Best luxury SUV 2023
Want to go off-road in total comfort? Try one of these luxury 4x4s, which bring comfort and quality alongside all-terrain ability
If you're looking for a luxury car, your options are pretty varied. It used to be that luxury cars were mostly large saloons that looked like downsized limousines, but models like the Range Rover turned the market on its head, and now there are several more luxurious SUVs available, and some of them double up as capable 4x4s.
We’ve already looked at some luxurious road-biased SUVs over on our best luxury SUVs list, but here we’re going to take a look at a selection of cars that use four-wheel drive to provide actual off-road ability.
There aren’t a huge number of luxury 4x4s, so most of the models on this list are first and foremost a luxury car. However, unlike in our other story on luxury SUVs that included high-performance and high-cost models such as the Lamborghini Urus, we’re only including cars here that you might actually consider going off-road in.
Then there are the models, mostly Land Rovers, that really do combine proper off-road ability with a luxurious driving experience. The brand’s newest model, the Defender, is the first car on our list because it’s pretty much perfect for the job description; it's a high-end car that’s comfy and has lots of tech, but one that is also highly capable on tough terrain.
We’ve included cars from a range of budgets here, from some more affordable, older models that may not have all the latest kit but will still offer comfort, luxury and four-wheel drive at a good price, to slightly pricier newer models.
So whether a luxury 4x4 means a vehicle with a high driving position and chunky looks above all else, or a machine with the most sophisticated off-road tech that enables it to wade seriously deep water, cross enormous ruts and tackle steep slopes with comfy seats and slick in-car kit, there are cars here for you. can Read on for our picks of the best luxury 4x4s.
Luxury 4x4 cars
Best luxury 4x4 for all-round ability
Our pick Land Rover Defender D240 S 110
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The Land Rover Defender is so new that it’s still rather expensive even as a used car but it nails the brief here; a luxury off-roader it most certainly is. The cabin is high-quality and packed with the latest tech, including helpful cameras and other tools to make driving over challenging terrain much easier.
It’s also really spacious inside, which adds to the luxury feel, as does the stylish and tactile interior design. It has a big boot, so it works well as both a family car and a companion for an off-road adventure.
More impressively, the Defender is also really good to drive on the road, as it’s comfortable and relatively quiet inside on the motorway. We’ve picked the 2.0-litre diesel D240 model in 110 form. This means it’s the longer five-door version with more room inside and rear doors for extra practicality. The automatic gearbox is standard and it’s smooth and easy to use.
Best luxury 4x4 for ruggedness
Our pick Mercedes G350d
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The Mercedes G-Class has a very similar ethos to the Land Rover Defender, but with a German twist. It’s become a fashionable car in cities, but it’s one of the best off-roaders around and also features a luxurious and high-quality interior that’s full of tech.
It’s incredibly rugged and known for its dependability in really harsh conditions. It’s hugely popular in countries with a lot of desert and dry, rocky terrain, which should tell you how good it is at tackling that kind of driving. The only problem with the G-Class is that it’s so popular that it holds its value well, so it’s not cheap to purchase, even as a second-hand car.
The G350d model definitely makes the most sense as it’s a really heavy car and the high-performance G63 AMG model, while incredibly fast and powerful, is unbelievably expensive to run, with incredibly low fuel economy figures. The diesel is more cost-effective but nearly as punchy in real-world driving and great for off-roading.
Best luxury 4x4 for dependability
Our pick Toyota Land Cruiser 2.8 D-4D Invincible 4x4
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If you asked us to pick a car to drive out into the Australian bush, the Gobi desert or across central Africa, we would choose the Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s so dependable and reliable that prices are very firm, so even though it’s not as luxurious as some of the cars here, it’s still a premium product.
The interior has more cheap-looking plastic than in the leather-clad cabins of others on this list, but it’s sure to last much longer, and put up with more abuse over the years. It’s also a comfortable and incredibly capable car when you’re off-roading. If part of the luxury feel of a 4x4 is knowing that it will take you anywhere you want to go, the Land Cruiser absolutely achieves that.
It’s not as good as a Defender on-road but it’s still comfy and smooth over potholes and bumps. Performance is good from the slightly noisy 2.8-litre diesel engine, but its main strength is reliability - it’ll go on forever if you treat it right. It’s available as a five- and seven-seater, so take your pick depending on what you need.
