Auto makers offering more high-performance SUVs

Audi has revamped its Q5 for 2018, along with the sportier SQ5 version for more performance and an edgier look.

"This SQ5 handles fantastically, it's very fast, and it has lots of power. You get all the versatility you want in an SUV, and you get the performance you'd expect from a sedan," said Anthony Garbis with Audi of America.

A much more powerful engine leads off -- a twin-turbo V6 in place of the regular S5's turbocharged four cylinder. Power climbs from 252 horsepower in the Q5 to 354 in the SQ5. There's also standard Quattro all-wheel drive, an aggressive suspension and sporty trim to round things out. And, it's still practical.

"You can fit a family of four in this vehicle with everything that you need. And go fast when you want to," added Audi of America's Anthony Garbis.

As buyers increasingly shift their preferences from sedans to sport utilities, auto makers are responding with higher-performance variations.

The German brands have gotten a big head start on this. BMW has been offering "M" versions of its SUVs for some time. And Mercedes-Benz is now applying its AMG treatment to its entire SUV lineup, from the smallest GLA to the largest GLS model. The legendary AMG performance pedigree will let these grocery haulers hustle around a race track, even if all they end up being used for is to actually haul groceries.

While the European performance SUVs have bragging rights about finesse on a race track, some new domestic models are out that offer big power. Really big power.

Jeep now lays claim to having the most powerful SUV in the world, the crazy-fast Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. As its name suggests, it's right at home on a race track. And the numbers it posts are mind-bending.

The supercharged V8 makes 707 horsepower. It'll do zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 180 mph. Keep in mind, this is in a Jeep. Another number is staggering as well: the price tag of $86,000. Add all the options, and it hits $100,000.

The same company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, offers something still powerful, but less costly. The new Dodge Durango SRT gets by with 475 horsepower from its Hemi V8 for a $64,000 base price. It's a three-row family "muscle truck," like a muscle car but with more practicality.

There are lots of choices if you need an SUV but want to have a vehicle that performs.
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