We’re pretty lucky in the UK to have access to most of the world’s best cars, but if there’s one vehicle type that often leaves its coolest offerings off the menu, it’s the SUV. Coming from the USA and Japan, these five offerings are just the tip of an iceberg of cool off roaders that span everything from the U.N-chic Toyota 70-series ‘Troop Carrier’ to Cadillac’s glamorous Escalade V.
Our list skirts around those extremes and sticks instead to the cars that we’d love to see the most on these shores – even if it meant being sized-out of various chocolate-box villages on account of their sheer girth.
Ford Bronco Raptor
The Raptor has been making headlines around the world on account of its capability and design, but unlike its relatively crude Jeep rival it brings with it that extra level of polish and engineering intelligence that’s so often associated with Ford.
Built on the ladder chassis that’s also found under the Ranger pickup truck, the Bronco takes things in a more retro-focused route, with this Raptor offering up some serious off-road capability.
As it stands, Ford isn’t putting the Bronco into right-hand drive production, simply because it has more than enough demand from its North American markets to satisfy its sales targets. However, the fact that it’s built on the Ranger chassis means the notion of a right-hand-drive Bronco later in the lifecycle not so far fetched – just don’t go expecting the fearsome twin-turbo V6 Raptor to ever be compliant with Europe’s tougher emissions regulations.
You might have already seen a Rivian once or twice on these lists but it’s for good reason: the dedicated EV pick-up – and now SUV – has already begun to revolutionise the class with its new-generation powertrain technology and design. The SUV joins the R1T pickup, but comes with a slightly shorter body with a tough-looking two-box design.
As such, interior space is largely similar to the pickup, only with a secure luggage space that’s built into the cabin. It loses some cool items like the electrically-powered tonneau cover and the innovative Gear Tunnel, but fights back with a Range Rover-style split tailgate and the option of seven seats.
It also avoids the whole pickup truck image, while not losing any of its EV-coolness. The R1S would almost certainly be a sure-fire hit in Europe, so let’s hope it doesn’t take too long to find its way over.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer
The full-sized, body-on chassis class has been dominated by Ford and GM for the last 40-odd years. And keen to jump into that still-growing segment, Jeep’s brought the Grand Wagoneer to market – the most expensive Jeep yet.
Designed specifically to rival high-end rivals like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, it’s as assertive as it is sophisticated and oozes that ‘Restoration Hardware’, American luxury vibe better than just about anything else on sale right now.
Its design is suitably opulent inside and out, but it’s the brave use of brushed brightwork around almost all of its exterior design elements that make it look so much more contemporary than the Cadillac and Lincoln.
It’s another model that will likely never see the light of day in Europe on account of there being no right-hand-drive production, it not complying with EU safety regulations and, of course, its thirsty petrol engines.
Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport
If you’re in West London on a Wednesday afternoon, near a school drop-off zone, there’s probably no cooler car to be seen in than a Toyota Land Cruiser 300. Bear with us here. The Mercedes-AMG G63, BMW X5 M, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, even Land Rover’s new Defender… these are all common-as-muck cars in any posh city suburb, which is where the Toyota comes in.
Redesigned from the ground up, the new 300 is a complete overhaul of what is the toughest name in the business – and yes, we’re including Land Rover and Jeep in that metaphorical list.
Only set to be released in limited European markets, it comes in a range of powertrain options that would easily pass emissions regulations, but for now Toyota’s not interested in offering anything bigger than the European-market Land Cruiser (known as the Prado overseas).
GMC Hummer EV SUV
When GM announced it was going to relaunch the Hummer brand, it came with the brilliant caveat that it wouldn’t feature a combustion engine but a high-powered electric powertrain and extensive off-roading capability. First shown as a concept, media and the customers alike were broadly shocked when the production version was revealed, as it was almost completely unchanged.
To go along with the new pickup, GMC also quickly revealed an SUV version, chopping around 500mm from the length and fitting a more traditional body with a fixed roof in place of the pickup’s circa-1980s removable glass panels.
Yet while the new Hummer is electric, GM is resolutely keeping it only for the American market for now, which is probably a good thing as it would likely be unable to fit down any of the UK’s narrow country lanes.