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 Trofeo Photo 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 S Photo 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-Hybrid Photo 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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo collection features unique accents.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Nearly every aesthetic aspect of a Rolls-Royce can be customized. From traditional leather choices to intricate inlays, vapor blasted titanium, and million-stitch embroidery, the options for owners from the Bespoke side of the brand are nearly endless.

"The Bespoke Collective scaled new heights of greatness in 2020 – that they did so against the backdrop of numerous, unprecedented constraints and challenges makes their accomplishments even more impressive," said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. "Never before have we seen such levels of Bespoke detailing in each commission, demonstrating that Rolls-Royce clients around the world have sought solace in creativity – commissioning introspective items of luxury that will stand the test of time to become lasting and poignant legacies."

Here, AutomotiveMap takes a closer look at some of the most intricate designs that the luxury automaker crafted in 2020. Click here to see their hits list from 2019.

Dusk in Tokyo

Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo interior

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The 'Dusk in Tokyo Collection' is comprised of a Phantom, Wraith, Dawn, and Cullinan that celebrate the life and culture of Japan's capital city. Each model features a z complex, multi-faceted white paint, eponymously named 'Dusk in Tokyo', that is reminiscent of high-rise glass and concrete buildings bathed in the warm light of early dusk. The paint contains aluminum and mica flakes that create subtle tones in low light.

The Black Leather interior, punctuated by Rose Gold Bespoke Audio grilles and on Phantom, the fascia's Rose Gold clock case, is meant as a contrast, just as the long shadows of the city's call buildings cast on the ground below them.

At the cars' face is the Spirit of Ecstasy, presented in Rose Gold for the first time in Japan, representing the setting of the sun.

The Steed Phantom Extended

Rolls-Royce Phantom Steed Extended

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This horse-themed Phantom features complex bespoke embroidery that embellishes the interior rear doors. The design was developed from a sketch presented to the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design Collective, by a Chinese client with a very clear vision.

Neon Nights Color Trilogy

Rolls-Royce Neon Nights Trilogy

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The new Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective collection featured a limited run of four of each color Dawn, Wraith, and Cullinan models. Each is colored with a hue inspired by the natural world. Read more about these models here.

Phantom 'Iridescent Opulence'

Rolls Royce Iridescent Opulemnce

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This Phantom includes artwork that originally debuted as a concept in 2017. It was created in partnership with a Swiss materials specialist with the result being a gallery that houses over 3,000 sustainably sourced iridescent tail feathers. These feathers have been hand-sewn in to the open pore fabric. A Mother of Pearl casing surrounds the clock at the heart of the Gallery while bespoke embroidery at the rear waterfall and silver inlays on the picnic tables complete the design.

Wraith 'Inspired by Earth'

Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Earth

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Earth gave the design team the inspiration for this solar system-themed Wraith. The one-of-a-kind model was showcased earlier this year here on AutomotiveMap.

Wraith Kryptos Collection

Rolls-Royce Wraith Kryptos Collection Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Wraith Kryptos Collection comes complete with its own cipher that is concealed in the cars' bespoke detailing. Just 50 models were commissioned as part of the series. AutomotiveMap took a closer look at the vehicles here earlier this year.

The Mahlangu Phantom

Rolls-Royce The Mahlangu Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A South African client commissioned the bespoke model to display a highly personal work of art from globally celebrated South African artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu. Dr Mahlangu, a national icon in Africa from the Ndebele region, was the first artist to create an artwork in this way and the motor car was named 'The Mahlangu Phantom' in her honor. Positioned front and centre in the Phantom's interior, the one-of-a-kind commission is a striking display.

Cullinan Spirt of Russia Collection

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Spirit of Russia

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Four Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUVs were created and dedicated to Russian mountains: Elbrus, Krasnaya Polyana, Golden Mountains, and Klyuchevskaya Sopka. The exteriors of the models are painted Iced Black Diamond, Iced Gunmetal Steel, Midnight Sapphire Blue and Premiere Silver - colors chosen because they are reminiscent of the frosty peaks. Inside each, a map of Russia is on the starlight headliner while mountain peaks are embroidered on the headrests. The engraved sill plates of each car bear an inscription naming the mountain region that inspired its design, as well as the height of the highest peak in each region.

Dawn Silver Bullet Collection

Rolls-Royce Dawn Silver Bullet Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Dawn Silver Bullet Collection features an ultra-metallic paint job and unique aero cowling. Click here to read more about the car.

