Best SUV/CUV: 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards

These top-tier SUVs don't just go anywhere, they do it in style

best suv cuv 2017 car awards Digital Trends badgeWe’ve driven them all. Now it’s time to choose the best! The 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards pit the year’s strongest contenders in five different categories against each other, and crown an overall Car of the Year.

SUVs are slowly taking over the automotive world. They’re more popular than ever, because they offer a combination of utility and car-like handling and amenities car buyers love. Our SUV competitors try to do it all, combining ruggedness and practicality with refinement and sporty driving dynamics.

The contenders

Bentley Bentagya

Digital Trends Car Awards Best SUV CUV Bentely Bentayga

The Bentley Bentayga is by far the most luxurious of the three competitors. It’s Bentley’s first SUV, and it features an exquisitely crafted interior just as extravagant in as anything in the famed British automaker’s cars. Despite being rather portly, the Bentayga is fairly light on its feet. Its 6.0-liter W12 engine produces a staggering 600 horsepower, getting the Bentayga from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, and on to a top speed of 187 mph. It can even go off road, although we’d be afraid of scratching this Bentley’s pristine paint, or getting its leather upholstery muddy.

Jaguar F-Pace

Digital Trends Car Awards Best SUV CUV Jaguar F Pace

Like the Bentayga, the Jaguar F-Pace is its maker’s first SUV. The F-Pace tries hard to make you forget it’s an SUV, with styling cues pulled from Jag’s XF sedan and F-Type sports car, a 360-hp supercharged V6 engine, and stiff suspension. It may not have the outright speed of the Bentayga, but the F-Pace emphasizes agility and handling like none of our other SUV contestants. Jaguar’s engineers really tried to put the “sport” in “sport utility vehicle,” with this one, and they largely succeeded.

Mazda CX-5

Digital Trends Car Awards Best SUV CUV Mazda CX 5

Don’t let the Bentley and Jag fool you, we know how to be sensible too. The Mazda CX-5 may not be a luxury vehicle, but it’s all the SUV you’ll ever need. Its sharp-looking exterior and lively handling prove that regular cars don’t need to be boring. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes the most of its 187 hp, and is genuinely fun to fling around corners.

And the winner is…

Mazda CX-5

Ultimately, those qualities led us to choose the CX-5 as our SUV of the Year. This little Mazda offers an impressive amount of bang for your buck. While the Bentayga and F-Pace met expectations, the CX-5 exceeded them, offering more fun, style, and character than one would expect at its price point.