From Jeep to Aston Martin, these SUVs mix practicality with unruly speed.
When brands like Land Rover and Jeep helped to popularize the sport utility vehicle over half a century ago with models like the Land Rover Series I and original Wagoneer, these rugged vehicles had one thing in common: they weren't associated with speed in any way. The original Land Rover Series I, for instance, ran out of puff before it reached 60 mph. How things have changed since then.
(This article was originally posted in 2022 but has been updated to include the latest versions of various performance SUVs the world over, making it a complete list of the fastest SUVs in the world as of April 2023).
We've now driven the Aston Martin DBX707, a venomous SUV that blew us away, and with a top speed of 193 mph, it's the fastest SUV in the world at the moment. But there are several performance SUVs nipping at the DBX707's heels for the title of fastest production SUV. Despite curb weights of around 5,000 pounds and aerodynamics that suffer due to their sheer size, these fast SUVs are astonishingly rapid when speed limits don't apply and the road is long and straight.
The Durango SRT Hellcat is one of just two vehicles on this list that can seat seven occupants. No seven-seater should be this fast, but the Durango SRT Hellcat's top speed of 180 mph is no printing error. It shares the Trackhawk's 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with the same torque but more power at 710 hp. It's a tenth of a second quicker than the Jeep across the quarter-mile. This manic family SUV was originally only available for the 2021 model year, but, Dodge brought it back for a final Hemi-powered swansong in 2023. It represents everything we love about Dodge: crazy power, class-leading straight-line performance, and a brash design that will make your elderly neighbors shake their heads gravely in disapproval. It's just a pity that owners of the 2021 models feel hard done by.
Alpina has always done things its own way, and we hope the performance brand doesn't lose its individuality now that BMW has acquired it. Unlike BMW's own M cars, Alpinas tend to be more docile and less ostentatious, but that's why so many people adore them. But there is one performance-related advantage to buying an Alpina: a higher top speed. Whereas most BMWs are limited to a top speed of 130 mph, including the X7 M50i, the XB7 will only call it quits at 180 mph. That's even faster than the M8 Coupe unless you equip the M8 with performance tires and an increased top-speed limiter. And the BMW XM Label Red? That can only hit 175 mph. The XB7's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 makes 630 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque after a recent facelift, and it'll reach 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. It's the fastest full-size SUV by some margin.
The first SUV to exceed the 180-mph mark is also the only hybrid on this list. With the aid of an electric motor, the Porsche's 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 makes 670 hp and 663 lb-ft. The 0-60 time is a scant 3.6 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package. Along with other high-end automakers like Ferrari and Lamborghini, Porsche has turned to hybridization to enhance performance, not necessarily to chase better gas mileage. Without the V8 in action, the top speed drops by exactly 100 mph. Still, it's quite remarkable that one of the fastest SUVs in the world can cruise at 83 mph in almost complete silence and without using a drop of fuel. It's about to be heavily updated for the 2024 model year, and we expect greater electric range, and even more performance.
Porsche makes another version of the Cayenne that is even faster than the Turbo S E-Hybrid. Called the Turbo GT, it's available only in the Cayenne Coupe body style. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 generates 631 hp and 626 lb-ft, enough for the Turbo GT to top out at 186 mph. At 3.1 seconds to 60, it's also the joint-quickest SUV (quick refers to acceleration while fast is in reference to top speed) on this list up to that point. The quarter-mile sprint of 11.6 seconds matches the more powerful Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk exactly, but it's the Turbo GT that set a Nurburgring lap record.
Again, a substantial facelift is imminent, and we expect Porsche to up its game once more.
We have a few issues with the Levante Trofeo. It has a rock-hard ride, parts of the interior are shared with much cheaper models from the Stellantis stable, and it costs a lot more than some similar German SUVs. And, although it's not the quickest-accelerating SUV here - it's a full second slower than the Cayenne Turbo GT to 60 mph - the Trofeo is dramatically fast at the top end. Courtesy of its 3.8-liter twin-turbo Ferrari-derived V8 engine, the Trofeo will eventually reach 187 mph. That's what 580 hp and 538 lb-ft will do for you, and it sounds wonderful when used in anger too.
While in standard form, the RS Q8 is limited to 174 mph, an optional package lifts this limiter to 190 mph. This makes use of the full 591 hp and 590 lb-ft available from its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 and results in a 5,490-lb family SUV that belies its weight completely. Its performance is no surprise, though, as it shares underpinnings with several cars on this list, including the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga, and a certain Lamborghini Urus. The fact that it looks as good as any of those and only costs $125,800 in standard form just sweetens the deal further, making it a fast affordable SUV compared to many on this list.
The idea of a (second) Lamborghini SUV once seemed ludicrous but the Urus has a habit of silencing any doubters once they get behind the wheel. And then Lamborghini updated it and gave it a hardcore Performante version that added an extra half a mile per hour on top of its already incredible top speed.
That's courtesy of a diet that shed 104 lbs, new aerodynamics, and an increase in power from its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 yielding 657 hp and 627 lb-ft, good enough to sprint to 62 mph in 3.3 seconds and top out at 190. It even set a Pikes Peak record at 10:32.064, and it has a specific Rally driving mode for dirt tracks.
The Bentley Bentayga Speed is not only the most comfortable vehicle on this list but it's very nearly the fastest. A mighty 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine mostly operates in the background but its 626 hp and 664 lb-ft are not to be taken lightly. Flat out, the Bentayga Speed will reach 190 mph, just about edging ahead of the Urus. When we drove the Bentayga, we found that the throttle required a lot of pressure to get access to the SUV's full power, but it was designed like this to make progress as smooth as possible. While the Dodge and Jeep at the start of this list are all unrestrained noise as they work their way up to their top speeds, the Bentayga Speed is a much more relaxing way to break the law.
Ferrari may disagree with our classification of this being one of the fastest SUVs in the world, but only on the grounds that Ferrari doesn't build SUVs, it builds FUVs (Ferrari Utility Vehicles). Whatever you classify it as, the Ferrari Purosangue is a lifted four-seater with a penchant for speed, and thanks to a front-mid-mounted 6.5-liter V12 with no turbocharging, 715 hp, and 528 lb-ft guided to all four corners, it'll hit a top speed of "more than" 192.6 mph. It also has the title of being the most powerful SUV to not rely on electricity for propulsion.
Thanks to its lower stance than many SUVs on this list, and its innovative new suspension, the Purosangue probably handles better than anything here. Whether you call it sacrilege or not, the Purosangue is a new breed of prancing horse that means business.
Saudi Arabia is home to the longest straight road in the world according to Guinness World Records. This stretch of Highway 10 is 149 miles long. If you could somehow find a way to close it off and line up the DBX707 alongside any other SUV on this list, it's the Aston Martin that will eventually get its nose in front thanks to its 193-mph top speed, making it the fastest luxury SUV, and outright SUV, in the world. The smooth Autobahn is probably a safer bet, though. At 3.1 seconds to 60 mph, the DBX707 also matches the Cayenne Turbo GT for the quickest acceleration. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 makes 697 hp and 663 lb-ft, and it's paired to a new nine-speed wet clutch transmission. Even though electric SUVs like the Tesla Model X Plaid are quicker off the mark, EVs run out of puff at higher speeds and the DBX707 will eventually pass it. As things stand now, the Aston is the fastest SUV in the world.
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