Many luxury vehicles tend to cause some controversy between vehicle owners and experts alike. Some people see the inclusion of luxury features and performance to be overkill. Purists may even argue that the only important thing is the engine under the hood. Others, however, argue that a true platform of luxury can enhance the overall driving experience. From making it safer to more comfortable on long road trips, there is something to be said for what you get with a premium price tag. Unfortunately, the real deciding factor between a regular and luxury vehicle is a personal one. Unless you have an idea of what you need out of a vehicle, particularly an SUV like the 2018 Buick Envision, it can be difficult to understand if the luxury additions are truly worth your time and money. Many people and families get by without any need for the expensive features. Others would never consider even going back to a common or budget model.
To decide whether the luxury level of automotive design is right for you, here are some common differences to check out that may give you a better driving experience.
Like anything that costs money, you often get what you pay for with most SUVs. While all large vehicles need a certain minimum of horsepower and torque just to roll through daily traffic, more powerful, more expensive engines are common upgrades with luxury models. Some luxury SUVs offer baseline engines that have more power while others save the more expensive options for, the higher trims. Whether it is in the base price or an expensive upgrade, more money will give you more performance in the end.
More common than just a noticeable increase in horsepower is a higher torque rating. For SUVs and trucks, torque can be more important than horsepower alone since this spec is a good indication of the towing capacity and overall control/capability the vehicle will have. More torque means there is a higher ability to transfer power to the wheels when necessary. Combined with a good traction control system and four or all-wheel drive, higher torque is essential for off-roading or towing around large or heavy equipment and trailers.
The performance of the engine and drivetrain isn’t always about sheer power, however. Most luxury SUVs actually have a good amount of fuel economy as well. Since SUVs can be rather expensive at the gas station, a good fuel economy will save money in the long run. Sometimes, manufacturers will prioritize performance over fuel efficiency, but if you are in the market for something that will save some money at the tank, a luxury model may be a good option to check out.
There are several unique and advanced safety features available these days. For larger SUVs, especially, it can be important to have a good set of active safety features to increase driver awareness. In some cases, these features can even step in and act well before the driver has the time to act him or herself.
Unfortunately, most of these active safety features tend to be expensive upgrades. Luxury vehicles, on the other hand, may offer more at standard trim levels, including many of these features. Base trims are often designed with a better overall riding experience in mind. Including systems such as blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, forward collision detection, and navigation can help keep the riding experience enjoyable and safe at the same time.
Some luxury brands also do a good job of giving you different options and packages to choose from. Common brands, on the other hand, tend to group several different systems together whether they are useful or even related or not. This approach maximizes profits for the car manufacturer while forcing the customer to pay more than they would if they could choose which systems they want to add to their vehicle.
The real mark of a luxury SUV is the convenience, particularly in the interior, that it offers above the competition. Traditional luxury automotive design is all about making the interior as upscale as possible. Before automotive technology advanced to the point of having infotainment systems and convenient features, this luxury level of design used a wide variety of upgraded accents to create a new driving experience altogether.
The basics of luxury design include the use of unique or exotic materials in the interior. For a luxury SUV, this means having more comfortable seats made of genuine leather. Heating and cooling systems underneath the seats, in the steering wheel, and elsewhere can add to the comfort of the seating as well. Other unique accents can include the use of materials like wood and carbon fiber on the dashboard, door panels, roof lining, and other key areas.
It’s important to realize that a true luxury vehicle goes beyond just the materials it uses. Luxury design is equally about the driving experience. While some of this is determined by the engine and drivetrain the vehicle has, more is influenced by the feel of the interior. For example, a good SUV experience should feel more like a smaller car than a lumbering truck. The right steering wheel size, shifting mechanism, pedal adjustments, and other little details can help create the perfect feel. Better still, a luxury SUV that gives you the ability to make adjustments on the fly will be more likely to deliver this experience in the first place.
Going With Luxury
Obviously, a luxury SUV is not for everyone. SUVs, alone, tend to start higher in price than family sedans and coupes unless you are looking in the territory of compact or crossover vehicles. Even then, most SUVs do not start to include the upgraded systems and features until you spend more on higher trims and packages.
So, the simplest factor to determine if a luxury SUV is right for you is your budget. Starting with a minimum of $30,000 is a safe bet for most beginning luxury models. Higher budgets will give you more options, more expensive models, and different packages to consider.