Ranked

15 most powerful SUVs you can buy in 2021

The Bentley Bentayga Speed delivers power, performance, and superbly luxurious accommodations.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Remember when people bought SUVs because they needed to haul people and stuff while also towing a trailer? We're light years away from that now, as SUVs have all but taken over the automotive market. Because of that popularity, they're becoming faster, safer, and more tech-rich with every year that passes. Some automakers even offer performance SUVs with massive horsepower numbers and near-supercar levels of acceleration.

That's why we're here today – to discuss the most powerful SUVs on the market today. Many of the names on this list will get a knowing nod from many readers, who recognize their performance nameplates, but there will be at least a few surprises for everyone. Let's dive in.

Please note, models with similar power outputs have been omitted for clarity. An example is the BMW X6 M Performance, which carries the same performance specs that the X5 M Competition does. We chose the best representation of the power for this article's listing based on our testing of the models.

No. 15 - Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring

2021 Lincoln Aviator

​Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

494 horsepower
630 pound-feet of torque

The Lincoln Aviator's standard powertrain, which involves a 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, is more than powerful enough for most people, but the automaker offers a Grand Touring model that adds hybrid power to the mix. The Aviator Grand Touring pairs a 75-kilowatt electric motor to that V6 to produce 494 total system horsepower. That's a big number, but the extra torque is where the real story lies, as the Aviator Grand Touring produces 630 pound-feet of the stuff. How does zero to 60 mph in five seconds in a Lincoln SUV sound?

No. 14 - Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifolgio

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

505 horsepower
443 pound-feet of torque

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is powered by a Ferrari-developed twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 and puts its 505 horsepower to the ground through all four wheels and an eight-speed automatic transmission. That engine also delivers 443 pound-feet of torque for a zero to 60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds.

No. 13 - Tesla Model X

2020 Tesla Model X

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

518 horsepower
487 pound-feet of torque

A vehicle that makes 518 horsepower and doesn't use a tablespoon of gas in the process is impressive enough on its own, but the Tesla Model X has plenty of other virtues. The EV can travel from zero to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds, can seat up to seven people, has cool (but questionably practical) X-wing doors, and has an amazing suite of advanced driver assistance technologies.

No. 12 - Jaguar F-Pace SVR

2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR

Photo courtesy of Jaguar

550 horsepower
502 pound-feet of torque

The F-Pace was Jaguar's first attempt at a crossover, and for the most part it's turned out quite well. Though the automaker now makes two other crossover models, including one EV, the F-Pace is its most powerful. The SVR model takes that power a step further with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that makes 550 horsepower and a thunderous noise out its back end. That power is good enough for the SVR to make the run from zero to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 176 mph.

No. 11 - Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR

2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

575 horsepower
516 pound-feet of torque

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR gets the same supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that its corporate cousin, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR has. Here, it's tuned to 575 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That'll help the Range Rover Sport SVR reach 60 mph from a standstill in 4.3 seconds.

No. 10 - ​Maserati Levante Trofeo

2021 Maserati Levante TrofeoPhoto courtesy of Maserati

590 horsepower
538 pound-feet of torque

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is quick, but the Maserati Levante Trofeo holds the title of Italy's most powerful SUV. In the Trofeo, the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 engine puts down an incredible 590 horsepower and can propel the Maserati to a zero to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds.

No. 9 - Audi RS Q8

2020 Audi RS Q8

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

591 horsepower
590 pound-feet of torque

If a Lamborghini Urus is too flashy for you, the RS Q8 offers much of the same engineering without the baggage. It's got a 4.0-liter V8 that produces 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. That's a combination that yields a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds.

No. 8 - Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge

2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge

Photo by Harvey Briggs

600 horsepower
664 pound-feet of torque

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the size of a house and has all of the right angles to prove it. A 6.7-liter V12 under the hood provides 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to move the enormous SUV from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds.

No. 7 - ​Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 SPhoto courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

603 horsepower
627 pound-feet of torque

Just running through the Mercedes-AMG SUV catalog would make quick work of this list. The group's got a handle on powerful people movers, and it shows. The GLE 63 S makes 603 horsepower while looking and driving like a normal vehicle in everyday situations. A stab of the throttle wakes up the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, however, and makes a wondrous noise in the process.

