Sometimes in life you just need to indulge yourself a little bit. Sure, there are plenty of lower priced compact SUVs on the market that are just as capable as the following five luxury brand models but none of those come with the panache, cachet and style that make these models unique. The other bonus inherent in buying from a luxury brand is that you are guaranteed a top notch dealership experience.

Sure, these SUVs do cost more than your average compact SUV but you are not only paying for owning a vehicle from an upscale brand but are also getting interiors, powertrains and build quality that is just a cut above. And if you love soft touch plastics and finely grained leather you really can’t go wrong with any of these five models that we have road tested. Just make sure you can afford the monthly payments.

Audi Q5

(3.2 liter V6 engine-270 horsepower/243 lb. feet of torque)-(18 city/23 highway)-The 2012 Q5 could easily win this contest based on looks alone but thankfully this compact crossover was engineered to a standard that excused Audi’s late entry into the genre. Also note that for 2011 Audi added a less expensive 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine option as an alternative to its powerful and silky smooth 3.2 liter V6 which does allow buyers the option of spending more on the Q5’s pricey but tempting options list.

But don’t worry about this SUV being slow with the smaller engine as Audi makes what is possibly the best turbo 4-banger ever in the history of mankind. So not only will this new option make the Q5 affordable to more people, it will also keep them from buying lesser Tiguans. In this particular case, the Audi is just head and shoulders above its more plebian corporate sibling.

Lexus RX350

(3.5 liter V6 engine-275 horsepower/257 lb. feet of torque)-(18 city/24 highway)-The Lexus RX is the grandfather of this entire luxury SUV crossover genre and as a result of this the current version remains a class leader. Controls move with a typical Lexus style smoothness-knobs and buttons glide with so much precision they almost feel like they are covered in butter. Our personal favorite is the center console mounted “mouse-type” control for the navigation. This luxury SUV is so capable, quick, stylish and luxurious that it really is the “no-brainer” of this group.

Mercedes GLK

(3.5 liter V6 engine-268 horsepower/258 lb. feet of torque)-(16 city/22 highway)-This slab sided Mercedes is just a baby but it is already one of the Stuttgart manufacturer’s worldwide best sellers. While a big part of that is the fact that the GLK has a base MSRP lower than most other Mercedes products, it is very easy erase that advantage with the selection of some choice options. Regardless of how you option up your GLK you will most likely find the best part is the fact that there is a three pointed star on the grille.

Infiniti EX35

(3.5 liter V6 engine-297 horsepower/253 lb. feet of torque)-(17 city/24 highway)-The 2012 Infiniti EX35 is like a really tall hatchback. It’s only real (fatal oftentimes) flaw is its lack of cargo space and rear seat legroom. It barely betters the cargo capacity of the G37 sedan so what’s the point?

Well, first off SUVs and hatchbacks are cooler than sedans. Thankfully the interior is lushly appointed with buttery leather available in four gorgeous hues and the dashboard has so much soft-touch plastic that you can’t help but want to rub your cheek on it. Or not.

Acura RDX

(2.3 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder-240 horsepower/260 lb. feet of torque)-(19 city/24 highway)-This SUV is the closest thing to a really tall hot hatch in that it offers sufficient cargo room for small families yet still offers up driving fun to the SUV averse family man or woman. The steering/ride and handling balance is well judged but that is always true of any Acura. But do note that Acura is remodeling the RDX for the 2013 model year with a more spacious model that will come only with a V6 engine.

While you may think a 2.3 liter 4 cylinder would wheeze and whine trying to motivate a heavy SUV you would be wrong. The RDX moves off the line with such alacrity as to shove you back into your seat even though it makes do with just an “ancient 5-speed automatic.” Be judicious and you can average around 21 miles per gallon but abuse the turbo and that number can plummet. So be sure you can handle the temptation of a turbo before signing on the dotted line.

Sources:

Lexus

Audi of America

Acura

Infiniti

Mercedes Benz