Small Luxury SUV Class Grows
BOSTON - About a decade after Toyota’s
RAV4 sparked the compact-SUV revolution, automakers are planning a repeat
performance — this time in the luxury field. Like the RAV4, compact luxury SUVs
can negotiate alleyways that leave their larger siblings stuck. Unlike Toyota’s original model,
these SUVs offer effortless acceleration, business-class accommodations, and
loads of safety features. Why the trend? Some experts say small SUVs offer
shoppers a cheaper path into luxury brands, much like entry-level luxury
sedans. Others argue that a compact SUV fits certain lifestyles that a luxury
automaker’s bigger SUVs cannot address, according to www.boston.com.
Acura RDX, one of the earliest compact luxury SUVs, will get more company in
that segment over the next few years. When BMW’s X3 hit dealerships in early
2004, it shared the field with just Land Rover’s Freelander, a car that even
Land Rover admits was not a good fit for the US market. Acura was next with the
RDX, which came in mid-2006, followed by the Land Rover LR2. The Infiniti EX35
arrives in winter 2007.
contenders are expected to come, including the Cadillac BRX, Audi Q5, Saab
9-4X, and a yet-unnamed model from Lexus.
compact luxury SUVs start somewhere around $35,000. Ordinary compact SUVs like
the Mazda CX-7 and Honda CR-V can approach that range if they’re stacked with
options, and larger luxury SUVs like the Lexus RX 350 and Lincoln MKX start at
just a few thousand dollars more. It comes as no surprise that Acura reports
the CX-7, CR-V, and RX 350 are cross-shopped in significant numbers with the
RDX, which starts at $33,195, according to www.boston.com.