No. 6 - BMW X5 M Competition

2020 BMW X5 M Competition

Photo courtesy of BMW

617 horsepower
553 pound-feet of torque

The X5 was BMW's first SUV and remains a flagship of the company's lineup today. The X5 M Competition takes the already-bonkers 600 hp that the "normal" X5 M gets from its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 and cranks it up to 617 ponies. The SUV can make the run from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

No. 5 - Bentley Bentayga Speed

2021 Bentley Bentayga Speed

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

626 horsepower
664 pound-feet of torque

With its deep six-figure price tag and unique looks, the Bentley Bentayga Speed is one of the more unique vehicles on this list. It's powered by a twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 engine that sends 626 ponies to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. That helps the Bentayga Speed run zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

No. 4 - Lamborghini Urus

2020 Lamborghini Urus

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini

641 horsepower
626 pound-feet of torque

Funny names aside, the Lamborghini Urus is a serious vehicle. As the automakers first SUV effort, the Urus had big performance shoes to fill, and has done so admirably. The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 makes 641 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. The Urus takes just a hair over three seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill and can go on to a top speed of 190 mph.

No. 3 - Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-HybridPhoto courtesy of Porsche AG

670 horsepower
663 pound-feet of torque

Hybrids aren't just good on gas. All of that extra off-the-line torque makes for a thrilling driving experience. That's just what we see in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, whose name takes almost as long to say as it does for the SUV to run to 60 mph. The vehicle gets a whopping 670 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque from its combined systems, and can hit 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds.

No. 2 - ​Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

707 horsepower
645 pound-feet of torque

And then, the Hellcat met a Jeep. The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk was the first SUV to get the supercharged 6.2-liter engine and remains one of the most powerful SUVs you can buy today. It gets 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque from its engine, which reaches all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The big Jeep is capable of traveling from 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds.

No. 1 - Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat


Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

710 horsepower
640 pound-feet of torque

Dodge's approach to the auto business, which in recent years has been a philosophy of "Hellcat all the things," seems to be working. The company's Durango SUV could already be ordered with a 475-horsepower 392 cubic-inch engine, but more power is almost always a good thing. The Hellcat supercharged 6.2-liter V8 makes 710 horsepower in the new Durango, and helps it make the zero to 60 mph run in a scant 3.5 seconds.

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The new Z starts at under $40,000.

Nissan

The new Nissan Z is finally here, and the 400-horsepower sports car is hitting the market with a reasonable price. The car starts at just $39,990 before a $1,025 destination charge. That's significantly cheaper than the least expensive Toyota Supra for a car with impressive specs and great style.

2023 Nissan ZThe Z gets a 400-horsepower V6 from Infiniti.Nissan

The 2023 Z comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 400 horsepower. It's paired with either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. That's the enthusiast's dream setup, and it's one of few cars available in the U.S. with a manual gearbox. The body is stiffer and features more reinforcements from prior cars, and the steering system now features electric assistance instead of hydraulics. 18-inch wheels are standard and 19-inchers are available.

When it announced the car, Nissan made a point to talk about its retro-inspired styling and classic proportions. The coupe features a sweeping roofline, a distinct front fascia, and is unmistakeably a Z car, through and through. Inside, the car features a three anlog gauges for a classic look, 12.3-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a 9-inch touchscreen display. The cabin looks upscale and tech-forward, with deep bucket seats.

2023 Nissan ZThe 2023 Z lands this summer. Nissan

Nissan says the new Z will go on sale in summer 2022. Pricing starts at $39,990 for the base Sport trim, $49,990 for the mid-range Performance trim, and $52,990 for the limited-edition range-topping Proto Spec trim.

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Performance luxury SUV

The Cadillac Escalade-V starts at almost $150,000

The Escalade-V gets a $149,990 starting price

Cadillac

Cadillac teased an ultra-powerful Escalade-V a while back, and now we have all the details. The 2023 SUV will feature a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, plenty of luxury, and a stout six-figure price tag.

The 2023 Escalade-V comes with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that makes 682 horsepower and 653 pound-feet of torque. It features a hand-built design and shares much of its underlying engineering with the CT5-V Blackwing. It's paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission and full-time active four-wheel drive.

2023 Cadillac Escalade-VUnder the hood, there's a supercharged 6.2-liter V8.Cadillac

Cadillac gives every Escalade-V air ride adaptive suspension and magnetic ride control. The driver can customize the suspension and feel using the SUV's selectable driving modes. The system can also raise or lower the ride height by to .8 inches, and the SUV comes with a launch control system that helps it get off the line with explosive speed.

Inside, the Escalade-V builds on the top trim of the standard SUV with zebra wood accents, massaging front seats, and a heated steering wheel. It's got the same amazing tech, too, with a curved OLED display that runs the length of the dash, navigation, voice commands, wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, an augmented reality navigation system, and a 36-speaker AKG Studio stereo. Cadillac Super Cruise is available.

2023 Cadillac Escalade-VAn extended ESV variant is also available. Cadillac

The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V goes on sale this summer. Starting pricing lands at $149,990, and Cadillac offers an extended-wheelbase ESV version of the high-performance SUV.

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