Yeah, as great as they are to drive, aging German SUVs can bankrupt you with maintenance and major repairs! The only realistic option is to go with something Japanese that has the driving dynamics you're looking for.
The first one that comes to mind is the 2010 Acura MDX which has the company's SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive). The MDX was updated/refreshed for 2010 and it is a great vehicle to drive in terms of comfort and handling.
Next up would be the Mazda CX-9, for $25k you could get a loaded 2011-2012 CX-9 Grand Touring with Bose Audio and Navigation. It will hang with the Acura or almost any other Crossover/SUV of similar size in terms of handling, acceleration, ride comfort and overall quality. I have a 2012 GT and it is a blast to drive!
My final recommendation is a true body-on-frame SUV with a silky-smooth V8 and very comfortable interior- the 2008-2009 Lexus GX470. Despite being taller than the others mentioned here, when you switch the adjustable suspension to Sport it really tightens up and handles very well without making the ride totally brutal. There are four settings between Sport and Comfort to suit your preferences. The interior is as comfortable and high quality as any Lexus and it is a great highway vehicle. Surprisingly, it also has mountain-goat-like capabilities that rival any modern Land Rover if you ever needed to take it off road. My cousin in Los Angeles has a 2008 and it carves up the canyon roads with the best of them in Sport mode.