Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) don’t always have to be terrible. This list represents some of the Best SUVs ever produced. From classics such as the aptly named Range Rover Classic to new entrants like the Lamborghini Urus, this list has a little of everything. Some are great off-road, some are fast on-road, some look amazing, but they’re all worthy of your consideration.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is absolute insanity. Those maniacs wedged a Hellcat motor in a Grand Cherokee, added some massive Brembo brakes mounted inboard, turned the sound up to 11, and unleashed hell. The Trackhawk puts down over 700 horsepower to all four wheels propelling the million pound Grand Cherokee to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. That’s damn near supercar territory! Sure, you probably get negative miles per gallon, but who cares!
Land Rover Range Rover “Classic”
Despite their appearance in shopping malls across the world, the Range Rover is an incredible off-road luxury machine. The best is still the first generation in production from 1970 to 1996. They offered eight engine combinations; four gasoline and four diesel engines. The top of the line gas engine was the 4.2 liter V8 making a scant 200 horsepower or 500 less than the Trackhawk. The diesel range was pretty much the same ranging from 2.4 liters to 2.5 liters. There were both 3-door and 5-door variants, as well as short and long wheelbases.
Land Rover Discovery Series I-IV “The Boxy Years”
Like the Range Rover, the Discovery is equally capable off-road, but less chintzy inside, and boxier everywhere. There were numerous transmission and engine choices across all four series. Kudos to Land Rover for keeping the boxy design from 1989-2016. There are tons of special editions, but the best would be a manual-equipped, diesel-powered Discovery with the armored B6 ballistic level of protection. You know, just in case.
Porsche Cayenne Turbo Third Generation
The first Porsche Cayenne was known for its ugliness despite its capabilities. The third generation is a lot less hideous, and the Turbo features a stout turbocharged 4 liter V8 making 542 horsepower propelling the beast to 60 miles per hour in under 4 seconds. Unfortunately, no manual is available, but you can get large carbon-ceramic brakes if you want to start racing it for some reason. If you want to save the world, they do have a Turbo S E-Hybrid that makes 671 horsepower. Plus, Porsches are as reliable as a wood-burning stove, so that’s another plus.
When Lamborghini announced they were building an SUV, everyone expected the worse. They thought it would be some hideous monster between the 1st generation Cayenne and the Lamborghini LM002. Somehow, despite the terrible name, Lamborghini made an attractive SUV that maintained a typical Lambo feel. They look better in person than in photographs. Thank god they didn’t add Lambo doors, although I’m sure someone already has. No V12, but it does feature a turbocharged 4 liter V8 that makes 641 horsepower hitting 60 in just 3.6 seconds. Surprisingly it weighs only 4,800 pounds or just 200 pounds more than a Dodge Charger. Seriously. If, by selling tons of these SUVs, Lamborghini can make more wild car, then so be it.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
I’m disappointed that Alfa Romeo’s haven’t sold as well here in their return to the States. From the 4C, the Giulia and the Stelvio, all of their lineup looks incredible and goes like hell. Not only is the Stelvio Quadrifoglio incredible looking, but it also won several SUV of the Year awards. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio handles exceptionally well and features a 2.9 liter twin-turbocharged V6 making over 505 horsepower. It rides on the same platform of the Giulia sedan, just raised and extended. Great looking, luxurious, fast, and proper handling, what more would you want?
VW Touareg V10 TDI
First off, VW raced and continues to run the Touareg competing at Pikes Peak, the Baja 1000, and the Dakar Rally. A V10 Touareg won their class at Pikes Peak and placed second in the 2006 Dakar Rally. The first-generation Touareg featured 4-wheel adjustable suspension and locking differentials. The V10 TDI was quite rare in the states but featured an incredible 550-pound foot of torque. That’s enough to tow a 747 as they gladly demonstrated in some vintage ads. The Touareg is still around, and you can get one in a diesel, albeit with the smaller V6. They are planning to bring one to this year’s rally in Saudi Arabia.
Dodge Durango SRT
Outside of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, I don’t think there’s a more sinister-looking SUV on the market. Where the Urus and Stelvio stun with their beauty, the Durango looks like it’s going to punch you in the face. Available with two V8s, the 6.4 liter Hemi makes just south of 500 horsepower. Sure, the interior isn’t that luxurious, but you get AWD and a big, loud V8. Pop up that sunroof and let your mullet fly!
Speaking of mullets, the GMC Typhoon is one of the most legendary hillbilly heroes. Only produced from 1991-1993, the 3,800-pound Typhoon featured a turbocharged V6 mounted to a 4-speed automatic. The little two-door SUV made 280 horsepower but 350 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels propelling it to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds or on par with the Corvettes and Ferraris of the day. Pretty great for a $30,000 SUV made of plastic. Its little brother, the GMC Syclone, made our list of the Best Trucks.
Jeep Wagoneer (SJ)
The Jeep Wagoneer made our list for many reasons, but one of those reasons is it made wood paneling cool. Few vehicles look good with wood paneling, but this one pulled it off to perfection. Produced from 1963 up to 1991, the Wagoneer featured many drivetrains. You could get a 3-speed or 4-speed manual, an automatic transmission, and anywhere from a tiny inline 6 to a massive 401 cubic inch V8. Being a Jeep, it’s inherently capable off-road. Classic looks and off-road pedigree, it’s easy to see why the Wagoneer is on this list.
Mercedes G-Wagen (460/461/463)
I was extremely reluctant to include the G-Wagen due to its appearance in every terrible music video of the last several decades. Despite that, it is one of the most capable and versatile SUVs ever made. A G-Wagen has found its way into the military fleet of 44 countries including, Canada, the UK, Mexico, and even the United States. The SUV is so versatile it would take an entire blog article to cover all the variants. There are over 11 body variants alone, and that doesn’t even get into the engine and transmission options. It’s too bad that homemakers mostly drive them because they are competent off-road machines. (There’s a rap song making fun of this by Post Malone)
Suzuki Samurai (2nd Generation)
An SUV with as many names as the G-Wagon had body variants; the Suzuki Samurai is a nimble little SUV that came with a 4- or 5-speed only and featured either an inline 3- or 4-cylinder engine. They also came in either RWD or 4WD. This little mini-SUV could do it all as Top Gear proved in their Bolivia Special. Suzuki still makes these in some parts of the world but, unfortunately, no longer in the US.
Toyota Land Cruiser (J40/J60)
The Toyota Land Cruiser has a long and storied history. It’s mostly a Japanese copy of a Jeep they found after occupying the Philippines in 1941. Toyota has been making the Land Cruiser since 1951. I consider the J40 and the J60 to be the best models of the bunch. The J40 best represents the military roots of the Land Cruiser. They still have that spartan feeling and off-road capabilities. The J60 represents Toyota’s first step into the future featuring such creature comforts as air conditioning. In most parts of the world, you can get a manual transmission mounted to a diesel engine — pretty much perfection.
Well, that’s our list of the best SUVs ever. Yes, I know I didn’t include the International Harvester Scout, but I was just running out of time.
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