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.
The 2007 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.
More contenders are expected to come, including the Cadillac BRX, Audi Q5, Saab 9-4X, and a yet-unnamed model from Lexus.
Most 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.