Best of the Best 2007: Sport Utility Vehicles

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The first BMW X5 ( introduced drivers to the concept of an SUV that behaved like a sports sedan. (BMW calls the X5 an SAV—for Sport Activity Vehicle.) Redesigned for 2007, the X5 remains true to BMW’s driver-oriented ethos. It offers ample power, precise handling, and a controlled ride. The $54,500 X5 4.8i, fitted with a 350 hp V-8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, reaches 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Although BMW has not compromised the X5’s performance, it has made some concessions to popular SUV trends: Options include a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control system, third-row seating, and 20-inch rims.

With all of its chrome trim and other accoutrements, the Lincoln Navigator ( embodies an exuberant design sensibility. The interior, which seats as many as eight, is lavishly appointed, with leather, wood, and more chrome trim. Extra insulation makes the cabin a prime venue for the available THX-certified sound system and DVD entertainment center. A 5.4-liter V-8 delivers 300 hp via a 6-speed automatic transmission. In the unlikely event that a standard Navigator ($46,575) seems short on space, the stretched L variant adds 15 inches to the length of the vehicle and 25 more cubic feet to the cargo bay.


In the early years after its 1999 acquisition by Mercedes-Benz, AMG worked its performance-enhancing magic on only select models. Today, however, even Mercedes’ SUVs often include an AMG variant. The redesigned M-Class recently added the $86,275 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG ( to the fold. A 6.3-liter V-8 provides the power. With 503 hp—achieved without turbo or supercharger—the ML63 screams to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. A 7-speed transmission and 20-inch wheels are standard. While the ML63’s performance places this family-mover in the company of sports cars, the vehicle requires no sacrifice on the part of occupants: The AMG-designed interior retains all the utility-oriented assets of a spacious SUV’s cabin.

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