Top 10 Luxury Compact Sized SUV Ranking – Sports SUV’s for 2023
Here in Northern California the luxury compact SUV market is booming. Another term for this category is “Sports SUV” or Sports Activity Vehicle” as it’s really about the sports car capabilities built into an SUV. This segment is my favorite category of SUV’s as drivers get all the great driving characteristics of a sports sedan, with the utility of higher ground clearance and space for all your gear.
Whether you’re blasting through the big blizzard, or zooming up the winding mountain roads on a spring day, a properly equipped compact luxury SUV makes the ride exhilarating, confident, safe, and fast. If you’re an early morning person who loves to drive, there’s always a window of time before the Highway Patrol and mass of ski warriors hits the roads and slows down the pace. With no traffic to slow your pace, you can really have a super fun rollercoaster sensation ride up through the winding curves, accelerating out of the apex and zooming into the next straight away.
Some of my best days of skiing in Tahoe start at 4 AM with a 3-4 hour drive up to the mountains. The last hour of mountain driving pouring through the winding roads at full speed (without traffic or CHP’s) can be just as fun as carving perfect Ted Ligety style turns on a groomer… provided you’re in the right SUV / Car. Otherwise the long journey just feels like a super long road trip where you’re anxious to get out of the car as soon as you can. A great sports SUV can transform your entire ski trip experience.
After a bunch of test driving, I have found that upgrading the suspension with the dampeners, sports mode, etc make all the difference in the world. As a shopper you can choose to upgrade several things including suspension, bigger engine, leather seats, stereo, and electronic conveniences. If you’re looking to really enjoy your ride, start with the suspension, then the seats, then the engine, then all the electronics.
The SUV’s in this category come with around 250 HP / 0-60 in 6 seconds at the base model level, which is generally super quick. The 350 HP models move you to sub 5 seconds for the 0-60, and you can then get silly and upgrade to 400+ HP models that actually hinder your ability to gain traction in the snow. Generally speaking, I’d stick to the 250 – 350 HP range, especially with gas prices soaring.
One further comment on all of these vehicles… tires are 90% of your traction in the snow – So you’ll need to do some homework to ensure you don’t buy an $80,000 high performance SUV just to spin out on the first snow patch in the road due to poorly rated snow tires. It’s not uncommon for a new performance car to come with summer oriented tires that are not even M+S rated. Not only will you spin out, but you will have to put on chains here in California without M+S
So please visit a quality tire dealer or check out the great reviews on Tire Rack to find your best set. I’ve been running the Michelin Pilot Sport AS4 and find that you get a great balance of summer, wet, and snow performance.
Here is the Ski Critics Top 10 List for Compact Luxury SUV’s. There is a noted change at the top of the list swapping out the Porsche Macan with the BMW X3. There are several reasons for the change and will detail in both of these reviews. The most prominent change is that this year I test drove the BMW X3M40i with the sports suspension – totally blows away the comparably priced Macan.
- BMW X3 2023 Review
- Porsche Macan 2023 Review
- Alfa Romeo Stelio 2023
- Audi Q5 / Q5 Sportback / SQ5 2023 Review
- Mercedes GLC 2023 Review
- Jaguar F Pace 2023 Review
- Acura RDX 2023 Review
- Volvo XC40 2023 Review
- Genesis GV 70 2023 Review
- Tesla Model Y 2023 Review