The SUVs that are too big for Britain

Graham Hope

08 Nov 2021

Eleven big guns from major car makers we're missing out on here in the UK

If you want an SUV you have plenty of choice, with new models featuring ever more innovative powertrains arriving regularly in British showrooms. Unlikely as it may seem, though, there are even more options available elsewhere, with customers in America in particular able to choose super-sized models from a host of familiar manufacturers. These cars are generally considered too unwieldy for our congested streets (and their emissions are potentially problematic, too). But this means we are missing out on some interesting vehicles. Here, then, are the SUVs that are too big for Britain...


Honda Pilot


You may be more familiar with the HR-V and CR-V, but across the pond buyers also have the option of the significantly more imposing Pilot. It’s well established in the States, having first gone on sale there in 2002, and offers seating capacity for up to eight people across three rows, as well as a widely praised 280bhp V6 engine. What it doesn’t offer, though is much in the way of visual flair – if you’re intent on making a statement, its generic ‘big Honda’ looks are a tad anti-climatic.


Kia Telluride


Sitting above the Sorento in the Korean company’s American range is the Telluride, a handsome model that has already made a big impact in the relatively short time it has been on sale by claiming the World Car of the Year title in 2020 (rather curiously, given that it is not available in some of the key global markets, including Britain). Still there’s no denying the aesthetic appeal of this seven or eight-seater, and a distinctly plush interior and decent 291bhp V6 engine are further reasons to warm to the Kia.


Lexus LX


The newest model in this list was only revealed a few short weeks ago, and if you’ve seen any pictures there’s no chance of it failing to register. The LX features Lexus’ now familiar sharp-edged styling, but is marked out by a particularly large grille that promises to be an unmistakable sight in the rear view mirror. It shares a lot under the skin with parent company Toyota’s new Land Cruiser – not on offer in the US – and is powered by a new 409bhp twin-turbo V6. Serious off-road ability is promised and seating capacity varies from four to eight depending on trim.


Hyundai Palisade


American buyers who like the Kia Telluride but are unconvinced by the design would do well to consider the Palisade from sister brand Hyundai. Because styling aside, the two cars are extremely closely related – they share the same V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission, suspension and brakes, resulting in a very similar driving experience. To these eyes the Telluride is the slightly more attractive option, but both would be a welcome addition to British showrooms.


Mazda CX-9


The Hiroshima company’s SUV strategy is getting increasingly hard to follow. It recently announced it would be introducing the new two-row CX-60 and three-row CX-80 to the UK in 2023. At the same time, wider bodied versions of these cars will be sold in the US, but with different badges (CX-70 and CX-90). And the latter will serve as a replacement for the CX-9, currently Mazda’s biggest SUV, which confusingly isn’t sold in Britain. Got all that? The absence of the seven-seat CX-9 in UK showrooms has been a shame, as it’s one of the sleeker big SUVs and is genuinely enjoyable to drive, with an impressive turbocharged four-cylinder engine offering up to 250bhp.



Jeep Grand Wagoneer


Yes, one of Jeep’s most famous badges is back in business, with a new Grand Wagoneer hitting showrooms in the US earlier this year – quite a big deal for fans of the brand who had long hoped for its return. The original Wagoneer of the 1960s and 1970s arguably pioneered the concept of a luxury 4WD SUV, and the new model continues in the same vein with its sights set firmly on the likes of the Mercedes GLS and BMW X7. Again, three-row seating provides accommodation for seven or eight, and it’s fitted with a 471bhp V8 engine and standard four-wheel drive. The kitsch exterior wood clad panels that marked out the 1980s Grand Wagoneer are nowhere to be seen though, thankfully.


Subaru Ascent


While Subaru is considered something of a niche player here in the UK, it’s a much more significant player in the US, where sales have traditionally been very healthy. Topping its range there is the Ascent, a seven or eight-seater which has been on sale since 2018 and was a replacement for the Tribeca, a rather ugly SUV which did have a forgettable stint in UK showrooms a decade ago. The Ascent has a 260bhp 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine and Subaru’s familiar all-wheel drive system, but in truth there’s little that makes it stand out in what is a competitive market in America.


Volkswagen Talagon


The German company’s three-row model in America is the Atlas, an SUV built in Chattanooga, Tennessee that competes with most of the models featured here and is larger than the Touareg offered in Europe. But an even bigger SUV is available for buyers in China. Introduced earlier this year, the Talagon – a joint venture with local company FAW – is longer and higher than an Audi Q7, and pitched as a more affordable option than its premium stablemate. The six or seven-seater is also a viable alternative to the upmarket MPVs popular in China, and comes with comes 2.0-litre or 2.5-litre VR6 petrol power.


Nissan Armada


The success of the Qashqai in the UK has demonstrated that Nissan knows how to build an SUV with true mass-market appeal, but its range here is topped out by the X-Trail. In the US, the bigger Armada is available – a seven or eight seater that comes with a 317bhp 5.6-litre 400bhp V8, a seven-speed automatic transmission and either front or rear wheel drive. The Armada shares a platform with the QX80 from Infiniti – Nissan’s upmarket arm which departed the UK last year – and has earned a decent reputation for its towing ability.


Ford Expedition


The blue oval has enjoyed success with smaller SUVs in the UK, with the Puma and Kuga proving a hit with customers. Bigger SUVs are a different matter though, with the Edge pulled from sale here in 2019 and the Explorer not available. Sitting above both in the US line-up – and also not on offer in Britain – is the Expedition, a three-row ‘full-size’ SUV designed to tackle monsters from fellow US makers such as the GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Suburban. The seven or eight-seater is powered by a 375bhp 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6, although more power is available depending on the trim.


Toyota Sequoia


Those after a large SUV from Toyota in the UK are well catered for, with the Highlander and Land Cruiser a big presence in showrooms. As you would expect from the world’s biggest car manufacturer, though, the offering is different in the US with the 4Runner and Sequoia on sale alongside the Highlander (the Land Cruiser was discontinued Stateside earlier this year). Both are considered more rugged than the Highlander, and of the two the seven/eight-seat Sequoia is the roomier offering. Under the bonnet there is a 381bhp V8 engine, but with the current model only receiving light updates since its introduction in 2007, it’s showing its age.

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Graham Hope

08 Nov 2021