Trendy SUVs Rule

Folks feel safer, more comfortable in bigger vehicles with bells and whistles.

With increasing trendiness, trucks and SUVs now fully control the U.S. automotive industry. Regardless of weather, altitude, road conditions, fuel prices or environmental concerns, the top eight best-selling vehicles in 2019 were pickups or SUVs. People feel safe in big machines. Sedans and sports car sales have plummeted.

The SUV market surge is more recent than that of pickups, and it’s now the largest-selling segment. Automotive industry analysts predict SUV sales may reach 50 percent of the market share this year. And who could have imagined Rolls-Royce and Bentley, among other super brands, would offer SUVs?

The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover could be the only luxury SUV equally comfortable at traversing off-road terrain or approaching the valet at an upscale gathering. The HSE (High Standard Equipment) trim has a turbocharged six-cylinder with a 3-liter, 395-horsepower engine. It’s also available as an MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and as a diesel. All trims are matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission and feature four-wheel drive.

Its luxury is equally impressive—and, of course, the higher the price of the model, the more offered. The HSE trim features 20- inch wheels, soft-close doors, upgraded front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a greater array of available options. The Drive and Park package, a healthy list of safety features, is also standard.

Technology is state-of-the-art. Highlights include dual 10- inch touchscreen displays, a Wi-Fi hotspot, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and a 13-speaker Meridian sound system. Front and rear parking sensors, low-speed forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning are standard, too.

Seven additional options all cost at least $1,000. The driver-assist package alone is $4,000. Fuel efficiency is bleak: 19 miles per gallon in city driving, 25 mpg on the highway. The Land Rover has a status symbol price of $111,554, and it warrants a long pause.

As a six-figure SUV, the Land Rover Range Rover was once the high-priced, status-conscious SUV. But its price prestige has diminished. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan ($350,000- plus) and the Bentley Bentayga ($165,000) now get those honors.

But the Range Rover still has a higher starting base price than the Lexus LX, Infiniti QX80, Lincoln Navigator and Mercedes-Benz GLS. Those rivals all oƒer three-row seating and have better resale and reliability.

Still, there’s an overall appeal. Maybe it’s the powerful Range Rover’s superior noise insulation. Maybe it’s the SUV’s big windows that complement the big-space, open-feel interior. It’s like going on a luxury safari—or at least something like that.