Winner: Jeep Grand Cherokee
For the midsize SUVs for Best in Class, we had to set a cutoff point, so it made the most sense to categorize midsize models as having at least a 106-inch wheelbase. The all-new Grand Cherokee is a stellar SUV with an incredible breadth of models, from the Laredo to the new topline Overland Summit, a choice of RWD or 4WD, and V-6 or V-8 engines. The SUV can go anywhere, has the most luxurious interior to date with high-quality materials, and is good-looking. While the diesel and SRT options are gone, there is still a lot to offer here. And it starts at less than $31,000. That's damned impressive.
Over $35K Winner: Volkswagen Touareg
Even though there's no longer a V-8 engine available in the Touareg, it's easy to find a good choice. There's an excellent 3.6-liter V-6, a 380-horse hybrid, and a 50-state-legal turbodiesel with more than 400 pound-feet of torque. The Touareg survives in a sea of crossovers because it's a luxury vehicle that works very well off-road, is comfortable on-road, and achieves up to 28 mpg on the highway. It can tow up to 7716 pounds, too. The VW can get expensive -- base price for the diesel is nearly $49,000 -- but your return is a lot of sport/utility vehicle for the money.
Overall Winner: Land Rover LR4
The LR4 remains essentially unchanged compared with last year's model, which got a new name (upgraded from the LR3), a new powerplant, and a new interior. The fantastic Terrain Response is so intuitive and easy to use off-road that other companies are offering their own versions. This Landie is a good choice for drivers of all experience levels. It's also roomy inside, quiet, and surprisingly quick. It's one of the rare midsize SUVs out there that's more capable than the Grand Cherokee, and that's saying something.