The world is obsessed with the minivan. In fact, you’ve probably been driving a minivan for years and never even knew it. The Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes GL and Audi Q7 are all today’s modern day equivalent to the archaic soccer-mom vehicle, complete with storage, fourth row capability and a fine Italian leather interior.
Luxury car manufacturers everywhere from Japan to Germany have done a superb job of masking that simple station wagon into an adult prototype with a bit more swag; eliminate interior wood paneling and the prestige associated with Porsche, BMW or Audi, and you’ve got yourself an extremely traditional crossover.
Today’s market for luxury SUVs has exploded, forcing everyone in the market – perhaps even Bentley, Lamborghini and Maserati – to offer a luxury SUV that meets the buyer’s needs. “The buying public loves luxury SUVs. That’s why you’re going to see the ultra-premiere brands entering this market,” says Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor of Automobile Magazine.
“SUVs used to be the providence of mainstream brands, 15 years later they started to become the providence of luxury brands; now it’s across the board. It demonstrates that wealthy people like SUVs.” The consumer is calling for an SUV without the pickup truck frame or off-road capability, but luxury amenities and enough capability to still take the kids camping in the summer.
The results have propelled the manufacturers to some of their biggest sales in decades, as high demand demands a luxury crossover and sports utility capability that is the best in the world. “An upscale SUV these days can mean everything from a crossover that’s basically a sports car to a traditional SUV that can forward stream,” says Automobile Magazine’s David Zenlea.
The luxury crossover is “part of the fabric of the American car scene – people don’t use them for the utility; it’s a substitute for a minivan so you don’t need a rugged, heavy fuel-consuming truck platform,” says Dematio. Aside from the super luxurious car brands extolling crossover concepts, the more approachable brands have been selling crossover vehicles, and selling them well, for years. It’s become a rite of passage for most manufacturers – lauded as both reliable vehicles with a certain amount of prestige, these luxury minivans are most likely already in your garage.
The Mercedes-Benz might have the prestige of the world’s most high class luxury vehicle in the market, but the GL has midsize crossover written all over it. With seating for seven, a powerful 5.5L V-8 engine, all wheel drive and 7-speed automatic transmission, the Mercedes-Benz GL reads luxurious minivan to a T. The design still screams Mercedes, with premium leather trimming and interior wood paneling, heated steering wheel and Harman LOGIC7 surround system; but it’s also the dynamic of Mercedes safety and handling clout that buying an $80,000 Mercedes GL can bring.
It seems these days the Audi midsize crossover dominates the road – in most cases, the Audi Q7 does. The 2012 midsize crossover meets all the requirements of someone like you – in search of reliable capability, premier features and a fuel economy package that is amplified when opting for the more popular diesel version. The Audi interior is by far the best in class, with LED lights, Bose surround sound, the Audi parking system and seating for seven – meaning there’s no need to sacrifice the type of style you’ve become accustomed to when driving the crew around town. “More efficient diesel, significant better fuel economy, strong powered drains and incredible range” all define the Audi Q7, says Dematio.
The BMW X5 Sports Athletic Vehicle might be one of the better luxury versions of an authentic, truck-bed model SUV available on the market. The frame itself still hugs the line between crossover and SUV, but with off-road capabilities, an xDrive all wheel system, a 3.0 liter includes a 6-cycliner engine and BMW approved cold weather tires, exploring beyond the confines of a paved road could be considered extremely normal. The seven seat, lavish interior – with Sirius Satellite Radio, BMW apps and Nevada leather upholstery - accommodate the excessive consumer as well.
This car epitomizes today’s luxury crossover market. The Porsche Cayenne revitalized this car manufacturer by selling more than its original supply of traditional sports cars, engaging the consumer and generating a new market for luxury car buyers. The Porsche 911 that Automobile Magazine writers love isn’t what consumers are buying; in fact, DeMatio says, Porsche sells more of the Cayenne than all its other cars combined. The technical aspects, like a 4.8 liter twin-turbo V8 engine, VarioCam Plus, Burmester Surround Sound System, rear seat entertainment and the Porsche Active Suspension Management control system, all explain why.