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8 Family SUVs with Sports Car Performance in 2019

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author photo by Eric Brandt August 2019

Family crossovers and SUVs generally aren't known for their engaging driving dynamics or quick acceleration, but there are a few outliers that truly let you have it all. If you know where to shop, you can have SUV versatility with a truly high-performance driving experience -- and sometimes even three rows of seats. However, performance SUVs are still a niche market, which means they're generally pretty expensive.

Since we're talking about family SUVs in particular, we're only including midsize and bigger SUVs, and most of the vehicles have three rows of seats. Here are eight family SUVs with sports car performance in 2019.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is quite literally the SRT Hellcat of SUVs. Under the hood lies the same 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 that powers the SRT Hellcat variants of the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Challenger. It makes 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque. That much raucous power packaged in a roomy SUV with all-wheel drive brings astounding performance to a more family-friendly package. You also get Bilstein adaptive suspension, Brembo brakes and some interior luxuries like Nappa leather/suede seats and navigation. The Trackhawk has a high starting price of $87,150 -- which we admit is a lot to pay for a Jeep -- but we dare you to find a better price-per-horsepower value proposition in an SUV. Find a Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale

Dodge Durango SRT

Dodge Durango SRT

Do you like the idea of the Trackhawk but want three rows of seats? You can't get a Dodge Durango with a Hellcat engine (yet), but what you can get is the SRT model equipped with Dodge's 392 Hemi V8, AWD, Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential and an upgraded suspension. In the Durango, this brawny V8 makes 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, which doesn't match the Trackhawk, but it will certainly get the kids to soccer practice on time. Less hp also means a lower price, as the Durango SRT starts at $63,245, which makes it another strong bargain among high-performance SUVs. Find a Dodge Durango for sale

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne

The Porsche Cayenne is a midsize crossover that doesn't need a specific trim or submodel recommendation -- every member of the Cayenne family is a joy to drive. All-new for 2019, the Cayenne has athletic handling, a luxurious and roomy cabin and a line of strong turbocharged engines. These include a turbocharged V6 that makes 355 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, a twin-turbo V8 that makes 541 hp and 567 lb-ft and a twin-turbo V6 that makes 434 hp and 405 lb-ft. Since these start at $65,700 and get well into the 6-digit price range, you can pick whichever engine suits your budget and enjoy. Find a Porsche Cayenne for sale

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

It's big, it's fancy and it's fast. The Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 is the high-performance variant of the 3-row GLS-Class. It packs a twin-turbo V8 that makes 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. It comes with 4MATIC AWD, AMG styling (which includes 21-in wheels) and a richly crafted cabin. All of this adds up to a true Mercedes-AMG experience. This SUV has some serious presence no matter where it goes, and that kind of performance and luxury will cost you, since the AMG GLS 63 has a starting price of $126,150. Find a Mercedes-Benz GLS 63 AMG for sale

Ford Explorer ST

Ford Explorer ST

The Ford Explorer ST comes with the all-new redesign of the Explorer for the 2020 model year. This 3-row SUV is injected with exciting performance that comes from its twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, which makes 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque with standard AWD. It's also a great family SUV with seating for six, Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ driver-assist tech, a twin-panel moonroof and leather seating. With a starting MSRP of $54,740, you can get a lot of features and a lot of excitement in one practical SUV with the Explorer ST. Find a Ford Explorer for sale

 BMW X7 M50i

BMW X7 M50i

The BMW X7 M50i will scratch the performance itch for most drivers who need a 3-row SUV. The X7 was an all-new model for 2019, and this 2020 model is its first real performance variant, with a twin-turbo V8 that makes 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque as well as standard AWD. This is actually a bit of a budget alternative to the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 -- it has a starting price of $99,600, and the performance numbers aren't too far from the mighty AMG. You're also getting the other perks that come with every X7, including a world-class interior, a long list of features and an aesthetic that won't be ignored. Find a BMW X7 for sale

 Maserati Levante

Maserati Levante

The Maserati Levante is a little bit like the Porsche Cayenne in the sense that no matter which trim you choose, you're getting a midsize luxury SUV that's an absolute pleasure to drive. There's a lot to like about the Levante, like its Ferrari-built twin-turbo engines (your choice of a V6 or a V8), standard AWD and responsive handling. But our favorite thing about it might be that it's still rare enough to stand out in this segment. It also has one of the best exhaust notes of any stock SUV we've seen. The starting price of $75,980 might sound a little steep, but it makes more sense when you consider that its base engine is a twin-turbo V6 that makes 345 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Find a Maserati Leavante for sale


Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

There are a lot of expensive SUVs on this list, so we'll wrap up with the most affordable and most efficient one of the bunch. It's rare to find an SUV that delivers both good performance and good fuel economy, but that's exactly what you get with the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid. Acura's hybrid V6 engine combined with standard SH-AWD delivers brisk acceleration and makes 321 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. We know those numbers are nothing compared to some of the SUVs we just talked about, but the vehicle returns a respectable fuel economy rating of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, and it can be had for $52,800. With reasonable pricing, good fuel economy, lively performance and three rows of seats, the MDX Hybrid is a strong value in luxury family crossovers. Find a Acura MDX Sport Hybrid for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
8 Family SUVs with Sports Car Performance in 2019 - Autotrader