Best luxury 4x4 for technology
Our pick VW Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion SE L
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The latest Volkswagen Touareg is a great choice for those who like a lot of modern technology in their luxury car. Its huge - and we mean huge - touchscreen media system on the dashboard is packed with features, looks great and feels very up-to-date.
Go for the SE L model rather than the R-Line, as the smaller wheels and greater amount of rubber between you and the road make it better for off-roading and you’ll be less likely to mark the alloys on a stray rock. The 3.0-litre diesel engine is very strong and the automatic gearbox is smooth, plus there are selectable driving modes for various surfaces should you need them.
The VW Touareg is cheaper than some other models on this list but offers just as much luxury in the cabin and a very comfortable drive. It’s also really roomy inside for passengers and luggage. It’s not the ultimate in off-road ability but it’ll be good enough for most, especially on models with the optional air suspension - as this can increase the ride height for better ground clearance.
Best luxury 4x4 for light off-roading
The Volvo XC60 is a brilliant car in all sorts of ways, and while it’s not a rugged off-roader like some of the other cars here, if you are only planning on doing some light off-roading such as taking on a tricky farm track, driving across fields or taking the family to the beach, then chances are it will be up to the job.
It has a fantastic interior with a minimalist, modern-looking design and some very tactile and plush feeling materials. It’s comfortable, spacious for both passengers and luggage, and comes in a variety of forms depending on what you need. The plug-in hybrid T8 and T8 models are a great choice for commuting as you can plug in, charge the batteries up and then drive on electric power alone for short distances, but we reckon the mild hybrid B4D model works best for most people.
This has a 2.0-litre diesel engine that’s punchy but also quite economical, and it stays nice and quiet on the motorway. The XC60 is loaded with tech and drives smoothly over potholes and rough roads so long as you choose a model with smaller wheels - the desirable high-spec R-Design models have large alloys that make the car less comfortable, so it's worth thinking about whether you value maximum style or maximum comfort more.
Best luxury 4x4 for style and value
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a great alternative to the Land Rover Defender at a lower price, and the fact that it comes with seven seats shows that it’s also a good choice as a practical family car. It doesn’t miss out on off-road ability despite its smaller size and lower price, as all Land Rovers are designed to be good both on- and off-road.
The Discovery Sport isn’t as highly luxurious as some of the more expensive models here, but considering how affordable it is, especially second-hand, it’s still an upmarket car. It has plenty of tech in the cabin and good quality materials, comfy seats and a roomy cabin.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is a little rattly, but it’s quiet enough most of the time and the Discovery Sport is comfortable and enjoyable to drive. There are manual gearbox options but we’d go for the automatic gearbox if you want a luxury car, as this makes the driving experience that bit more relaxing, especially in traffic.
Best luxury 4x4 for driving
There’s often a trade-off when it comes to making a car good to drive on- and off-road. Land Rover has a magic formula and many of its cars are good at both, but this is rare and if you want a 4x4 that’s really good to drive on the road, it often won’t be as capable off-road.
The BMW X5 is a good example. It’s no slouch when on tough terrain but it doesn’t have the wealth of assistance features and wheel articulation of a Land Rover Defender, so it can’t keep up when the terrain gets very uneven. Yet on the road, there are few SUVs that are as enjoyable to drive as the X5. Despite its size and weight, it’s both comfortable and more agile than you might expect.
The xDrive30d model’s ultra-smooth diesel engine is a joy to use, near-silent on the motorway and really powerful when you need it. It’s one of the best large diesel engines in all the cars on this list, so is well worth seeking out, and it’s perfectly matched to the smooth and quick-shifting automatic gearbox. The cabin is highly luxurious and modern, too.
Best luxury 4x4 for quality
The Range Rover is the ultimate car if you want an off-roader that’s luxurious. It was the car that invented the niche of the luxury off-roader in the 1970s and it’s remained the king ever since, bringing incredible levels of ability on rough terrain considering that it’s also as high-quality and luxurious as the most expensive saloons.
It features a very upmarket cabin with leather and soft-touch materials everywhere you look, plus hugely comfortable seats and all the best modern tech on the built-in media system. It’s available with punchy and powerful large petrol and diesel engines and even as a plug-in hybrid, but the 3.0-litre diesel offers the best balance of performance and economy.
The Range Rover is highly capable off-road but is also supremely comfortable on the road, and although it’s rather large and not great for some of the narrow tracks and roads in rural parts of the UK, the only real issue is the price - it’s not cheap to buy or finance, and possibly even more expensive than that to run.
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