Sportive Collection

Rolls-Royce Sportive Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A Collection of two Black Badge Dawns and nine Black Badge Wraiths were commissioned for the United Arab Emirates. The group features bold color combinations and technical fibers that intertwine to create vibrancy. Each has a hand-painted coastline. They also features woven-leather door panniers and engraved bespoke audio frets.

Arctic White and Hotspur Red Phantom

Rolls-Royce Hotspur Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

An Arctic White exterior paint job with a double pinstripe in Hotspur Red is just the beginning of this model. The red continues inside where the lambswool floor mats, privacy curtains, and luggage compartment are completed in the color. The 'Lakeshore Aurora' Gallery is designed and created by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective.

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The BMW iX is just one model that is coming to American for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of BMW

Many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have gotten upgrades for the 2022 model year. There are a a variety of terms you'll frequently see associated with a description of a vehicle for its annual changeover. Here's how AutomotiveMap defines them:

  • New - These models are entering the market for the first time.
  • Carryover - There have been no major changes from one model year to the other. It is common that the year after a new or refreshed model is introduced, it will be a carryover.
  • Refreshed - Commonly occurring three to four years after the new generation of a model is introduced, a refresh usually includes new fascia, perhaps an engine lineup change or tech upgrade, and usually the addition of safety system upgrades.
  • Redesign - This term signals a generation change in the model. This usually requires an architecture change and all new body panels, engine lineup, tech offerings, and the introduction of new packages, trim levels, and pricing. Redesigns typically happens every seven to nine years.

The models on this list are new or have either been redesigned or refreshed for the 2022 model year. This list will grow as more information becomes available. Click here to see the 2021 models that were new, refreshed, or redesigned for the year.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG​

Volkswagen announced a refreshed version of the Tiguan SUV in late 2020 but made it known that the model wasn't going to make it stateside until late 2021. The European version (shown above) of the SUV has a new grille that combines with standard LED headlights, VW's new logo right up front, new rear bumpers, redesigned lettering, and a pretty decent tech upgrade in its cabin.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross

2021 Toyota Corolla Cross Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

Word on the street is that the new Toyota Corolla Cross could be coming to the U.S. as a 2022 model. That's unconfirmed at this point. If it were, the Corolla Cross could fill a gap in Toyota's lineup between the RAV4 and CH-R, similar to where the Hyundai Kona fits between the Santa Fe and Venue. Stay tuned for more information.

2022 Nissan Ariya

2022 Nissan Ariya

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Ariya is a 300-mile all-electric crossover with a $40,000 price tag. It might be replacing the Murano in the company's lineup as the brand strategically weighs production versus an electrified business model. The Ariya has unique, minimalistic design that uber modern. Stay tuned for more information as it's announced throughout 2021.

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

2020 Grand Wagoneer Concept - Details Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

When the Grand Wagoneer concept debuted in late 2020, it was touted as coming soon and nearly production ready. The model fits into FCA/Stellantis's multi-year product plans as a 2022 model with production expected to kick off in 2021. Check back for more information.

2022 Hyundai Kona

2022 Hyundai Kona N Line Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

The Kona is already old enough to have undergone a model refresh. They grow up so quickly! The new design infusion gives the 2022 Kona new cladding, a freshly stretched hood, new grille shape. The lower bumper has a skid plate while intakes dominate the corners of the face. At the back are new taillights with a horizontal graphic. Below is a new bumper. The revised Kona rides on updated 17- or 18-inch wheels, or the 16-inchers that have been carried over from previous model years. The model also gets Hyundai's 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen.

2022 Audi Q5 Sportback and SQ5 Sportback

2022 Audi Q5 Sportback Photo courtesy of Audi AG

In their seemingly never ending move to fastback everything, Audi is making the Q5 Sportback and SQ5 Sportback a reality for the 2022 model year. The two models get basically the same equipment package as their squared-off counterparts and has about the same capability.

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

Cadillac Blackwing launch

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac will soon be introducing its new performance-centric sedan. We'll update this information when it's announced.

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Sedona

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Sedona name is gone, replaced by the Kia Carnival moniker for the 2022 model year. That's not as big of a deal as it sounds, the van has always been known as the Carnival to global markets. For 2021, the van got a generational upgrade overseas, but those changes won't make it stateside until the 2022 model year.

