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Large Premium SUV of the Year 2018: Land Rover Discovery

The Land Rover Discovery is the 2018 Auto Express Premium SUV of the Year, with the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover commended

Last year’s overall Car of the Year holds on to its category win this year in the face of stiff opposition. Yet it’s the Discovery’s family-friendly features and go-anywhere ability that triumph once again.

In the past year, we’ve done more than 20,000 miles in a Discovery and it has proven its worth on and off road. It’ll munch miles with ease, combining quiet relaxation with a ride that smothers the worst that Britain’s roads have to offer. In that respect, it rivals the best luxury cars for a sense of serenity – amazing when you consider it also goes further than many 4x4s if you test its off-road credentials.

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And it’s on mucky, hilly dirt tracks, when wading through seriously deep water or tackling a tricky steep slope, that there’s the odd juxtaposition of impressive luxury with the wilds outside the window.

You sit, perched high for a good view across traffic or terrain, in a beautifully trimmed and comfortable leather chair with air-con gently calming the cabin’s temperature and, if you want it, soothing music playing through the excellent Meridian audio. Yet at the same time the conditions outside will make even the hardiest explorer wince. Not so the Discovery.

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And the family can come along for the ride, too; you and up to six others have easy access to all five seats at the back and plenty of space once they’re on board. Equally impressive are the thoughtful touches: cup-holders, storage space and charging points for all, and seats that are easy to put up and down – electrically in many cases.

The Discovery isn’t perfect; infotainment upgrades can’t come soon enough because the current set-up is disappointing. But that’s easy to overlook because the rest of the car’s abilities put it head and shoulders above anything else in the class. 

Our choice

Land Rover Discovery 2.0 Sd4 HSE (£62,505)

You might think the 3.0-litre V6 diesel would be the natural choice here, but we find the 2.0-litre version to be slightly more refined and perfectly powerful enough, while saving you money on running costs and purchase price. HSE spec is the one to go for, too. It comes generously kitted out, with leather everywhere, LED headlights, a Meridian sound system and plenty more comfort and convenience features as standard. 

Commended

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne S - front

In true Porsche fashion, the new Cayenne might not look a whole lot different to the old one, but it’s a whole lot better. If you want your SUV on the sporty side, this should be your choice. Its agility belies its size, it’s hugely quick yet it remains comfortable and beautifully built. It’s a stunning achievement. 

Range Rover

Range Rover PHEV - front

The Range Rover may be getting on a bit, but it’s the standard by which luxury SUVs are measured. And it’s still one of the best. Recent tweaks have kept it looking fresh and majestic, while tech upgrades have further improved the fine cabin ambience and even added hybrid power. Its blend of style, quality and 4x4 ability has yet to be beaten.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2018

For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2018 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...

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