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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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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New SUV

New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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