BMW X5 vs. Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX, M-B ML350, Lexus GX470, Volvo XC90, VW Touareg, Land Rover LR3 - Comparison Tests
Eight Tickets to Paradise: We Compare Eight $50,000 Luxury SUVs.
BY JOHN PHILLIPS, PHOTOGRAPHY BY AARON KILEY
Given a choice of driving destinations, you'd pick paradise, right? So that's what we did, except this was Paradise, Michigan, in the northeast corner of the Upper Peninsula, and it wasn't exactly paradise. "In winter," complained managing editor Steve Spence, "this place makes you long for biting flies." It was eight degrees on our first morning there, and the 600 residents were preparing to shovel 51 inches of snow — which is what falls in January alone.
There's one paved road through pretty Paradise, and it runs past the spectacular Upper and Lower Falls of the Tahquamenon River, whose original Algonquian translation is thought to have meant "the river where the women were lost." It is a wild place. The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald broke apart on Lake Superior near Whitefish Point, just north of Paradise, and the region — crisscrossed with unmapped two-tracks and 200 miles of snowmobile trails — is famous for northern hardwoods that are 300 to 400 years old.
More important to us, it is also famous for the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, for the Bear Butt Bar & Grill, and for the Yukon Inn, where, in years of extra-heavy snowfall, snowmobilers park their machines on the roof. Seemed like a good place to test eight SUVs. If we could get there.
Each of our ice-caked utes, nicely equipped, hovered around the $50,000 mark. We wanted mid-size luxury SUVs only, so we tried to include those whose overall length was as close to 190 inches as possible. One of the oldest in our group, the Cadillac SRX, was also the longest, at 194.9 inches. But this admittedly arbitrary length stipulation precluded at least one notable that might otherwise have qualified on price: the Audi Q7. Two other contenders might also have tagged along — the Infiniti FX45 and the Porsche Cayenne S — but were left at home for having already been defeated in previous comparos. A loaded Jeep Commander might have acquitted itself well, but we felt that its cockpit lacked sufficient bling.
Our attention was keenly focused on a trio of old faithfuls — each in its second generation and all three of which have been recently freshened: the Acura MDX, the BMW X5 3.0si, and the Mercedes-Benz ML350. We were also curious about the VW Touareg V-6 and Lexus GX470, both recently infused with more horses.
In total, we motored more than 1000 miles through the sort of blizzards that would depress an Iditarod musher, encrusting our SUVs with so much solid precipitation that the proximity sensors honked and bonged incessantly. On the other hand, we lost no women. Except those we tried to chat up at the Yukon Inn.Continued...
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