us unveiling our favorite green cars yesterday. To suss out the best of the best in every category, we prowled the earth's byways, from twisty roads in China to hilly thoroughfares in the south of France to the clogged intersections of Los Angeles and Chicago. Now, we'll let you know what made the cut. Today, behold the best SUVs and crossover of 2014.
WINNER: LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER SPORT
$63,495 | Engine: 3-liter V6 | Horsepower: 340 | 0-60: 6.9 seconds | MPG: 17 city, 23 highway
Like the previous generation, the new Range Rover Sport combines refined British luxury with ass-kicking off-road capability. Only now it does both even better. Picture this: On an old U.K. airfield, we drove a Sport up a 45-degree ramp into a derelict 747, crawled around obstacles through the empty cabin, then exited down a steep ramp into a mud bath. Why? To prove this truck can motor over anything. And it will handle like a sure-footed sedan around your town's twisty roads. The performance upgrade comes via a new aluminum unibody and improved suspension dynamics. With an option of two all-wheel-drive systems you can choose on the go, no terrain can stop you. We love the V6, but the five-liter supercharged V8 (510 horsepower, about $80,000) makes you feel as if you're packing jet engines. And the cabin? Beautiful leather, polished aluminum and tasteful carbon-fiber accents; the only thing missing is a champagne bucket. This is the truck you want when the world ends.
The new Forester doesn't look much different from the old one, nor does it drive all that differently. Don't fix it if it isn't broken, right? Subaru of America had a fifth straight record year for sales in 2013. A few reasons why: The Forester is easy on the wallet, has room enough for five plus golf bags, gets decent mileage (24 city, 32 highway) and has an all-wheel-drive 2.5-liter flat four that will probably still be kicking long after you're gone.
There aren't a lot of good options for vehicles that can seat seven, especially ones that pack an optional 450-horsepower V8, all-wheel drive, an eight-speed automatic transmission and that certain command of the road that a BMW delivers. Yes, the new X5 is here, 15 years after it first appeared. The base model (three-liter, 300-horsepower V6) will run you $53,725, but we'd opt for the M Sport suspension and the aforementioned V8.
Check back Friday, when we unveil our 2014 Car of the Year.