2022 BMW 4 Series Cabriolet

2022 BMW 4 Series Convertible Photo courtesy of BMW

The 4 Series is a distinct creature. For the 2022 model year, a cabriolet version of the car will be made available for sale that's lighter and has more cargo space and a lower center of gravity than its predecessor. Like its hard-topped relatives, the 4 Series Convertible is available with a variety of packages but only one engine is available, a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Volkswagen Taos

2022 Volkswagen Taos Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is introducing the Taos to the U.S. market for the 2022 model year. The small SUV is akin to the Hyundai Kona in size and the Volkswagen Tiguan in styling. VW made this model explicitly for the U.S. market where SUVs are dominating the sales conversation.

2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

In 2020, the automaker revealed the 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, which has been refreshed inside and out. Most notably, it has a refreshed face and redesigned hatch. Minor interior improvements are designed to help make the Mitsubishi more palatable to buyers.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R

2022 Volkswagen Golf R

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is the most powerful Golf to date and yes, it's coming to the U.S. The performance variant of the Golf family delivers 315 horsepower, a 27-horsepower boost over the outgoing model, and 310 pound-feet of torque up from 280). Each Golf R gets a turbocharged 1,984 cc four-cylinder engine hat is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is available.

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing

Blacwing launch

​Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac will soon be introducing its new performance-centric sedan. We'll update this information when it's announced.

2022 Hyundai Tucson

2022 Hyundai Tucson Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Tucson has been completely redesigned for the 2022 model year and it's impressive to say the least. The upmarket two-row SUV comes with high-tech features, comfortable seats, and a seriously budget-friendly price tag.

2022 Infiniti QX55

2022 Infiniti QX55 Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

The long-awaited Infiniti QX55 is finally a reality. Like many of the other vehicles on this list, it's a small SUV. The QX55 takes the place of the QX30 in the automaker's lineup and is designed to offer a premium drive experience that's engaging and fun, similar to the Infiniti FX of the past.

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic Prototype Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

A new generation of Honda Civic is on the way. The company recently revealed a near-production prototype of the car (as seen above) and a fully operable next-gen version is planned to debut soon. Stay tuned.

2022 Subaru BR-Z

2022 Subaru BRZ Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

The sister of the Toyota 86 has gotten a full blown generational change for the 2022 model year. The 2022 Subaru BRZ keeps its pin-sharp handling but has gotten a significant makeover inside and out. It's also gotten Subaru's standard EyeSight driver assist and safety technology.

2022 Genesis GV70

2022 Genesis GV70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The Genesis GV80 just landed on U.S. shores but its smaller brother, the GV70 isn't too far behind it. The GV70 carries over the premium looks and features of the GV80 into this smaller, and more budget-friendly package.

2022 Acura MDX

2022 Acura MDX exterior Photo courtesy of Acura

The Acura MDX may be one of the first 2022 models to make it to market. The next-generation MDX has gotten significant enhancements to its interior quality, drivability, and comfort for the new model year. Engineers are also planning a sportier version of the MDX so stay tuned for information about that.

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV Photo courtesy of GMC

The GMC Hummer EV finally debuted in mid-2020 but it won't make it to buyers' homes until late 2021. The first editions of the model are slated to be the most powerful and priciest with the cost of each topping $100,000. GMC's first all-electric model combines the comfort of an SUV with the styling of a beefy truck as it attempts to become the ultimate utility vehicle.

2022 GMC Sierra

2022 GMC Sierra Denali

Photo courtesy of GMC

It's been rumored since its interior design fell flat at its debut that the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado were having interior redos hustled through the design process. GMC gave the first indications that this is true when they announced that the Sierra Denali is getting Super Cruise driving tech for 2022. Stay tuned for more info.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet teases refreshed 2022 Bolt EV, new 2022 Bolt EUV

A refreshed Chevrolet Bolt EV is on the docket for 2022. Chevy has been teasing the model left and right over the last few months so we should know more concrete information soon.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

A crossover version of the Chevrolet Bolt EV called the Chevrolet Bolt EUV will be coming to market as a 2022 model as well. Information is pending on the model but several clues have already surfaced.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi is teasing the next-gen 2022 Outlander ahead of its February debut. Stay tuned for more information about the SUV.

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX Photo courtesy of BMW

The 2022 BMW iX is an all-electric SUV slated to arrive in the U.S. later this year. The iX will be the first bit of BMW's future EV plans to reach U.S. shores and bring with it the latest and greatest technology the company offers.

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