So why pick an SUV from 2015 specifically? Aside from the fact that it was a great period where several automobile manufacturers launched refreshed or redesigned versions of key products, four-year old vehicles strike the right balance between affordability and reliability. One of our favorites is the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, a mid-size luxury crossover that, in addition to the ML350’s tried-and-true naturally aspirated V6, received a pair of new engines: a smaller, more efficient diesel in the ML250 Bluetec, and a turbocharged V6 in the ML400 replacing the outgoing V8. Peep the rest of our list in today’s blog post.
Perfect for consumers after a practical family hauler from a luxury brand without breaking the bank, the five-passenger M-Class comes in a variety of flavors to suit any taste. The ML250 Bluetec includes as standard 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and MB-Tex vegan leather upholstery — genuine leather is optional. As mentioned, a 2.1-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel lies under the hood rated at 302 horsepower, 273 lb-ft of torque, and 25 miles per gallon in mixed city and highway driving.
Step up to the ML350 and the rollers get bumped to 19 inches, and the mill upgraded to a 3.5-liter V6 making 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque while doing 20 MPG combined. Finally, the ML400 packs a 329-horse turbo 3.0-liter V6 achieving nearly identical fuel economy. The latter also boasts a 13-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, heated and cooled cupholders, multicolor ambient lighting, and more. Every M-Class feature all-wheel drive, although rear drive may be equipped in the 350, and a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Completely re-imagined just a year prior, the 2015 Highlander showcases a whole lot of changes. Toyota lowered the roofline to improve aerodynamics and give a sportier look, further sculpted the body creases across the fenders and side bodywork, and extended the length three inches and width half an inch increasing road presence as well as interior room. Speaking of the cabin, 30 percent additional soundproofing has been added compared to before and, factoring in acoustically laminated glass and special moonroof construction equal a very quiet ride.
All Highlanders utilize a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, with the Hybrids complemented by a high-torque electric motor and generator. The base LE trim is the exception, running a 2.7-liter four-cylinder. A third row bench means the SUV is capable of accommodating up to eight adult occupants.
Sometimes, driving a full-size or even mid-size crossover is an intimidating task given their larger footprint, especially for those used to piloting cars. A compact model makes a great transition vehicle, such as the Nissan Rogue. Like the Highlander, it entered a new generation in 2014 and grew a little gaining 1.2 inches in height and having the wheelbase stretched out 0.6 inches. To aid ingress and egress, engineers enlarged the rear door opening. Despite being the smallest entry on this list, customers can add-on third-row seating to carry a total of seven people.
The sole mill offered in the Rogue is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder producing 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, managed by an Xtronic continuously variable transmission. Both front and all-wheel drive are available.