Supercar reviews and tests. This auto video will focus on the luxury SUV comparison.
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Hi, this is Edward Loh, Senior Editor with Motor Trend. Here today with a very special small luxury SUV comparison test and the manufacturers of the vehicles behind me have done their research and they believe that this segment represents one of the fastest growing in all of the automotive industry, as people transition from entry level luxury Sedans into these more capable vehicles.
Now each one of the vehicles behind me seats 5, has a 6 cylinder engine and full-time all wheel drive system. In addition they have a host of luxury features including leather, navigation systems and enormous sunroofs. The competitors are the Audi Q5, Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and Volvo XC60. So join us as we explore Anza-Borrego, one of California's largest State Parks. We'll be going on road and off in each one of these vehicles on our way to determining our way.
Okay, so for first step we're in the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and like I said you can really tell us that this is a competitive group because all of these cars have a lot of the same features but we start tease out what makes them different, the big one that strikes you in the face with this car is the steering, it's pretty bad, it's very numb, very vague feeling which is really a shame because this does have one of the nicest chassis, one of the top 2 among this group but just when you come out of these canyons, when you're going fast, it really doesn't inspire lot of confidence. And what this car really needs is to have a sport mode set up kind of like the Audi that tightens up the steering response and that really gives it some added feel.
But fortunately all you do have is this comfort in sport mode which doesn't really seem to do a lot. A few of the other problems outside the vehicle this vehicle came equipped with some ridiculous side cells that really don't do anything except make it harder to get in and out of the vehicle. Other things, the command system, the navigation, multimedia interface didn't get high marks in this group, Lexus has a better one so does Audi.
So the bottom line is it's a good looking car, great ride but in this competitive group it really can't finish any higher than fourth.
Okay so now the Lexus RX 350 and this is the latest generation of the best selling luxury SUV in the world and for a good reason it is a very smooth riding vehicle and also did fine off-road despite having the lowest ground clearance. But one of the problems again similar to the Mercedes is that just when we're out driving this car really hard up here in the canyons, it didn't return the same level of involvement, it wasn't a very compelling drive that has sort of numb and vague steering and tends to float and wallow in the corners.
Again it's a very soft ride and very smooth but just really not what our judge is looking for in terms of a great driving vehicle but you really can't argue the rest of the vehicle it's got a lot of luxury touches. We call that sort of a checklist car because every box was checked when they doped this thing. I mean this thing has everything from pushbutton starting, keyless entry, heated and cooled seats, the only one in our grouping as well as this really slick multimedia interface, it's a remote touch system Lexus calls it, which is really the future controlling the entertainment system and then have basically everything. It's very slick, it's very customizable kind of like the car, again a slick smooth vehicle just didn't have that driving dynamics that we were looking for which is why we couldn't put it any higher than third.
Okay so we're now in the Volvo XC60 and we're onto the final 2 vehicles and this is really when you start to see them separate themselves. In this case, the Volvo here is probably the most off-road capable given that it has the highest ground clearance, 9 inches and yet it is also a very nice driving vehicle on these twisty canyon roads.
Despite being so high this thing has quite a lot of steering feel and although it rolls, it doesn't roll quite as much as a either the Lexus or the Mercedes and so you can really carve some of these corners and have a good time while doing it. One of the reasons is that this car has the most torque, the most horsepower and the best power to weight ratio of any of the competitors. It really makes it a peppy compelling drive out here in the canyons.
On the outside, this vehicle is very striking it was considered by many to be in the top 2 in terms of attractiveness, this and the Mercedes-Benz both very good-looking vehicles. Although some people thought it might be too striking a little more dramatic than necessary. On the inside however very nicely appointed and has this beautiful signature Volvo waterfall dash, very cool hatchback setup, and a neat multimedia interface for that nav, audio, climate control system, for the passenger they can access the system using a remote control while the driver uses a set of buttons and a little joystick mounted to the back of the right hand side of the steering wheel.
Again Volvo's priority is on safety first so this allows you to keep both hands on the wheel very slick, our judges once they found it really enjoyed it.
Now if there was a problem with this vehicle it just is that it didn't put it all together quite as well quite as cohesively as our eventual winner as good as this drive was our winner drove even better and it's beautiful as it's interiors our winner again was more screwed together a tighter fit, everything was just a better package.
So unfortunately as good as this vehicle is it can finish no higher than second place.
So now in the Audi Q5 and the thing about this car that really hits you in the face is how well it drives over the others. Out in the canyons here, this Audi was brilliant, in large part due to its drive select system which allows you to pick between Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic and a Customized Individual mode and what this does is it tightens up the steering, the throttle response, pulls revs a little bit longer, it just transforms this vehicle into a very fine driving, very tight handling car. It's almost like a large A3 hatchback out here.
It really feels very nimble; very well composed and it's a joy to just toss in the corners. So this really was the driver's choice. If there are any negatives might have to do with the styling this has sort of a jellybean look to it that some people feel it's kind of blend, I found it quite handsome and it has very crisp character lines along the side, very typical Audi styling, very germane, very strong and this fall as for the interior very classy, very familiar consistent Audi setup, lots of nice textures, beautiful blonde wood, aluminum accents, lot of really nice features including an updated third generation analyze system which now has a little joystick a button on top which allows you to choose things off the map, very slick, very intuitive, again a credit to Audi's design department.
After 3 days here in Anza-Borrego driving up and down highway S-22 and doing some light off-roading once the sand washes, the Audi Q5 managed to separate itself from this really competitive group. A few of the reasons -- again it's a gorgeous looking vehicle both inside and out, it's got a host of luxury features, that's also very capable off-road and a really nice drive on-road.
Now each of the competition had a few of these features but then none of them had it all, which is why we chose the Audi Q5 as our winner.