Top 5 Luxury SUVs at the 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

The 2015 Vancouver International Autoshow is bigger than ever before this year. Now in its 95th year, the show boasts 25 per cent more floor space and even more vehicles at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

If you’re in the market for a new luxury SUV, here are my Top 5 Luxury SUV Picks for you to visit before the show shuts down this Sunday at 6pm.

2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport

The new Land Rover Discovery Sport makes its regional debut at this year’s Vancouver autoshow. It stands out from its posh compact-ute rivals for one simple and moderately compelling reason—it can actually go off-road, at least sometimes.

Photo by Andrew Ling

Based on the same platform as the wildly popular Range Rover Evoque, the Discovery Sport can’t match the ground clearance of its LR4, Range Rover, or Range Rover Sport siblings for pure wilderness-challenging ability.

However, the Disco Sport’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance is more than respectable for the occasional jaunt to the campgrounds or the country cottage. Land Rover also claims approach, departure, and breakover angles of 25, 31, and 31 degrees for the Sport, plus a wading depth of 23.6 inches.

In other words, that’s better offroadability than your typical BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK competitors.

Land Rover is also setting the Discovery Sport against its German rivals with the option of “5+2″ seating, with the ability to carry up to 7 passengers. No other compact luxury SUV offers such a feature. The “+2” is essentially a child-only fold-down third row that slides beneath the cargo floor when not in use.

2016 BMW X5 M / X6 M

The BMW X5 has the distinction of being not only one of the first true luxury SUVs, but also one of the first seriously fast SUVs.

Now BMW is launching the second iteration of the X5 M, which is based on the third-generation X5, alongside its less practical X6 M Sport Activity Coupe sibling.

With a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 rated at 567 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, the X5 M (and X6 M) is even quicker to trot than its predecessor with its official 0 to 100 km/hr sprint taking just over four seconds. That’s faster than many pure two seater sports cars!

Like the X6 M, the X5 M wears massive 285/35 tires up front and 325/30 rubber in the rear; 21-inch wheels are standard equipment.

As is usual in the latest BMW M models, the driver can fettle with the adjustable shocks, steering, transmission program, and throttle mapping through multiple modes using dedicated buttons for each.

Inside, the X5 M and X6 M both feature bespoke M-specific bits from the steering wheel and seats to the onscreen M Drive menu.

The exteriors of both vehicles also wear unique M front and rear styling cues, setting them apart from their more pedestrian non-M models.

2015 Lexus NX200t / NX300h

And now for something smaller (and more affordable).

With the new Lexus NX, Lexus is looking for a younger demographic than its RX mid-sized SUV.

The mid-sized RX is too big and pricey to attack the growing number of compact luxo utes and this is where the NX fits in.

Instead of the rounded and conservative silhouette associated with the RX, the NX breaks through with its brand-identifying Lexus “spindle” grille and aggressive body creases and folds.

There are two models available, the NX200t and the NX300h, available with front or four-wheel drive.

The 200t marks Lexus’s first turbocharged gas engine, in this case a 235-hp 2.0-liter four. It also will be available in mildly sportier F Sport guise.

The 300h is a hybrid with a gasoline 2.5-liter four cylinder engine and an electric motor combining to deliver 194 horsepower. You can even test drive the Lexus NX300h yourself in the Green Drive program running outside the Vancouver Convention Centre till this Sunday.

2015 Infiniti QX80 Limited

The Infiniti QX80 was substantially updated for the 2014 model year and remains as one of the few full-sized SUVs on the market with the ability to tow up to 8,500 lbs while still being able to transport 7 or 8 passengers in luxury.

Recently introduced is the QX80 in a new “Limited” trim level, offering subtle exterior upgrades and a sophisticated interior evocative of an executive boardroom.

Available in limited numbers only starting from May 2015 and exclusively as a 7-passenger model, the QX80 Limited’s exterior features dark finished, 22-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, dark chromed exterior trim, and unique stainless steel running board caps with rubber grips.

This vehicle certainly takes the word “premium” to another level.

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Canada

The luxurious interior includes semi-aniline Truffle Brown leather appointments with an exclusive quilted pattern, open pore matte finish ash wood trim, an Ultrasuede headliner and pillars, leather-appointed grab handles and speaker grilles, unique floor and trunk mats, and unique silver switchgear trim on the centre stack.

2016 Audi Q7

Among three-row vehicles, few can match the Q7 in terms of style. It is as chic as it is spacious.

The 2016 Audi Q7 debuts as an all-new vehicle with Audi’s next generation styling and impressive weight savings to the tune of 717 pounds. This should pay dividends when it comes to fuel economy and performance.

Even though the 2016 Q7 is virtually the same height as the old one, clever visual tricks like the matte-aluminum trim surface between the front and rear wheels, the gently tapering roofline, and the powerful fender flares make it look lower, wider, and longer. In fact, the new Q7 looks more wagon-like than ever.

The low-rider vibe isn’t merely visual though. Audi’s relocation of the engine lower in the chassis has yanked the Q7’s center of gravity down by a claimed 2 inches, helping to improve its driving dynamics.

Audi has been well known for its impressive use of the latest lighting technology and the 2016 Q7 continues on with that trend. The headlights’ LED daytime running lamps now form pairs of arrow-shaped elements, as do the LED tail lights out back.

As you would expect with most luxury SUVs, there is a load of the latest active safety technology to compliment the latest in driving dynamic enhancements.

Carried over from Audi’s sports cars are systems such as a brake-based torque-vectoring system and an electronically controlled center differential. The latter can vary the all-wheel-drive system’s torque split from the standard 40/60-percent front-to-rear to 70/30 or 15/85 as conditions dictate.

Optional rear-wheel steering promises to enhance stability at higher speeds by slightly turning the rear wheels in concert with the fronts. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn opposite to the fronts to greatly improve parking lot agility on such a large vehicle.