From its big, dirty off-road roots, the modern SUV has evolved to serve a variety of purposes. Sure, there are still got rock-crawling, river-fjording brutes, but this is a category where you'll also find compact and sport crossovers, vehicles that are softer and more luxurious, and a few examples that stretch the boundaries of what can be considered an SUV.
We've rounded up a few of our favorite examples, in no particular order, that span the gamut of modern SUVs and crossovers. Be sure to sound off in the comments section and let us know what's your favorite SUV.
Go anywhere in style
With its advanced all-wheel-drive system, sophisticated suspension, and solid construction, there aren't many trails that the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover can't tackle with a bit of patience and planning. All right, I know that most people aren't going to be taking their $100K SUVs off-roading, but you could if you wanted to. Whether off-road or on-, you'll be cocooned in the Range's luxurious interior.
Plenty of room for people and more
Let's say that you need to move yourself and six passengers around town, but you don't want to do it in a minivan. The Nissan Pathfinder is a noteworthy alternative, boasting great visibility that's further augmented by Nissan's Around-View Monitor system, that gives a bird's-eye view of the area around the vehicle. For even more luxurious amenities, check out the Infiniti JX35 (or, as it's now known, the QX60).
Dinosaurs can be pretty awesome
Mercedes-Benz has been building the Geländewagen in some form or another since 1979 and not much has changed in the last 35 years. Sure, the G-Class is a bit of an automotive dinosaur. Ask any kid and they'll tell you that gigantic, fearsome dinosaurs are pretty freaking awesome, so there's a special place in our heart for the rough and rugged 2013 G63 AMG and its 544 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque.
Small family mover, corner carver
We're including BMW's smallest crossover in this roundup, even though it would fit just as well among a gathering of wagons. The X1 boasts ample space for a small family of four or five, extra room in the back for groceries, and -- perhaps most importantly -- the handling of a sport sedan. We tested the fuel efficient X1 xDrive28i, but if you need more power, the xDrive35i model may be the one for you.
Road tripper, fuel sipper
We were nearly able to best the EPA's estimated 33 mpg highway during our testing of the Mercedes-Benz GLK BlueTEC, making it a good choice for a cross-country crossover. That it's a comfortable ride with more than enough space for your luggage is the icing on the cake.
The Nissan Juke was already an odd bird, but the sport-focused Juke Nismo manages to be even more niche. We're fans of the Juke's nearly 200hp turbocharged 1.6-liter and its sharpish handling, but Nissan's decision to offer the all-wheel-drive model with a CVT is yet another reason we're scratching our heads over this one. Opt for the front-drive, manually shifted one, enjoy the grins that it'll coax out of you, and try not to think too hard about the all of the awkward stares it elicits from everyone else on the road.
'Grand' in more ways than one CNET's Wayne Cunningham called the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee "a near-perfect luxury SUV that maintains real off-road credibility." You'll want to check out our full review for more details about what impressed him so.